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difficult for Italy longer to remain neutral.” Baron Sonnino had in his negotiations with Austria-Hungary more than once spoken of the national aspirations of the Italian people and the impossibility of the Government's carrying out a policy in opposition to these aspirations. It would, therefore, naturally be expected that Austria would have to come to Italy's terms if neutrality were to be maintained.
On March 10 the Italian foreign minister stated that he was willing to specify the demands of Italy as soon as Austria-Hungary should accept certain conditions which he laid down as bases for negotiations. One of these was the provision that “when the accord shall be concluded it shall take immediate effect." 15
This, the most important of the three conditions, was not accepted by Austria-Hungary. Baron Burian said (March 13) "that it would be impossible for the Imperial and Royal [Austro-Hungarian) Government to admit the passing on of any territories of the monarchy before the conclusion of peace.” He also still held that Austria had a claim to compensation because of the Italian occupation of Valona and the Ægean Islands. Italy, however, positively declined to allow the last-named question to come up for discussion. 16 Austria pointed out 15 I. G. B., 42. 16 I. G. B., 43, 44; A. R. B. (2), 117, enclosure.
that there were very serious obstacles to the transfer of any of her territory to Italy in time
Germany, although she had up to this time been urging Austria-Hungary to yield, thought that Italy was asking too much. She promised to guarantee that “the agreement to be concluded between Italy and Austria-Hungary will be put into execution faithfully and loyally immediately after the conclusion of peace.
Italy, however, feared that the Austrian and Hungarian Parliaments would not confirm the cession of territory after the war was over, when she would have no means of compelling compliance with the terms of the agreement. As to the guarantee of Germany, she considered it "valuable in the case of a victorious Germany, which presupposes also a victorious Austria, but would have less value in case both should be defeated.” 18 Baron Sonnino said that “the expectation of an immediate execution would strongly influence public opinion toward moderation in the demands of the cessions, while any delay would encourage larger demands." In short, he was offering Austria a discount for cash. 19 Baron Burian tried to allay Sonnino's fears regarding the future actions of the Austrian and Hungarian Parlia17 I. G. B., 46; A. R. B. (2), 125, 128. 18 I. G. B., 46, 53; A. R. B. (2), 121. 19 I. G. B., 52.
ments by declaring that "they could not reject an act which had taken place under the ample power possessed by his Majesty the Em
As they were deadlocked on this point, Prince von Bülow suggested that they take up the other question as to the amount of compensation, leaving this one in abeyance without prejudice.21 This was done and Austria-Hungary made (March 27) an offer of the terms on which she was willing to purchase the neutrality of Italy.22 These terms being regarded as vague and unsatisfactory by Italy, she was invited to make counter-proposals.23 Thereupon Baron Sonnino (April 8, 1915) formulated conditions that would be acceptable to his country. They were in part as follows:
(1) Austria-Hungary to cede “the Trentino to Italy, with the boundaries which the Italian realm had in 1811."
(2) The boundary between Italy and Austria to be corrected, “the cities of Gradisca and Goriza being comprised in the ceded territory."
(3) “The city of Trieste with its territory” to be constituted into an autonomous and independent state.'
20 I. G. B., 51.
(4) Austria-Hungary to cede “to Italy the group of the Curzolari Islands." (5) Italy to “occupy at once the territories
ceded to her”; “Trieste and her territory” to be cleared immediately"of the AustroHungarian authorities and troops."
(6) Austria-Hungary to acknowledge “the full sovereignty of Italy on Valona and her bay, including Sasseno, with as much territory in the 'Hinterland' as may be requested for their defense."
(7) Austria-Hungary to renounce completely every interest in Albania."
There were also some minor clauses contained in articles 8 and 9.
For these concessions Italy agreed to bind herself during the present war “to preserve a perfect neutrality with regard to Austria-Hungary and Germany' and to renounce “any right to further invoke, for her own advantage, the dispositions of Article VII of the Treaty of the Triple Alliance," provided “Austria-Hungary makes the same renunciation for all that may regard the Italian occupation of the Islands of the Dodekanese [the Ægean Is
Austria-Hungary was willing to cede "all the districts which form what is commonly called the Trentino,” but would not agree to the
24 I. G. B., 64; A. R. B. (2), 141.
boundary for these districts laid down by the Italian proposals.25 In his reply to Italy's proposals, Baron Burian, Austro-Hungarian foreign minister, objected to "a change in the frontier line toward the Isonzo," as this "would render difficult the military defense of that part of the [Austro-Hungarian] Monarchy's frontier, and would place the frontier of Italy too near to the city of Trieste. To detach this city from Austria-Hungary would deprive the latter of its most important center of maritime traffic and put in possession of Italy the principal line of communication between that city and Germany. Finally, the acquisition of the Curzolari Islands, which dominate Dalmatia, would make Italy mistress of those regions, and the Adriatic Sea would become an Italian sea, in the case Italy maintained possession of Valona." 26
“As to the proposal contained in Article V, according to which the territories ceded by Austria-Hungary should be immediately transferred to Italy, Baron Burian observed that the rearrangements that such a proposal would
25 I. G. B., 60, 71.
26 Baron Macchio, Austro-Hungarian representative at Rome, in discussing the reply of his government with the Italian foreign minister, said: “To Austria-Hungary it would be like depriving a human being of air_ if the Italian border were to be pushed to the very gates of Trieste, if a free state were to arise which would cut off [Austria-Hungary's] access to the
A. R. B. (2), 147; I. G. B., 71.