763.72119/3222: Telegram

The Minister in Roumania ( Vopicka ) to the Acting Secretary of State 21

32. As I expected, the conflict between the Roumanians and Servians on account of Banat has already commenced. The Prime Minister of [Page 401] Roumania gave me yesterday the following telegram, which he says he has received from Doctor Stefan Pop, chief of Army and Public Safety, Sibiu (Hermanstadt) with the request that I telegraph it to the Department:

“The Servian army in the Banat has interned in Belgrade hundreds of Roumanians from the Banat. The town of Arad is full of refugees who have fled from Banat in terror of the Servian army. The Servian commander at Timisoara has dissolved the Roumanian National Council in the Timis district and all the Roumanian National Guards. The Roumanian population are profoundly irritated against the Servian army which they have always admired and with which they suffered during the days of cruel trials.”

As I reported before, two-thirds of the population of western Banat are Servians and only one-third Roumanians, so that if the principle of nationality is adopted the Servians should get the western portion of the Banat. But on the other hand the Roumanians claim there will always be trouble if the entire Banat is not given to Roumania which will bring their frontier to the Danube on one side and the Tissa River on the other side and divide them from the Servians, so that there will never be any trouble, once the boundaries are made. They also claim that the Entente Powers promised the whole Banat to them. After receiving the above-mentioned telegram I sent for Servian Chargé d’Affaires here and asked him for information regarding it and he made the following statement: The contents of the telegram mentioned are not true as the Servian troops operate in Banat under the French High Command; he said further that the Entente Powers should not be bound too strictly, to the contract made before the war because Roumania will get more land than she was promised. She will get the northern part of Bukovina and she wants Bessarabia, neither of these two territories being contained in the contract mentioned. If President Wilson’s programme regarding the principle of nationalities will be accepted there is no doubt that western Banat will be given to the Servians. Not only should Servia receive this part of the Banat on the nationalities question but also for the protection of Belgrade, her capital, opposite which this portion of Banat is situated. This surely is a very important case for the peace conference to decide.22 Servia’s only hope is in the United States.

  1. Transmitted to the Commission to Negotiate Peace in the Department’s telegram No. 52, Dec. 31, 1918, 5 p.m. Several passages in the telegram as received in the Department have been corrected on the basis of a copy enclosed in a despatch of Jan. 9, 1919, from the Minister in Roumania to the Secretary of State at Paris (Paris Peace Conf. 871.48/3, enclosure 7).
  2. This sentence did not appear in the telegram as received in the Department of State.