Serbia and the Austro-Hungarian Korrespondenzbureau: 14 July 1914

Nikola Pašić (pictured) was both Serbia’s Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs during the July Crisis. On 14 July he wrote to all Serbian legations. He remarked on the hostility of the Austro-Hungarian Korrespondenzbureau towards Serbia. He believed Austria-Hungary was manipulating European public opinion.

 

Nikola Pašić to all the Royal Serbian legations abroad. Belgrade, 14 July 1914.

(1) The Austrian Korrespondenzbureau is showing a marked tendency to excite public opinion in Europe. This Bureau interprets neither correctly nor sincerely the tone adopted by the Belgrade press. It selects the strongest expressions from such articles as contain replies to insults, threats and false news designed to mislead public opinion, and submits them to the Austro-Hungarian public.

(2) The Korrespondenzbureau quotes especially extracts from articles from those Serbian newspapers which are not the organs of any party or corporation.

(3) As far back as the annexation crisis, Austria-Hungary prohibited the entry into the country of all Serbian political and other newspapers, and thus our press would not be in a position to excite public opinion in Austria-Hungary and Europe if the Korrespondenzbureau did not lay stress on and broadcast the items of news which it gathers from various Serbian papers, in every instance exaggerating them. Six days ago the entry into Austria-Hungary of the Odyek, the organ of the Independent Radical Party, was prohibited, thus all our papers are now prevented from entering Austria-Hungary.

(4) With us the press is absolutely free. Newspapers can be confiscated only for lèse-majesté or for revolutionary propaganda; in all other cases confiscation is illegal. There is no censorship of newspapers

In these circumstances, you should point out for their information, where necessary, that we have no other constitutional or legal means at our disposal for the control of our press. Nevertheless, when the articles in our papers are compared with those of Austria-Hungary, it is evident that the Austro-Hungarian papers originate the controversy, while ours merely reply.

Please also emphasize the fact that public opinion in Serbia is relatively calm, and that there is no desire on our part to provoke and insult Austria-Hungary. No one in Europe would know what our newspapers were writing if the Korrespondenzbureau did not publish these items of news with the intention of doing as much harm as possible to Serbia.

 

Source: Serbian Blue Book

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