The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 3/Peace Terms from the Czechoslovak Standpoint
Peace Terms from the Czechoslovak Standpoint
On the day on which the first clauses of the Austrian peace treaty were handed to the delegates of the Vienna government, Dr. Karel Kramář, Czechoslovak premier and peace delegate, prepared the following statement for the press of his country.. . .
It would be expecting too much, if we did not meet with some disappointments in the peace negotiations. When the Allies were fighting the powerful enemy, it was natural to imagine that victory would bring the fulfillment of all demands. The reality now modifies exaggerated expectations, and so today one hears much grumbling; that will pass soon, when it is realized that victorious peace cannot impose conditions which it is beyond the power of the conquered enemy to carry out. The victors would also defeat their own purpose, if the terms imposed made it impossible for the enemy to resume production and begin pay ing compensation.
We, too, perhaps saw the future as brighter than it could possibly be, counting on the undoubted favor of the Allies who readily appreciated what our boys had done on the various battlefields, and what we had done at home to subvert Austria in spite of persecutions and tribulations. We must admit with gratitude that the Allies for the most part granted our demands.
There is to be sure the Teschen question whichc remains to be settled. It is a question very painful to us, and its importance for Mid-European politics is not realized by even the Poles themselves. In the interest of future Slav co-operation we want to see this dispute settled amicably, and as soon as possible. But if that cannot be done, we have full confidence that the Allies bearing in mind our faithfulness to their cause during the war and our vital interest in Teschen coal mines and railroads will award to us this small territory, the population of which by a decided majority desires to remain in its present historical connection.
The rest of the boundaries has been determined according to our wishes, with the exception of a slice of Kladsko (Glatz). And considering the danger of the Eger question the decision to maintain the historical frontier is from our point of view the best and safest. The Austrian peace terms grant us valuable rectification of frontier, especially the inclusion of the Cmunt depot in our territory; that has for our communications first rate importance. The rectification of the Moravian frontier will undoubtedly be welcomed at home with much satisfaction.
Many questions of a serious nature are still under consideration. Their solution will influence greatly our economic life. The Allies very willingly secured our direct connection with the Adriatic by means of our own trains, and at the last minute we were granted the right to our own telegraph lines in all directions, which will mean a considerable annual saving in charges. We have also the privilege to conclude with Austria and Hungary commercial treaties for five years with exceptionally low customs duties to which the other Allied states will make no claim during that time. This will enable us to carry out reconstruction without doing violence to existing industrial conditions. But in liquidating financial burdens we are faced with serious difficulties.
The Allies very naturally claim that they made such sacrifices to liberate the world from German oppression that the liberated peoples cannot expect to carry proportionately smaller burdens than French, English, American or Italian citizens. We might of course answer that by declaring that we only get our freedom from Austria and no new territory; only what is ours historically or by age-long occupation, as in Slovakia; we benefit also by the disruption of Austria and by the permanent abolishment of German-Austrian alliance and the danger of new German hegemony. But after all it is hard to contend that the attitude of the Allies lacks justification. Of course none of the liberated nations will acknowledge payment of war debts as its duty; each reserves the right to do what it will about war debts held in its own territory. At most they could serve as a measure of what each nation could contribute to common expense fund.
It is hardly necessary to add that each nation is struggling earnestly against an unfair determination of its share, and each emphasizes the sufferings of its own country, caused by the war. I am glad to say that upon Czechoslovak initiative we have achieved common action on the part of Jugoslavia, Roumania, Poland and Czechoslovakia, and in formal matters Greece also acts with us. It was due to the united protest of these nations that the submission of peace terms to Austria was held back, until the liberated nations could take common counsel in regard to the terms.
Let me say something about the protection of minorities. We are not afraid of this question, for we are willing to give other races than Czechoslovak such language and racial rights that they will have no ground for complaint. At the same time, together with the other liberated nations, we could not agree that protection of minorities should be turned into interference with the sovereignty of our state. If the League of Nations ever develops such authority that the protection of minorities will be applied to all states and nations without exception, then we shall cheerfully accept it. But until then we expect from our friends sufficient confidence that whatever we promise in agreement with the Allies will be literally carried out. I sincerely hope that the Allies will ask nothing of us that would go counter to our national honor and limit our newly-won independence.
I wish ardently for a quick solution of the Teschen question and the Hungarian boundaries, so that with the frontier definitely established we may devote our strength to the great work of internal and external regeneration.
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This work was published before January 1, 1929 and is anonymous or pseudonymous due to unknown authorship. It is in the public domain in the United States as well as countries and areas where the copyright terms of anonymous or pseudonymous works are 95 years or less since publication.
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