A POLITICAL SHOW OF STRENGTH

War is simply a continuation of politics that employs different means.
Karl von Clausewitz

At the turn of the century, politics in European countries were the source of turmoil and agitation. Despite having to deal with internal political and social agendas, governments would be primarily concerned with lively international politics. Its first foundations were already laid in 1879, when Germany and Austria-Hungary first entered into an alliance, then were joined in 1882 by Italy (the Central Powers). In 1894, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France responded by founding a political alliance (the Entente Cordiale), while in 1892, France and the Russian Empire concluded the Franco-Russian Alliance, and in 1907, the Anglo-Russian Entente was also created. In this way, the most powerful countries of Europe were divided into two strong factions with conflicting interests, and as time went by, these superpowers also gained other smaller and weaker countries on their side through political and economic influence. The power struggle in Europe soon spread to other continents – war was becoming imminent.

On 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo, the growing tension was cut short by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia. According to the politicians of the time, Serbia was responsible for the assassination, further deteriorating relations with Austria-Hungary that had been on the decline ever since Serbia’s annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908. In spite of this, the government in Vienna lacked the uniformity of action due to varying interests as well as significant internal and external pressures. This gave European diplomacy a new drive and a fresh objective. Publicly, states and their representatives would labour to preserve peace, and were feverishly looking to resolve the occurring situation, while covertly, hidden contracts and agreements were being concluded. It was becoming obvious that the assassination served as the perfect opportunity to commence the long-awaited reshuffling of the world’s borders.

The declaration of war given by Austria-Hungary to Serbia on 28 July 1914 triggered a landslide which was impossible to stop. Regardless, some countries managed to remain neutral. Initially, this also included Italy, which should have gone into battle, based on its agreement with Austria-Hungary and Germany, and fought on their sides. However, at the start of the war, despite its neutrality it engaged in negotiation with the Entente as well as Central Powers. Its ambition was to gain the time necessary to mitigate its internal political discord that was raging across Italy, and, in particular, ensure the best possible position for itself. On 26 April 1915 in London, Italy signed a secret agreement with the Entente, committing to declare war on the former allies within a month. In return, it was promised by the Entente not only Tyrol (which had already been promised to Italy by Austria-Hungary), but also the entire Istria region to the Kvarner Gulf, islands of Cres and Lošinj with other nearby islands, north Dalmatia with islands in central Dalmatia, part of Carniola, the Trbiž Basin and the entire area of Gorizia and Gradisca as well as Trieste, one of the primary strategic objectives of the majority of Central European countries.