In defense of my client, Austria-Hungary, it must be acknowledged that she has been victimized by her minorities in her empire as well as neighboring terrorists, throughout the entire pre, post, and World War I periods. The era of the Industrial Revolution has brought greed and desire of more and more colonies for the countries of Europe. However, Austria-Hungary has no colonies overseas, nor did her emperor, Franz Joseph aim to get any. This country already ruled an empire of eleven different nationalities, many of whom were striving for their own nation-states. A vital interest of Austria-Hungary was simply maintaining internal peace throughout her empire. To have colonies overseas would greater complicate her problems with the minorities. Despite these difficulties, Austria-Hungary has desperately tried to preserve peace. My clientšs innocence in this war is supported by the fact that she had many weaknesses, including a limited industrial base, and questionable loyalty of her minority troops. A war with her enemy, Serbia, would mean a war with Russia as well. There was no possible way Austria-Hungary could even fight in a war, much less win one. It is extremely hard to call my client the instigator of World War I if she was not the first to mobilize her troops. In addition, I believe Austria-Hungary maintained her innocence throughout this whole war simply because all of her actions taken were in self defense.
As I mentioned before, I am defending a country with great internal conflicts. Many conflicts also came about by Russia, as well as terrorists attacks by Austriašs neighbor, Serbia. For her own protection, Austria was forced to join a Dual Alliance with Germany, simply to warn other countries, not alienate them permanately. Russian imperialism sought to drive Turkey from the Balkan Peninsula, and to replace Turkey as well as my client as the dominant power in southeast Europe. Until the end, Russian policy encouraged militant Balkan nationalism, one of whose goals was the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Austrian leaders were more than ever convinced that South Slav nationalism, led by Serbia and backed by Russia, was a mortal threat to her empire. The agitators among the Serbs eventually hoped to unite all Serbs in a greater Serbian kingdom even if it meant destruction of Austriašs Hapsburg empire. In turn, Austria-Hungary sought to strengthen its military and diplomatic position against Russian penetration and against Balkan nationalism. In September of 1908, a peaceful deal was made in which Austria would accept the opening of the Turkish straits to Russian warships if Russia offered to recognize Austriašs official annexation of the Serbian- inhabited provinces of Bosnia-Herzegovenia, which my client legally administered under international law. However, it seemed as soon Austria officially announced the incorporation of Bosnia-Herzegovenia, both Russia and Serbia panicked, even though the annexation was a done deal. Serbia began to prepare for war against us. We were thankful that our protector Germany made it clear she would support us if the other nations did indeed want to attack. The tsarist government finally acknowledged the incorporation, although Russia and Serbia were both humiliated, and childishly wanted revenge.
Many accused Austria-Hungary of stealing Albania from the Serbs. This is definitely not the case. A ŗBalkan League˛ was formed by Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece in the spring of 1912, and declared war that fall in a brief campaign that drove the Turkish forces all the way back to Istanbul. My client was frightened, for they feared this enlarged Serbia, who had been terrorizing them all along, would split up the Hapsburg empire. In the name of her empire, an international meeting was held. A compromise came about to create an independent Albania, while still awarding Serbia more land in the interior. I believe this was an extremely gracious offer.
Since the congress of Vienna, Austria-Hungary has tried desperately to protect her holdings in Europe, and maintain her influence in the Balkan states. Even when the Ottoman Empire was forced to withdraw from the Balkan peninsula, my client stepped in to maintain peace in that area. That was extremely difficult for an empire who had been constantly terrorized by the Serbs who disapproved of the annexation of areas of our nation that contained large numbers of Serbs. The constant attacks were bad enough, yet when a