Salonika Front or Balkan Bloc?
When war broke out, the Western allies had, in theory, the choice between political and military action in South-East Europe. The British, anxious to avoid irritating Mussolini and doubting the practical possibility of military action, favoured political efforts to get the South-East European countries to bury their national quarrels and join together in a Balkan bloc strong enough to withstand German pressures. This was to be based on the Balkan Entente of 1934., and seemed a possible way of giving reality to the guarantees to Rumania and Greece.1 It also was favoured by the Rumanian Foreign Minister, who during the summer of 1939 received some encouragement from the Turks.2 On the outbreak of war Halifax told the War Cabinet that his policy was ‘a neutral Balkan bloc’, adding that Bulgaria was ‘the key to the Balkans’.3 This policy quickly acquired short-term tactical merit as a means of heading the French off the idea of a Salonika front.
KeywordsMilitary Action Military Leader General Staff Secret Staff British Policy
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