Austro-Hungarian Red Book: von Merey to Berchtold, 21 July 1914

On 21 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Italy Kajetan von Merey (pictured) sent a private coded telegram to the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Leopold Count Berchtold in Vienna. In his telegram, Merey informs Berchtold of the dangers of Italy’s interpretation of article VII of the Triple Alliance Treaty.

Kajetan von Merey

Kajetan von Merey

Count Berchtold to Herr von Merey in Rome. Vienna, 21 July 1914

Cyphered telegram.—Private.

If your Excellency should be induced by the Marquis di San Giuliano [the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs] to make use of the arguments defending our interpretation of article VII [of the Triple Alliance] as exposed in the notice, and the Minister maintains his point of view, it will be desirable that you do not continue the discussion on this subject, and justify yourself to the minister by saying that neither of you would succeed in making the other accept any interpretation but his own. That your Excellency believed that it would be in the interests of both, instead of carrying on a juridical discussion on the interpretation of an article, to discuss the great interests of Austria-Hungary and Italy as friends and allies.

I must add for your Excellency’s information that I should take it as a grave symptom if the discussion of article VII led to irritation on either side, which might endanger the existence of the entire treaty.


Source: 1919 Austro-Hungarian Red Book, with minor edits.


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