Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pasich
Aleksandra's Note: I never cease to be amazed at just how cooperative and conciliatory the Serbs have been throughout history in dealing with their adversaries, with their neighbors, with their allies, and with their enemies. Everyone has their threshold, and the Serbs have a high one. They have tolerated much throughout their history - some might say they have compromised too much - and the more one learns of Serbian history the more one becomes convinced that history does indeed repeat itself. The players may change, but the essence remains the same.
I've concluded that even though the Serbs are not a group of pacifists, they are never the ones to throw the first punch.
In studying the "July Crisis" of 1914, it becomes increasingly clear that the Serbs and the Serbian government did everything humanly possible to avoid war, short of selling their souls out completely, as a nation and a people.
"Everything humanly possible" would not be enough for their enemies, for the simple fact that their enemies wanted war, regardless, and Serbia would be the scapegoat, regardless.
They would get their war.
The following communication was issued by Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pasich just four days before the pivotal Austro-Hungarian ultimatum was delivered to the Serbian government.
Statement of Serbia's Prime Minister Nikola Pasich of July 19, 1914 (to be transmitted to foreign governments via Serbia's accredited ambassadors):
"Immediately after the Sarajevo outrage [June 28, 1914] the Austro-Hungarian press began to accuse Serbia of that detestable crime, which, in the opinion of that press, was the direct result of the "Great Serbian" idea. The Austrian press further contended that that idea was spread and propagated by various [nationalist] associations, such as the "Narodna Odbrana," . . . which were tolerated by the Serbian Government.
"On learning of the murder, the Serbian Royal Family, as well as the Serbian Government, sent messages of condolence, and at the same time expressed severe condemnation of, and horror at, the crime that had been committed. Nevertheless, the press of the [Austro-Hungarian] Monarchy continued to hold Serbia responsible for the Sarajevo outrage. Moreover, the Austro-Hungarian press began to spread various false reports, designed to mislead public opinion, which provoked the Belgrade press to reply in self-defense and sometimes with hostility in a spirit of embitterment aroused by the misrepresentation of what had occurred. . . .the Serbian Government hastened to warn the press in Belgrade, and to recommend it to remain calm and to confine itself to simple denials and to the suppression of false and misleading reports. The action of the Serbian Government was ineffectual in the case of some of the less important papers. . . (being) unable to avert these polemics between the Serbian and the Austrian press, seeing that Serbian law, and the provisions of the constitution itself, guarantee the complete independence of the press and prohibit all measures of control and the seizure of newspapers. . .
"The Serbian Government at once expressed their readiness to hand over to justice any of their subjects who might be proved to have played a part in the Sarajevo outrage. The Serbian Government further stated that they had prepared a more drastic law against the misuse of explosives.
". . . During the whole of this period, from the date of the perpetration of the outrage until to-day, not once did the Austro-Hungarian Government apply to the Serbian Government for their assistance in the matter. They did not demand that any of the accomplices should be subjected to an Inquiry, or that they should be handed over to trial. . . . It is evident . . .that Austria is contemplating some action, but it is not clear in what sense. It is not stated whether the measures which are to be taken -- more especially military measures -- will depend upon the reply and the conciliatory attitude of the Serbian Government. But an armed conflict is being hinted at in the event of the Serbian Government being unable to give a categorically satisfactory reply...
"The Serbian Government considers that their vital interests require that peace and tranquillity in the Balkans should be firmly and lastingly established. And for this very reason they fear that the excited state of public opinion in Austria-Hungary may induce the Austrian Government to (take a line of action) which may humiliate the dignity of Serbia as a State, and to put forward demands which could not be accepted.
"I have the honor therefore to request you to impress upon the Government to which you are accredited our desire to maintain friendly relations with Austria-Hungary, and to suppress every attempt against the peace and public safety of the neighboring Monarchy. We will likewise meet the wishes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the event of our being requested to subject to trial in our independent Courts any accomplices in the outrage who are in Serbia -- should such, of course, exist.
"But we can never comply with demands which may be directed against the dignity of Serbia, and which would be unacceptable to any country which respects and maintains its independence.
"Actuated by the desire that good neighborly relations may be firmly established and maintained, we beg the friendly Governments to take note of these declarations and to act in a conciliatory sense should occasion or necessity arise."
Statement of Serbian Prime Minister Pasich, July 19, 1914 (to be transmitted to foreign governments via Serbia's accredited ambassadors)
Ref.: The Serbian Blue Book (from Collected Diplomatic Documents relating to the outbreak of the European War, British Parliamentary Papers, Cd. 7860, 1915)
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