The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 2/Recognition of the Provisional Government
The Bohemian Review
Jaroslav F. Smetanka, Editor.
|Vol. II, No. 7.||JULY, 1918|
10 cents a Copy
Recognition of the Provisional Government
During the last few months the Czechoslovak cause has gained one success after another. Last winter, after the Bolsheviki came to power in Russia, it was at its low est ebb. It had been to Russia, the one great Slav State, that the Czechoslovaks looked principally in their aspirations for independence and Russia failed them signally. The internationalistic dreamers who emerged on top out of the Russian chaos had no use for national aspirations of oppressed peoples, even though they were their kinsmen. The desertion of Russia had also this effect that the Western Allies, being greatly weakened, sought to even up the balance by alienating Austria from Germany, and as a result discouraged the radical solution of the Austrian problem and favored a patching up of the disharmony on the Danube by impracticable schemes of federation under the Hapsburgs.
And then a new champion arose for the Slavs and Latins of Austria in Italy. Rome was the place where an organization was created, opposed to the very existence of Austria-Hungary and working for a reconstruction of Central Europe on the principle that the zone of small nations extending from the Baltic to the Adriatic should be erected into a firm barrier against the German scheme of world conquest by the construction of completely independent states. The Congress of Rome was one of the means adopted for the realization of this plan, and the organization of the Czechoslovak Army in Italy, to be followed by the arming of Jugoslav and Roumanian volunteers, was another important step. Then came the adhesion of the United States to this programme, then the announcement of the Czechoslovak National Council, and Secretary ’s second statement clearing up beyond all doubt the attitude of the United States.
But what strengthened the Czechoslovak cause even more than these general considerations, which apply equally to all subject races of Austria-Hungary, was the splendid conduct of thein Russia. The Allies saw that in this race they had an Ally who not merely asked for help from them, but who was able to add much strength to the cause of liberty. The statesmen of Rome, Paris, London and Washington realized that these people have made good their claim to be accepted as a bona fide ally. They possessed a body to which was given without compulsion the adherence of all the members of the race wherever scattered. The Czechoslovak National Council was recognized by the Bohemians and Slovaks living beyond the boundaries of the Central Empires as the one authoritative leader in the fight for independence. The people at home, through their elected representatives, acted consistently and unanimously in accordance with the programme laid down by the Paris Council; and while the Council does not yet control any part of the Czechoslovak territory, it disposes of armies in Russia, France and Italy, and it is composed of men whose character and political judgment is highly esteemed by the statesmen with whom they come in contact.
And so the great step was taken by France, the sincere friend of Bohemia from the days before the war. Upon the occasion of the presentation of the flag given by the City of Paris to the 21st Regiment of the Czechoslovak Army in France, the French Government, through its Minister of Foreign Affairs, recognized the independence of the Czechoslovak nation as actually existing of right, and recognized the Czechoslovak National Council as its provisional government. It is the first instance in which one of the great powers of the Entente has recognized the belligerency of one of the subject peoples of the Dual Monarchy through its authoritative committee abroad. The precedent—making declaration of the French Government is as follows:
“At the moment when the first unit of the Czechoslovak Army in France prepares itself, after receiving its flag, to go to a sector on the front with its French brothers in arms, the French Government considers it just and necessary to proclaim the rights of your nation to independence, and to recognize officially the National Council as the supreme representative of the future Czechoslovak Government.”