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Enlarged Photograph (54kB)

Italy's position
The expectations of the Balkan countries
The laxity of inter-Balkan bonds
Italy heads for the war (March-June 1940)

The laxity of inter-Balkan bonds:

The expansion of bipolarity in the Balkans

Metaxas' government remained loyal to the policy of neutrality towards the two belligerent sides and avoided any action that could provoke Italy. At the same time, however, the granting of guarantees to Greece by Britain and France constituted a diplomatic advantage devoid of any tangible value or utility, as it was not accompanied by concrete military commitments for dealing with fascist expansionism. Notwithstanding the repeated calls of the Greek government for more substantial aid from the Western Powers, as far as the defensive protection of the country was concerned, Greek foreign policy during the biennial 1939-40 failed to safeguard alliances which would provide both political and sufficient military cover.

This failure had dramatic implications after the collapse of the inter-Balkan cooperation and the refusal or incapacity of the Balkan states to consult with each other for the drafting of joint defensive plans. With the outbreak of the Second World War, the Balkan countries displayed centrifugal tendencies: while Greece and Turkey sought assistance from the Western Powers, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and, gradually, Rumania too reoriented their foreign policies towards Nazi Germany. This multiple break-up of Balkan coherence not only annulled any hope for a revival of inter-Balkan understanding, but also led to the weakening of the bilateral relations and agreements among the Balkan states themselves.

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