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Althaus-Lefèvre Talks


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When Ambassador Lefèvre-Pontalis arrived in Vienna, he would be given a day to recuperate and tour the magnificent city as they pleased. The following morning, they would be driven to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where they would be greeted by Ambassador Gustaf Althaus. He gave a curt nod and smile before holding out his hand, "Welcome to Vienna, Mr. Ambassador. I'm glad that you were prepared to speak on such short notice."

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Lefèvre-Pontalis, already over the venerable age of 70, had had a long political career, but even so, he knew, he wouldn't be as active anymore as in the past. Still, he had a good repudation and relations with Vienna weren't deemed to be stormy, so his person had been sent as an ambassador. After spending the first day peaceful in coffeehouses, Lefèvre-Pontalis would meet Althaus the following day. "Pas de problem, Monsieur Althaus.", the French ambassador responded, as he met with his Austrian counterpart. "Had I not been able to meet you this shortly, they'd have sent a younger person. I may afford to let people wait, La France cannot. At least not this time..."

 

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Pierre Lefèvre-Pontalis (second row, second from the right) in 1893, in the French colony of Indochine

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Ambassador Althaus was considerably younger, being somewhere in his mid-to-late 40's. He had the distinction of being one of the few ranking members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who held no noble title. He still held a prestigious ancestry, however, as his father had helped majorly in holding the Empire together after the Great War. Althaus motioned towards the conference table, before taking a seat himself, "I'm glad that you've come with an understanding of the situation. It is my opinion, and more importantly, the opinion of His Majesty, that these fascists are a terrible threat against the traditional regimes of Europe. Specifically, the Italian Fascists, who seem to have tossed old agreements and laws out the door. The world was shaken terribly by the Great War, but it would be a heinous crime to let civilization itself collapse to such violent forces."

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"France is quite concerned about the anti-democratic forces in this world, although we would hope that these are only momentary expressions of popular discontent. We would think that spain seems to be a country that has not yet created much trouble, but as you yourself said, the Italians are ignoring the old order outright and seem to follow an incredibly revisionist policy, which stands squarely against our promulgated values.", Lefèvre-Pontalis stated. "France is careful. The World War has been too long ago. We would not want to experience yet another conflict of its sort. Yet, we are also unwilling to risk throwing away the remainders we have been left with."

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"I fear that the rampant militarism of these upstarts may require a less optimistic outlook. God knows, if those in the Ministry of War ran the government, Austria-Hungary would be a very different place. Citizens and soldiers alike naturally feel a duty to their respective states. Without a strong national compass, whether in a monarch or an established history of republicanism, these citizens pledge their loyalty to whomever stands at the head." He paused as a knock came at the door. A secretary stepped in with a tray of hot coffee, as well as sugar and cream. She'd offer both men a cup, before leaving the tray on a side table and exiting. Althaus took his coffee black, and waited for her to shut the door before continuing, "The Italians did not see the same scale of tragedy as the rest of Europe. They received a taste of blood, and were rewarded for it with territory. I'm far from surprised that their leaders speak like they do; if you reward a dog after it bites a man, it will never learn to behave. I feel a show of strength is necessary to prevent another war from breaking out here in Europe, which brings me to one of the purposes of this meeting. Would France be interested in a defensive pact with Austria-Hungary?"

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"Hmmm...", the French ambassador pondered. "Well, Italy has proven to be an aggressive nation, disregarding the European order. I would think, there is a certain necessity to show solidarity in dealing with Italy, lest it causes more trouble. A defensive pact may be quite a good option, yet, what terms do you envision?" Lefèvre-Pontalis would take a Wiener melange, avoiding black coffee and also additional sugar, as he deemed it not too well for a man his age.

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"Well, of course, a blunt affirmation of France's right to Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, would be a good start. A dedication to mutual defense, and perhaps, a clause in which France will support the Emperor's claim to the 1815 Austrian borders; of course on the condition that the land could only be taken as reparation from an aggressor. His Majesty has no intention to start any expansionist wars."

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"That should be workable. Naturally, I would hope this puts an end to Italian foolishness, though if it fails to do so, a concerted response would be the best option. And a strong bond between Vienna and Paris should bring some stability to this continent infested with radicalism. Would you have a treaty ready?"

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The Althaus-Lefèvre-Pontalis Agreement of 1940

 

Article I. Mutual Defense

The Austro-Hungarian and French governments pledge to uphold each others sovereignty against foreign attack. Neither will they raise arms against each other.

 

Article II. Recognition of French Territory

The Austro-Hungarian Empire recognizes the French right to the territories of Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. Foreign violation of these territories qualifies as an activation of Article I.

 

Article III. Recognition of Austro-Hungarian Territory

The French Third Republic pledges to support Austro-Hungarian acquisitions within the1815 Austrian borders, on the condition that said acquisitions are made through reparations in defensive wars.

 

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Lefèvre-Pontalis would look over the treaty, then raise a question. "May we add a cancellation clause, in regards to Article I? While we do not think of activating it now, the world is volatile and both of us might at some point find ourselves in completely different circumstances, where this treaty no longer fits the interests of our countries."

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"Ah, of course. It somehow slipped my mind."

 

 

The Althaus-Lefèvre-Pontalis Agreement of 1940

 

Article I. Mutual Defense

The Austro-Hungarian and French governments pledge to uphold each others sovereignty against foreign attack. Neither will they raise arms against each other.

 

Article II. Recognition of French Territory

The Austro-Hungarian Empire recognizes the French right to the territories of Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. Foreign violation of these territories qualifies as an activation of Article I.

 

Article III. Recognition of Austro-Hungarian Territory

The French Third Republic pledges to support Austro-Hungarian acquisitions within the1815 Austrian borders, on the condition that said acquisitions are made through reparations in defensive wars.

 

Article IV. Cancellation

Cancellation may happen at any time with a 48 hour notice.

 

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Ambassador Dalca, given the urgency of the situation, would be brought to the Foreign Ministry at once, where the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Althaus Sr, would be waiting. He was in a wheelchair, but still dressed as proper as a man of his station should be. He would shake Dalca's hand weakly, before speaking in French, "I am glad to see the French still have a strong spirit. I hope you're not offended if I insist we sign this document post haste."

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He'd shake his counterparts hand, careful not to squeeze too hard. "While it was unfortunate to have disolved our government, we simply listened to the will of our people, and I think it would reflect poorly upon the new government to allow the Italians to use our temporary reorganization as an excuse to snatch land from underneath us. I speak for all of France when I must express my thanks for your continued support of our nation." He'd say, pulling a copy out of his briefcase and signing for France.

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