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are now en route, 600 cars are ready to be transported, and these transports will be continued until the imports are organized and can begin regularly. Larger transports are rendered possible by the peace with Rumania, which enables goods to be sent from Odessa to Danube ports.
We hope during May to undertake the first large transport from Ukraine. While I admit that the imports from Ukraine are still small and must be increased, nevertheless our food situation would have been considerably worse had this agreement not been concluded.
From Rumania we will obtain a considerable surplus of last year's harvest. Moreover, about 400,000 tons of grain, peas, beans, and fodder must be transported via the Danube. Rumania must also immediately provide us with 800,000 sheep and pigs, which will improve our meat supply slightly.
It is clear from this that everything will be done to obtain from the exploitation of the regions which peace has opened for us in the east whatever is obtainable. The difficulties of obtaining these supplies from Ukraine are still considerable, as no state of order exists there. But with the good-will of the Ukrainian Government and our organization we will succeed in overcoming the difficulties.
An immediate general peace would not give us further advantages, as all Europe today is suffering from lack of foodstuffs. While the lack of cargo space prevents other nations from supplying themselves, the granaries of Ukraine and Rumania remain open to the Central Powers.
[Replying to the annexationists, Count Czernin said:]
The forcible annexation of foreign peoples would place difficulties in the way of a general peace, and such an extension of territories would not strengthen the empire. On the contrary, considering the grouping of the monarchy, they would weaken us. What we require are not territorial annexations, but economic safeguards for the future.
We wish to do everything to create - the Balkans a situation of lasting
calm. Not until the collapse of Russia did there cease to exist the factor which hitherto made it impossible for us to bring about a definite state of internal peace in the Balkans.
We know that the desire for peace is very great in Serbia, but Serbia has been prevented by the Entente Powers from concluding it. Bulgaria must receive from Serbia certain districts inhabited by Bulgarians. We, however, have no desire to destroy Serbia. We will enable Serbia to develop, and we would welcome closer economic relations with her.
We do not desire to influence the future relations between the monarchy and Serbia and Montenegro by motives conflicting with friendly, neighborly relations. The best state of egoism is to come to terms with a beaten neighbor, which leads to this: My egoism regarding Austria-Hungary is that after being conquered militarily our enemies must be conquered morally. Only then is victory complete, and in this respect diplomacy must finish the work of the armies.
THE DESIRE FOR PEACE
Since I came into office I have striven only after one aim, namely, to secure an honorable peace for the monarchy and to create a situation which will secure to Austria-Hungary future free development, and, moreover, to do everything possible to insure that this terrible war shall be the last one for time out of mind. I have never spoken differently. I do not intend to go begging for peace, or to obtain it by entreaties or lamentations, but to enforce it by our moral right and physical strength. Any other tactics, I consider, would contribute to the prolongation of the war.
I must say, to my regret, that during the last few weeks and months much has been spoken and done in Austria that prolongs the war. Those who are prolonging the war are divided into various groups, according to their motives and tactics. There are, first, those who continuously beg for peace. They are despicable and foolish. To endeavor to conclude peace at any price is despicable, for it is unmanly, and it is foolish because it continuously feeds the already dying aggressive spirit of the enemy. The desire for peace of the great masses is natural as well as comprehensible, but the leaders of the people must consider that certain utterances produce abroad just the opposite effect from what they desire.
Firmly relying on our strength and the justice of our cause, I have already concluded three moderate but honorable peace treaties. The rest of our enemies also begin to understand that we have no other desire than to secure the future of the monarchy and of our allies, and that we intend to enforce this and can and will enforce it. I shall unswervingly prosecute this course and join issue with any one who opposes me.
The second group of war prolongers are the annexationists. It is a distortion of fact to assert that Germany has made conquests in the east. Lenine's anarchy drove the border people into the arms of Germany. Is Germany to refuse this involuntary choice of foreign border States?
The German Government has as little desire for oppressions as we, and I am perfectly convinced that neither annexationists nor weaklings can prevent for
ever a moderate and honorable peace. They delay it, but they cannot prevent it.
The hopes of our enemies of final victory are not merely based on military expectations and the blockade. They are based to a great extent on our interior political conditions and on certain political leaders, not forgetting the Czechs. Recently we were almost on the point of entering into negotiations with the Western Powers, when the wind suddenly veered round and, as we know with certainty, the Entente decided it had better wait, as parliamentary and political events in our country justified the hope that the monarchy would soon be defenseless.
[Count Czernin attacked the Czech leaders and Czech troops, who, he declared, "criminally fight against their own country," and appealed to the people to be united against this "high treason." The Government, he said, was quite ready to proceed to the revision of the Constitution, but this would not be helped by those who hoped through the victory of the Entente to gain their ends. "If we expel this poison," he declared, "a general honorable peace is nearer than the public imagines, but no one has the rigH to remain aside in this last decisive struggle."]
Great Britain's Reply to Count Czernin
Lord Robert Cecil, Parliamentary Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs, made the follouring statement in answer to Count Czernin:
WHATEVER doubt about Count Czernin might have existed before his latest declaration, there can be no doubt now that he stands for Prussian ideals and Prussian policy. I must confess that I prefer Prussian brutality to Austrian hypocrisy. If you are going to rob and strangle your neighbor it is better not to talk of your moderation.
Count Czernin claims with the greatest audacity that he and his allies have just made proposals that are moderate, and even guided by the principles of selfdetermination, no annexations, and no indemnities. As far as self-determination is concerned, in every one of the new
States they have set up they have done so without the slightest regard to the wishes of the peoples and no serious attempt was made even to follow racial boundaries or racial antecedents.
The province of Dobrudja, (Rumania,) which has been handed over to Bulgaria, has only 18 per cent. Bulgarians and 50 per cent. Rumanians, and Southern Bessarabia, which apparently is offered to Rumania, is the part of Bessarabia having the fewest Rumanians. As for no annexations, Count Czernin claims that all he has done is to carry out slight frontier rectifications. What he really has done is to take an important part of the Danube and all the passes between Austria-Hungary and Rumania. Not only this, he has driven back the Carpathian frontier eight or ten miles.
But the most hypocritical part of Czernin's peace terms, while affecting not to demand a war indemnity for the Central Powers, is the fact that they have imposed one of the heaviest war indemnities ever levied. It is a curious provision which applies to the new States that they are to be under no obligation whatever toward Russia arising from former relations with her. The result is to concentrate on the remainder of Russia the debt which hitherto was spread over the whole of Russia.
No wonder that Count Czernin, in a moment of candor, says that in the conclusion of peace with the Ukraine and
Rumania the first thought was to furnish Austria with necessary foodstuffs and material. That has been the object of this peace, and it has been accomplished by giving to Austria-Hungary such economic and strategic advantages as to place these two countries at the mercy of the Central Powers.
From the Ukraine particularly Czernin claims there is to be secured all food obtainable. No doubt this will be not a question of purchase, but of seizure. All the cost of requisitions made by the Central Powers will be written off in Rumania.
It will amount to £50,000,000. Beyond that they claim the exclusive right to exploit the petroleum fields, and any disputes arising from this are to be settled by a tribunal set up in Leipsic.
Austro-French "Peace Initiative" Controversy
Clemenceau Flatly Contradicts Czernin
COUNT CZERNIN'S assertion in his speech of April 2 that Premier Clemenceau of France had initiated a peace parley with Austria-Hungary was immediately denied by the French Premier with the curt declaration: "The statement is a lie." There followed a somewhat extended controversy on the subject, which Count Czernin sought to utilize for his own purposes of war diplomacy, and which is placed on record here for the side lights it sheds on a hitherto secret chapter of the continuous peace intrigues of the Central Powers.
Premier Clemenceau's curt " dementi" was followed on April 6 by this official statement from the French* Government: Premier Clemenceau, upon assuming the duties of President of the Council, found that conversations had been entered into in Switzerland upon Austria's initiative between the Count Revertata, a personal friend of Emperor Charles, and Commandant Armand of the Second Bureau, French General Staff, designated for that purpose by the French Minister at the time.
M. Clemenceau did not wish to assume the responsibility of interrupting conferences which had yielded no results, but which might furnish useful sources of In
formation. Commandant Armand thus was allowed to continue his journey in Switzerland, upon the request of Count Revertata. Instructions were given M. Armand in the presence of his chief by M. Clemenceau as follows: "Listen and say nothing."
Count Revertata, becoming convinced that his attempt to bring about a German peace was doomed to failure, in order fully to characterize his mission, gave Commandant Armand a letter written in his own hand, dated Feb. 25, 1918, the first sentence of which reads: "Dur"ing the month of August, 1917, with a "view to obtaining from the French Gov"ernment a proposition to Austria which "might lead to future peace and be of "such a nature as to be susceptible of "being indorsed by Austria and presented "to the German Government, conferences "have been entered upon."
Count Revertata, being himself the solicitor, acknowledges it in the following terms: "That the purpose was to "obtain from the French Government "propositions of peace, under cover of "Austria, for transmission to Berlin."
Such is the fact established by an authenticated document which Count Czernin has dared to refer to in the following terms: "Clemenceau, shortly be"fore the beginning of the offensive on "the western front, had me asked whether "I was ready to enter upon negotiations.
"and upon what basis." In speaking thus he not only did not tell the truth, but told the opposite o/ truth, which in France is termed "lying."
It is but natural that Premier Clemenceau should be unable to restrain his indignation when Count Czernin, justly anxious as to the final consequences of the western offensive, reversed the roles with such audacity, representing the French Government as begging for peace at the very moment when, with our allies, we were preparing for the infliction of a supreme defeat upon the Central Empires.
It would be too easy to recall to what extent Austria has importuned Rome, Washington, and London with solicitations for an alleged separate peace which had no other aim than to slip upon us the yoke which she professes to find to her taste. Who does not know the story of a recent meeting (in Switzerland, of course) of a former Austrian Ambassador and a figure high in the councils of the Entente Allies? The conferences lasted only a few minutes. Here again it was not our ally who sought the interview. It was the Austrian Government.
Does not Count Czernin remember another attempt of the same sort made in Paris and London only two months before that of Count Revertata by a person of much higher rank? That again, as in the present case, is authentic, but much more significant proof exists.
CONFIRMED BY PAINLEVE
Professor Paul Painleve, who preceded M. Clemenceau as Premier, issued the following explanatory statement:
During the year 1917 Austria made several attempts to open semi-official negotiations with the Entente Allies. Notably in June, 1917, I was advised by the Second Bureau that Austria, through the person of Count Revertata, had several times asked, through a Swiss intermediary, for an Interview with the officer attached to the Second Bureau, Major Armand, a distant relative.
Alexander Ribot, then Premier, having been consulted. Major Armand and Count Revertata met in August, 1917. The matter stopped there, and no interview took place from August until November, when I left office.
The events which occurred afterward naturally arc unknown to me, but I presume, from the statement made by Premier Clemenceau, that Count Revertata returned to the charge.
AUSTRIA'S OFFICIAL STATEMENT
The following official statement regarding the matter was issued the same day at Vienna by the Imperial Government:
On instructions from the Foreign Minister Count Revertata, Counselor of the Legation in Switzerland, repeatedly had discussions in Switzerland with a confidential agent of M. Clemenceau, Count Armand, attached to the French War Ministry, who was sent to Switzerland to interview Count Revertata. As a result of the interview of these two gentlemen in Freiburg, Switzerland, on Feb. 2, the question was discussed whether and on what basis a discussion concerning the bringing about of a general peace would be possible between the Foreign Ministers of Austria-Hungary and France, or between official representatives of these Ministers.
Thereupon Count Revertata, after obtaining instructions from the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister, toward the close of February declared on behalf of the Minister to Count Armand, for communication to M. Clemenceau, that Count Czernin was prepared for a discussion with a representative of France, and regarded it as possible to hold a conversation with the prospect of success as soon as France renounced its plan for the conquest of Alsace-Lorraine.
Count Revertata received a reply in the name of M. Clemenceau to the effect that the latter was not in a position to accept the proposed renunciation by France of this disannexation, so that a meeting of the representatives at that time would, in the view of both parties, be useless.
GENERAL SMUTS'S TESTIMONY
The Paris Matin on April 7 stated that General Smuts, South African representative in the British Cabinet, was the "figure high in the councils of the Entente Allies" referred to by the French Government in the statement of April 5 denying the assertion of Count Czernin that the French Prime Minister had sought to open peace negotiations with Austria-Hungary. The representative of the Dual Monarchy who met General Smuts in Switzerland was Count Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein, Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at London when the war broke out. Immediately upon being introduced to Count Mensdorff, says the newspaper, General Smuts, taking the initiative in the conversation, bluntly said:
"Is it true that you wish to make a separate peace?"
This direct query was too much for the trained diplomat, and the Count began a long, evasive reply.
"Yes or no?" reiterated the British representative.
Obtaining no direct reply General Smuts said:
The interview lasted barely three minutes. Vienna was shocked, Le Matin says, at the boorish manner of the "old Transvaal warrior."
VIENNA'S SECOND STATEMENT
Further elaboration of Count Czernin's version of the case was proffered on April 8 in a second official statement issued at Vienna by the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office, as follows:
In contrast to the first brief declaration of Premier Clemenceau, in which he gave the lie to Foreign Minister Czernin, it is observed with satisfaction that M. Clemenceau's statement of April G admits that discussions in regard to the question of peace took place between two confidential agents of Austria-Hungary and France. The account given by M. Clemenceau of the initiation and course of these negotiations, and likewise the statement by M. Painleve on the same subject, however, deviate in many important particulars and to such a degree from the facts that a detailed correction of the French communication appears to be necessary.
In July, 1917, Count Revertata was requested by an intermediary in the name of the French Government to state whether he was in a position to receive a communication from that Government to the Government of Austria-Hungary. When Count Revertata, after having obtained the sanction of the Austro-Hungarian Government, replied in the affirmative to this inquiry, in the same month— July, 1917—Major Armand was charged with such communication by the then French Premier, Ribot. He arrived on Aug. 7, 1917, at Count Revertata's private residence in Freiburg, the Count being distantly related to him.
Major Armand then addressed to Count Revertata a question as to whether discussions between France and AustriaHungary were possible. Thus the initiative for these discussions was taken from the French side.
Count Revertata reported to the AustroHungarian Foreign Minister that this question had been put on instructions of the French Government, and the Minister thereupon requested Count Revertata to enter into discussions with the French confidential agent, and in the course of these discussions to establish whether by this means a basis for bringing about a general peace could be secured.
On Aug. 22 and 23 Count Revertata en
tered into discussions with Major Armand, which, however, as Premier Clemenceau quite correctly declares, yiejded no result. The negotiations thereupon were broken off.
Parleys Resumed in January
The Clemenceau version that the discussions between Revertata and Armand were proceeding on his entry into office is incorrect. Not until January, 1918, did Armand, this time on Instructions from Clemenceau, again get in touch with Revertata. The thread had been broken in August, 1917, and was therefore again taken up by Clemenceau himself in January, 1918.
From this fresh contact there resulted the discussions referred to in the official communique of April 4, 1918. It is, however, correct that Count Revertata handed to Major Armand on Feb. 23, 1918, the memorandum regarding which Premier Clemenceau only cites the first sentence and which confirms that in the discussions with Armand, which had taken place in August, 1917, Revertata was charged with the task of finding out whether proposals were obtainable from the French Government, which had addressed to AustriaHungary an offer of a basis for a general peace, and also whether they would be such as Austria-Hungary could bring to the knowledge of her allies.
It, therefore, entirely corresponded with the facts when Count Czernin in his speech on April 2 last declared that Premier Clemenceau, some time before the beginning of the western offensive, had inquired of me whether I was prepared for negotiations and on what basis.
The accusation of lying brought against Count Czernin by M. Clemenceau cannot therefore be maintained, even in the restricted sense made by the present communique of the French Government.
Admits Other Peace Manoeuvres
Nothing is known to the Austro-Hungarian Government of entreaties for an alleged separate peace with which trie Austro-Hungarian Government worrried the Governments of Rome, Washington, and London. When M. Clemenceau asks the Austro - Hungarian Foreign Minister whether he remembers that two months before the Revertata affair—that is, about a year ago—an attempt of a like nature was made by a personage of far higher rank, Count Czernin does not hesitate to reply in the affirmative. But for the sake of completeness and entire correctness it should be added that this attempt also led to no result.
So much for the establishment of the facts. For the rest, it need only be remarked that Count Czernin for his part would see no reason to deny it if, in this