Official Statements of War Aims and Peace Proposals, December 1916 to November 1918

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

REPLY OF FOREIGN MINISTER CZERNIN TO THE FOURTEEN POINTS1
January 24, 1918

I consider it my duty to present a faithful report of the peace negotiations at Brest-Litovsk, to relate the different phases of the events which occurred previous to them, and to draw conclusions from them which are logical and justified.

In reply to those who find the course of the negotiations too slow, we must recall the difficulties of these negotiations, of which I could not even give an approximate idea. We must recall the complete difference between the Brest-Litovsk negotiations and any known in history. One of the chief differences was the publicity given to the various phases of the negotiations, the details of which are daily telegraphed throughout the entire world.

It is quite natural in view of the nervousness which prevails throughout the entire world that that should produce the effect of an electric shock, which agitates public opinion. We are in no doubt as to the inconvenience of this system, but nevertheless we yielded to the Russian Government's desire for publicity because we have nothing to hide. If we had wished to keep the former secret system that might have created a false impression. To counterbalance this complete publicity it is necessary for the public, as well as the leaders, in the rear and in front, to keep calm. The business will be conducted to the end with coolness, and will achieve a good result if the peoples of the monarchy support the responsible delegate at the peace conference.

The basis of the negotiations between Austria-Hungary and the various recently created Russian States, is a peace without annexation or indemnity. I should not abandon this program, and those who thought I should allow myself to be led away from the path which I have determined on are bad psychologists. I have never left public opinion in the least doubt as to the path which I am following, and I have never let myself be led an inch from this path, neither to the right nor to the left. While Pan-Germans and all those in the monarchy who take them as their models have honored me with their undoubted support. I am considered by those who wish peace at any price as being in favor of war, but neither the one side nor the other have

____________________
1
Text in The Times, London, January 26, 1918, p. 8; The New York Times, February 2 and February 6, 1918, p. 2.

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