Washington, November 7, 1899.
The Austro-Hungarian Government are desirous to enter into negotiations with the United States Government with regard to a modification of the naturalization treaty of September 20, 1870, and have charged me to ascertain whether the United States Government are willing to do so.
The difficulties and complications arising from that treaty are well known to the State Department, as its published diplomatic correspondence for the last ten years bears testimony to the fact.
For quite a large number of years a numerous class of people in Austria-Hungary have been making use of the stipulations of the treaty for becoming, nominally, citizens of the United States, with the sole object of living in Austria-Hungary in defiance of its military laws. After having obtained naturalization in the United States at an early age they have returned to the country of their origin, intending to live and remain there permanently, but invoking their American citizenship when called upon to fulfill their military duties.
The United States Government can have no possible interest in the acquisition of a class of citizens who fulfill none of their duties of citizenship toward them, and look upon American citizenship merely as a loophole to avoid the laws of the country in which they intend to live. Nevertheless they feel obliged to extend their protection to these mala fide citizens, and the Austro-Hungarian Government, bound by the stipulations of the treaty, had no other way to escape from the demoralizing influence of these people but by expelling them, in virtue of the right of every government to close its territory against undesirable aliens.
The Austro-Hungarian Government think that the difficulties arising for them at present from the treaty could be obviated if either the obligation to recognize naturalization obtained by citizens of one contracting party in the territory of the other, as stipulated in Article I of the treaty, would be made conditional on their expatriation not having taken place in contravention of the laws of the country of their origin, or if the principles expressed in Article II of the treaty, that naturalized citizens on return to their territory of the other party, remain liable to trial and punishment for actions committed before their emigration would be freed from the limitations of the last alinea of said article.