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THE declaration which I am about to read is being made in the Palace of Brussels in the presence of the Foreign Ministers of the Oslo Group of States and in the name of the Heads of those States.
The world is living through a period of tension such that there is a risk that all normal collaboration between States will become impossible. The Great Powers are taking measures almost equivalent to the mobilisation of their armed forces. Have not the small Powers reason to fear that they will be victims in a subsequent conflict into which they will be dragged against their will in spite of their policy of indisputable independence and of their firm desire for neutrality? Are they not liable to become the subject of arrangements reached without their having been consulted?
Even if hostilities do not begin, the world is menaced by economic collapse. Mistrust and suspicion reign everywhere. Beneath our very eyes the camps are forming, armies are gathering and a fearful struggle is being prepared in Europe. Is our continent to commit suicide in a terrifying war at the end of which no nation could call itself victor or vanquished, but in which the spiritual and material values created by centuries of civilisation would founder?
War psychosis is invading every home, and although conscious of the unimaginable catastrophe which a conflagration would mean for all mankind, public opinion abandons itself more and more to the idea that we are inevitably to be dragged into it. It is important to react against so fatal a spirit of resignation.
There is no people-we assert it with confidence-which would wish to send its children to death in order to take away from other nations that right to existence which it claims for itself.
It is true that all States do not have the same interests, but are there any interests which cannot be infinitely better reconciled before than after a war?
The consciousness of the world must be awakened. The worst can still be avoided, but time is short. The sequence of events may soon render all direct contact still more difficult.
Let there be no mistake. We know that the right to live must rest on a solid basis, and the peace that we desire is the peace in which the rights of all nations shall be respected. A lasting peace cannot be founded on force, but only on a moral order.
Does not wisdom order us to withstand the war of words, incitements and threats, and agree to discuss the problems before us? We herewith solemnly express the wish that the men who are responsible for the course of events should agree to submit their disputes and their claims to open negotiation carried out in a spirit of brotherly co-operation.
It is for this reason that in the name of His Majesty the King of Denmark, the President of the Republic of Finland, Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess of Luxemburg, His Majesty the King of Norway, Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands, His Majesty the King of Sweden, and in my own name, each of us, acting in agreement with our respective Governments, issue this appeal. We express the hope that other heads of States will join their voices to ours in this same anxiety to maintain peace and safety for their peoples.
To-morrow hundreds of millions of men will be at one with us in their wish to stop the course of events leading to war. We can only hope that those in whose hands rests the fate of the world will respond to these sentiments, give effect to the desire which they have so often expressed that the disputes which separate them shall be settled in peace, and thereby avoid the catastrophe which threatens humanity.
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