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Italy's position The expectations of the Balkan countries
The laxity of inter-Balkan bonds

Italy heads for the war (March-June 1940)

Italy's position

The Italian attitude during the nine months of non-belligerence (September 1939 - June 1940) raises strong doubts about the long-term Italian intentions regarding the European military conflict. Mussolini's decision to remain outside the war was essentially imposed by the Foreign Minister, Ciano, in spite of the Duce's initial desire to honour his alliance with Nazi Germany and to fight at Hitler's side.

However, the cracks in the cohesion of the Axis front nurtured hopes in the Balkan states that Italy would not follow the example of Germany, at least not at the expense of stability in the Balkan Peninsula. At the same time, the repeated German reassurances that the German Reich had no expansionist interest in the Balkans reinforced the Balkan states' optimism for the maintenance of peace in southern Europe.

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