The Balkan friendship pact

The governments of the Balkan countries (with the exception of Bulgaria) proceeded in the period 1933-34 to have preliminary talks about the possibiliy of joining forces in a multilateral inter-Balkan agreement. Fundamental aims included the quelling of partial local disputes and the integration of the countries of the peninsula as a whole. It must be noted that the attitude of the Great Powers towards these activities ranged from wholse-heartedly positive (France) to negative (Soviet Union). The initiative for such an understanding resided with the Greek politician Alexandros Papanastasiou, who had introduced the idea of a federal authority in the Balkan area as early as 1929. This inter-Balkan communication, implemented through four conferences, crystallized in the Balkan Understanding Pact of 9 February 1934, between Romania, Yugoslavia, Turkey and Greece. Its articles stressed, in part, the desire to secure peace in the Balkans, the maintenance of territorial status, and respect for the principles of international law. The agreement was to last two years with an option for renewal.
Nevertheless, the reaction of the 'revisionist' powers - mainly Germany and Italy, but Britain as well - in the conclusion of agreements of local importance and the gradual polarization in the field of international relations of the countries of central Europe, undermined the effect of the agreement. The attitude of the leader of the opposition Eleftherios Venizelos, who opposed the general spirit of the agreement on the grounds that the country was risking becoming involved in wider international conflicts, was typical of the Greek political scene at the time. In the years 1934-39, the crumbling of peace and the deterioration of the international situation put to the test the system of intra-Balkan guarantees and finally led to an impasse. Moreover this was further stressed by the alignment of the Balkan countries with different camps at the outbreak of the Second World War.