Mr. Delaplaine to Mr. Evarts.
Vienna, May 4, 1877. (Received May 23.)
Sir: In my dispatch No. 61, of yesterday, I transmitted, with some observations, the response, delivered in the forenoon, of the Cisleithanian ministry to the interpellation in the lower house of the Reichsrath with regard to the intended policy of Austria Hungary in the East.
In the Hungarian Diet at Pesth, almost simultaneously, an answer was delivered by the minister-president, Tisza, to certain interpellations of members upon the same subject. The text of his discourse reached Vienna this morning, and is nearly identical in argument and sentiment: yet, while somewhat more diffuse, although slightly varying in words, I deem it advisable also to submit it to your perusal, as exhibiting clearly the plans and views of the present leader of the foreign policy of the empire, and affording an explanation of the same. Minister-President Tisza spoke as follows:
Honorable house: In the interpellations recently addressed to me there are three which relate to the disturbances in the East, and of these, that of the member Somssich especially extends to the question of the Danube navigation. In the first place, I must remark that I do not intend to include the latter question in my present explanation. Further, I beg you to allow, as this in similar cases has happened before, that I respond to this interpellation collectively, whereby, naturally, the right of the interpellators to express their meaning would now be as little diminished as hitherto. I believe that I may do so, the more because, as in times like the present, it is not otherwise possible the member Ernst Simonyi demanded the answer to his questions only so far as it was possible at this moment without prejudice to the public interests. In a similar manner, the member Chorin said in his speech that he also knew that there were times when governments could not so freely express themselves on certain questions as individual members.
Also my very esteemed friend, Paul Somssich, touched this idea in his speech. After I preface this, I would beg to deliver an explanation, which, as much as it is possible to-day, declares the foreign policy of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.
I would add to what I have said still further, inasmuch as this was asked, that the [Page 30]Hungarian Government is fully agreed with the direction taken in the conduct of foreign affairs. The attitude of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy is, since the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish war, in accordance with that which, from the beginning, it has observed in relation to the Oriental disturbances. Its efforts for practical improvement of the condition of the eastern Christian peoples are well known and universally appreciated. At the same time the efforts of the government were directed so that peace should be preserved, or when that should not be possible, then that the war should be localized. Now, inasmuch as it was not possible to prevent the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish war, the foreign office has in view two tasks, namely, to do everything in order that the consequence of the war might not be a European complication, and that in respect to the effects of the war upon the position of Oriental affairs, such influence under all circumstances should prevail which was demanded by the position and the interests of the monarchy.
For the preservation of these interests, the government after declaration of the neutrality of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy will maintain freedom of action. Until now, the government had succeeded in duly following events, without military measures having become indispensable, and it maintains also, now, the firm opinion that the national treasury should not be burdened by an unnecessary mobilization, and sees, also, now no occasion for military measures. Still no power has nearer interests to guard than the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. It is fully conscious of its responsibility, but looks with confidence upon events to occur.
It derives its confidence from the decidedly friendly relations in which the nation stands to other powers; it derives it further from the frankness with which, in every quarter, the objects and aims in the Oriental policy of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy have been declared; it derives it, finally, from the conviction that His Majesty, wherever the preservation of the interests of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy is in question, can, under all circumstances, count unconditionally upon the devoted support of all his people, and upon the patriotism of the legislatures and provinces. In consequence of this confidence, and of the consciousness of strength produced by the successfully developed forces of the army, resulting from the foresight of the legislatures, the foreign office finds itself to-day in the position to feel assured of the requisite dependence upon the vote of the monarchy, even without military measures.
That is, honorable house, the answer I can at present make. I will not extend beyond the individual questions, since, as I before remarked, the interpellants themselves, partly in their interpellations, partly in their speeches, have stated that it is scarcely possible. Therefore I hope that the honorable house will the more accept my explanations, because it will assuredly perceive that the governments know of what deep interest to the monarchy the question is; that the requisite steps from the standpoint of these interests should be constantly and attentively observed, and that for the-guarding of these interests full freedom of action should be preserved. I beg that my explanation may be accepted. [Applause.]
While in the dual organization of Austria-Hungary, the two legislatures have only an indirect control over foreign affairs the direct control belonging to the delegations or committee annually selected by the respective legislatures, who are empowered to settle the annual budgets of the empire. When the delegations are not assembled, this indirect control of the two legislatures is exercised through the respective ministers of Austria and Hungary, who are in constant communication with the premier minister of the empire for foreign affairs, and thereby are cognizant of his policy and plans.
I am of the opinion that these official communications of their respective governments before the two assembled representative bodies of both halves of the empire, as to the aims and results of the intended foreign policy in the present crisis, afford a satisfactory evidence of the patriotic and constitutional spirit prevailing in both moieties, and the explanations rendered and submitted to the deliberation and decisions of their representative bodies will obtain strength and influence after their approval shall be assured.
It is clearly to be perceived from the tenor of both responses thus-made in the name of the common ministry of the empire, that the continuance of peace, and the uninterrupted maintenance of order and law universally, even before the outbreak of the war, had been the constant endeavor. It would appear that now the neutrality of Austria-Hungary might be considered as proclaimed, and that she would continue a [Page 31]passive although attentive spectator; but the duration of such attitude is not determined; feeling herself strong and prepared, she will not commence any costly warlike measures, but will await the march of events, and avail herself of her present freedom of decision, while she solemnly declares that she is now bound by no engagement and guided by no motive other than her own interests. The fact that these individual interests coalesce with the general interests of Europe constitutes the principal strength of the position of Austria-Hungary.
It is further deserving of attention that the neutrality of the monarchy is not stated to be absolute and unconditional, while, however, prudence is exhibited in not defining its limits, but leaving such to possible exigencies of the future. Hereby, moreover, any precipitation or indecision in the policy to be followed will be avoided, and Count Andrassy, by this cautious yet vigilant course, will not commit the unfortunate blunder of Count Buol in 1854, who concentrated large masses of troops in Galicia and Transylvania, as well as in a military occupation of the Danubian principalities, subjecting thereby the national treasury to a useless waste of several hundred millions of florins, expended mostly in coin, and outside of the empire, as well as incurring thereby the charge of ingratitude of her former ally, and the violent anger of Russia, to appease which more than twenty years scarcely sufficed. Hereby, moreover, the cordial understanding between the two cabinets of Berlin and Vienna now existing promises to be lasting, while it affords ground to believe that owing to the frank, loyal, and energetic policy of Count Andrássy, no territorial change in the Balkan peninsula will take place, contrary to the will and without the concurrence of Austria-Hungary.
The official declarations of the respective ministries, moreover, effectively dispel the current rumor abroad, too generally credited, relative to an agreement between Russia and Austria-Hungary, and therefore they have afforded general satisfaction. That the responses will meet approval in both Parliaments seems certain, inasmuch as in the Austrian Reichsrath acclamation followed its delivery, and not a voice proposed debate; while in the Hungarian Diet the interpellants suggested one, but the members, in great majority, declined to entertain it.
It may be proper, in conclusion, to advise you of a recent act of the Turkish Government, which, however graceful and appropriate in itself has been considered to be of no small political advantage. I refer to the restitution to the University of Pesth of the so-called “Corvina,” being part of a valuable library which, at the time of the expulsion of the Turks from Hungary, was removed to Constantinople.
Although this was not transferred directly to Pesth, but delivered through the Ottoman ambassador at Vienna, still its reception at its destination was the occasion for a manifestation of much sympathy by the Hungarians for Turkey, and more especially was the visit to Pesth of a committee of Sottas from Constantinople, accompanied by ovations and an interchange of expressions of warm mutual feelings.
While admitting the political influence of the event at the present time, I am of the opinion that it may be more correctly regarded as characteristic of the generous, susceptible, and ardent character of the Hungarian people.
I have, &c.,