Dutch Foreign Policy since 1815: A Study in Small Power Politics

By Amry Vandenbosch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
THE NORTH SEA DECLARATION

On the twenty-third of April, 1908, there were signed in Berlin two international agreements which at the time caused much diplomatic speculation and one of which led to an amazing episode in Dutch politics. These agreements are known as the Baltic Sea and North Sea Conventions or Declarations. The agreement of most importance for this study, the North Sea Declaration, was signed by all the states whose territories bordered the North Sea with the exception of Belgium which, because of its status of perpetual neutrality, was omitted from the list of signatories.

"Animated by the desire," so ran the collective declaration, "to strengthen the bonds of good neighborliness and friendship existing between their respective states and thereby contribute to the general peace, and recognizing that their policy with respect to this region bordering the North Sea has for its object the maintenance of the existing territorial status quo, [the High Contracting Parties] declare that they firmly resolve to preserve intact and reciprocally respect the sovereign rights which their countries now enjoy on their respective territories." The signatory states further agreed that in case one of the parties should be of the opinion that the existing territorial status quo in the region was menaced the signatory powers would consult with each other for the purpose of agreeing on measures to be taken to maintain the status quo of their possessions.1

What was the purpose of the German Government in initiating and pressing this apparently superfluous agreement to its conclusion? This question was asked in all the countries of Western Europe and in none more earnestly than in the Netherlands. When the convention came before the States-General numerous questions were asked of the foreign minister with respect to it. What part did the Dutch Government have in it? What obliga-

____________________
1
Staatsblad van her Koninkrijk der Nederlanden. 1908. No. 243.

-89-

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Dutch Foreign Policy since 1815: A Study in Small Power Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Chapter I 1
  • Chapter II 6
  • Chapter III 32
  • Chapter IV 44
  • Chapter V 57
  • Chapter VI 70
  • Chapter VII - THE NORTH SEA DECLARATION 89
  • Chapter VIII 101
  • Chapter IX 108
  • Chapter X 140
  • Chapter XI 149
  • Chapter XII 164
  • Chapter XIII 172
  • Chapter XIV 191
  • Chapter XV 217
  • Chapter XV 241
  • Chapter XVII - RELATIONS WITH GERMANY: FAILURE OF NEUTRALITY 271
  • Chapter XVIII 289
  • Index 313
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