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from Servia of the ex-King Milan. In the following month the ex-King died, upon which King Alexander issued a proclamation to the Servian nation stating that it would "always remain grateful to King Milan for having secured the independence of the country and the extension of the frontiers of the newly created kingdom.” A week later the Cabinet was reconstructed by the appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Dr. Vuitch, who had previously held the position of Servian Minister in Paris, and was one of the most moderate and enlightened members of the Radical party, and by the elevation of the burgomaster of Belgrade, M. Stefanovitch, to the position of Home Minister. The Cabinet now included two Radicals and two Progressists, and the other Ministers belonged to no particular party, being merely adherents of the King. Such a Cabinet, if an heir to the throne had been born, would, strengthened by the King's popularity, no doubt have been able to grapple effectually with the financial difficulties of the country, but the expectations which had been entertained in this respect were disappointed, and the Government became more and more dependent on the protection of Russia, under whose influence a rapprochement was also effected between Servia and Bulgaria. In April a new Constitution was promulgated by King Alexander which differed in some important respects from the Constitutions of 1869 and 1888 (see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1888, p. 308). Under the Constitution of 1869 the Government was practically absolute, as the rights of the legislative assembly were so limited that it had very little real power. Under that of 1888, on the other hand, the executive power was almost entirely subordinated to the legislative assembly, while the latter was so fettered by minute regulations that its action was hampered at every step. The new Constitution, which was promulgated on April 19, the anniversary of the day when the fortress of Belgrade was finally evacuated by the Turks in 1867, gave similar powers to the Government and the Legislature respectively to those established in the other constitutional countries of Europe, and provided for a larger representation of the more enlightened classes than had previously been the case. It also created for the first time an Upper Chamber or Senate, whose task it would be to revise the laws passed by the Chamber of Deputies.
In Roumania a new Ministry was formed under M. Carp, whose efforts, however, to provide a remedy for the financial difficulties of the country (see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1900, p. 334) were to a great extent foiled by the agitation carried on among the people by the Opposition. The Liberals under M. Stourdza denounced the Ministry for alienating the property of the State and imposing new taxes, while the old Conservatives under MM. Cantacuzene and Jonescu separated from the Yunimist party (see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1891, p. 332), which supported the Government. On February 26 the Chamber, after a stormy
(309 debate, rejected by a majority of 75 votes to 74 a vote of confidence in the financial policy of the Government; M. Carp accordingly resigned, and M. Stourdza, the Liberal leader, was entrusted by the King with the formation of a Ministry. The efforts of the Liberals to restore equilibrium in the Budget were more successful than those of their predecessors. Economies were effected in the various departments to the extent of 25,000,000 lei, and the increase of existing taxes was limited to a sum of 6,000,000 lei, while no new taxes were imposed. The result of these measures, though they did not cause any notable increase in the revenue, was that the Government realised a substantial surplus enabling it to meet all the coupons of the foreign debt. A close rapprochement was also effected between Roumania and Greece. . A commercial convention was concluded between the two countries, the negotiations which had been started under the first Stourdza Ministry in 1896, and were broken off on the fall of that Ministry, having now been resumed. In May a meeting took place between the Kings of Roumania and of Greece at Abbazia, to which great political importance was attached as indicating a combination between the two countries under the ægis of Austria-Hungary to counteract the expansive tendencies of the Slavonic Balkan States which look upon Russia as their protector.
In Greece the most important incident of the year was the demonstration made in November by a meeting of about 10,000 people in the Temple of Jupiter to protest against the proposed issue of a translation of the Gospel into the form of modern Greek generally spoken in the Greek Kingdom. The meeting was dispersed by the troops, and some twenty persons were killed and wounded. The translation had been made by the Queen's order, but the students of the university objected to it on the ground that the original text was sacred and should not be tampered with, and that if the Gospels were promulgated in the Greek Kingdom in the dialect spoken there the feeling of PanHellenism might be weakened, as a different dialect is spoken among the Greeks in Turkey. Moreover, it was generally believed that the proposed issue of the translation had been instigated by Russia, with the object of supplanting Greek ecclesiastical influence in the Balkan peninsula by her own. Although the Holy Synod refused to authorise the translation the students continued to agitate against it, and public feeling became so excited on the subject that the Ministry was obliged to resign. The new Prime Minister, M. Zaïmis, was a moderate Conservative, who had signed the treaty of peace with Turkey and the arrangement under which the finances of Greece were placed under international control (see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1898, pp. 285-7).
Since the marriage of the Prince of Montenegro's daughter to the Crown Prince of Italy, who had now become King, the little mountain State had become a factor of some importance
in Eastern European politics, and had attained to a considerable degree of financial prosperity. All possible facilities were granted to Montenegrin merchants in Italy, in consequence of which there was a large development of trade between the two countries, and savings banks and
small joint stock companies were founded in several districts. Prince Nicholas also obtained the support of the leading merchants of Skutari and other Albanian towns, and even of the Albanian chiefs, for the establishment of a trade between Italy and Albania through Montenegro.
LESSER STATES OF WESTERN AND NORTHERN EUROPE,
I. BELGIUM. THE question of the reorganisation of the Army was the most important of those with which public opinion had to deal during 1971. The Army is recruited by the drawing of lots, but all those whose fortunes permit can escape if the lot falls on them by a payment of 1,600 francs. For some years a party of everincreasing importance, including the Liberals, the Socialists, and a certain number of Catholic deputies, have endeavoured to establish the principle of absolute personal service, and the suppression of all monetary substitution. The King himself, as has been already mentioned in this Register, has over and over again expressed publicly his opinion in favour of the abolition of the substitution. But, on the other hand, the Catholic party, actually in power, refuse to entertain the idea on any account.
At the end of last year the Government appointed a commission, formed partly of members of the Legislature, and partly of officers of the Army, charged to examine the question of Army reorganisation, and declared through the War Minister that this commission alone was capable of informing the Legislature and the Executive on the nature and extent of the reforms to be made. From the first meetings of the commission some Catholic and anti-military deputies, with M. Woeste, the leader of the Right, at their head, separated from their colleagues, with the avowed hope of thereby causing the inquiry to fail
. The commission, however, continued its task, and after long deliberations finished by voting by 24 to 2 the suppression of the substitution, a diminution of the length of service, and a proportionate augmentation of the annual contingent, which, now fixed at 13,000 men, should, in their opinion, be increased to 18,000.
Upon this, the Government, instead of agreeing, as they were held to have promised, to the decision of the commission, declared that having regard to the divergence of opinion, not only
[311 in Parliament but in the Cabinet itself, they would not concur in that decision; and they laid before the Chamber a proposal retaining the substitution. As the anti-military Catholics would not hear of any augmentation of the contingent, the Government in its proposal suggested increasing the effective of the Army by voluntary service, and to assure the necessary number of volunteers they offered important money inducements. The statement of the objects of the measure estimated that the lessening of the time of service would mean a reduction of more than 25 per cent. of the actual effective of the Army in time of peace; but the Government imagined that the volunteers would compensate for this loss. If otherwise, the Government reserved the right of explaining the situation to Parliament and requesting it eventually to raise the annual contingent. For the present, however, they abstained from that step, with a view to conciliation. After prolonged, and sometimes extremely violent discussion, the Chamber voted, quite at the end of the first reading of the Government bill, maintaining the system of substitution, not augmenting the annual contingent, and reducing the time of military service. Infantry were to have not more than twenty months' service, instead of twenty-eight, mounted artillery twenty-eight months instead of four years, cavalry thirty-six months instead of the same four years.
This bill was not accepted by the Catholic majority, except at the
expense of numerous concessions in detail on the part of the Government, and it ultimately pleased no one. The Liberal and Socialist parties saw the privilege of substitution retained in favour of the rich; a certain number of Catholic deputies, who had demanded a large diminution of the contingent, failed to obtain it; many others who did not wish to admit the slightest increase in the expense of the Army were forced to accept the proposal for volunteering made by the Government, which added 5,347,000 francs to the War Budget, according to the estimate of the Minister of Finance; and, finally, the Army considered that the number of volunteers would not suffice to compensate for the loss resulting from the reduction in the length of service. The bill was not yet law, and the general opinion was that the question of Army reorganisation should be studied afresh in the near future.
The important question of the relations between Belgium and the Congo Free State equally occupied the public mind during this year. On July 3, 1890, Belgium consented to a loan to the Congo State of 25,000,000 francs, of which 5,000,000 were to be paid immediately, and the rest by annual instalments of 2,000,000 francs till 1900. The convention stipulated that at the end of the tenth year Belgium should have six months allowed her in which to consider two alternatives--whether she sbould exact the reimbursement of the debt, or should vote for the annexation of the Congo. The country was still undecided as to the right moment for the annexation, and neither the
Government nor the King of the Belgians, Suzerain of the Free State, judged that the time had arrived for Belgium to assume this charge. Article 4 in the Convention of 1890 stipulated that, if at the end of ten years Belgium did not declare in favour of annexation, the Free State might retain the loan for another period of ten years, on condition that interest on this sum, calculated at 34 per cent., should be paid to Belgium. As the question of annexation did not appear ripe for settlement, it was this subject of a ten years' prolongation of the loan which the Belgian Government had in view in bringing forward the following proposal :-That the reimbursement of the sums lent to the Congo State in pursuance of the Convention of July 3, 1890, as well as the interest owed on the same sums, should be suspended ; but that if Belgium should renounce all idea of annexing the Congo, the financial obligations contracted by
at State should return to their ordinary course from that moment.
The statement of the motives of this measure included an extremely important letter from Baron von Eetvelde, Minister of the Free State. He explained therein that Belgium was at liberty either to annex the Congo State, in which case the Free State Government would concur entirely in promoting the annexation; or to pronounce against annexation, in which case the Free State, however onerous the burden might prove, would pay the interest on the sums lent, and the capital itself, according to the terms of the Convention of 1890 ; or, finally, if Belgium preferred not to pronounce definitely on the question of annexation, but to leave the way open, and to postpone the payment of the interest and the reimbursement of the capital, the Free State declared that it was willing to accept that solution also. In this case, the Free State would pay interest and refund the capital under the conditions agreed to in 1890, from the day that Belgium renounced annexation. The Free State reserved to itself, however, the right of demanding a definite decision from Belgium, if circumstances should make it of pressing importance.
The bill of the Belgian Government, it will be seen, was founded on the third hypothesis of the Government of the Free State. In opposition to this bill the ex-Premier, M. Beernaert, brought in another, based on immediate annexation. In spite of the great influence of its author this bill had very few supporters. First, as has been said, public opinion was not yet sufficiently prepared for the idea of annexation; but, further, the Free State Government declared that it would consider it a patriotic duty to notify Belgium when the development of the State should reach the point at which the acquisition of its powers would constitute a certain advantage to that country: and, lastly, a letter from the King himself declared his wish that Belgium should not pronounce in favour of the annexation of the Congo till that State had become entirely productive. M.