« PreviousContinue »
Art. 11.-ITALY AND THE SOUTHERN SLAVS.
1. L'Italia d'oltre confine. By V. Gayda. Turin: Bocca,
2. La Dalmazia. By G. Prezzolini. Florence: Libreria della Voce, 1915.
3. Italiani e Slavi nel problema Adriatico. By C. Maranelli and G. Salvemini. Florence: Libreria della Voce, 1918.
4. La Dalmazia; sua italianità, suo valore per la libertà dell' Italia nell' Adriatico. By G. Dainelli and others. Genoa Formiggini, 1915.
5. Trieste e la sua fisiologia economica. By M. Alberti. Rome: Associazione fra le Società italiane pei azioni, 1916.
6. The Reconstruction of South-Eastern Europe. By V. R. Savic. Chapman & Hall, 1914.
7. La Question de l'Adriatique. By Charles Vellay. Paris: Chapelot, 1915.
8. Les Slaves de l'Adriatique et la route continentale de Constantinople. By Sir Arthur Evans. London: The Near East, 1916.
9. The Southern Slav Question and the Habsburg Monarchy. By R. W. Seton-Watson. Constable, 1911.
10. L'Autriche et la Hongrie de demain. Les différentes nationalités d'après les langues parlées. By Arthur Chevrin. Paris: Berger Levrault, 1915.
The Question of the Southern Slavs.
THE crux of the Austrian problem-and of that of Europe-lies in the Venetia Giulia (region of Gorizia, Trieste, Istria), Slovenia (Carniola, Styria, Carinthia), Croatia-Slavonia, and Bohemia. Austria might lose Galicia, Transylvania, Bosnia, Dalmatia and the Trentino without ceasing to be a Great Power. She would be an Austria reduced to thirty-five million inhabitants (about as many as Italy contains), in which the Germans and Magyars would establish their predominance over the Czechs, Slovenes, Croatians and Italians, who would be reduced to a definite minority. She would be an Austria more than ever bound to Germany by the clear GermanMagyar majority, by the remembrance of their common
defeat, and by their common desire for restitution. And the greatest weight of this German-Austrian-Magyar system would press on the South, on Italy and on the Adriatic.
On the other hand, if Slovenia, Croatia and the Julian Veneto were taken from Austria-Hungary, and Slovenia and Croatia were free to unite with Serbia, while the Julian Veneto went to Italy, the Austrian Empire would be over and done with for ever. The Austrian Archduchy and the Kingdom of Hungary, the last remnants of the old Empire, would become inland States, like Switzerland or Bohemia. The union between Hungary and Austria would tend to grow looser if the neighbouring states should facilitate the trend of Hungarian commerce towards the Black Sea, the Egean and the Adriatic, and allow her the same favourable conditions of transit that Switzerland has received from Italy and France. An independent Bohemia would become possible, thanks to treaties and railway conventions, which would not only assure free transit to the whole of the Slovenian back-country for the port of Trieste, but would place the railway between Trieste and Bohemia in the hands of a joint administration in which the political and economic interests of an independent Bohemia would be consolidated, against every German attempt, with those of Trieste and Serbia-Croatia-Slovenia, the masters of the back-country between Trieste and Austria.
From the point of view of Italy's advantage, the new Slav State, with its north-west corner projecting between the Italian territory of the Julian Veneto and the Archduchy of Austria, would become a permanent obstacle to every fresh German attempt to reach the Adriatic. The Germans would not be able to conquer Trieste against Italy without at the same time cutting off Slovenia from the Slavs of the South. The new State would be, in \ short, a natural ally of Italy against Germany.
Furthermore, Italians ought never to forget that the Roman question-no matter how much less acute it is now than it was some years ago-has always been bound up with the ecclesiastical state policy of Austria. AustriaHungary is now the only State in Europe in which the Catholic hierarchy takes part in public administration and preserves many of the attributes of mediæval Vol. 229.-No. 454.
sovereignty. For the Hapsburg dynasty and for the bureaucracy which depends upon it, the Roman Catholic religion is a normal instrument not only of internal administration, but also of international politics. Thus, to incite the Croatian Clericals to hostility against the Croatian Liberals and against the Orthodox Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia, and the Slovenian and Croatian clergy against the Italians of the Adriatic, has been, during the whole of the past half-century, a regular function of the State, in which clergy and police, judiciary, school and army have joined hands. The present war against Serbia, Russia and Italy is, for a great part of the lower clergy and the Austro-Hungarian peasants, a religious Crusade against schismatics and infidels, rather than a war of German-Magyar Imperialism. At present, Austrian clericalism relies especially upon the rural population of Slovenia and Croatia. Taking away these countries from the Austrian administration and combining them with Serbia, an Orthodox country, would mean creating, to the east of Italy, in place of a compactly Catholic Austria, a State owning a mixed religion (Catholic in the north and Orthodox in the south), in which the influence of the Catholic clergy would be politically paralysed by that of the Orthodox clergy, until such time as the progress of civilisation has attenuated the power of both. The dismemberment of AustriaHungary to the advantage of the schismatic Rumania and Serbia, and of liberal Italy and Bohemia, would be the greatest possible disaster to political Catholicism that has happened since the formation of a United Italy and the separation of Church and State in France.
This condition of things, explaining as it does the Russophobia and the Germanophile attitude of the Vatican, should have shown clearly to Italians-at least to those Italians who feel the national necessity of combating everywhere the political power of the Vaticanthe way to be followed in the present crisis: namely, to draw close to the Czechs and Rumanians and to the Slavs of the south in the fight for the dismemberment of Austria, that is to say, the fight for the creation of an independent Bohemia, of a Great Rumania, and of a Great Serbia.
For what concerns the allies of Italy, the foundation
of a Serbo-Sloveno-Croatian unity is an absolute necessity, especially for England. As Lord Cromer, the great organiser of Modern Egypt, has explained, the Slav State of the south, like Belgium, is one of those KeyStates whose existence is vital for the maintenance of the equilibrium of power in Europe (Times,' Sept. 28, 1916). Only when German access to the Ægean Sea is intercepted by a 'block' of some 12,000,000 Slavs, allied to Rumania and Italy, will England be sure of the eastern Mediterranean. England would defend the Isthmus of Suez, thenceforward, against Germany, by means of the new Slav State, on the line of the Drave. And in this respect Italy stands in the same position as England, because the line of the Drave blocks the road which | Germany would take towards the Adriatic. The formation of a Serbo-Sloveno-Croatian State would, in and by itself, represent the failure of the whole Oriental policy of Austria and Germany. On the other hand, to keep Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia disunited is to leave open a way for the renewal of the eastern ambitions of Austria and Germany. Consequently, Austrian policy, from the Congress of Berlin onward, has been wholly directed towards the political, economic, and moral disintegration of the Southern Slavs, in order to remove every barrier towards the East that might stand in the way of German penetration.
The new State will touch Italy on the Adriatic; and now is the time to ask what would be the most convenient and reasonable frontier line to draw between these two powers; that is to say, the line which, while respecting the legitimate claims of both nations, would create friendly relations between the neighbouring inhabitants, and make possible that Italo-Slav alliance which the new Europe will so much need to defend the southern routes against every new attempt at German conquest.
The problem is by no means easy to settle. There does not exist in the eastern Adriatic region any clear national division between the parts inhabited by Italians and those inhabited by Slavs, for the two nations are almost everywhere mixed up together. The physical confines that might be satisfactory, from a military point of view, to both States, do not everywhere coincide with the line that, from the exclusively ethnical point of view,
would be the fairest; while the local hatred between the Italians and Slavs, perfidiously fomented in the last halfcentury by the Austrian Government, makes all reasonable discussion well-nigh impossible.
The Problem of the Julian Veneto.
In the Upper Adriatic, the lands in dispute between Italians and Serbians are: (a) the territory called by the Austrian Government the Küstelband and by the Italians the Julian Veneto (Venezia Giulia), that is to say, Gorizia, Trieste and Istria; (b) the territory of Fiume.
According to the Austrian census of 1910, the Gorizian region is inhabited by 154,000 Slovenes and 90,000 Italians. The district of Gradisca, to the south-west, is compactly Italian both in the towns and in the country; the north-eastern districts of Sesana, Tolmino, and Gorizia--except the town of Gorizia-are compactly Slav. But a political division which should coincide with this racial division would not be possible. The Slovenes live in the north, to the right of the Isonzo and on the nearer side of the old Austro-Italian frontier, in the province of Udine, while Italians dwell to the southward on the left bank of the Isonzo, and along the shore.
The political indivisibility of the racial zones is clearly revealed by a study of the topographical, economic and administrative centre of the whole region-Gorizia. This town, with a population of about thirty thousand, was inhabited in 1910, according to the Austrian census, by 50.57 per cent. of Italians, 36.84 per cent. of Slovenes, and 11.05 per cent. of Germans. Inasmuch as the Germans, being almost all Government functionaries, in active service or pensioned, would emigrate to more congenial surroundings if the Austrian régime disappeared, we can eliminate this element from our consideration. As to the proportions between Italians and Slovenes, they are probably rather more favourable to the Italians than the official statistics tend to make out. In Austria, in the regions contested by different races, the arithmetic of census-taking always favours the nationality which enjoys the favour of the presiding authorities.
* Census of 1900: 140,000 Slovenes, 81,000 Italians.