Austria always looked upon the Balkans as her sphere of influence, and in particular, the western and middle portion of it with Salonica as the center goal. This would be the first step to the gradual and complete absorption of the whole Balkan Peninsula. In this she always had the warmest support of Germany, as the latter regards herself as the prospective heir of Austria. Indeed, Germany always considered her self as the legitimate successor to the posses sions of the Turkish and Austrian empires when their final liquidation should come. This is why both of these countries always dreaded an alliance of the independent Bal lkan states.