The Congress of Oppressed Nationalities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was held towards the end of the World War I in Rome, Kingdom of Italy, between 8 and 10 April 1918. The event, attended by Czechoslovak, Polish, Italian, Yugoslav and Romanian delegation from Austria-Hungary, followed the publication of the Wilson's 14 points and represented the beginning of the real support to the independence movements and the dissolution of Austria-Hungary. Ukrainian or Rusyn delegations were not invited to participate in the Congress due to objections raised by Polish representatives. The decision to host the event was made after prime ministers of Italy Vittorio Emanuele Orlando and Nikola Pašić of the Kingdom of Serbia became concerned with earlier statement of David Lloyd George that dissolution of the Austria-Hungary is not one of the war aims of his alliance and decided to prioritise self-determination before future border demarcation on the Adriatic Sea. The event rejected Austrophilist proposals on continued existence of the monarchy as a guarantor against violent and exclusive nationalism in the region and instead framed the war as a conflict between democracy and autocracy.
|Congress of Oppressed Nationalities of the Austria-Hungarian Empire|
Il Congresso delle Nazionalità oppresse dall’Austria-Ungheria (Italian)
Kongress der unterdrückten Völker Österreich-Ungarns (German)
Kongres utlačovaných národů rakousko-uherských (Czech)
Congresul Naționalităților Oprimate din Imperiul Austro-Ungar (Romanian)
Kongres utláčaných národov Rakúsko-Uhorska (Slovak)
|Host country||Kingdom of Italy|
|Date||8-10 April 1918|
Alongside representatives from affected nationalities, all Entente powers and the United States sent their ambassadors and the Congress concluded that all nationalities fully or partially subjected to Austria-Hungary have a right of full independence. Ceremonial choice was made by the King of Italy Vittorio Emanuele Orlando when he decided to received the delegation of the future neighboring Yugoslav state before any other delegation at the Congress. Czechoslovak representation was led by Edvard Beneš and Milan Rastislav Štefánik with all Slovak and Czech delegates being a part of the Czechoslovak National Council's delegation. Participant agreed to lay aside any dispute among themselves which would help Central Powers war efforts and which may negatively affect Allied public opinion.
Important precondition for the Italian agreement on hosting the event was reached during the meetings held on 14 and 18 December 1917 at the home of Wickham Steed, where the Yugoslav Committee agreed in principle to accept the subsequent Torre-Trumbić agreement (7 March 1918) on principles of border demarcation between Italy and future Yugoslav state. On 29 May 1918 United States Department of State expressed US government's strong interest in the work of the Congress and honest sympathies for Czechoslovak and Yugoslav national objectives.
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