Extract from the Speech of Baron Sonnino, Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, in the Chamber of Deputies, December 18, 1916

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WWI Document Archive > 1916 Documents > Official Communications and Speeches Relating to Peace Proposals 1916-1917 > Russian semi-official Statement regarding the German Peace Proposals, December 14, 1916


Extract from the Speech of Baron Sonnino, Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, in the Chamber of Deputies, December 18, 19161

     The Government knows absolutely nothing regarding the specific
conditions of the enemy's peace proposals and regards as an enemy
manoeuvre the rumours secretly spread about them. We must re-
member that none of the Allies could in any way take into considera-
tion any condition offered to it separately. The reply of the Allies
will be published as soon as it has been agreed upon.
     We all desire a lasting peace, but we consider as such an or-
dered settlement of which the duration does not depend upon the
strength of the chains binding one people to another, but on a just
equilibrium between States and respect for the principle of nation-
ality, the rights of nations, and reasons of humanity and civiliza-
tion. While intensifying our efforts to beat the enemy, we do not
aim at an international settlement by servitude and predominance
implying the annihilation of peoples and nations. If a serious pro-
posal was made on a solid basis for negotiations satisfying the gener-
al demands of justice and civilization, no one would oppose an a priori
refusal to treat, but many things indicate that that is not the case
now. The tone of boasting and insincerity characterizing the pre-
amble to the enemy notes inspires no confidence in the proposals of
the Central Empires. The Governments of the Allies must avoid
the creation for their populations by a false mirage of vain nego-
tiations of an enormous deception, followed by cruel disappointment.


1The Times, London, December 19, 1916