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By Čedomir Antić

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350. 58 RALPH PAGET: A Diplomat in Serbia loans and armament had already been decided before Ralph Paget was appointed British Minister in Belgrade, the efforts of Serbian diplomats to attract British capital did not cease right up to the beginning of the First World War. However, despite all the promises, British capital was largely not involved, and only few of the smaller orders for military material were placed in Britain. After a while, the real aim of Serbian politicians became obvious to the representatives of the British legation in Belgrade: British financial syndicates and military industry were frequently pursued only with the purpose of using them to negotiate down French conditions, in case they were too harsh.

According to Paget’s sources, Count Aehrenthal, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, appointed D’Ungron as head of the legation in Belgrade, proclaiming it a sign of good will and of the readiness of Austro-Hungarian diplomacy to forget the past and to start another page in relations between the two countries. How101 BDoFA, p 370, V. Ćorović, op. , 333. 371/1219. 103 Steinhardt was described as a person with ‘the worst reputation’ who once had been accused even of white slave traffic, Barclay to Grey, Belgrade 1 September 1910, FO 371/982.

However, the fact that Paget and British diplomacy did not attach much importance to them was not entirely due to their erroneous perception of Serbian affairs. Paget’s knowledge of Serbian politics relied on the country’s lively but still rudimentary parliamentary life, which was almost entirely limited to Belgrade. As the British Government was the last to recognize the new dynasty in Belgrade, the British legation was considered especially favourable towards all malcontents. 65 So it was not at all unexpected that Paget should adopt the attitude of Serbian Liberals and Progressives who claimed that the parliamentary political system introduced in Serbia after 1903 was the principal source of instability and crisis.

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