8. Rumania and the Present War

(a) The Rumanians outside the Kingdom

The axis on which Rumanian foreign policy ought naturally to revolve is the circumstance that almost half the Rumanian nation lives outside Rumanian territory. As the available official statistics generally show political bias it is not possible to give precise figures; but roughly speaking there are about one million Rumanians in Bessarabia, a quarter of a million in Bucovina, three and a half millions in Hungary, while something above half a million form scattered colonies in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Macedonia. All these live in more or less close proximity to the Rumanian frontiers.

That these Rumanian elements have maintained their nationality is due to purely intrinsic causes. We have seen that the independence of Rumania in her foreign relations had only recently been established, since when the king, the factor most influential in foreign politics, had discouraged nationalist tendencies, lest the country's internal development might be compromised by friction with neighbouring states. The Government exerted its influence against any active expression of the national feeling, and the few 'nationalists' and the 'League for the cultural unity of all Rumanians' had been, as a consequence, driven to seek a justification for their existence in antisemitic agitation.

The above circumstances had little influence upon the situation in Bucovina. This province forms an integral part of the Habsburg monarchy, with which it was incorporated as early as 1775. The political situation of the Rumanian principalities at the time, and the absence of a national cultural movement, left the detached population exposed to Germanization, and later to the Slav influence of the rapidly expanding Ruthene element. That language and national characteristics have, nevertheless, not been lost is due to the fact that the Rumanian population of Bucovina is peasant almost to a man - a class little amenable to changes of civilization.

This also applies largely to Bessarabia, which, first lost in 1812, was incorporated with Rumania in 1856, and finally detached in 1878. The few Rumanians belonging to the landed class were won over by the new masters. But while the Rumanian population was denied any cultural and literary activities of its own, the reactionary attitude of the Russian Government towards education has enabled the Rumanian peasants to preserve their customs and their language. At the same time their resultant ignorance has kept them outside the sphere of intellectual influence of the mother country.

The Rumanians who live in scattered colonies south of the Danube are the descendants of those who took refuge in these regions during the ninth and tenth centuries from the invasions of the Huns. Generally known as Kutzo-Vlakhs, or, among themselves, as Aromuni, they are - as even Weigand, who undoubtedly has Bulgarophil leanings, recognizes - the most intelligent and best educated of the inhabitants of Macedonia. In 1905 the Rumanian Government secured from the Porte official recognition of their separate cultural and religious organizations on a national basis. Exposed as they are to Greek influence, it will be difficult to prevent their final assimilation with that people. The interest taken in them of late by the Rumanian Government arose out of the necessity to secure them against pan-Hellenic propaganda, and to preserve one of the factors entitling Rumania to participate in the settlement of Balkan affairs.