How far do you agree that Mussolini’s foreign policy in the years 1933-41 was a complete failure? 'I want to make Italy great, respected and feared' said Mussolini in 1925. Mussolini's foreign policy included a number of positive and negative factors which all contributed to the rise, and the ultimately to the downfall, of both Mussolini and the Italian empire. Mussolini was intent on revising the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles and was very keen to show off Italy's power. He felt that Italy had been hard done by at the end of world war one and sought to claim what he felt Italy deserved. Mussolini's foreign policy clearly reflected his ambition to reinstate the Italian empire.
Once Mussolini was made prime minister in 1922, he put together his foreign policy plans. Mussolini said, 'Foreign policy is the area which especially pre-occupies us'. For many years, tension had been building up between Italy and Greece, and when an Italian official was killed in a Greek- Albanian border dispute, Mussolini saw this as an opportunity to begin the building of a great Italian empire. Mussolini ordered Greece to apologise and pay 50 million lire in compensation for the death of the Italian official and though the Greeks paid part of the compensation, they did not apologise and Mussolini was not satisfied and seized the opportunity to invade the Greek island of Corfu. And so began the process of building Mussolini's great Italian empire. The League of Nations condemned Mussolini's action against the Greeks and Britain threatened naval intervention. Nevertheless Mussolini only withdrew after Greece paid full compensation.
The campaign effectively enhanced Mussolini's position and popularity back home as the Italian people saw him as a strong and all-powerful leader. The Italian people saw the campaign as a huge success. The campaign also managed to put Mussolini in the spotlight for the rest of Europe to be aware of Mussolini's wish to become a powerful influence in European matters. Mussolini's control over propaganda, including control over Italian media, meant that he could sugar coat his defeat of Corfu as a victory for the fascist. Nevertheless, Mussolini knew that Italy was still too weak to ever challenge Britain and France over the Mediterranean.
In 1924, an agreement was made between Mussolini and Yugoslavia over the port of Fiume, stating that is should go to Italy. As a result a diplomatic relationship was formed between the Yugoslavian government and the Italian fascist state, despite the fact that Mussolini was extremely anti-communist. Britain also gave in and agreed to give Mussolini the Jubaland, and some territory on the Egyptian borders to Italy. This was the land, which Italy believed should have been rightfully given to them in the Treaty of Versailles. Mussolini had now established a respected position among the European powers, and so this was a great success for his foreign policy.
Mussolini attended a meeting in Locarno, in 1925, which sought to guarantee the existing boundaries between Germany, France and Belgium. Mussolini tried to gain Italy's Brenner border with Austria included within the guarantee but in the end he failed to achieve this. Though he failed, Mussolini managed to raise his status as a European leader during this time and offered the role of acting as a joint sponsor and liaison of the Pact with Britain, which secured the Belgian- German and Franco- German borders.
In 1933, Mussolini called the major powers of Europe together. The German, French, British and Italian leaders met to discuss the creation of rival organisation to the League of Nations. This rival Pact was to be named the 'Four Powers Pact' and would aim to sort out European affairs. One of the reasons for this was due to the incident with Greece. Mussolini was angry that the League of Nations had intervened. By suggesting the creation of a 'rival' organisation he may have seemed to have Europe's interest but...
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