luni, 14 septembrie 2009
DIPLOMATUL BRITANIC SIR WILLIAM CONYNGHAM GREENE DESPRE SITUAŢIA ROMÂNIEI ÎN ANUL 1909
La 12/25 noiembrie 1905, reprezentantul Marii Britanii la Bucureşti, John Gordon Kennedy, aducea la cunoştinţa ministrului român de Externe, generalul Iacob Lahovary, că succesorul său la conducerea Legaţiei britanice, în calitate de trimis extraordinar şi ministru plenipotenţiar, a fost desemnat Sir William Conyngham Greene . Acesta din urmă avea să remită scrisorile sale de acreditare Regelui Carol I, în cadrul unei audienţe oficiale, la 29 ianuarie/11 februarie 1906 .
Noul ministru plenipotenţiar, la sosirea în România, avea deja o bogată experienţă diplomatică. Născut în anul 1854, Conyngham Greene şi-a desăvârşit studiile la Colegiul Harrow & Pembroke din Oxford, intrând în corpul diplomatic în octombrie 1877, în timpul Guvernului conservator condus de Benjamin Disraeli. Începând cu anul 1880 avea să îndeplinească diferite misiuni diplomatice pe lângă Consulatele sau Legaţiile din Atena, Stuttgart, Haga, Bruxelles, Teheran şi Pretoria . În momentul numirii sale la Bucureşti, îşi încheiase misiunea de trimis extraordinar şi ministru plenipotenţiar la Berna .
Sir Conyngham Greene avea să se remarce, în noua sa calitate de reprezentant britanic la Bucureşti, atât prin experienţa sa, cât şi prin profunzimea informaţiilor cuprinse în rapoartele sale diplomatice. Atent observator al vieţii politice şi social-economice româneşti, diplomatul britanic oferea Foreign Office-ului nu numai simple informaţii, ci şi puncte de vedere pertinente, înţelegând realităţile societăţii româneşti şi intuind rolul şi locul României în zona Europei de Sud-Est.
O dovadă în sensul celor expuse mai sus, o constituie şi documentul diplomatic inedit intitulat Raportul General despre România pe anul 1909 , descoperit de noi în colecţia Microfilme, fond Anglia, de la Arhivele Naţionale Istorice Centrale din Bucureşti şi publicat în întregime în anexa articolului de faţă.
În prima parte a Raportului său, diplomatul britanic întreprinde o trecere în revistă, cronologică, a principalelor evenimente petrecute în România în cursul anului 1909.
În primul rând, Conyngham Greene face referire la starea de sănătate, din ce în ce mai critică, a primului ministru D. A. Sturdza şi retragerea sa din viaţa publică, sarcina remanierii Guvernului revenindu-i lui Ion I. C. Brătianu, noul Preşedinte al Consiliului de Miniştri (27 decembrie 1908/9 ianuarie 1909). Cum bine sesizează reprezentantul englez, alegerile parţiale la nivelul Capitalei, câştigate de conservatorii-democraţi ai lui Take Ionescu, vor constitui o grea lovitură pentru guvernanţii liberali.
Pe de altă parte, la începutul anului opinia publică era oarecum îngrijorată, ca urmare a Ordinului de zi către Armată al lui Carol I, prin care Regele lăsa să se înţeleagă necesitatea unei bune pregătiri a oştirii naţionale, în perspectiva unor potenţiale conflicte militare în primăvară.
Dacă cea de a cincizecia aniversare a Unirii Principatelor fusese celebrată în Capitală prin salutul a 21 salve de tun, oficierea unui Te Deum şi organizarea unui banchet de gală la Palatul regal, ea va fi umbrită şi de decesul Mitropolitului Primat al Ungro-Vlahiei, Iosif Gheorghian, în vârstă de 80 de ani, la câteva zile după ce oficiase botezul Principesei Ileana, cel de-al cincilea copil al perechii princiare Ferdinad-Maria.
Diplomatul britanic mai aminteşte pe scurt despre: vizita unor capete încoronate şi înalte oficialităţi străine (Regele Ferdinand al Bulgariei, Prinţul Kuni, vărul Împăratului Japoniei, Prinţul moştenitor al Germaniei, Friederich Wilhelm, Arhiducele Franz Ferdinand, Prinţ moştenitor al Austro-Ungariei, generalul rus Kaulbars însoţit de un numeros corp ofiţeresc ş.a.), sosirea unei delegaţii turce pentru a face cunoscută urcarea pe tron a Sultanului Mahmud al V-lea, sosirea la Bucureşti a două comisii bulgare privind delimitarea talveg-ului Dunării şi propunea de construire a unui pod peste fluviu între România şi Bulgaria, decorarea de către Regele României a Contelui german von Bülow, fost reprezentant al Germaniei la Bucureşti şi fost Cancelar, cu Ordinul „Carol I”, legea privind extinderea drepturilor politice în Dobrogea, inaugurarea noului port Constanţa, aniversarea vârstei de 16 ani a Alteţei Sale Regale Prinţul Carol, cu care prilej fusese avansat sublocotenent al Batalionului nr. 1 Vânători, criza politică ce va fi soluţionată prin remanierea Cabinetului (generalul Alexandru Averescu, cel care a provocat respectiva criză, fiind înlocuit din funcţia de Ministru de Război), noii miniştri numiţi, precum şi atentatul asupra premierului Ion I. C. Brătianu.
O parte distinctă a Raportului este consacrată relaţiilor externe ale României. Diplomatul britanic sesiza faptul că se resimţeau încă, la nivelul Europei în general, şi la nivelul cercurilor conducătoare de la Bucureşti în mod special, consecinţele celor două evenimente care avuseseră loc, simultan, în cursul anului 1908: declararea independenţei Bulgariei şi anexarea Bosniei şi Herţegovinei de către Austro-Ungaria, ceea ce dăduse naştere la o veritabilă criză politico-diplomatică între monarhia dualistă, sprijinită puternic de Germania, şi Serbia, sprijinită, cel puţin moral, de către Rusia ţaristă.
Amintind despre atitudinea de strictă neutralitate asumată de Guvernele, conservatoare sau liberale, care s-au succedat în ultimul timp la conducere, Conyngham Greene opina că doi factori influenţează politica externă a României: relaţiile cu Austro-Ungaria şi cele cu Rusia.
Diplomatul englez menţionează că existenţa unei convenţii militare româno-austro-ungare tinde să fie socotită o certitudine, ceea ce intra însă în contradicţie cu opinia publică, ale cărei manifestări în favoarea românilor din Transilvania şi împotriva politicii de maghiarizare erau tot mai evidente. În eventualitatea unei intervenţii militare ruseşti în favoarea sârbilor, Conyngham Greene se întreba dacă trupele române vor dori să constituie o barieră în calea ruşilor, dat fiind faptul că exista în ţară un puternic sentiment antimaghiar şi era binecunoscută intenţia naţionaliştilor de a profita de orice eveniment favorabil pentru a acorda sprijin românilor transilvăneni, în vederea eliberării „de sub jugul maghiar”.
Cât priveşte Rusia, se punea problema dacă nu ar fi mai înţelept pentru România de a se apropia de vecinul de la Răsărit, părăsind animozităţile din trecut, decât să rişte a transforma această mare putere într-un adversar redutabil. Chiar dacă evoluţia paşnică a conflictului austro-sârb nu a impus statului român o schimbare a atitudinii de neutralitate, aceasta din urmă – în opinia diplomatului britanic – nu era cea mai bună soluţie în eventualitatea izbucnirii unui război. Poziţia geopolitică şi strategică a României demonstra o dată în plus că Rusia este foarte periculoasă, iar în eventualitatea unei alieri a acesteia cu Bulgaria, statul român ar fi prins ca într-un cleşte. Referitor la posibilitatea constituirii unei Confederaţii Balcanice, aceasta era puţin probabilă, de altfel, România refuzând a se considera un stat balcanic.
Conyngham Greene intuieşte, în acest context, semnificaţiile vizitei Krönprinz-ului Frederich Wilhelm la Bucureşti, care îi înmânează bastonul de feld-mareşal al armatei germane Regelui Carol I şi îl decorează pe Prinţul Carol cu Ordinul „Vulturul Negru”, precum şi vizita arhiducelui moştenitor al Austro-Ungariei, Franz Ferdinand, la Sinaia. Erau acestea nu numai simple manifestări de simpatie la adresa Familiei Regale române, ci şi un efort evident al Germaniei şi Austro-Ungariei de a menţine România în sfera de interese a Puterilor Centrale.
Nu este mai puţin adevărat că, la rândul ei, Rusia, după semnarea alianţei cu Franţa, făcea eforturi evidente de a atrage România în sfera sa de interese şi de a îmbunătăţi relaţiile dintre cele două state. Pe această linie se va înscrie vizita generalului Kaulbars şi a ofiţerilor ruşi la Constanţa, după cum o delegaţie română va participa la funeraliile Marelui Duce Mihail Nicolaevici.
În ceea ce priveşte Comisia Europeană a Dunării, reprezentantul britanic la Bucureşti constata că Ion I. C. Brătianu, spre deosebire de predecesorul său D. A. Sturdza, era ferm hotărât a menţine statu-quo-ul şi a nu modifica Tratatul de la Berlin în această privinţă, dacă astfel de modificări erau în detrimentul intereselor noastre.
Pe de altă parte, după numeroase şi dificile negocieri, se va semna Convenţia comercială cu Austro-Ungaria, interesele protecţioniste ale statului român fiind protejate.
Diplomaţia română a fost întotdeauna interesată în a menţine bune relaţii cu Marea Britanie, ceea ce s-a reflectat şi la nivelul anului 1909. O dovadă în acest sens o reprezenta faptul că la nivelul relaţiilor comerciale, Anglia ocupa cel de-al treilea loc în privinţa importurilor şi exporturilor, cu atât mai mult cu cât Guvernul britanic era interesat în a sprijini Guvernul român în eforturile sale de regenerare a Peninsulei Balcanice.
Diplomatul britanic supune analizei şi relaţiile României cu Imperiul Otoman, ajungând la concluzia că acestea sunt prietenoase. Mai mult decât atât, în perspectiva unui conflict între Turcia şi Bulgaria, diplomaţia de la Bucureşti îşi arăta disponibilitatea de a coopera cu Marile Puteri pentru a împiedica orice agresiune bulgară asupra Porţii.
Relaţiile cu Franţa sunt şi ele obiectul investigaţiei reprezentantului britanic la Bucureşti. După ce constata că în trecut relaţiile cu Franţa ocupau un rol predominant, intelectualitatea românească desăvârşindu-şi studiile la Paris, iar limba franceză fiind ca o a doua limbă oficială, Conyngham Greene împărtăşeşte opinia potrivit căreia prestigiul diplomaţiei franceze la Bucureşti a scăzut, în măsura în care interesele Republicii în Orient s-au diminuat considerabil. Cu toate că opinia publică franceză a privit cu amărăciune entuziasmul cu care românii l-au primit la Bucureşti pe Prinţul moştenitor al Germaniei, totuşi, Preşedintele Republicii franceze, Armand Fallières, i-a conferit Marele Cordon al „Legiunii de Onoare” Prinţului moştenitor Ferdinand.
În privinţa relaţiilor cu Italia, diplomatul britanic observa că întotdeauna acestea au fost calde şi apropiate, în virtutea originii latine comune. Exista chiar şi o similitudine în ceea ce priveşte motivaţiile şi consecinţele alăturării Italiei şi, posibil, a României la Tripla Alianţă, principala problemă constituind-o, pentru amândouă statele, Austro-Ungaria.
La nivelul relaţiilor româno-bulgare, în cursul anului 1909 pot fi diseminate patru aspecte: primirea la Bucureşti, cu onoruri regale, a conducătorului Bulgariei independente; tatonările în privinţa constituirii Confederaţiei Balcanice; afirmaţiile diplomaţiei de la Bucureşti potrivit cărora orice agresiune bulgară în Macedonia ar duce la deteriorarea relaţiile existente; negocierile privind construirea unui pod peste Dunăre.
Întrucât pericolul unui conflict austro-sârb fusese evitat, iar diplomaţia de la Bucureşti şi-a menţinut atitudinea de neutralitate, relaţiile statului român cu Serbia se reflectă doar la nivelul negocierilor în privinţa construirii unui pod peste Dunăre.
Nu se constată noutăţi nici la nivelul relaţiilor cu Grecia, Regele Carol I socotind că cea mai mare greşeală a grecilor este aceea de a nu recunoaşte că românii sunt prietenii lor naturali. Pe de altă parte, erau previzibile serioase tulburări interne la Atena, care ar putea afecta Europa.
Un segment aparte în Raport este consacrat de către diplomatul britanic analizei situaţiei armatei, considerând că s-au înregistrat progrese remarcabile în această direcţie: dotarea artileriei cu noi tunuri, reorganizarea Statului Major General, sporirea rezervelor de infanterie, îmbunătăţirea metodelor de antrenament etc. Din păcate, se constată că rezervele de muniţii sunt insuficiente şi, de multe ori, de o calitate îndoielnică. De altfel, principala problemă era aceea că România era dependentă de muniţiile importate din străinătate.
La nivel financiar, anul 1909 este unul în care se înregistrează un surplus de 52 milioane de franci, iar recolta înregistrează şi ea un oarecare reviriment faţă de anul trecut.
Raportul diplomatului britanic se încheie cu scurte aprecieri în ceea ce priveşte noii miniştri care au intrat în Cabinet: generalul Crăiniceanu la Ministerul de Război, Alexandru Djuvara la Ministerul Afacerilor Străine, Alexandru Constantinescu la Ministerul Agriculturii şi Domeniilor şi Mihail G. Orleanu la Ministerul Industriilor şi Comerţului.
Aşa cum se poate observa şi din această succintă prezentare, Raportul întocmit de diplomatul britanic Sir William Conyngham Greene este unul extrem de preţios în informaţii privind stadiul la care ajunsese societatea românească din punct de vedere politic, diplomatic şi economic în cursul anului 1909.
General Report on Roumania for the year 1909
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Narrative of Events
Relations with Great Britain
Relations with other Independent States
Naval and Military Armaments
Trade, Finance, Harvest
Narrative of Events
The year opened badly for Roumania by the mental breakdown, and subsequent withdrawal from public life, of M[r]. Sturdza, the veteran statesmen and Prime Minister of the country. His Excellency’s place was taken by M[r]. Bratiano, who also assumed the portfolio of Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. Almost simultaneously with this change of Premier, the Government sustained a severe defeat at an important by election in the capital at the hands of the Conservative-Democrats under M[r]. Take Ionesco, but they successfully weathered the storm. The King signalized the new year by issuing an ordre du jour to the army. The serious language in which it was couched arrested public attention, and it was no doubt inspired by His Majesty’s grave pre-occupation as to possible warlike developments in the coming spring. On the 7th February, the fiftieth anniversary of the union of the provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia was celebrated in the capital by a salute of twenty-one guns, a Te Deum, and a gala banquet at the palace. On the same day occurred very suddenly the death of the Metropolitan Primate of Hongro-Wallachia in his 80th year, a few days after his Holiness had officiated at the baptism of the Princess Ileana, the infant daughter of the Prince and the Princess of Roumania. Early in March King Charles received a visit from the Prince of Bulgaria, to whom His Majesty, somewhat to his embarrassment no doubt, decided to accord Royal honours. Towards the end of the month rumours were spread as to the existence of a fresh agitation among the peasantry, but, fortunately, nothing further was heard on the subject. About the same time a political crisis occurred in connection with the refusal of General Averesco, Minister of War, to resign his portfolio at the demand of the Prime Minister. The Cabinet thereupon resigned en bloc, and was immediately reconstructed as before, with the elimination of General Averesco. The King is stated to have stood up for General Averesco, and to have been indignant at the proceedings of M[r]. Bratiano, but the latter forced His Majesty’s hand, and the King had nothing to do but to submit. In March a Bill was introduced in the Senate for the extension of political rights to the Dobrudja, and was passed unanimously by that Chamber. On the 29th of the same month Prince Kuni, cousin of the Emperor of Japan, arrived in Bucharest on a visit to the Royal Family. Three events of importance marked the early days of April: the visit of the German Crown Prince, the signature of the Austro-Roumanian Commercial Convention, and the recognition by Roumania of the independence of Bulgaria. All these subjects are dealt with fully elsewhere in this report. In July the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, accompanied by the Princess Hohenberg, arrived at Sinaia on a visit to the Roumanian Royal Family. The visit, while most successful from a private point of view, was somewhat marred by a subsequent press campaign between the Roumanian and the Magyar newspapers. In the course of the same month King Charles addressed a telegram to Prince von Bülow, on his retirement from the office of Chancellor, and conferred on him the Order of “Carol Ist”, the highest Roumanian decoration. On the 16th July a special Turkish mission arrived at Bucharest to announce the accession of the Sultan Mahmoud Vth of Turkey. In October the King and the Queen, and the Prince and the Princess of Roumania, proceeded to Constantza, where His Majesty performed the inauguration ceremony of the new harbour works and grain elevators. Later in the month a special mission of Russian officers, under the leadership of General Kaulbars, arrived at Constantza, where they were received by the Crown Prince, and subsequently proceeded to Bucharest, where they were presented to King Charles. The mission, whose ostensible object was to revisit the battle-fields of the Russo-Turkish war, was enthusiastically received by the public. On the 16th October His Royal Highness the Prince Carol attained his sixteenth birthday, and received his commission as sub-lieutenant of the 1st Battalion of Chasseurs. The ceremony of conferring this rank on His Royal Highness was performed at Sinaia in the presence of the King, the Royal Family, and the Ministers and Functionaries of State. In the course of the same month two Bulgarian commissions visited the capital; the first in connection with the delimitation of the thalweg of the Danube, and the second in connection with a proposal to build a bridge across that river between Roumania and Bulgaria. On the 28th November the annual session of the Roumanian Parliament was opened by the King in person, who was given a very cordial reception. Previous to the opening of the Chambers, the Bratiano Cabinet had been reconstructed, M[r]. Bratiano handing over the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to M[r]. Djuvara, up till that time Minister of Industry, and retaining himself the Premiership and Ministry of the Interior. Other changes in the Cabinet were made on the same occasion, including the appointment of General Crainiceano, up till then Chief of the General Staff, to the Ministry of War.
On the 21st December the capital was startled by the report of fire-arms, and it soon transpired that an attempt had been made to assassinate the Prime Minister. The author of the crime, who was soon arrested, was a young employé in the Government railway workshops. It is not yet clear whether the man was a simple dégénéré, with a grievance, or an instrument of the Labour Syndicates, who had been somewhat roughly handled not long ago by the Government, and wanted to revenge themselves. M[r]. Bratiano is making a rapid recovery from his wounds, and, although he has still two bullets lodged in his body, he seems in a fair way to be soon restored to health. Just before the end of the year His Excellency applied for a short leave of absence in order to recuperate, and resigned the Ministry of the Interior, retaining the position of President of the Council. M[r]. Pherekyde, up till now President of the Chamber of Deputies, has been appointed to the vacant Ministry of the Interior, and M[r]. Missir has succeeded him as President of the Chamber.
The intense strain in the European situation, consequent upon the declaration of her independence by Bulgaria and the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary, was severely felt in Roumania during the whole of the spring of 1909. And this was natural enough, as a glance at the map will show that any disturbance of the peace in the Near East is not unlikely to involve Roumania in the complications of her neighbours. The declared policy of successive Roumanian Cabinets has, as you are aware, always been to observe an attitude of strict neutrality, and to profess a desire to second the efforts of the Great Powers in the direction of peace. In the Austro-Servian crisis of last spring the interesting question presented itself whether Roumania would in the long run be able to sustain this independent role, or whether she would be drawn into the whirlpool of an impending conflict. Two factors governed the problem: first, the relations of Roumania with Austria-Hungary; and secondly, the relations of Roumania with Russia. Roumania is generally supposed to be bound to Austria by a military convention. The existence of this convention has been officially denied by the Roumanian Government, but it seems highly probable that, even if no actual convention exists, there must be some mutual understanding between the two countries. Assuming, then, that some such compact is in existence, the question which presented itself to the Roumanian Government last spring was this: Would the Roumanian people be willing, in the event of Russian armed intervention on behalf of Servia, to allow their troops to be used as a barrier to a Russian advance, in view of the strong anti-Hungarian feeling prevailing in this country, and the thinly-veiled intention of the National party to take advantage of any favourable turn of events to assist their brethren in Transylvania to break away from the Hungarian yoke? The second question – the Russian factor – was clearly dependent upon the former: Was the traditional animosity of Roumania against Russia alive and irresistible, or would not a policy of rapprochement to her great neighbour be wiser than to run the risk of linking her fate to that of Russia’s adversary? Fortunately for Roumania, she was not called upon to throw her sword into either scale, and the peaceful solution of the Austro-Servian conflict permitted her to reserve her reply. Still, the problem which presented itself last spring will, likely enough, present itself again in the coming by and by, and she will have to make up her mind. She cannot for ever sit upon the fence. The mere assertion of a neutralité bienveillante is not of much value in time of war. Roumania would, on the outbreak of hostilities, be obliged to take the necessary steps to make her neutrality respected, and the mere taking of those steps would in all probability compromise her position with one side or the other. As regards the probable line which she would take in such a crisis, it is impossible to speak with any certainty, everything would depend upon the grouping of the Powers at the time. But it is quite on the cards that, at any rate after the death of King Charles, Roumania might find it more to her advantage to patch up old misunderstandings with Russia than to cling to the Austro-German friendship which has marked her policy in the past, but which is no longer in sympathy with the national feeling of the country. Russia is very near, and very dangerous. Her fleet commands Constantza, and her troops could overrun the Dobrudja. Moreover, if Bulgaria should at the time be acting with Russia, Roumania would be the nut in the jaws of the nutcrackers. Lastly, there is the problem of a possible Balkan Confederation, which, though perhaps only in the academic stage at present, yet forms a feature of Russia’s official desiderata. Up till now Roumania has, it is true, steadfastly refused to admit her existence as a Balkan State, but circumstances alter cases, and she may some day be forced to revise her attitude and to fall into line with her Balkan neighbours.
That this element of uncertainty in the attitude of Roumania caused anxiety at Vienna and at Berlin is, I think, proved by the demonstrative assertions of friendship vouchsafed to King Charles on the part of the two Emperors in the course of last year. In April the German Crown Prince, attended by an enormous staff of twelve officers, arrived in Bucharest and spent a week in the capital. And His Imperial Highness did not come empty-handed. He was the bearer to King Charles of a field-marshal’s baton in the German army, an extraordinary and exceptional distinction, and to Prince Carol the Order of the Black Eagle, which he conferred on behalf of the Emperor on the orthodox heir to the Throne of Roumania. These remarkable bids for popularity – all the more remarkable because there had always up till now been a sort of coolness between the Courts of Berlin and Bucharest – were imitated a few weeks later by a visit to the King at Sinaia from the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, accompanied by his wife the Princess Hohenberg, to whom the Court of Roumania, first of the European Courts, accorded the position of a Royal Princess. It is, I think, an open question, or at any rate by no means a certainty, whether these exhibitions of friendship would have been so marked, or even, in the case of Berlin, whether they would have occurred at all, had there not been an object in the back-ground, and I cannot resist the impression that it was in consequence of the crisis in Austro-Servian relations that Germany decided to make an effort to rope in Roumania to the Triple Alliance by a compliment alike to her Sovereign and to her people.
Turning now to other phases of interest in foreign relations, I may observe that M[r]. Bratiano, who had succeded M[r]. Sturdza as Prime Minister, took a determined line, and one that was in opposition to the views of Sturdza, in the matter of the Danube Commission. M[r]. Sturdza had, it was surmised, given assurances to Count von Aehrenthal in the summer of 1908, that Roumania would not object to the admission of Servia and of Bulgaria to the international commission of the Danube. This attitude was categorically rejected by M[r]. Bratiano, who, speaking in the Chamber on his accession to office, declared: “We cannot admit that a modification of an article of the treaty of Berlin in regard to the Danube should be elaborated to our detriment. It is an anachronism to suppose that any legislation can be carried out today with regard to the Danube without our concurrence. This would be inconsistent with our dignity” (Prolonged applause). I may add that the Prime Minister was supported in his attitude by the leaders of all the other political parties, who spoke in the same strain. In subsequent conversation with me M[r]. Bratiano expressed the desire that the question of the Danube should be excluded from the purview of any European conference, and added that, in that case, the Roumanian Government would be ready to leave matters as they were, and not to do anything to disturb the status quo without first consulting His Majesty’s Government.
After endless difficulties the long-protracted negotiations, which had begun as far back as 1906, between Roumania and Austria-Hungary for the conclusion of a commercial convention, came to an end on the 23rd April last, when a new convention was signed at Bucharest on behalf of the two countries. The Roumanian demands had been fiercely resisted by the agrarians in Austria, and especially in the Hungarian Chambers, but this opposition was at last abated. It was supposed, and probably not without reason, that the political crisis between Servia and Austria, contributed to facilitate the later negotiations, as it was thought to be very undesirable that commercial relations should be interrupted between Roumania and the Empire at a moment when the latter was anxious to be able to count on the support of Roumania with a view to possible warlike eventualities. The convention was accepted by the Austrian Reichsrath just before Christmas, and it has since been adopted by both the Chambers in this country.
Relations with Great Britain
Nothing could be more agreeable than my relations in the past year with M[r]. Bratiano, the Prime Minister and ad interim Minister for Foreign Affairs; and, as far as they have gone, I can say the same thing for his successor, M[r]. Djuvara. Among the political questions which I discussed with M[r]. Bratiano in the course of the year, I may mention the Danube Commission, on which we ended by understanding each other although at first His Excellency seemed inclined to throw doubts on Great Britain’s interest in the subject, and sought later on, with a view to meeting an interpellation of the Opposition, to press His Majesty’s Government to give assurances that they would use their best endeavours to prevent the question of the Danube from being discussed at a European Conference.
In the course of the Near eastern crisis in the spring I had several interviews with M[r]. Bratiano, in which His Excellency, while welcoming Bulgaria’s accession to the ranks of the independent elements of the Balkan Peninsula, expressed his determination not to countenance any extension of her present limits. Indeed, he offered to cooperate with the European Powers in common action to prevent any aggression by Bulgaria on Turkey if he should be invited to do so.
On the occasion of the visit of the German Crown Prince to Bucharest, M[r]. Bratiano assured me that Roumania had no political leanings towards Germany or any other Power, and that she intended to follow a national policy, at the same time endeavouring to enlist the sympathy of all Great Powers.
Speaking to Mr. Gregory in September, M[r]. Bratiano expressed his belief, as the result of an interview which he had had with Count von Aehrenthal at Vienna, that Austria did not contemplate further military intervention, but would continue her traditional policy of pushing towards Salonica by peaceful penetration, and not by force. His Excellency also hinted at a possible eventual delimitation of Macedonia into spheres of interest. At the same interview M[r]. Bratiano expressed his disbelief in an agreement on the subject between Austria and Bulgaria, and intimated his apprehension that Bulgaria might eventually invade Macedonia.
In a conversation which I had with M[r]. Bratiano in November, on my return from leave, and on the occasion of his relinquishing his office of acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, His Excellency assured me of the interest which he had always taken in maintaining the best relations between Great Britain and Roumania, and expressed the hope that although he was no longer to be Minister for Foreign Affairs, he would often have the opportunity of discussing matters of common interest with me.
As regards British commercial interests in Roumania, I was happy to be able to call M[r]. Bratiano’s attention in May last, to the great strides which Great Britain was making in her economic relations with Roumania. Great Britain was, I said, now Roumania’s third best customer both in exports and in imports, and during the years 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, and 1907 (the last years for which figures were available), the growth of her imports had been 43, 45, 50, 62, and 70 millions of francs respectively. Roumania and England had, I said, many interests in common, and His Majesty’s Government looked to the Roumanian Government to support them in their endeavours to regenerate the Balkan Peninsula. M[r]. Bratiano replied that nothing would be more agreeable to him than to cooperate in every way in promoting the mutual interests, whether political or commercial, of our two Governments.
Relations with other Independent States
The intimate nature of the link which connects Roumania and Austria, was well exemplified at the time of the annexation by the latter of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Referring to that event in the debate on the Speech from the Throne, M[r]. Bratiano laconically remarked, “This does not in any way affect our interests”, and passed on to other subjects. Notwithstanding this ostensible attitude of laisser-faire, the Government were obliged to reckon with future possibilities when the prospect of an Austro-Servian conflict became imminent in the spring, and steps were then taken for the mobilization, if necessary, of the Ist Army Corps to cover the line of the Danube between Orsova and Gruia. Roumania, as I have explained in my general remarks on “foreign policy”, was very much hampered at the time by the conflicting claims of her engagements with Austria, and of the anti-Austrian feeling in the country. Happily, the clouds of war eventually rolled by, and Roumania was able to resume her usual role of expectancy.
The visit of the German Crown Prince to Bucharest in May was generally looked upon as partly due to Austrian inspiration, and the supplementary visit of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife to Sinaia in the autumn confirmed the impression that the two Emperors were anxious to propitiate Roumania. This is not, however, by any means an easy task. As long as the Magyarising methods of the Hungarians, and the harsh treatment of the Roumanian populations across the border continue to sow discord between Roumania and Hungary. This ill-feeling was exemplified in June by the refusal of the Roumanian doctors to attend the General Medical Congress at Budapest as a protest against the imprisonment in Hungary of Madame Aurèle Vlad, the wife of a Roumanian deputy. A further untoward incident was the expulsion of Dr. Iorga, a well-known university professor, from Czernowitz. Nevertheless, there appears to have been a feeling in this country that the Archduke himself was to some extent in sympathy with the aspirations of the Roumanian population of Hungary, and there was a general disposition in consequence of this side on the frontier to give him a popular welcome. On the third day of his visit the Archduke received a deputation of Transylvanian Roumanians, to whom he showed the greatest cordiality and sympathy, and there was every reason to suppose that His Imperial Highness’ visit, even if not attended with definite political results, had passed off successfully. Scarcely, however, had the Archduke left Sinaia, when a violent press controversy broke out between the Roumanian and the Magyar papers, which was a most unfortunate sequel to the visit from the point of view of those who were priding themselves on the cloudlessness of the impression left behind. This ill-feeling was further swelled by a disagreeable incident at Predeal railway station, when the Crown Princess and her family were leaving the country, and by certain indignities to which Roumanian travelers were subjected when crossing the same frontier. Altogether, what with the incidents described above, and many other instances of petty persecution, and especially the recent decree of Count Apponyi forbidding religious instruction in Roumanian in the Transylvanian schools, the relations between Roumania and Hungary are unfortunately somewhat severely strained.
In August M[r]. Bratiano had a conversation with Count von Aehrenthal at Vienna, and in an interview which he subsequently gave to a representative of the “Neue Freie Presse” he said: “No one will dispute the service rendered by the Triple Alliance, and I need hardly say how much we value good-neighbourly relations with Austria-Hungary”. In an interview which M[r]. Bratiano had with Mr. Gregory, on his return to Roumania, His Excellency said that Count von Aehrental had assured him most emphatically that no possible contingency in the Balkans would be considered by him a pretext for military intervention. This did not mean, M[r]. Bratiano said, that Austria was abandoning her traditional policy of pushing down towards Salonica, but that Count von Aehrenthal meant to further that object in future by peaceful penetration, and not by force.
The general impression left on Mr. Gregory’s mind at the moment of his departure from Roumania in the autumn was that the Roumanian Government and the King had recently somewhat relaxed their allegiance to Austria, and turned their thoughts towards Russia. A touch of confirmation is given to this view by the fact that, in the speech from the throne delivered by King Charles at the opening of the Parliament on the 28th November, a reference to the visits of the German Crown Prince and of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand was immediately followed by a complimentary allusion to Russia, alone of all the other great European Powers.
The crisis of the spring of course brought the question of Roumania’s relations with her powerful neighbour very much to the front. Nothing, however, was either said or done in this country to give umbrage to Russian susceptibilities, indeed, Russia seems to have to a great extent lived down her unpopularity here. Roumanians see no Alsace-Lorraine in Bessarabia, nor is there any Irredentist propaganda in regard to that province. On the contrary, Russians are, as a rule, made welcome when they cross the border, and there is an additional link between the two countries in the community of the Orthodox religion. In fact, I should hesitate today to say that the feeling of this country was anti-Russian, or, at any rate, more anti-Russian than anti-Austro-Hungarian.
Speaking to me in April on the discomfiture of Russian policy in the Servian crisis, King Charles laid the blame on M[r]. Isvolsky, who had, he said, made blunders. His Majesty added that he did not believe in a rapprochement of the three Emperors, or that Russia would detach herself from France.
In September General Crainiceano, at the time head of the general staff, and since named Minister of War in the reconstructed Cabinet, published, anonymously, an article in a leading Roumanian military newspaper, repudiating the assumption of a Vienna paper that the Roumanian forces would go solid with those of Germany and Austria-Hungary in the event of war, and pointing out that, on the contrary, if Roumania adhered to the Triple Alliance, Russia would inevitably send her Black sea fleet to Constantza and devastate the littoral, marching a large expedition through the Dobrudja, and creating havoc over a practically defenceless country.
In the month of August M[r]. Bratiano, in an interview granted at Vienna to the “Neue Freie Presse”, made a graceful acknowledgement of the increasingly friendly relations between Roumania and Russia, and Mr. Gregory reported that exceptional attention was paid this summer at Sinaia to the Russian Minister and the staff of the Russian Legation.
In October a large party of Russian officers, headed by General Kaulbars, arrived at Constantza from Odessa, and were received by the King and the Crown Prince, both of whom had donned Russian uniforms for the occasion. The ostensible object of the visit was to view the battlefields of 1878, but the mission was pressed by the King to extend their stay in the country, and everything was done to make the Russian visit a visible demonstration of the improved relations between the two countries.
At the end of December King Charles dispatched the Russian cruiser “Elisabeta” to Sebastopol on a special mission to the Russian Imperial Family, on the occasion of the death of the Grand Duke Michael Nicolaievitch. The members of the mission placed a silver wreath on the coffin of the Grand Duke, and were subsequently received in audience by the Emperor, who is stated to have entrusted them with a warm message of thanks for the attention shown to him by the King of Roumania, and for the kindness extended to Russian officers who had visited Roumania in the month of October.
The relations of Roumania with Turkey, if not marked by any special warmth, have remained quite friendly. The Prime Minister, when speaking to me in March on the possibility of a conflict between Turkey and Bulgaria, said that, if such a conflict should occur, the sympathies of Roumania would undoubtedly incline towards the former. Roumania, M[r]. Bratiano said, looked upon Turkey as a valuable customer. Bucharest was in constant touch with Constantinople by the Roumanian national steamers, and Constantza was destined to be a precious link in the Bagdad chain of communications to the Far East. In fact, from the first, successive Roumanian Governments had considered the maintenance of friendly relations with Turkey as one of the main planks in their policy. It was true that there had from time to time been differences of opinion between the two Governments, but most of these had passed with the passing of the palace régime on the Bosphorus, and things were now on a satisfactory footing. A few weeks later, when a Bulgarian attack upon Turkey seemed imminent, M[r]. Bratiano went so far as to inform me that Roumania would be ready to cooperate in any common action of the Great Powers to prevent Bulgarian aggression on Turkey, if she were asked to do so. King Charles, however, speaking to me in the month of November, did not take a very rosy view of the situation at Constantinople. Turkey, His Majesty said, was one of the black spots in the political horizon, and he added that he had not much confidence in the regeneration of the country. His Majesty remarked that the Government was still, as at the time of the Revolution, under the domination of the military. The latter had behaved well, it was true, but the recent example of Greece had shown how dangerous it was to leave the government of a country at the mercy of the army. His Majesty said that he did not consider that the outlook in the internal administration of Turkey was reassuring either; Turkish Ministers, the King said, showed little real ability, and appeared to be unable to reestablish public confidence abroad.
In July a special Turkish mission to announce the accession of Sultan Mahmoud Vth arrived at Bucharest, and was received by the King in audience at Sinaia. The visit was favourably commented on in the press, and the mission was bidden to return to Constantinople with a knowledge of the good relations now existing between Turkey and Roumania, and of the satisfaction felt by the latter in the prospect of an amelioration in the ecclesiastical conditions in Macedonia.
In October the Turkish gun-boat “Peik-i-Sherket” arrived at Galatz, in order to be present during the autumn plenary session of the Danube Commission. This was the first Turkish war-vessel to ascend the Danube since the war of 1877.
The long protracted negotiations for the conclusion of a consular and a commercial convention are still hanging fire, and I understand that the Turks are complaining of the restrictions which are placed by the Roumanian customs on the importation of grapes from the Ottoman Empire.
Shortly before Christmas Djavid Bey, the Turkish Minister of Finance, and an important member of the “Committee of Union and Progress”, came to Bucharest on a few days visit, and proceeded to Sophia and Belgrade. The Minister’s visit is supposed to have been in connection with the press campaign which has recently been made in favour of a Balkan confederation, but I have not had an opportunity yet of finding out what was the real object of the visit.
The year 1909 was remarkable for the high personal attentions shown to King Charles by the German Emperor. Speaking to me in April the King said: “I have had a visit from a Russian and an Austrian Emperor, and I am, therefore, all the more delighted to welcome the German Crown Prince, who has been sent by his father to represent him on my seventieth birthday”. Unfortunately, King Charles was not at all at his best when the Crown Prince arrived at Bucharest; indeed, His Majesty broke down and wept when the young prince handed him the baton of a Field Marshal. Still the visit was a great success. The town was en fête, the papers were full of portraits of the German Royal Family, the Crown Prince was snapshotted in all directions, and the shops were full of post-cards showing King Charles and the German Crown Prince surrounded by German officers. Of course the French press waxed sarcastic over the event, and described the visit as the “consecration of German influence in Roumania”, while the German and Austrian papers, on the other hand, overflowed with complimentary references to Roumania and her ruler. The pro-German Schwärmerei was not, however, destined to last, and one of the most widely read Roumanian newspapers, a few days after the visit, asked, in an article entitled “Roumania the sentinel of Germanism”, what Roumania was to get in return for her subserviency to Germany. The situation was summed up to me by the Prime Minister in the following words: “Roumania has no political leanings either towards Germany or any other Power”. As regarded the visit of the Crown Prince, M[r]. Bratiano went on to say, it was to be explained thus. There had always been a certain want of sympathy between King Charles and the German Emperor, arising, in all probability, from dissimilarity of temperament. Both were Hohenzollerns, but Hohenzollerns of a different type, and it had always been a matter of regret to King Charles that his Hohenzollern relation had not paid him a visit at Bucharest. All this, M[r]. Bratiano said, had been put right by the dispatch of the Crown Prince to congratulate King Charles on his seventieth birthday, and by the great distinction conferred upon His Majesty in being made a Field Marshal in the German army. That was really the secret of the whole affair, and it was absurd to distort it or wrap it up in mysterious allusions to further possible complications.
I may remark that, besides the above tokens of friendship the Emperor has invited the Prince and the Princess of Roumania to Berlin in January, to take part in the forthcoming investiture at the Chapter of the Black Eagle.
Owing perhaps to a common Latin origin, a certain similarity of tastes and ideas, and the adoption of French as the language of society, France has for years past enjoyed a pre-eminent position in Roumania. While Roumanian doctors, lawyers, engineers and students resort to Paris for their education, and pursue their researches in French text-books, their wives and sisters dress themselves in the French capital, and follow, if they do not precede, the latest fashions of the French modistes. Except for speeches in Parliament, the language talked in Bucharest, even among Roumanians themselves, is French: French artistes and their troupes visit the capital every winter, and French literature overflows in all the bookshops. Last spring some leading Frenchmen bewailed the fact that French influence was on the wane in Roumania. I am not, of course, competent to say if this is true, but, as far as the capital is concerned, if there is any falling off in the prestige of the French Legation, it is, perhaps, because the French Foreign Office have not thought it worth while to send an engaging representative to the Court of Bucharest.
Alluding to the soreness felt in France at the pro-German enthusiasm shown in Roumania on the occasion of the visit of the German Crown Prince, M[r]. Bratiano remarked to me in May that M[r]. Hanotaux and other French writers were unfair in ascribing to Roumania any but the most friendly feelings towards France. If France, His Excellency said, had lost any prestige in this part of the world, it was because she had preferred to follow a policy of domestic expansion, and had for some time past been withdrawing herself from her old active participation in the events of the East. There was probably no capital in Europe where French was so much spoken today as at Bucharest, and the friendly feeling of Roumanians for Frenchmen was a household word.
Speaking to me of the Austro-Servian crisis last spring, King Charles said he thought that France was the Power which had come best out of whole imbroglio, and it was her correct and pacific action which had chiefly influenced the final decision. France, His Majesty remarked, had rendered the best service to the cause of peace when she had made it evident at St. Petersburgh that she did not mean to fight.
I may mention that the President of the French Republic conferred the Grand Cordon of the Légion d’Honneur on the Crown Prince of Roumania in January last.
The attitude of Roumania towards Italy has always been warm and sympathetic. Claiming, as Roumanians do, a common ancestry and a common tongue with the “Romans” of the peninsula, they make no secret of their penchant for the Italy of today. The Italian Legation is, I believe, the oldest legation house in the capital, and, aptly enough perhaps, the Italian Minister is the oldest Minister and the doyen of the diplomatic body. In politics also there is a similarity between the position of Roumania vis-à-vis of Austria-Hungary and that of Italy vis-à-vis of the same Power, and of both countries vis-à-vis of the Triple Alliance. Italy, though bound by the Triple Alliance to Austria-Hungary, is distracted by the propaganda of the Italian irredentists in the dual monarchy. Equally, Roumania, while directing her official policy, for years past, in conformity with Austrian inspiration, is crippled by a spirit of anti-Hungarian agitation. It is, therefore, worth bearing in mind that, in the event of trouble in the Near East, the policy of Roumania might be affected, or, at any rate, influenced by whatever action might be taken by Italy. An interesting commentary on this thought is afforded by a conversation which was repeated to me by M[r]. Take Jonesco, the leader of the Conservative Democrat opposition, last May. He said that, in reply to strictures which had been made to him in Paris by MM. Pichon and Hanotaux, who implied that Roumania had laid herself out to court the favour of Germany at the time of the visit of the German Crown Prince to Bucharest, he had defended his country by drawing a parallel between her position and that of Italy. Italy was, he had said, the most courted of all the great Powers. Why? Because she was a coward. But there were other cowards, he had remarked, in Europe besides Italy. Italy was afraid to take a strong line, and hovered between inclination and necessity, and the result was that everyone paid court to her. It was the same with Roumania. Germany and Austria were most anxious to keep her in the shafts of the Triple Alliance, and this was the real explanation of their empressement towards her.
In the early days of March the Prince of Bulgaria arrived in Bucharest and was received by the King with Royal honours. Explaining the matter to me at the time, the Prime Minister said that this did not in any way imply the recognition by Roumania, officially, of the independence of Bulgaria, but he added that Roumania would be one of the first to recognize the Prince as the Sovereign of an independent State as soon as the great Powers had made a beginning and done so. In the course of the same interview M[r]. Bratiano expressed his belief that Bulgaria would not pursue a forward policy in regard to Macedonia and Turkey in general, but would be satisfied with the achievement of the goal of her independence. Later on, when the crisis became more acute, M[r]. Bratiano got somewhat alarmed at the possibility of Bulgarian aggression upon Macedonia, and expressed to me his willingness to cooperate with the great Powers in preventing it if invited to do so. As soon as the air was clearer and this danger was averted, King Charles lost no time in sending his congratulations to the new King Ferdinand, and the Roumanian Government followed suit by officially recognizing the independence of the young kingdom.
In July a Congress of Roumanian and Bulgarian students took place at Sophia. This Congress, the Bulgarian military attaché informed Mr. Gregory confidentially, originated with the Bulgarian Government as a ballon d’essai in furtherance of a Balkan Confederation, and he added that if success attended the development of the movement, the Bulgarian Government would itself emerge from the background, though not perhaps for two or three years more.
In the month of September M[r]. Bratiano, who had been away on leave and had seen Count von Aehrenthal in Vienna, expressed some misgiving to Mr. Gregory as to the attitude of Bulgaria vis-à-vis of Macedonia, and said that if Bulgaria marched into the province, she would either have to settle up with Roumania – presumably territorially – or else fight her. In a conversation which Mr. Gregory had a few days later with the Bulgarian military attaché on Roumanian foreign policy and her probable attitude in the event of a conflict in the peninsula, Major Stancioff spoke pessimistically of the future, and said that any symptoms of an impending catastrophe in Turkey might lead Bulgaria to face the question of an immediate and forcible protection of the Bulgarian population in Macedonia.
At an audience which I had with the King in November, on my return from leave, His Majesty said: “Of one thing you may be sure, Bulgaria means to fight Turkey. She intends to wrest Macedonia from the Turks, and all her policy is dictated by that resolve”. His Majesty went on to say that it was this Bulgarian design on Macedonia which spoilt everything, and affected an amicable understanding between Roumania and Bulgaria. “Bulgaria”, His Majesty said, in conclusion, “will await her opportunity. Come it will, and we must be prepared to deal with it”.
Notwithstanding these gloomy prognostications negotiations have been going on this autumn between Roumania and Bulgaria for the construction of a bridge across the Danube, to conduct the two railways systems, and are still under consideration. It is impossible at present to say whether these negotiations are likely to be successful.
It is evident that the relations between Roumania and Servia would have been put to a disagreeable test had the threatened hostilities between the latter Power and Austria-Hungary broken out last spring. Roumania, posing as a neutral, would have been obliged to make her neutrality respected, and to assert it by force if necessary. In pursuance of this design, it was stated here last March that the Roumanian Government were ready to mobilize the Ist Army Corps, the strategic idea of the mobilization being to protect Roumania from being overrun by a defeated Servian army, assuming the Austrians to be endeavouring to hurl the latter back upon Roumanian territory. Fortunately, as events turned out, it was unnecessary for Roumania to take any military action, and the peaceful settlement of the Austro-Servian crisis relieved the Government from an awkward situation. Servia and Roumania, if not bound together by any very special ties, have nevertheless been up to now on terms of neighbourly friendship, and it would have been a pity if Roumania’s possible entanglement in the Austro-Servian quarrel had reacted unfavourably on the existing conditions. King Charles, I know, entertains no illusions as to the political outlook in Servia, at any rate under the Karageorgevitch dynasty; indeed, His Majesty told me in April that he thought that, failing a European Prince, which would be the best solution, a strong Regency would be a decided advantage. As to the economic future, the King remarked that he was inclined to think that there was a good deal to be said for the theory that Servia would really be much better off if she were merged in the Austrian Empire than isolated as she was, and cut off from access to the sea.
The suggestion which had been put forward by Count von Aehrenthal that Servia should be given a seat upon the European Commission of the Danube, was not well received by Bratiano Cabinet, but, as a matter of fact, I gathered in conversation with my Servian colleague that the question was one which interested Servia very little, if at all. In any case the subject of the Danube shortly died a natural death.
The old question of the construction of a bridge across the Danube to connect Roumania and Servia, which had been dormant here since the spring of 1908, was revived in December last, when M[r]. Ristitch, the Servian Minister at this Court, by the instructions of his Government, and intimated to them that, if they were prepared to enter into pourparlers on this basis, formal proposals in that sense would be officially submitted to them.
There was no change in the position between Roumania and Greece in 1909. Speaking to me in April King Charles discoursed at length upon the hopelessness of doing anything in that direction, and remarked, as he had often remarked to me before, how foolish the Greeks were not to recognize that the Roumanians were their best natural friends. His Majesty said that the Patriarch, or rather the Synod, was as intransigent as ever, and he, in fact, gave me to understand that there was no improvement in the situation between the two countries.
Later in the year the Prime Minister, speaking to Mr. Gregory, said he was much troubled as to the consequences which might arise throughout the Balkans if, as a consequence of the military revolution at Athens, the country fell into a state of permanent anarchy.
In a conversation which I had with King Charles in November, His Majesty referred to Greece as a danger spot to Europe, and declared that anarchy was rampant at Athens. King George, His Majesty said, was flouted, and his eldest son was held to be unworthy to fill the highest position in the army of his country. Had he been King of Greece, King Charles continued, he would long since have cast off the crown, and he could not understand how King George had put up with the intolerable insults which had been heaped upon him.
His Imperial Highness Prince Kuni, cousin of the Emperor of Japan, arrived in Bucharest at the end of March, and spent several days in the capital. He was received in audience by the King, and a luncheon in his honour was attended by all the members of the Royal Family.
Later in the year I met at Câmpina, the centre of the petroleum industry, two Japanese who had been sent on an official mission to study the working of the Roumanian oil-fields. I was struck by the intelligence and intimate knowledge of the subject shown by these visitors from the Far East, and the director of the Câmpina refinery (the largest in the world), who showed them over the works, told me afterwards that there was little, if anything, that they did not already know about the working of the establishment.
I have already dealt, under “Foreign Relations”, with the question of Roumania’s policy with regard to the European Commission of the Danube, so I need only add that, in a conversation which I had with M[r]. Bratiano in January last on his assumption of office as Prime Minister, I endeavoured to disabuse his mind of the idea which had been entertained by his predecessor, M[r]. Sturdza, that His Majesty’s Government no longer took the same interest in the Danube as of yore. As I have not heard anything more on the subject I presume that all must now be well. While on the subject of the Commission I may mention that I understand that the past year has been financially unsatisfactory for that body, and that they are now in consequence somewhat short of revenue. It appears that, apart from the smallness of the crop of cereals in the country, what there was of the crop went in great part to make up deficiencies in Hungary, with the result that little grain was sent to Europe by steamer, and thus the usual revenues of the Commission were reduced.
An interesting incident in connection with the Danube was the dispatch to Bucharest in October of a Bulgarian Commission to discuss with a Roumanian Commission the question of building a bridge across the river to link up the Roumanian and Bulgarian Railways systems. The Bulgarian Government wished the bridge to be constructed as far as possible to the East, while the Roumanian Government wished it to be placed as far as possible to the West. It is unnecessary to discuss the reasons for their attitude, which was partly strategic and partly economic, but it seems likely now that, if the scheme comes off, the site of the bridge will be placed at Corabia as being the most convenient point for linking up the railway systems of Hungary, Roumania, and Bulgaria. It is impossible at this moment to say whether the labours of the Joint Commission will be ultimately successful, but, even if this should be the case, a convention will have to be signed between the two countries, and this convention will have to be subsequently ratified by both Legislatures before any practical work can be begun.
The Bulgarian delegates to the Joint Commission for the delimitation of the thalweg of the Danube also visited Bucharest in the autumn, and were received by the King. By the conclusion of their labours, on which I have already officially reported, a certain number of islands in the river have been transferred from one country to the other, Roumania losing five and Bulgaria seven. I understand that the Roumanian Government are quite satisfied with the result.
I have dealt with the revival of the scheme for a bridge across the Danube to connect Roumania and Servia under “Servia”.
Naval and Military Armaments
The principal military event of the year was the resignation, or rather the dismissal, in March last of General Averesco, Minister of War. As you are aware, the general’s fall was ostensibly due to irregularities for which he was technically responsible, but was really the outcome of the hostility of the Prime Minister, and of the personal jealousy felt against the Minister of War by the other generals, who were his seniors, and who regarded his appointment as a slight upon themselves. The post of War Minister remained vacant until the reconstruction of the Cabinet in November, when General Crainiceano, up till then head of the General Staff, and reputed to be a very capable officer, was appointed to the vacant portfolio.
As regards the efficiency of the army, I may say that, in conformity with the new scheme of reorganization introduced last year, considerable progress has been made in the development of the army. The adoption of the two years’ colour service for infantry will in the course of time produce a large increase of this reserve. The “Schimbul” infantry have disappeared, and the “Schimbul” cavalry have been reduced. The field artillery has been increased and rearmed with a new quick-firing gun. A law was passed in April for the reorganization of the General Staff, and the general standard of training of the army has been improved. On the other hand, I believe there is a considerable shortage of officers and non-commissioned officers, who would be required on mobilization, while the reserves of ammunition are inadequate and its quality somewhat doubtful. Moreover, Roumania is, as you are aware, entirely dependent upon foreign sources of supply for her guns, ammunition, and even remounts. These are, of course, serious disadvantages, but General Crainiceano will no doubt carry on the work of reorganization, and it is stated that he has succeeded in persuading the Cabinet to give him a considerable slice out of the forthcoming budget estimates.
No official returns of the foreign trade of Roumania for 1908 have yet been published.
On the 25th December the Ministry of Finance published the figures of the State Treasury up to the 30th September, comprising the entire period of 1908-9.
The figures were:
Revenue .. .. .. .. 447,000,000 (17,880,000)
Expenditure .. .. .. .. 395,000,000 (14,800,000)
Surplus .. .. .. .. 52,000,000 (2,080,000)
As I explained in my last year’s report, the great apparent increase shown in the budget figures is due to the unification therein of all extra credits previously not included in the total figure. Thus, the State revenue, which for 1907-8 was 308,000,000 fr. (12,320,000 £), has risen with a leap to 447,000,000 fr. (17,880,000 £), a surplus of nearly 140,000,000 fr. (5,600,000 £) from the preceding period.
The remarkable feature of the financial year is the fact that, notwithstanding the poorness of the agricultural results of the twelvemonth, the financial surplus quoted above is the same as that attained in 1906, a year when the harvest was abundant.
A further interesting feature is the diminution in the value of alcoholic drinks, viz., 19,000,000 fr. (760,000 £) in 1907 and 14,000,000 fr. (560,000 £) in 1908, a difference of 5,000,000 fr. (200,000 £).
The following are the statistics of the harvest of Roumania in the summer of 1909:
Wheat: 4,171,938 acres, 54,997,016 bushels.
Rye: 337,313 acres, 2,994,813 bushels.
Barley: 1,356,489 acres, 19,338,517 bushels.
Oats: 1,196,724 acres, 25,143,351 bushels.
Colza: 170,790 acres, 1,449,717 bushels.
Linseed: 30,067 acres, 199,070 bushels.
Maize: total crop, 67,000,000 bushels, according to preliminary figures published.
The wheat harvest of 1909 is estimated to weigh 16,022,536 metric quintals, as against 15,108,643 in 1908.
The yield of barley was about the average of the preceding five years.
The yield of oats was half as much again as that of 1908.
In general, the harvest of 1908-9 was very poor, namely, an export of 1,725,000 tons, representing a value of 279,000,000 fr., as against an export of 3,153,000 tons in 1907, representing a value of 461,000,000 fr.
The New Ministers
General Craineceano – The new Minister of War is 56 years old and is a general of division. Up till now he has been chief of the General Staff and is distinguished for his technical knowledge. His career has been in the Royal Engineers and his advancement has been very rapid. He took part, as a lieutenant, in the war of independence, and was subsequently entrusted with the construction of the fortifications of Bucharest. He is the author of many works on fortification. He was in attendance upon the Archduke Francis Ferdinand on the occasion of his recent visit to Roumania, and has represented Roumania at the Austrian and German military manoeuvres.
M[r]. Al. Djuvara – The new Minister for Foreign Affairs is a dapper little man, very well dressed, and very careful of his personal appearance. His manners are agreeable and he tries evidently to please. Before being appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs he was Minister of Industry and Commerce, and he is by profession a barrister. He appears to be generally popular, but my acquaintance with him is as yet very slight.
M[r]. Al. Constantinesco – The new Minister of Domains is 49 and a barrister. He studied in Paris, and has been a senator for many years and a pillar of the Liberal party. This is first occasion of holding a portfolio in the Cabinet.
M[r]. A. Orleano – The new Minister of Industry and Commerce is 50 and studied for the bar in Paris. After returning to Roumania he practiced at the bar and was a magistrate. In 1895 he was elected senator for Galatz, and last session he was appointed vice-president of the Chamber of Deputies. He is considered likely to prove a useful addition to the Cabinet.