On 24 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Italy, Kajetan von Merey (pictured), sent a coded telegram to the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Leopold Count Berchtold. In his telegram, von Merey informs Berchtold that his deputy, Count Ambrosy, delivered a copy of the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia to the Italian government.
Herr von Merey to Count Berchtold. Rome, 24 July 1914.
Count Ambrosy has presented the copy of the decree sent to me on 20 July in which the time of expiration for the term allotted was corrected, together with the enclosed supplement, at 11:30 this morning, to the Secretary General, both the [Italian] Minister of Foreign Affairs and Under-Secretary of State being absent.
The Secretary General when he began to read the document, remarked that it was very clever to begin the Note by citing the Servian note of 1909 [note: Austria-Hungary had annexed Bosnia in 1909].
When he had read further on, he made, what he called a purely personal remark,—that we were treating Servia as a Great Power, in considering ourselves endangered by the agitation carried on against us on Servian territory. This gave Count Ambrosy an opportunity for referring to the wide-spread aims of the “Narodna odbrana”.
When he came to the point, in which we ask for the publication of the Note and its answer, the Secretary General said: “to this the Belgrade government must absolutely accede.”
At Point 4 he said, he thought the Servian government would find it hard to accept.
When he read the paragraph referring to the results of the inquiry in Sarajevo, he seemed much surprised.
When he had finished reading, he said that we seemed to have arrived at a turning-point of History. Count Ambrosy answered this by asking whether he, (De Martino) admitted that our action was after all purely defensive, to which the Secretary General replied in the affirmative, adding, in French: “Certainly I could never have believed that it would be possible to assert and prove the guilt of Servian officers and functionaries in the drama of Sarajevo.”
He then assured Count Ambrosy that he would forthwith remit the copy of the Note to the [Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs the] Marquis di San Giuliano.
Just before Count Ambrosy’s visit, the Secretary General had received the Russian ambassador. As Ambrosy was being introduced, the ambassador went to the office of a reporter of the Foreign Office and left his hat and stick in the anteroom. It must be assumed that de Martino immediately afterwards communicated the text of the Note to him, which had however in the meantime been published by the Agenzia Stefani.
Source: 1919 Austro-Hungarian Red Book, with minor edits.