763.72/12327: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy ( Page ) to the Secretary of State

2390. In a conversation with Baron Sonnino this morning, he expressed much apprehension over situation along Eastern Adriatic. His conviction is that whole movement is Austrian and its gravity is increased by French support. He mentioned that the French general had sent troops into those regions, which was accepted by Jugo-Slav element as supporting their pretensions. He mentioned several places to which troops had been ordered, including Scutari, where, however, on Italy’s protest the order had been withdrawn. He also cited fact that in a Dalmatian port town where the Italian flags were flying without opposition the French sent a war vessel, immediately upon the appearance of which the Jugo-Slav element tore down all the Italian flags. He believes unless this checked it will lead to Bolshevism. The new Jugo-Slav admiral, he says, had declared that he has endeavored to promote Bolshevism for three years. Says further that he has given instructions that all the Allied flags should be hoisted wherever Italy has gone with the Italian flag. Says that Italy has shown a great self-control not only for herself but for the Allied cause.

He feels that America being independent and not being a party to the critical questions besetting the other Allies and having no political interests in this direction can have great influence in the settlement of these questions and has expressed the earnest wish that we could send men to those countries who without predilection could observe the situation on the spot. He feels sure that this would render great assistance to the proper solution of these critical questions. He feels also that Montenegro should have consideration given to it and that it should not be turned over simply as a province to any country, meaning doubtless Servia or Jugo-Slavia, adding that Montenegro’s history in the struggles for freedom justifies its claim to remain free.

I feel that at present the situation along the Eastern Adriatic is one which should be resolved without delay or its consequences may become extremely grave.

Nelson Page