Balkans outlook

Germany marching to disaster

THE reported recapture of Uskub by the Serbians is not confirmed and it is even stated that the Bulgarians again occupy Veles.

On the other hand, it is declared that the French have once more taken Strumnitza and that considerable progress has been made in this district.

Honours thus appear to be divided in the Vardar region.

Emphatic denial is also given to the statement that Pirot has fallen and the claim semi-officially advanced from Sofia is not repeated in the communique published last night.

In this, it is stated that the southern fortifications were stormed but that the intervention of night put an end to the operations.

Both in the Berlin and Sofia messages, however, considerable general progress is reported and although no striking success is claimed, ground has undoubtedly been gained.

Each day appears to increase the danger to Nish, but the enemy are not doing so well as they expected and, paradoxical though it may sound, each day that passes without a pronounced advance may also be said to add to their difficulties.

Moreover, even an extensive advance in certain directions - with the Pirot and Kragujevatz, for example, included in the spoils - may not have decisive results, for the Serbians may still be able to retire to the tangled mountain system through which the Nishava runs.

The mountains are a far bigger obstacle than the most formidable fortresses designed by military skill and the Serbs are a terrible foe in the natural fastnesses. Official news is still scanty but if the signs are correctly interpreted, the first feelings of dismay are yielding to a mood less pessimistic.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that Germany had only forces at her disposal which made dependence upon Bulgaria a much more real thing than this treacherous Balkan State could have been led to believe.

The other Balkan countries, if not also Bulgaria, are beginning to perceive this and events are going forward which, if they do not fructify in time to save the Nish-Belgrade line, are likely, nevertheless, to create serious misgivings in the German breast and may even bring about disaster.

When the Germans are in Bulgaria the safety of their entire forces will depend upon the integrity of the one line of railways from Belgrade to Sofia. The Danube route, in the event of debacle, as somebody has said, would be of no more value to them than would be a narrow entrance to a big theatre in the event of a panic, all the other exit doors being closed.

As has been so often insisted upon, the present adventure was largely designed to produce a political effort, and, among other aims, Berlin hoped to be in such a position as to conclude a peace with Serbia. That hope is not destined to be fulfilled and the other anticipations concerning Romania and Greece also seem doomed to disappointment.

The official Greek statement issued yesterday dealing with the malevolent lies of the enemy as to her attitude and actions is significant.

It is couched in language which could only be employed by a power distinctly friendly to us and the Salonika fates may yet bear a resemblance, from their association with events, to what happened in Italy after the unveiling of a statue to the fallen Garibaldians.