‘The question must be asked: is war inevitable between Austria-Hungary and Serbia?’
Countdown to war: On July 23rd, 1914, Austria delivered an ultimatum to Serbia, reported two days later by French newspapers
A regiment of French marine fusiliers arriving in the ruined square in Cambrai, France, in 1914, after the outbreak of the first World War. As late as July 25th that year Le Petit Parisien newspaper hoped that war could be avoided. Photograph: PA
Will Serbia give in to the Austrian ultimatum?
Such complete humiliation would be tantamount to abdication
Such is the general opinion
The note which the Vienna government sent to the Serbian chancellery on Thursday evening via its envoy to Belgrade, which it communicated to the great powers with an explanatory circular yesterday, is couched in threatening terms and shows clearly that the Austro- Hungarian monarchy intends to use a heavy-handed approach.
Of course, one expected that Franz Joseph’s government would demand of Serbia exemplary punishment for the assassins of Sarajevo, and that was fair. One even accepted the idea that Vienna would demand of Belgrade certain guarantees in order to prevent the reoccurrence of such plots. However, one did not expect the intervention of Austria to manifest itself so rudely, that the form of its proposition would resemble an ultimatum and that the content of its demands would amount to direct interference in the exercise of the sovereign, national rights of the Serbian state.
It appears impossible for the government of [Serbian king] Peter I to accept the following conditions, laid down in paragraphs 5 and 6 of the Austrian note, without annihilating its own independence. “The Serbian government commits itself to: 5. accepting the collaboration in Serbia of Austro-Hungarian government bodies in the suppression of the subversive movement that is directed against the territorial integrity of the monarchy; 6. opening a judiciary investigation against the partisans of the plot of June 28 present on Serb territory; the bodies delegated by the Austro-Hungarian government will participate . . . ”
To accept such demands would be to accept servitude, to become vassals of the Hapsburg monarchy.
This is the opinion which we have every reason to believe is held in most chancelleries. This is the predominant feeling in Belgrade.
The question must be asked: is war inevitable between Austria-Hungary and Serbia?
We don’t think so. Certainly, the situation between the two states has become extremely grave, but it is not desperate.
The Vienna government must extend the 48-hour deadline given to the government of Peter I, so as to enable Mr [Nikola] Pasic, the prime minister of Serbia, who was on holiday when the note was delivered, and who is awaited in Belgrade, to study its contents carefully and respond.
The Austro-Hungarian note merely demands a response by the 26th, without stating when it will take effect. So diplomatic conversations can continue, even if Serbia accepts only partially the demands of Vienna.
One cannot forget that European chancelleries will doubtless intervene with the governments of Franz Joseph and Peter I to preach calm and conciliation. Yesterday morning, Russia and France undertook concerted demarches to ensure peace between the two adversaries.
It will be the same, at least one hopes, of all the other European states.
Le Petit Parisien,
July 25th, 1914