Background to a Mission: Pre-Austrian Bosnia and the Powers
In a memorandum to the European powers of 21 April 1878, making the case for a Habsburg occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Austro-Hungarian foreign minister, Gyula Andrássy, argued that an autonomous Bosnia-Herzegovina lacked the means to overcome internal divisions and maintain its existence against its neighbours. According to Andrassy, only a strong state could initiate the internal development of these lands, establish equality before the law, eliminate murder and rapine, and advance trade and agriculture in an environment of stability and progress. This chapter confirms Karl Sax's 1864 observation on the essence of the nationality problem in Bosnia: the conjunction of ethnical uniformity and political division. It also shows how this situation had evolved and why Austria-Hungary felt it convenient that mere allusion to contemporary notions of civilizing mission could legitimize its takeover of two provinces from a friendly power.
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