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Triple Entente

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TRIPLE ENTENTE, The. In the litera ture of international law and diplomacy the term °Triple Entente" has reference to an un derstanding embodied in certain formal con ventions and diplomatic conversations between Great Britain, France and Russia. It differs from the former Triple Alliance (q.v.) between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy in that the parties to the latter solemnly bound them selves by a common treaty to act together for the maintenance of the balance of power and the preservation of the European peace, and that in certain contingencies each would lend its armed support to its allies in case of war. The Triple Entente had less of the character of a formal alliance. It did not rest upon a common treaty between the three parties, by the stipulations of which each pledged itself to come to the assistance of the other in case of war, but upon a series of treaties and un derstandings between France and Russia, be tween Great Britain and France and between Great Britain and Russia, by which their vari ous differences were settled and by which they agreed to act together in the future in the main tenance of their common interests and that in certain eventualities they would come to each other's assistance with their naval forces in defense of those interests.

Like the Triple Alliance, however, the Triple Entente evolved out of a dual agreement, namely, the diplomatic understanding between France and Russia concluded in 1891. The text of the document embodying the terms of this agreement had never been made public, but its purpose as announced was the maintenance of the peace and the balance of power in Europe. In the following year the Russo-French under standing was strengthened by the conclusion between the governments of the two countries of a °military convention," providing for the joint co-operation of their armed forces against a common enemy, and in 1894 this was suc ceeded by the conclusion of an alliance (the °Duplice" or °Dual Alliance") between the two governments. The texts of both these two last-mentioned agreements and even their exact dates have likewise been kept secret, but in August 1897, during an exchange of toasts be tween the Tsar of Russia and the President of the French Republic the existence of the alli ance, though not its terms, was publicly an nounced and proclaimed. This understanding with Russia was no doubt entered into at the instance of France as an offset to the Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. The idea of revanche against Ger many for the loss of Alsace-Lorraine had by no means been abandoned by the French, and now that France had been encircled by a group of powers including her old enemy, Germany, bound by a treaty of alliance, she turned her eyes toward Russia, who had her own griev ances against Germany, and between whom and France strong economic bonds were being cre ated through huge investments of French capital in the Muscovite Empire and through enor mous loans to the Russian government by French capitalists. These advances were cor dially received by Russia and thus the alliance was easily concluded.

The alliance between France and Russia was now followed by a rapprochement between Great Britain and France, for a century tradi tional enemies of each other in Europe, Africa and America. For a long time Great Britain,

secure in the protection of her fleet, and geo graphically separated from the continent by the English Channel, had pursued a policy of °splen did isolation," eschewing international alliances and avoiding intervention in the disputes of continental Europe. With her undisputed mas tery of the sea she did not need the support of allies to protect her interests at home or in her colonial dominions. But, in consequence of the policy of conscription by which the Ger man army was eventually made the most power ful military organization in the world and in consequence of the rapid building by Germany of a powerful navy which, rightly or wrongly, Englishmen believed was intended to destroy their supremacy on the seas, the British policy of °splendid isolation° was abandoned and Great Britain like France began to look about for continental allies against the real or fancied designs of Germany. The Fashoda incident of 1898 which brought France and Great Britain to the verge of war with each other was quickly forgotten and the two governments, in the pres ence of a power which they regarded as a com mon enemy and which had strengthened its position by alliances, now drew together. In 1903 following an exchange of visits by the heads of the two states and representatives of both Parliaments, the two governments entered into a general treaty of arbitration by which they agreed to settle by judicial methods all dis putes arising in the future between them, with certain exceptions. This agreement opened the way for the conclusion in the following year of a closer rapprochement and the definite settle ment of all outstanding disputes between the two nations, some of which were irritating and of long duration. This rapprochement owed its success largely to the savoir faire of King Edward VII, whose admiration for French manners and French culture caused his ad vances to be favorably received by the govern ment of the republic. The skilful diplomacy of Lord Lansdowne, Sir Edward Grey, M. Del casse and M. Paul Cambon likewise facilitated the bringing about of what came to be known as the Entente Cordiale. By a °Declaration° dated 8 April 1904, and cast in the form of a treaty, the old source of irritation between the two countries due to the British occupation of Egypt since 1882 was removed. The govern ment of France agreed that it would no longer oppose the British occupation of Egypt by in sisting upon a time limit for the termination of the occupation, in return for which the Brit ish government promised to recognize the special interests of France in Morocco, particu larly her right to preserve order in that country and to provide assistance, economic, financial and military, to the Moroccan government to enable it to establish the necessary reforms, subject to certain treaty rights of Great Britain therein and subject also to certain interests which Spain by virtue of her geographical posi tion and her territorial possessions on the Moorish coast had in the country. This mutual engagement was to be binding for a period of 30 years, and was to be extended at five-year intervals thereafter unless expressly denounced by one of the parties upon one year's notice.

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