VOL. 173 No. 5162



LONDON, APRIL 15th, 1939


IN Tins I S S U E



Bv Lancelot Lawton

ITALY IN ALBANIA The History of Italian Influence in Albania since the War


By our Central European Correspondent

Full List o f Contents on page 476.

THE WORLD WEEK BY WEEK Anglo-ltalian Relations

The Albanian coup has jeopardised the AngloItalian agreement from Count C iano’s fondness for assurances which, when he gave them, he must have known were going to be proved untrue within a week. To assure Lord Perth on April 7th that nothing was intended against the independence or integrity o f a country whose crown was to be offered to the King of Italy within a week, is a type of proceeding long since abandoned in traditional diplomatic usage, because its enduring disadvantages greatly outweigh any immediate benefits.

More than ever the withdrawal of the Italian contingents from Spain has become a touchstone of the agreement, but much might happen in the three weeks that are to elapse before the victory parade in Madrid on May 2nd, which is to be the date after which the withdrawals may be expected.

Mr. Chamberlain’s speech on Thursday announcing the British pledges to aid both Greece and Rumania, should they be attacked, extended the policy embodied in the British pledge to Poland. Greece has long been a country closely connected with British interests and policy. The Greeks, whose present Government is particularly hostile to the Soviet, have replied cordially enough to Italian assurances. But Mr. Chamberlain judged it necessary to make specific mention of reports of a projected Italian attack upon Corfu.

What is hard to understand in the Italian action is why the same measure o f effective control, over what was already an Italian protectorate, could not have been achieved without so grievously damaging Italian credit and standing. In the uncertain future, freedom of action will obviously be important for the Italian Government. This freedom of action they are steadily denying themselves, and they are so contriving matters ithat they will have no option other than the German friendship. What is commonly known as the Ciano policy means for Italy a burning of the boats, embarking on a policy from which retreat is being made increasingly difficult. Albania as a Base

The events which culminated in the Italian military occupation of Albania, go back, as an article elsewhere in this issue shows, through the whole of the post-War period, but the treaty o f 1928, while it gave the Italians a right to all sorts o f fortifications, particularly naval, in Albania, did not give them a complete hold over the country. The Italian protectorate which was accepted at the beginning as the only condition upon which a relative independence such as they had not known before, could be obtained for the Albanian tribesmen, brought the added advantage o f considerable Italian investment. At a time when, viewed simply as a business proposition, foreigners were not prepared to sink money in a wild country, in large capital undertakings which could not be removed, the Italians, to whom the advantages were not purely economic, were willing to do so. But as it has become harder and harder for the Italians to spare the capital while other Powers have come more slowly to realize that investment is often good policy, apart from its profitability, the opportunity presented itself for the Albanians to play off other Powers against Italy and achieve a more and more genuine independence while remaining in possession o f the capital works the Italians had paid for. This is a normal sequence, when the money o f one country is used to develop another. Land Difficulties

The assumption in a large section of the French Press, as in the British, is that the military occupation of Albania is merely a prelude to larger operations by the axis, and that Albania is required as a land base in the Balkans, the possible first intention being a drive to Salonika down the valley of the Vistritza. But Albania