Paris Peace Conf. 871.0144/2

The Chargé in Bulgaria ( Wilson ) to the Ambassador in France ( Sharp )

Sir: I have the honor to enclose herewith, for transmission to the American Peace Delegation, a copy of a despatch to the Department9 transmitting (1) an article from the Echo de Bulgarie, the official government organ, of December 13, 1918, containing the reply of the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs to an interpellation in the Chamber concerning the situation in the Dobrudja, and (2) a copy of a communication addressed by the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs to General Chrétien, Commander of the Allied armies in Bulgaria, on the same subject.9

I am [etc.]

Charles S. Wilson

Article From “L’Echo de Bulgarie,” December 13, 1918

In reply to an interpellation of M. D. Kiortcheff, a Liberal Deputy, M. Th. Theodoroff, President of the Council and Minister for Foreign Affairs, made important declarations concerning the Dobrudja in the session of the Sobranie on Wednesday (Dec. 11, 1918.)

After stating that the Government will publish the full text of the armistice concluded at Salonika, the President of the Council spoke of the evacuation of the Dobrudja. By a note dated November 19th, he said, we were required to withdraw Bulgarian troops from that part of Dobrudja which belonged to Roumania in 1913, in virtue of the treaty of Bucharest of 1913.10 After the retreat of our troops, or rather at the moment this demand was made, there was no question of our administration which then existed in that country. It continued to remain there provisionally, until the allied governments should pronounce on the subject. When the question was settled by a note dated December 5th, the withdrawal of our administration was also demanded. This note refers to the recall of officials who had been sent from Sofia. Here is the text of the passage:

“The civil administration, under the authority of the allied troops of occupation, shall be entrusted as to details to the native authorities of the Dobrudja. The officials sent from Sofia may not remain. The evacuation of Bulgarian officials is arranged to take place after the occupation of the country by allied troops. This evacuation [Page 252] will take place progressively under the following conditions. It must be finished in the Department of Constansa by December 8th; Department of Toultcha, December 13th; Department of Silistrea, December 18th; Department of Dobritch, December 23rd”.

In demanding the departure of the officials sent from Sofia, and of the administration authorities, the matter was not definitely settled of replacing them, and whether this substitution would be composed of Roumanian officials appointed from Bucharest, or by officials appointed by the military forces of occupation, that is by the High Command of the allied armies in the Dobrudja, entrusted as it is known to General Berthelot, Commander of the Danube Army.

On account of lack of clearness on this point, steps were taken by the Government, and on December 8th we received an explanation signed by General Chrétien, Commander of the allied troops in Bulgaria, of which the following is the conclusion:

“It is decided from the preceding that the administration of the Dobrudja will be placed under the direct order of General Berthelot. This will be a military administration having full powers, which will continue until the conclusion of peace. It is an allied and not a Roumanian administration. It goes without saying that the local administration will be native so far as possible, in conformity with the orders of the Allied Governments.”

Such is the actual situation, and the Bulgarian Government considers that after the withdrawal of the Bulgarian troops and the officials sent from Sofia, the Dobrudja is occupied by the allied armies—English and French. The French will occupy the north—including the Cernavoda–Constantsa railway and the English the south. The troops which occupy the country will administer it, appoint and dismiss officials, take all measures for maintaining order and feeding the population and in general doing everything pertaining to a good administration. There will be no Bulgarian troops, but neither will there be Roumanian troops or officials.

The Dobrudja is placed in the hands of the allied armies which will take charge of its administration. It is clear that in this respect the Dobrudja has not the same fate as the territory which we were obliged to evacuate in virtue of the convention of September 29th, by which we were obliged to purely and simply turn the territory over to the states to which it had belonged before—part to the Servians and part to the Greeks. Here we cede nothing to Roumania.

We are evacuating this province under certain conditions which I have described, leaving it under the occupation of the allied troops and under an administration which they will set up under their own responsibility. We have received a formal written declaration that Roumanian troops will not be admitted in any case or in any way.

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The tranquility of the population of the Dobrudja will be assured in an efficacious manner by the military authorities which occupy the country.

Consequently all the complaints which may be made until the conclusion of peace, should be addressed to the military authorities charged with the maintenance of order and tranquility in the country. The most formal assurances have been given us that the properties, lives, and tranquility will be guaranteed to Roumanians, Bulgarians, Tartars, Russians, and all elements living there. At the same time we have been assured that the occupation does not prejudice in any way the question as to whom the country will belong. This question—it is stated in the communications, will be definitely settled at the peace conference.

This, Gentlemen, is the reply I must make concerning the Dobrudja. I do not think this moment propitious for an appreciation or a discussion of the existing situation. It is even less opportune to inquire whether these acts are regular or not, and to look for the responsibility of the government, if there is such responsibility. I believe that parliament should be satisfied at present by knowing the facts, especially as very soon, it will have the text of the convention. I consider it however my duty to add that this new situation does not inspire us with uneasiness, and that our national work is not exposed to danger. The question of knowing to whom the Dobrudja shall belong remains open; as before the occupation. It will be settled, not on the basis of the effective occupation, for the Dobrudja is occupied by the allied troops, but on entirely other considerations, on the subject of which we have already had occasion to express ourselves. These considerations will be set forth at the conference, in which we may say entire humanity will participate. Confiding in this conference which will pronounce upon all our national claims, convinced of the justice, I might say of the sacredness of our cause and of our right to realize the unity of our people, we do not lessen in any way our chance of receiving satisfaction in the Dobrudja, as well as eventually in Macedonia and Thrace, within the limits where our aspirations extend. We must be calm and have full confidence in the conscience of humanity and in the spirit of justice of the great people and the great powers which will pronounce on all the questions which concern our future in such an intense manner. We must not allow ourselves to be impressed by isolated incidents nor draw hasty conclusions. I am convinced that parliament will act calmly and in full confidence toward the great powers, who are obeying in this case considerations which do not concern us. It is from them that we await the determination of our fate, and it is upon them that we must base our hopes. I am convinced that in [Page 254] so acting we shall obtain what is due us and that we shall not have to regret our attitude.

We must avoid everything of a nature to raise obstacles to our task. Our defense will not be based on hatreds, recriminations or bitterness. It will be reasonable, and I believe that it will be worthy of the attention of the great men who govern the great nations. It will be an appeal to the conscience of humanity. (Applause).

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For text, in French, see British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cvii, p. 658.