‘We must simply wait calmly and patiently for the next few days’

Countdown to war: ‘La Stampa’ correspondent's information makes him think there may be no war

Archduke Franz Ferdinand with his wife, Sophie, on the Appel Quay in Saraevo shortly before their assassination on June 28th, 1914. The murders led to Austria delivering an ultimatum to Serbia on July 23rd, which in turn led to the outbreak of the first World War. Photograph: EPA/Museum of Military History, Vienna

Archduke Franz Ferdinand with his wife, Sophie, on the Appel Quay in Saraevo shortly before their assassination on June 28th, 1914. The murders led to Austria delivering an ultimatum to Serbia on July 23rd, which in turn led to the outbreak of the first World War. Photograph: EPA/Museum of Military History, Vienna

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 01:00

Will the Austrian government’s ultimatum be sent to Belgrade today?

Reports in yesterday’s Vienna Free Press in relation to the tone of the diplomatic note that Austria intends to send to Serbia have been categorically denied today. The Neues Wiener Tagblatt claims that all the different reports re the form and nature of the step that Austria will take with regard to Belgrade, not to mention the notion that Serbia will be given a deadline by which it must reply, are all based on pure speculation.

The same paper claims that reports from Budapest say that the note destined for the Serbian government will be written in a “courteous but determined” form and will offer Serbia the possibility of giving a satisfactory response which will conserve normal and peaceful relations between Austria and Serbia.

There will be no deadline on the time by which Serbia must reply. We must therefore simply wait calmly and patiently for the next few days and without in any way underestimating the gravity of the current situation, we must firmly reject all that worrying speculation about measures which would apply only if Serbia comes up with an unsatisfactory response.

The note will be taken to Belgrade by Baron Storck, the secretary of the Austro- Hungarian delegation in Serbia, who travelled to Vienna yesterday for the very purpose of being the message carrier. He is expected to depart for Belgrade today but it is not known whether he will present the diplomatic note to the Serbian government immediately or if he will await the return to the city of [Serbian prime minister Nikola] Pašic .

People in Vienna are annoyed that Pašic seems to be doing whatever suits him given that, along with four ministers, he has travelled up country in order to take an active part in the current election campaign . . . In Vienna, people have the impression that he has used the excuse of the election campaign to get out of Belgrade and in that way slow up any solution to the Austro- Serbian tensions . . .

The Neues Wiener Tageblatt points out that the elections in Serbia will take place on August 13th. That day could be decisive . . . for relations between Austria and Serbia given that Pasic may want to wait for the electoral results before responding to Austria.

A serious warning, however, comes from the Vovaie Vcrmia paper from St Petersburg, which points out, “If the pan-Serbian agitation, in which the Serbian government is not involved, is to serve as an excuse for war, then all the current Austro- Hungarian diplomatic activity has to be seen as not only a pretext but rather as a legitimate reason for Russia to go to war”.

However, the same newspaper points out that just as it did in 1912 and 1913, the Franco-Russian pact will prevent Austria from attacking Serbia and thus disturbing the peace.

La Stampa,

July 23rd, 1914