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employ the muskrat
The Tension Between Austria-Hungary and Serbia
We have recalled to mind this statement of the Serbian Prime Minister, of course statistically not quite right and the Croats renamed as Serbian, because it shows most clearly what was then going on in Belgrade based in the concept of internal politics. It a feature of the Serbian views on the characteristics of independence that a Minister of Foreign Affairs in the the chamber, indecently when concerning a foreign State, should refer to “slaves” and that a Prime Minister should open the commitment to a policy by which the breaking away of areas of a country could take place. Greater Serbia is, through the conquest of all the lands inhabited by Serbs … a matter of internal policy, in which no other state would be allowed to meddle… the internal Policy is probably also the importation [into Austria-Hungary] of bombs and of murderers, and an internal policy of sustaining an Organization with the purpose of keeping our border countries in turmoil.
This Serbian excuse, that international law is downright absurd and against reason, we have already heard in the annexation crisis; they would have, without the mediation undertaken with the greatest tentacity by the British Cabinet, come close to an armed collision. The Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Milovanovic answered all complaints of the monarchy and also the urgent representations of the other powers and friendly advice of the Russian Cabinet with the sweet statement that ” … the legal position of the Serbian kingdom to the Monarchy remained normal and that Serbia has neither the intention of provoking a war with the neighboring Monarchy, nor wants it, that its good legal relations with her are not changed, and continue, on the basis of reciprocity, the ability to meet its neighborly obligations with her and to continue past relationships corresponding to mutual material interests. ”
This note of Mr. Milovanovic is even now used as a pattern. The fact that in Serbia Murder plans are prepared and that there by “Greater Serbia” hostilities against the Monarchy are nourished, all these processes are regarded as internal questions, components of Serbian independence. Officially as assured during the Annexation of some years ago, Serbia was seeking, on the basis of reciprocity, to fulfill its neighborly contractual duties.
However, the Monarchy was not satisfied with such ambiguities and demanded that Serbia explicitly, not merely in a face of the powers , make a Statement to be delivered to the Vienna cabinet, directly acknowledging that it had no claim whatsoever on Bosnia and Herzegovina had and change its policy in order to enable peaceful relations. At the time, very important voices advocated against the paper guarantee and a move against “Greater Serbia” with the sword. We find a clear record of these sentiments in the speech of the Austrian Prime Minister Freiherr von Menerth, who said:
“There, however, is a natural limit for us, as for any State, in regard to the state and dignity: the Security of our territory. While we will get everything from the blessings of peace, should the opponent prove our wishes and desires to be impossible, what we all should wish to see avoided will come about; should the need arise to appeal to the to the patriotism of the peoples of Austria, then, the government is convinced this appeal will find in the high home of the legal representation of the Austrian peoples [i. e. the Austro-Hungarian Parliament – wjs] a loud and enthusiastic response ”
What Serbia did commit to at that time? The Serbian Minister Simic in Vienna in a note to to the [Austrian] Minister of Foreign Affairs, notified the approval by the [Serbian] Parliament and the decision taken by the Cabinet in Belgrade. The note read: “Serbia recognizes that it is not affected by the facts of right established in Bosnia and that it will therefore adapt the resolutions in relation to Article 25 of the Berlin Treaty and will meet and commit to the advice of the Great Powers to Serbia, and will give up the attitude of protest and Opposition which she has adopted with regard to the annexation since last October. It agrees, further, to change the direction of its current policy towards Austria-Hungary and henceforth to live with this on the heels of friendly relations; In line with these observations and in reliance on the peaceful intentions of Austria-Hungary is Serbia’s army returned to the organization, location and the effective strength prior to the state returned to the situation of the spring of 1908. It will disarm the volunteers and disarm, dismiss and prevent formation of new irregular corps on its territory. ”
The United Serbia is according to the clear wording this note in breach of contract. … the notion of “Greater Serbia” expressed in Serbia manifests itself not only in opinions and feelings, but in actions which are not unknown to the Serbian government, and it is this suspicion of complicity in criminal acts that cannot be tolerated any more by a civilized state and must be wiped out with the greatest vigilance. Serbia undertook the direction, further, of a policy change with regard to Austria-Hungary, to henceforth live with this country in friendly relations. This is just the definition of the duty assumed by Serbia not to perpetuate “Greater Serbia” intrigues and to prevent them for the future. Neighborly relations with “Greater Serbia” are impossible and political arson is not a feature of international legal independence.
Those who witnessed the speech of Baron von Bienerth in the March days of the annexation crisis have a sense of shame. The Parliament is closed, and the constitutional ground from which the then Prime Minister turned to the people of the Monarchy, has been made inaccessible by arbitrariness. The Austrian Government has no need to open a grand show of self sacrifice in front of all Europe. She has better things to do and must be in this crisis with the bayonets of veterans and employ the muskrat. [emphasis mine – wjs]
Neue Freie Presse, Vienna, July 13, 1914
[ This wonderful and seemingly absurd final reference to the large North American rodent introduced into Europe in the 18th century may have to do with articles of Austro-Hungarian military uniforms made from the fur of the muskrat: caps, gloves, collars; perhaps even entire coats – wjs]