28 APRIL 1939, Page 2

Yugoslavia and Italy German and Italian diplomacy has been actively

engaged this week in endeavouring to sap the foundations of the Little Entente and thereby open the way to a revision of the Balkan frontiers. The chief instrument is to be Yugo- slavia, which is isolated both from her Balkan allies and the Western Powers. At their meeting in Venice on Sunday the Italian and Yugoslav Foreign Ministers discussed, and, according to the official communiqué, agreed on, close col- laboration between their two countries and between Hungary and Yugoslavia ; the Italian Press expresses the confident hope that Hungarian-Yugoslav friendship will be sealed by the signature of a non-aggression pact and the entry of Yugoslavia into the anti-Comintern bloc. Berlin has since increased the pressure, with results claimed there to be satisfactory. Yugoslavia, however, regards the present negotiations as a means of conciliating the Axis but pre- serving her neutrality in the event of war ; and popular opposition to an alliance with the Axis would be violent. But even the assurance of Yugoslav neutrality would greatly strengthen the forces of instability in the Balkans. It would weaken the defensive strength of the Little Entente and thus open the way to aggression against Rumania by Hungary and Bulgaria. If Italy is not content with this possibility, but requires the active assistance of Yugoslavia, it is because she can only contemplate revision in the Balkans without dismay as long as she can secure the leadership in the Balkans for herself ; and for this she needs the collaboration of Yugoslavia and Hungary.

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