After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in the period when Austro-Hungarian leaders were preparing for war, Hungarian prime minister István Tisza was adamant that no Serbian territory was to be annexed by the Habsburg Empire. He did not want the war to be one of conquest and did not want to disrupt the ethnic balance of the empire by adding in more Slavs to its Hungarian part.
Now Tisza has changed his tune. He advocates the creation of a border strip in northern Serbia, territory that will be attached to Hungary. Yet Tisza remains opposed to the addition of more Serbs to the empire. He proposes that the Serb population of this border strip (a territory that will include Belgrade, Serbia’s capital) be expelled and replaced with loyal Hungarians.
Tisza has also started proposing that Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia be transferred from Austria to Hungary. This seems somewhat at odds with his previous opposition to having to deal with more Slavs, but many (but by no means all) of the inhabitants of these territories are Croats: “good” Slavs who are loyal to the Habsburg Empire. Tisza seems to think that he can better manage these Slavic territories than the Austrians.
With Bulgarian, Austro-Hungarian and German armies overrunning Serbia, the question of what to do with Serbia is now a more pressing question. Austrian leaders support Tisza’s desires for annexation of Serbian territory. However, Karl von Stürgkh, the Austrian prime minister, is aghast at his Hungarian counterpart’s proposal to take over Dalmatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. As far as he is concerned the greedy Hungarians have more than enough territory and he has no intention of surrendering these provinces to them.
István Tisza (Wikipedia)
Karl von Stürgkh (Wikipedia)
Austria-Hungary (The Orange Files: Notes on the End of Liberal Democracy in Hungary)