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DISPUTE OVER SELF-DETERMINATION 151
not arise. We will agree with the Ukrainian Republic that the old frontiers of Russia and Austria-Hungary will also apply to the Ukraine.
WOULD WELCOME UNION OF POLAND WITH MONARCHY
We want nothing at all of Poland, the boundaries of which have not been definitely settled. Poland's people shall choose their own destiny, free and uninfluenced. I consider the form of popular decision of this question not especially important. The surer it reflects the general will of the people the more I shall be pleased, for I desire only voluntary union on the part of Poland. Only in the desire of Poland in this matter do I see a guarantee of lasting harmony. I hold irrevocably to the point of view that the Polish question must not delay the conclusion of peace by a single day. Should Poland seek close relationship with us after the conclusion of peace, we shall not refuse, but the Polish question shall and will not endanger peace. I should have liked to see the Polish Government take part in the negotiations, for, according to my opinion, Poland is an independent state. The St. Petersburg Government, however, thinks that the present Polish Government is not entitled to speak in the name of the country and failed to recognize it as a competent exponent of the country. Therefore, we desisted from our intention in order not to create a possible conflict. The question is certainly important, but more important for us is the removal of all obstacles which delay the conclusion of peace.
DISPUTE OVER SELF-DETERMINATION
The second difficulty which we encounter, and which found the greatest echo in the press is the difference of opinion between our German ally and the St. Petersburg Government in the matter of interpretation of the right of the Russian nations to determine their own destinies, that is, those territories occupied by German troops. Germany holds the point of view that it does not intend to make forcible territorial acquisitions from Russia, but to express it in two words the difference of opinion is a double one.
First, Germany holds the legitimate point of view [auf dent berechtigten Standpunkte] that the numerous expressions of desire for independence by legislative bodies, communal bodies, etc., in occupied provinces should be considered as a provisional basis for popular opinion which would be tested later by plebiscite on a broad basis. The Russian Government is now opposed to this point of view since it can as little recognize the right of existing organizations in Courland and Lithuania to speak in the name of these provinces as it can in Polish ones. The second difficulty is that Russia demands that the plebiscite should take place after all German troops and administrative organs have vacated the occupied provinces, while Germany contends that by such evacuation, carried through to its extreme consequence, a vacuum would have been created, which undoubtedly would bring about irrevocably complete anarchy and the greatest misery. Here it must be explained that everything which to-day allows political life in the occupied provinces is German property. The railways, posts, telegraph, all industries and administrative parts of police and justice are in German hands. The sudden withdrawal of these parts would indeed create a condition which does not seem practically tenable. In both questions we must find compromise. The difference between these two points of view is in my opinion not big enough to justify the failure of the negotiations. But such negotiations cannot be completed over night. They take time.
Once we have reached peace with Russians a general peace cannot long be prevented in my opinion, despite all efforts of Entente statesmen. We have held (heard?) that it was not understood in places why I declared in the first speech after resumption of negotiations that it was now not a question of general peace but of separate peace with Russia in BrestLitovsk. That was a necessary statement of clear fact, which Trotsky has inevitably recognized, and was necessary because we were treating on a different basis, that is, in a more limited scope, when the question was one of separate peace with Russia rather than a general peace. Although I have no illusions that the effort for a general peace will mature over night, I am still convinced that it is maturing and that it is only a question of our holding through whether we are to have a general honorable peace or not.
RESPONSE TO PRESIDENT WILSON
I have been strengthened in this view by the peace offer which the President of the United States of America has made. To the whole world this is a peace offer, for in fourteen points Mr. Wilson develops the basis on which he attempts to bring about general peace. It is evident no such offer can be an elaboration acceptable in all details. Should this be the case negotiations would be unnecessary, for then peace might be made by simple acceptance—by a simple yes and amen. That, of course, is not the case. But I do not hesitate to say that I find in the last proposals of President Wilson considerable approach to the Austro-Hungarian point of view and among his proposals are some to which we can agree with great pleasure.
If I may now be permitted to go into these proposals in detail, there are LIMITS OF OPEN DIPLOMACY
two things which I must say first. In so far as the proposals concern our allies—they mention the German possessions, Belgium and the Turkish Empire—I declare that, in loyalty to the obligations which we have undertaken, I am firmly determined to go to the utmost limits for the defense of those allies. We shall defend as our own the territorial status quo ante bellum [den vorkriegerischen Besetzstand] of our allies. That is the point of view of all four allies, and they maintain it with absolute reciprocity.1
In the second place, I have to observe that I courteously but resolutely reject the advice as to how we are to govern ourselves. We have in Austria a Parliament elected by universal, equal, direct and secret franchise. There is no more democratic Parliament in the world, and this Parliament, together with the other constitutionally authorized factors, alone has the right to decide upon the internal affairs of Austria. I speak only of Austria, because I should regard it as unconstitutional to speak in the Austrian delegation of internal affairs of the Hungarian State. We do not interfere in American affairs and we want no foreign guardianship by any State.
Having said this in advance I allow myself to answer the remaining points as follows:
I.—I have nothing to say on the point which discusses abolishing secret diplomacy and complete publicity of negotiations. So far as public negotiation is concerned, I from my point of view have no objection to make to such a method if it is based upon complete reciprocity, although I have lively doubts as to whether it is in all circumstances the most practical and speediest way to reach a result. Diplomatic treaties are nothing but bargains.
Now, I can easily imagine cases in which, for example, commercial agreements are to be concluded between States without it being desirable that an incomplete result should be announced in advance to the whole world.
In such negotiations both parties naturally begin by screwing their wishes up as high as possible in order little by little to employ this or that wish as a concession until the balance of interests is finally reached, which must be reached before the conclusion of a treaty is possible.
1 The tert of this passage was incorrect in the German copy supplied to the Associated Press and Reuters Telegraph Agency at Basel by the German Wolff Telegraph Bureau. The passage as or1ginally given publicity read:
"I must first lay down this principle, that in so far as these propositions concern her allies, whether in the case of Germany's possession of Belgium or in the case of Turkey—Austria-Hungary, faithful to her engagements to fight to the end in defense of her allies, will defend the possessions of her allies as she would her own. That is the standpoint of our allies, in regard to which there is perfect rec1procity."
The manager and secretary of Reuter"s made this statement: "The discrepancies between our version and that of the "Neue Freie Presse" were due to telegraphic mutilations of our telegrams in course of transmission. The version which we received admitted of no translation other than that which we published."—Manchester Guardian, February 7, 1918.
If such negotiations were conducted in public, it would be impossible to prevent the public from passionately espousing every one of the wishes originally expressed; consequently the abandonment of any one of such wishes, even though it had been expressed only for tactical reasons, would be regarded as a defeat. If, indeed, the public has taken a very strong stand in favor of such a wish, either the conclusion of a treaty may be rendered absolutely impossible, or the treaty, if it is concluded, will be regarded—perhaps on both sides—as a defeat. Thus, so far from peaceful relations being promoted, there would be a positive increase of friction among States. But what is valid for commercial treaties would be as valid for political ones which treat of political business.
If the abolition of secret diplomacy means that there are to be no secret treaties—that treaties cannot exist without the public knowing it—I have no objection to the realization of this principle. I do not, indeed, know how the principle can be carried out, and what supervision is intended. If the Governments of two States are at one, they will always be able to conclude a secret agreement, without anybody knowing anything about it. But these are secondary matters. I do not cling to forms, and I shall never wreck a sensible arrangement upon any more or less formal question. We can, therefore, discuss Point I.
II. —Point II relates to the freedom of the seas. In this postulate the President has spoken from the heart of all and I subscribe to this desire of America's completely, especially because the President adds the clause "outside territorial waters," that is, freedom of open sea, but I cannot subscribe to the violation of the sovereign rights of our faithful Turkish ally. Its point of view on this question will be ours.
III. —Point three, definitely against future economic war, is so just and so reasonable and has been so often demanded by us I have nothing to add to it.
IV. —Point four, demanding general disarmament, explains in especially good and clear style the necessity of reducing free competition in armaments after war to a point which the domestic safety of States demands. Wilson explains this clearly. I permitted myself to develop the same a few months ago in a Budapest speech.1 It is part of my political creed and every voice which speaks in the same sense I gratefully greet.
VI.—As far as the Russian reference is concerned we are proving with deeds that we are ready to create friendly, neighborly relationship.
IX, XI.—As far as Italy, Serbia, Rumania and Montenegro are concerned, I can only repeat the point of view which I have expressed already
'The speech referred to was reported in the news dispatches of October 3, 1917.
NO OPPOSITION TO LEAGUE OF NATIONS
in the Hungarian Delegation.1 I refuse to figure as surety for enemy war adventures. I refuse to make one-sided concessions to our enemies, who remain stubbornly on the point of view of battle to final victory, concessions which would lastingly prejudice the Monarchy and give immeasurable advantage to our enemies and drag on the war endlessly and relatively without risk. I trust Mr. Wilson will use the great influence he doubtless has on all his allies so that they will explain the conditions under which they are willing to negotiate, and he will have gained the immeasurable merit of having called a general peace conference to life.
Just as openly and freely as I am here replying to President Wilson, I will also speak with all who show a desire to speak themselves, but it is quite comprehensible that the time and continuation of the war cannot remain without influence on our relations in this connection. I said this once before and may refer to Italy as an example. Italy had the opportunity before the war to attain great territorial acquisitions without a shot. This it refused, entered the war, lost hundreds of thousands of dead, billions in war costs and destroyed values, brought upon its population misery and need, and all this only for the advantage which it could have had once but which is now lost forever.
XIII. —Regarding point thirteen, it is an open secret that we are supporters of the idea that there must be "an independent Polish state which undoubtedly includes territory exclusively populated with Poles." Regarding this I am also of the opinion that we could soon reach an agreement with Mr. Wilson.
XIV. —Nor will the President find anywhere in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy any opposition to his proposal regarding the idea of the league of nations.
AGREE ON PRINCIPLES AND SOME DETAILS
As may be seen from this comparison of my views with those of Mr. Wilson, we agree not only on great principles in general, according to which the world is to be newly regulated after the end of this war, but our views
■ Count Czemin's evident intention was to reiterate the remarks referred to as part of his reply to President Wilson. The Austro-Hungarian minister for foreign affairs addressed the Fore1gn Affairs Committee of the Hungarian Delegation at Vienna on December 4, 1017. The speech dealt with the Balkan origins of the war and closed, according to the Reuter account, as follows:
"Italy has dearly paid for her treachery toward us. Fertile regions of Italy are now in our hands as a costly pledge for peace negotiat1ons. After _ having been misled, the Italian people is to-day faced with the collapse of the irredentist idea and imperialist hopes. Since the death of King Carol of Rumania in the autumn of 1914 the history of Rumania is that of continuous treachery. Up to the last moment the Rumanian Government l1ved under the illusion that it had succeeded 1n deceiving the Central Powers' diplomacy. Fate has terribly but justly punished Rumanian treachery. The populations of Serbia and Montenegro must ask themselves whether their dynasties and Governments were well advised when, under the influence of the Entente, theyi began war with us and our group. A series of bitter disappointments was the consequence of this policy."—London Times, December 7,1917.