Austrian Official Statement regarding the Peace Proposals, December 12, 1916

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WWI Document Archive > 1916 Documents > Official Communications and Speeches Relating to Peace Proposals 1916-1917 > Austrian Official Statement regarding the Peace Proposals, December 12, 1916

Austrian Official Statement regarding the Peace Proposals, December 12, 19161

     When in the summer of 1914 the patience of Austria-Hungary was
exhausted by a series of systematically-continued and ever-increasing
provocations and menaces, and the monarchy, after almost fifty years
of unbroken peace, found itself compelled to draw the sword, this
weighty decision was animated neither by aggressive purposes nor by
designs of conquest, but solely by the bitter necessity of self-defense,
to defend its existence and safeguard itself for the future against
similar treacherous plots of hostile neighbors.
     That was the task and aim of the monarchy in the present war. In
combination with its allies, well tried in loyal comradeship in arms, the
Austro-Hungarian army and fleet, fighting, bleeding, but also assail-
ing and conquering, gained such successes that they frustrated the in-
tentions of the enemy. The Quadruple Alliance not only has won an
immense series of victories, but also holds in its power extensive hostile
territories. Unbroken is its strength, as our latest treacherous enemy
has just experienced.
     Can our enemies hope to conquer or shatter this alliance of powers?
They will never succeed in breaking it by blockade and starvation
measures. Their war aims, to the attainment of which they have come
no nearer in the third year of the war, will in the future be proved to
have been completely unattainable. Useless and unavailing, therefore,
is the prosecution of the fighting on the part of the enemy.
     The powers of the Quadruple Alliance, on the other hand, have
effectively pursued their aims, namely, defence against attacks on their
existence and integrity, which were planned in concert long since, and
the achievement of real guarantees, and they will never allow them-
selves to be deprived of the basis of their existence, which they have
secured by advantages won.
     The continuation of the murderous war, in which the enemy can
destroy much, but can not — as the Quadruple Alliance is firmly con-
fident — alter fate, is ever more seen to be an aimless destruction of
human lives and property, an act of inhumanity justified by no neces-
sity and a crime against civilization.
     This conviction, arid the hope that similar views may also be begun
to be entertained in the enemy camp, has caused the idea to ripen in
the Vienna Cabinet — in full agreement with the Governments of the
allied (Teutonic) powers — of making a candid and loyal endeavor to
come to a discussion with their enemies for the purpose of paving a
way for peace.
     The Governments of Austria-Hungary, Germany, Turkey, and Bul-
garia have addressed to-day identical notes to the diplomatic representa-
tives in the capitals concerned who are intrusted with the promotion of
enemy nationals, expressing an inclination to enter into peace negotia-
tions and requesting them to transmit this overture to enemy States.
This step was simultaneously brought to the knowledge of the repre-
sentatives of the Holy See in a special note, and the active interest
of the Pope for this offer of peace was solicited. Likewise the ac-
credited representatives of the remaining neutral States in the four
capitals were acquainted with this proceeding for the purpose of in-
forming their Governments.
     Austria and her allies by this step have given new and decisive proof
of their love of peace. It is now for their enemies to make known
their views before the world.
     Whatever the result of its proposal may be, no responsibility can
fall on the Quadruple Alliance, even before the judgment seat of its
own peoples, if it is eventually obliged to continue the war.

1The New York Times, December 13, 1916.