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Enlarged Photograph (57kB)

International developments

The laxity of the inter-Balkan cooperation
In search of international support
The new problems
The collapse of the Balkan security system

The new problems

The problem for Greek foreign policy during the last years of the 1930s was how to be flexible and serve the interests of a peripheral Balkan country in the middle of two diametrically opposed groups of aspirations and ideologies, the civil liberalism (Britain-France) and the political autarchy (Germany-Italy).

The combination of totally opposed diplomatic directions into a uniform defensive principle, given the deterioration of the relations between the fascist coalition and the British-French camp seemed an unfeasible vision. As we saw earlier, in 1935 Greece had signed the imposition of sanctions on Italy through the machinery of the League of Nations. Although this decision was presented as the collective political will of the Balkan Entente, the Greek government realised the danger of exposing the country to the mercy of Italian expansionism. Thus, in 1937 the Metaxas regime sought to ensure formal diplomatic commitment guarantees from the British government for Greece's territorial integrity.

Such guarantees were not offered by Britain during the biennial 1937-38 as the Chamberlain government in London wished to avoid any move which could diplomatically alienate Italy and create new sources of tension and confrontation in the vital Mediterranean area. However, the reorientation of Greek foreign policy towards Britain was not missed by the Italian Fascist government. Especially after the annexation of Albania in the Easter of 1939, the presence of Italian troops north of the Greek borders was exploited in order to put pressure on Greece to avoid a further rapprochement with Britain and the creation of British military bases on Greek soil.

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