Austria-Hungary Sounds Out Italy: 12 July 1914

Count Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, had, by 12 July 1914, settled on sending an ultimatum to Serbia. In the following strictly private telegram to the Austro-Hungarian ambassador to Rome, Kajetan Mérey von Kapos-Mére (pictured), he debates whether Italy, as a member of the Triple Alliance, should be informed of Austrian intentions.


Count Berchtold to Herr von Mérey. Vienna, 12 July 1914.

The action [e.i. the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia], on which your Excellency has been informed by Count Forgach will probably be taken in hand at the end of this month; the details will be settled this week. The German government, with whom we are acting in perfect harmony, is of opinion, shared by me, that the Italian government should not be informed, but placed in a situation that cannot be averted, by our grave attitude in Belgrade. Still I must ask your Excellency’s opinion, whether it would not be advisable to inform the  Marquis di San Giuliano a day or at least some hours previously, to avoid giving offence, and also that he may be in a position to impress the public and the press in a sense favourable towards the Triple Alliance.

With regard to the accession of Bulgaria to the Triple Alliance, Count Tarnowsky will in the course of this week commence cautious negotiations with the Bulgarian cabinet. As soon as we have attained the certainty that a treaty can at present be concluded, we will inform the Italian government
and ask it to cooperate.


Source: Austro-Hungarian Red Book


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