Speech of Premier Tisza in the Hungarian Parliament, January 25, 1917

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WWI Document Archive > 1916 Documents > Official Communications and Speeches Relating to Peace Proposals 1916-1917 > Speech of Premier Tisza in the Hungarian Parliament, January 25, 1917

Speech of Premier Tisza in the Hungarian Parliament, January 25, 19171

     Pursuant to our peaceful policy before the war and our attitude
during the war, as well as our recent peace action, we can only greet
with sympathy every effort aiming at the restoration of peace. We
are, therefore, inclined to continue a further exchange of views re-
garding peace with the United States Government. This exchange
must naturally occur in agreement with our allies.
     In view of the fact that President Wilson in his address makes cer-
tain distinctions between our reply and our enemies' reply, I must
especially state that the quadruple alliance declares that it is inclined
to enter into peace negotiations, but that at the same time it will pro-
pose terms which, in its opinion, are acceptable for the enemy and cal-
culated to serve as a basis for a lasting peace.
     On the other hand, the conditions of peace contained in our enemies'
reply to the United States are equivalent at least to the disintegration
of our monarchy and of the Ottoman Empire. This amounts to an
official announcement that the war aims at our destruction, and we are,
therefore, forced to resist with our utmost strength as long as this is the
war aim of our enemies.
     In such circumstances it can not be doubted which group of powers
by its attitude is the obstacle to peace, and this group approximates to
President Wilson's conception. The President opposes a peace im-
posed by a conqueror, which one party would regard as a humiliation
and an intolerable sacrifice. From this it follows clearly that so long
as the powers opposed to us do not substantially change their war
aims an antagonism that can not be bridged stands between their view-
point and the President's peace aims.
     My second observation has to do with the principle of nationalties.
I desire to be brief; therefore, I will not dilate on the question of
what moral justification England and Russia have to lay stress on the
principle of nationalities in a peace program which would destroy the
Hungarian nation and deliver the Mohammedan population of the
Bosphorus region into Russian domination. But I say that the whole
public opinion in Hungary holds to the principle of nationalities in
     The principle of nationalities in the formation of national States,
however, can only prevail unrestrictedly where single nations live within
sharply marked ethnographical boundaries in compact masses and in
regions suited to the organization of a State. In territories where
various races live intermingled it is impossible that every single race
can form a national State. In such territories it would only be possible
to create a State without national character, or one in which a race
by its numbers and importance predominates, thus imprinting its
national character.
     In such circumstances, therefore, only that limited realization of the
principle of nationalities is possible which the President of the United
States rightfully expresses in demanding that security of life and re-
ligion and individual and social development should be guaranteed to
all peoples. I believe that nowhere is this demand realized to such a
degree as in both States of the monarchy. I believe that in the regions
of Southeastern Europe, which are inhabited by a varied mixture of
peoples and nations, the demand for free development of nations can
not be more completely realized than it is by the existence and domina-
tion of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.
     We feel ourselves, therefore, completely in agreement with the
President's demands. We shall strive for the realization as far as
possible of this principle in the regions lying in our immediate neigh-
borhood. I can only repeat that, true to our traditional foreign policy
and true to the standpoint we took in our peace action in conjunction
with our allies, we are ready to do everything that will guarantee to the
peoples of Europe the blessings of a lasting peace.
I beg you to take cognizance of my reply.

1The New York Times, January 26, 1917