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Sir Edward Grey's other plan was that Russia and Austria-Hungary agree to abstain from military operations until the four powers not directly concerned-Italy, Great Britain, France, and Germany—could arrange a satisfactory agreement. The ambassadors representing those four Governments at London should keep in touch with each other and by their joint efforts try to work over the Serbian concessions and change them into terms that would be acceptable to both sides. A proposal to this effect was made by him July 26, and the other three powers were invited to take part in the conference.21 France,22 Italy, and Russia 23 agreed to the plan.
Germany, while opposed to mediation between Austria and Serbia, said that she accepted the principle of mediation between Austria-Hungary and Russia, but was opposed to the conference proposed by Grey on the ground that it would be a court of arbitration and could not be called except at the request of these two powers. Besides, she favored a direct inter
The German under-secretary of state was of the opinion that his Government, by merely submitting to Austria-Hungary the British proposal, gave it a qualified endorsement. B. W. P., 34.
21 A. R. B., 38, 41; B. W. P., 36.
The Russian foreign minister said that "he was perfectly ready to stand aside if the Powers accepted the proposal for a conference.”
change of views between Austria and Russia, and thought that nothing else should be done until the result of these negotiations was known. The British ambassador at Berlin explained that Sir Edward Grey's plan did not contemplate a court of arbitration but only an informal discussion as to what could be done, no suggestion to be considered that had not previously been consented to by Austria-Hungary and Russia.24 The French ambassador at Berlin expressed his regret at Germany's refusal. He said that Sir Edward Grey's plan went beyond the question of form—the main point in his plan was the coöperation of the four powers in the interest of peace; that this coöperation could take place in the form of “common démarches at Vienna and at St. Petersburg." 25 Austria, however, declined the proposal and Sir Edward Grey agreed that direct negotiations between Austria and Russia were preferable to his plan of a conference, if a direct interchange of views between Vienna and St. Petersburg could be effected.26 The
24 G. W. B., annexes 12 and 13; B. W P., 43, 46, 67.
The reason afterwards given by Von Jagow, German Secretary of State, for his opposition to Sir Edward Grey's proposal was that the Teutonic powers would probably have suffered a diplomatic defeat in a European conference at that time. For Italy, because of her sympathy with Serbia and her rivalry with Austria, would have opposed her allies in the conference. Lichnowsky Memorandum, Inter. Conciliation, No. 127, p. 363.
25 F. Y. B., 74.
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plan of a conference, therefore, fell into abeythe outcome of the direct negotiations, which had already been started.
Russia had taken the initiative in opening these negotiations. In an interview (July 26) with the Austro-Hungarian ambassador at St. Petersburg, M. Sazonof, the Russian foreign minister, suggested an exchange of views between the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Governments "in order to redraft certain articles of the Austrian note.” “This method of procedure would perhaps enable us [the two Governments] to find a formula which would prove acceptable to Serbia, while giving satisfaction to Austria in respect to the chief of her demands." He asked at this time that AustriaHungary take back her ultimatum to Serbia and modify her terms, and promised that he would guarantee the result.27 M. Sazonof at first was hopeful as to the result of these pourparlers; and this first meeting between him and Count Szapary had, according to English sources, made a good impression at Vienna.28 The Russian ambassador at Berlin (July 27) asked Von Jagow, the German secretary of state, to persuade the Austro-Hungarian Government to accept Russia's proposal to negotiate with reference to the Serbian question. Von 27 R. O. B., 25; F. Y. B., 54. 28 F. Y. B., 80.
Jagow's attitude was one of acquiescence in the plan, but he declined to advise Austria-Hungary to yield, even though the ambassador urged him to take a more decided stand in favor of the proposal.29
This plan, however, failed, for Count Berchtold, Austro-Hungarian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, told the Russian minister at Vienna (July 28) that Austria could not withdraw from the position that she had taken nor could she “enter upon any discussion of the terms of the Austro-Hungarian note.” 30
The proposal for the mediation of the four powers was also rejected by Austria-Hungary. She declared war on Serbia July 28,31 and next day made a formal statement as to her reasons for so doing. The Serbian Government, she said, had 'proceeded to the mobilization of the Serbian forces before it replied to our [her] note, and subsequently has [had] allowed three days to elapse without showing any disposition to modify its point of view." The AustroHungarian minister had also previously charged Serbia with having attacked Austrian frontier guards on July 27.32
The efforts to prevent war had failed, but all negotiations between Russia and Austria were not at an end. Russia had partially mobilized
29 R. O. B., 38. 80 R, O. B.,
31 A. R. B.,
but was still anxious to come to an agreement with Austria. Both the Russian foreign minister and the German ambassador at St. Petersburg favored an “interchange of views between Austria-Hungary and Russia.” M. Sazonof also thought well of Sir Edward Grey's plan of a conference of the four powers. Both plans for peace could, in his judgment, be wisely prosecuted simultaneously.33
The war that soon widened into a world conflict had now begun. The powers that started the flame are responsible for the world conflagration. This responsibility cannot by any possibility be placed at the doors of France, Russia, or England. Prince Lichnowsky is right in the opinion that if the Entente Governments had wanted war they could have gotten it by suggesting to Serbia that she refuse to yield to Austria-Hungary. Such an intimation would have caused Serbia to refuse to accept the Austrian demands to the extent that she did and war would have been certain. The cause of this Balkan war was Austria's unreasonable ultimatum to Serbia and her refusal to accept any satisfaction that would not reduce the little state to a condition of vassalage. Germany, by her own admission, shared equally with Austria the responsibility for the latter's unreasonable demands on Serbia.
38 R. O. B., 49; B. W. P., 118.