Fiuggi, 28 July 1911

Posted on March 6, 2012


Judging from the international situation and the local situation in Tripolitania, I am today convinced to consider the probability that, in a few months, Italy might be forced to carry out her military expedition to Tripolitania.

It is necessary… to consider this probability, while at the same time, I believe, trying to avoid it.

The main reason why I deem preferrable to avoid the expedition to Tripolitania is the probability (probability, not certainty) that the blow that a successful expedition would strike against the prestige of the Ottoman Empire could push the Balkan people to take action against it… and could accelerate a crisis that could in turn push or even force Austria to act in the Balkans.

Antonio Paterno’ Castello, Marquis of San Giuliano

Above is an extract from a memorandum, written by the then foreign minister of Italy A. di San Giuliano, regarding the possibility of military action against the Ottoman Empire in order to occupy Libya. What is interesting is di San Giuliano’s apparent lack of confidence in cautiously delivering his message: ‘If we attack the Ottoman Empire in North Africa, greater [unpleasant] events will unfold’. Although the Minister did not mention the possibility of a conflict in Europe, he did stress the need to avoid such chain of events. Perhaps no one could imagine what would result from troubles in the Balkans and the probable Austro-Hungarian reaction. We certainly do.

Posted in: History