Yogoslavia was a partner in the Little Entente. The Little Entente of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Rumania had been formed in 1920 largely on the initiative of the Czechoslovakian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Beneš, and had been favoured by the Italian Foreign Minister, Count Sforza. It was not directed against France. But since it had sprung into being outside the patronage of the French Foreign Office, it was looked upon with some suspicion in Paris.1
No real advantage could accrue to the Italian Government from making the Little Entente an anti-Italian and exclusively pro-French group. By plunging into an anti-Yugoslav policy, Mussolini was trying to smash the Little Entente in order to isolate Yugoslavia and have her at his mercy.
Having no hope of succeeding with Czechoslovakia, he made the attempt with Rumania. On September 16, 1926, while the Treaty of Tirana (see above, p. 106) was under consideration, General Avarescu, who had come to power in Bucharest in April 1926, and was the leader of a political party whose wild nationalism was not unlike that of the Italian Fascist Party, signed a "pact of friendship" with Mussolini. But this treaty had followed on the heels of a Polish— Rumanian Military Convention ( June 3, 1926), which was based explicitly on the co-operation of the French Army with Poland and Rumania. In addition, a treaty of alliance had been signed between France and Rumania ( June 10, 1926). Hence there were no grounds for hope that the Italo-Rumanian pact could fulfil the Duce's ambition of drawing Rumania out of the French orbit. Yet the pact was presented to the muzzled Italian people as "a long-planned element of a constructive political plan", and as a token of "the brotherhood between the Latins of Dacia and those of their ancient metropolis" ( T. 17. ix.26). But at the conference of the Little Entente, which was held at Jachymov ( June 13-15, 1927), Rumania's Foreign Minister pointed out the inanity of "somebody's" efforts to weaken the Little Entente. That same month, the Italophile Avarescu Cabinet in Rumania fell, and the new Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean Bratianu; on assuming office, expressed "his satisfaction at being able to tighten the indestructible bonds which united Rumania and France". Brotherhood between Rumania and her ancient metropolis thus went up in smoke.
The more Mussolini endeavoured to disrupt the Little Entente, the____________________