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telene, and when the election took place, on the above date, he was elected with practically no opposition and amid a tremendous enthusiasm. On the following day, May 8, 1916, at a by-election in Kavalla, Eastern Macedonia, Constantine Jourdanou, a candidate of the Venizelos Liberty party, was also elected a deputy to the National Assembly by an 85 per cent majority vote.
But these were merely demonstrations-meant merely as indications of popular sentiment for neither Venizelos nor the Kavalla representative had any intention of taking their seats in the chamber, which they considered illegally elected.
Meanwhile practically no military activity had been displayed. On March 17, 1916, a dispatch was issued from Vienna to the effect that the Austrian army had reached the vicinity of Avlona and had engaged the Italians in pitched battle outside the town, into which they were driving them. But apparently there was little truth in this report, for some weeks later a body of Italian troops were reported to have crossed the Greek frontier in Epirus, which caused an exchange of notes between the Greek and Italian governments, by no means the best of friends, on account of their conflicting ambitions in Albania. Further encounters between both Austrians and Bulgarians and the Italians in Avlona were reported during the spring, but apparently the Italians were well able to hold their own.
There were, however, indications that the Allies in Saloniki had been steadily strengthening their positions and augmenting their numbers, and that, conscious of their growing strength, they were throwing out their lines. In the first week in May came a dispatch announcing that thay had occupied Florina, a small town only some fifteen miles south of Monastir, though still on Greek territory.
That there was really some truth in these announcements; that the Allies were really showing some indications of expanding their lines and were assuming a threatening attitude, was indicated by the next move made on the board, this time by the Bulgarians; a move, however, which was obviously of a defensive nature, though at the time it seemed to portend a Bulgarian offensive.
On May 26, 1916, the Bulgarians for the first time ventured across the Greek frontier. And not only did they cross the frontier, but, instead of attacking the Allies, they forced the Greek forces occupying a point of strategic value to evacuate it and occupied it themselves.
Fort Rupel, on the Struma River, and north of Demir Hissar, is about six miles within Greek territory. It commands a deep gorge, or defile, which forms a sort of natural passageway through which troops can be marched easily into Greek territory from Bulgaria. To either side tower difficult mountains and rocky hills. On account of these natural features Greece had fortified this defile after the Balkan Wars so that she might command it in case of a Bulgarian invasion. On the commanding prominences the Greeks had also built fortifications.
It was the chief, the most important, of these forts that the Bulgarians took. A courier was sent forward with notice to the Greek commander that he had two hours in which to evacuate the position with his troops. This he did peacefully, and before evening the Bulgarians were installed, though it was said that they had given due assurances that their occupation was merely a temporary measure undertaken as a defensive precaution, and that as soon as the need should cease the fort would be returned to Greece.
On the following day came the announcement that the Bulgarians, in strong force, had deployed from Fort Rupel and had also occupied Fort Dragotin and Fort Kanivo. At the same time unusual activity on the part of the Bulgarians was also reported from Xanthi. Here, on the left bank of the Mesta River, which for some distance from its mouth forms the BulgarGreek boundary, the Bulgarians were collecting material for building pontoon bridges.
Naturally this action on the part of the Bulgarians caused wild excitement throughout Greece. The government organs stated that the forts had been taken by German forces, but this was soon proved to be untrue.
In reporting this movement the Bulgarian Government added, by way of explanation and excuse:
“Two months ago the Anglo-French troops began the abandonment of the fortified camp at Saloniki and started a movement toward our frontier. The principal enemy forces were stationed in the Vardar Valley and to the eastward through Dovatupete to the Struma Valley, and to the westward through the district of Subotsko and Vodena to Florina. A part of the reconstituted Serbian army has also been landed at Saloniki. Artillery fire has occurred daily during the past month."
Evidently Bulgaria was anxious to impress on the outside world the fact that she had invaded Greek territory entirely for defensive purposes, for only several days later a correspondent of the Associated Press was allowed to send through a report of an inspection he had made of the Bulgarian camp, something that had not previously been permitted. From this report it was evident that the Bulgarian army was not contemplating a forward movement.
These assurances probably had their effect in calming the excitement in Greece, a result which Germany was no doubt wishful of obtaining. Nevertheless the fact that the government had quietly permitted the Bulgarians to take the forts was not by any means calculated to increase its popularity with the masses and made for the strengthening of the Venizelos party.
In spite of the formal protests which the Greek Government made against the occupation of its territory and fortifications by Bulgarian troops, there was not a little reason for suspecting that the Skouloudis government was working on some secret understanding, if not with the Bulgarians, then with the Germans. At least this was the general impression that was created in France and England, as reflected in the daily press.
On June 8, 1916, it was reported from Saloniki that the Allies were about to institute a commercial blockade of Greek ports, preliminary to presenting certain demands, the exact nature of which was not given out, but which were expected to include the demobilization of the Greek army.
The notice of the blockade again aroused the excitement of the Greek population, but not so much against the Allies as
against the Skouloudis government. And this was because what the Allies were expected to demand was just what the majority of the Greek masses seemed most to want, the demobilization of the army; the return to their vocations of the thousands of workingmen with the colors. The Venizelos party was especially in favor of such a measure, for its leaders claimed that it was because the mass of the voters was with the army and was therefore deprived of their suffrage, that the sentiment of the Greek people could not be determined.
On June 9, 1916, it was announced from Athens that the king had signed an order demobilizing twelve classes of the army, amounting to 150,000 men. But this order was not, for some reason, put into execution, nor was there any indication of the Allies putting an end to the blockade. On the contrary, on the same day it was announced that the Greek captain of the port at Saloniki had been removed and a French nayal officer had been put in his place. Entry to the port had also been refused to Greek ships from Kavala, and an embargo had been placed on Greek ships in French ports. Obviously the Allies were demanding something more than the demobilization of the army. As a matter of fact, they had not yet formally presented their demands.
From later reports it was shown that the Allies had prepared their demands formally and that they were to have been presented on June 13, 1916. But the evening before, on the 12th, certain events took place in Athens which caused them to delay the presentation of their note, holding it back for revision.
On the 12th a military fête had been held at the Stadium, at which members of the British Legation were present, including the military attaché and Admiral Palmer, the new chief of the British Naval Mission. When the king and his suite appeared at the Stadium, Greek police officers immediately grouped themselves around the British representatives, giving the inference that the royal party needed to be protected from them. The indignant Englishmen immediately left the Stadium. After the fête a mob collected in the street and began a demonstration against the Allies. The crowd was escorted by fifty or sixty policemen in uniform. It first marched to the Hotel Grande Bretagne, where the French Minister resided, and began shouting insulting remarks. Next the British Legation building was visited and a similar hostile demonstration was made. Thence the mob proceeded to the office of the "Nea Hellas," a Venizelist journal, hurled stones through the windows and assaulted the editor and his staff. The editor, in defending himself, fired a revolver over the heads of the mob, whereupon he was arrested and thrown into jail. During the same evening another demonstration was made in a theater, in which the performers made most insulting remarks regarding the representatives of the Allies. Several meetings were held in other parts of the city at the same time, at which resolutions were passed against the Allies, one of these resolutions denouncing the conduct of the Allies toward neutral countries, "and especially their conduct toward the President of the United States."
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Finally, on June 23, 1916, the full text of the demands of the Allies on Greece, signed by the representatives of France, Great Britain, and Russia and indorsed by Italy, was given out, simultaneously with the official announcement that all the conditions had been accepted by the Greek Government. The text was as follows:
"As they have already solemnly declared verbally and in writing, the three Protecting Powers of Greece do not ask her to emerge from her neutrality. Of this fact they furnish a striking proof by placing foremost among their demands the complete demobilization of the Greek army in order to insure to the Greek people tranquillity and peace. But they have numerous and legitimate grounds for suspicion against the Greek Government, whose attitude toward them has not been in conformity with repeated engagements, nor even with the principles of loyal neutrality.
“Thus, the Greek Government has all too often favored the activities of certain foreigners who have openly striven to lead astray Greek public opinion, to distort the national feeling of Greece, and to create in Hellenic territory hostile organizations