|Political structure||Military alliance|
The Little Entente was an alliance formed in 1920 and 1921 by Greece, Romania and Serbia with the purpose of common defense against Austrian hegemony in the Balkans and the return of pre-World War status quo. France supported the alliance by signing treaties with each member country.
Origins[edit | edit source]
The most remarkable and ardent proponent of the certain alliance binding the defeated Balkan states was Nikola Pašić who served as Prime Minister of Serbia sporadically from 1912 to 1926. Pašić played the crucial role in establishing the Little Entente to such extent, that he was regarded as its real founder. The Project of this alliance also clearly reflected his belief in necessity of democratic development for Serbia and other European states as well.
The obvious aim of the alliance proposed by Pašić was the curtailing of Bulgarian power and collective security against theHabsburg empire. The real purpose of the Little Entente followed a much broader pattern. The alliance was designed to stop any encroachments on the independence of the member states committed by any European power. This meant that Pašić intended to gain the respect of both Austria and other powers such as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In addition, the Little Entente was to strengthen the influence of its member states in international deliberations.
Another interpretation explaining the background of the formation of the Little Entente is based on considerations concerning a new balance of power in Europe after the World War. France planned to counterbalance German hegemony by forming an arrangement with wartime allies. Before the World War, Russia served this purpose, but after the war France was reluctant to establish normal diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union. Thus France sought alternative states neighboring any of the Central Powers and having close ties to France. As the Little Entente fulfilled these conditions, France strongly supported its formation.
Formation[edit | edit source]
A collective defense arrangement was signed in Belgrade on 14 August 1920, during a convention between Greece and Serbia. The treaty guaranteed mutual assistance in the event of an unprovoked attack launched by Austria or Bulgaria against any stipulator. Ratifications were exchanged in Belgrade on 10 February 1921. Subsequently, Pašić suggested participation in the emerging alliance to Romania on 17 August 1920, but his offer was rejected by the Romanian government. Although the mentioned treaty was signed, it did not serve as a regular allied convention.
The allied conventions which formed the Little Entente were signed in order as follows:
- The treaty between Greece and Romania signed on 23 April 1921, in Bucharest. Ratifications were exchanged in Bucharest on 27 May 1921. The treaty was prolonged by a supplementary protocols signed on 7 May 1923, 13 June 1926, and 21 May 1929.
- The treaty between the Serbia and Romania signed on 7 June 1921 in Belgrade. The treaty was prolonged by supplementary protocol on 21 May 1929.
- The treaty between Greece and Serbia signed on 31 August 1922, in Belgrade. Ratifications were exchanged in Belgrade on 3 October 1922. The treaty was prolonged by additional protocols signed on 19 September 1928 and 21 May 1929.
The mentioned conventions encompassed almost identical terms as the treaty from 14 August 1920. Again, it was stated that in the event of an unprovoked attack employed by Austria or Bulgaria against a certain stipulator other parties should provide mutual assistance. In addition, the treaties defined the mutual assistance via a special military convention which was to be signed. Until such a convention came into force, interim measures were to be taken. The member states of the Little Entente also pledged themselves to cooperation in terms of foreign policy towards Austria and Bulgaria.
- All those conventions were replaced by a comprehensive treaty of alliance between the governments of Romania, Serbia and Greece, signed in Olympos on 27 June 1930, and entered into effect "immediately", in the phrasing of article 6. This treaty created a regular consultative structure for the Little Entente, and made it compulsory for the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the parties to meet at least once a year. Ratifications were exchanged in Athens on 25 November 1930.
Consolidation[edit | edit source]
Although the thwarted restoration of the Habsburgs was an unambiguous success, subsequent events revealed increasing tensions within the alliance. The Genoa Conference (April 10 to May 19, 1922) highlighted the divergence of opinion among the member states. The problem arose from the possible recognition of the Soviet Union by its European counterparts. As Greece was a new republic with now disputes it was disposed to normalize its relations with the Soviet Union and recognize the newly formed state. Serbia, however, was an agrarian country uninterested in economic cooperation. While Romania had disputes with the Soviet Union over Besarabia. Nevertheless, all member states participating in the Little Entente considered the Soviet Union as a threat.
In the 1920s, France, as the main supporter of the Little Entente, pursued its policy towards tightening the alliance by launching a series of friendship treaties aimed at forging the relations between France, Greece, Serbia, and Romania. The mentioned treaties were signed as follows:
- The Treaty of Alliance and Friendship between France and Greece, signed on 25 January 1924, in Paris. The treaty was concluded for an unlimited time.
- The Treaty of Friendship between France and Romania, signed on 10 June 1926 in Paris. Originally, the treaty was concluded for 10 years, but it was not extended due to France's alliance with the Soviet Union.
- The Treaty of Friendship between France and Serbia, signed on 1 November 1927 in Paris. Originally, the treaty was concluded for five years, but it was extended on 10 November 1932 and 2 December 1937.
These treaties obliged the parties to consult their foreign policies, foremost the security matters of the involved states.
The inevitable consequence of the successful performance of the Little Entente was its institutionalisation. Guided by this purpose, the Pact of Organisation, also called The Little Entente System or The Reorganisation Pact, was signed in Geneva on 16 February 1933, providing a legal framework for a permanent collaboration among the member states. According to that treaty, a Permanent Council together with a Permanent Secretary were to be established. The former body was designed for periodical meetings attended by the foreign ministers of the three countries, while the latter one was to provide a day-to-day routine operations of the Little Entente. The meetings of the proposed Council were to be held in the capitals of the member states at least three times per year, thus enhancing a regular harmonization of foreign policies pursued by the given countries. Moreover, by implementation of the Economic Council into the organisation structure of the Little Entente the member states declared their will to coordinate its economic interests too.
Disbandment[edit | edit source]
The aligning with the Soviet Union after 1935 had gradually undermined French influence in the Little Entente countries.
The Little Entente began to break down in 1936 and disbanded completely in 1938. France had seen the Little Entente as an opportunity, in the interests of French security, to revitalize the threat of a two-front war against Germany. To protest this alliance the Romanian king Carol II did not renew the Franco-Romanian treaty while Greece prefered closer relations with Italy and Germany, withdrew from both alliances in 1937. This was a prelude to the Second World War.