Paris Peace Conf. 180.0201/8

Preliminary Peace Conference, Protocol No. 8, Plenary Session of May 31, 1919

The Session is opened at 15 o’clock (3 p.m.) under the Presidency of Mr. Clemenceau, President.*

  • Present
    • For the United States of America:
      • The President of the United States.
      • Honorable Robert Lansing.
      • Honorable Henry White.
      • General Tasker H. Bliss.
    • For the British Empire:
    • great britain:
      • The Rt. Hon. David Lloyd George.
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
      • The Rt. Hon. G. N. Barnes.
      • The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Ward, Bt.
    • Dominions and India:
    • canada:
      • The Rt. Hon. Sir George Foster.
      • The Hon. C. J. Doherty.
    • australia:
      • The Rt. Hon. W. M. Hughes.
      • The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Cook.
    • new zealand:
      • The Rt. Hon. W. F. Massey.
    • For France:
      • Mr. Clemenceau.
      • Mr. Pichon.
      • Mr. L. L. Klotz.
      • Mr. André Tardieu.
      • Mr. Jules Cambon.
      • Marshal Foch.
    • For Italy:
      • Mr. V. E. Orlando.
      • The Baron S. Sonnino.
      • Mr. S. Crespi.
      • The Marquis G. Imperiali.
      • Mr. S. Barzilai.
    • For Japan:
      • The Marquis Saionji.
      • The Baron Makino.
      • Viscount Chinda.
      • Mr. K. Matsui.
      • Mr. H. Ijuin.
    • For Belgium:
      • Mr. Hymans.
      • Mr. van den Heuvel.
    • For China:
      • Mr. Lou Tseng-tsiang.
      • Mr. Cheng-ting Thomas Wang.
    • For Cuba:
      • Mr. Antonio sancnez de Bustamante.
    • For Greece:
      • Mr. Eleftherios Veniselos.
      • Mr. Nicolas Politis.
    • For Nicaragua:
      • Mr. Salvador Chamorro.
    • For Panama:
      • Mr. Antonio Burgos.
    • For Poland:
      • Mr. Roman Dmowski.
      • Mr. Ignace Paderewski.
    • For Roumania:
      • Mr. Jean J. C. Bratiano.
      • Dr. Vaida-Voevod.
    • For the Serb-Croat-Slovene State:
      • Mr. N. P. Pachitch.
      • Mr. Trumbitch.
      • Mr. Vesnitch.
    • [Page 395]For Siam:
      • The Prince Charoon.
      • Phya Bibadh Kosha.
    • For the Czecho-Slovak Republic:
      • Mr. Charles Kramar.
      • Mr. Edouard Benes.

The Agenda Paper calls for the communication to the Allied and Associated Powers of the Conditions of Peace with Austria.

The President, after making a statement to the above effect, points out that the document1 which he is laying on the table of the Conference only lacks the political clauses relating to Italy, the Military and the Reparation Clauses, which are, moreover, in an advanced stage. He adds that the Secretariat-General has received a certain number of amendments, and calls on Mr. Bratiano to speak.

Mr. Bratiano (Roumania) reads the following declarations:—

A

The Roumanian Delegation considers that the conclusion of Peace with Austria leaves no doubt whatever in regard to the union of Bukovina with Roumania. In point of fact, Roumania, having become by her Treaty of Alliance of the 17th August, 1916, a belligerent Power against Austria, saw Bukovina revert to her as a result of the dissolution of the Austrian Empire and in accordance with the wishes of its population. In this manner the mutilation of 1775 is remedied in respect of the whole of the territory torn from Moldavia.

Roumania, by adhering to the Act of Union proclaimed by Bukovina, is taking in hand the reconstitution of that province, ensuring its safety and arresting on the frontier of the Dniester the spread of anarchy which threatens a large area of Europe. At the cost of military sacrifices which have not yet approached their end, Roumania is watching over Bukovina and is also asserting her solidarity with the general interests of civilization.

B

In regard to Article 5, of Part 3, Section IV, of the Draft Treaty with Austria, concerning the treatment of minorities by Roumania, the Roumanian Delegation has the honor to make the following declaration:—

The first Roumanian Delegate, on the 27th May last, addressed the following letter to M. Berthelot, Chairman of the Commission entrusted with the task of fixing the nature of the guarantees which should be provided for the protection of minorities included in the new States which are in process of formation in Europe, as well as [Page 396]those in other States which are about to receive accretions of territory:—

“Sir,

“In reply to the letter which you were so good as to address to me on the 23rd May last, I have the honor to inform you that Roumania has assured to all her citizens, without distinction of race or religion, complete equality both of rights and of political and religious liberties. She regards as a Roumanian citizen any individual born in Roumania, but not enjoying any foreign nationality, as well as the inhabitants of the territories newly united to Roumania, who were subjects of the States to which those territories hitherto belonged, with the exception of those who have expressed their desire to opt for a different allegiance.

“Indeed, the Royal Government, in accordance with its principles and in agreement with the representatives of Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina, have likewise decided to ensure the rights and liberties of minorities throughout the whole extent of the new kingdom by a wide administrative decentralization such as will guarantee to populations of different racial origin their free development in the matter of language, education, and the exercise of their religion.

“Generally speaking, Roumania is ready to accept any arrangements which all the States belonging to the League of Nations would admit on their own territories in this connection.

“In all other circumstances Roumania would in no case be able to admit any interference by any foreign Governments in the application of her domestic laws.”

In this letter Roumania expresses her intention to give the widest recognition to the liberties of ethnical or confessional minorities. Her Delegates, taking their stand on these principles, voted, on the occasion of the constitution of the League of Nations, in favor of the guarantees suggested for the whole group of States which compose the League; outside these general principles, however, Roumania would be unable to consent to stipulations of a nature to limit her rights as a sovereign State, and in this connection she considers the rights of States to be the same for all.

In the very interest which the founders of the League of Nations necessarily possess in avoiding any inconsistency as regards the great principles by which the League is animated, it is essential that the leading members of that institution should abstain from any attitude which would not be identic towards all States.

Foreign intervention, as a matter of fact, even if it granted no liberties beyond those which the Roumanian State is determined to guarantee to all its citizens, might compromise the work of fraternization which the Roumanian Government has taken as its aim.

On the one hand, certain minorities might consider themselves absolved from all gratitude towards the State, whereas it is precisely [Page 397]on the development of that sentiment that the State relies for cementing the brotherhood of the various races; on the other hand a tendency would arise towards the creation of two classes of citizens in the same kingdom: the one trusting in the care of the State for their interests, the other disposed to be hostile to the State and to seek protection outside its frontiers.

History is there to prove that the protection of minorities, regarded from this point of view, has done more to disintegrate States than to consolidate them. At the present moment the Conference of the Allies is bound to endeavor to establish, on the basis of fraternity between peoples, the countries whose development is destined to ensure peace in Central and Southern Europe. Moreover, these same Allies, when the draft of the League of Nations was under discussion, withdrew Article 21, of which the following is the tenor:—

“The High Contracting Parties agree to state that no obstacle shall be placed in the way of the free exercise of every belief, religion, or opinion, the practice of which is not incompatible with public order and morality, and that, within their respective jurisdictions, no one shall be disturbed in his life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness by reason of his adhesion to such belief, religion, or opinion.”

Because it was thought that this Article infringed State sovereignty, Roumania determined, in the interests of liberty and justice for all, as well as in that of her own internal development, to safeguard the rights of minorities; as an independent State she does not claim any exceptional treatment for herself, but she cannot, on the other hand, accept a special régime to which other sovereign States are not subjected.

For this reason she declares her readiness to insert in the draft Treaty, Article 5, Part 3, Section IV, the following text:

“Roumania grants to all minorities of language, race, and religion residing within her new frontiers rights equal to those which belong to other Roumanian citizens.”

C

As regards the second paragraph of Article 5, Part 2, Section IV of the draft Treaty with Austria, Roumania states that she is prepared to take every measure for the purpose of facilitating transit and developing trade with other nations.

She will accept all the measures of a general character adopted in this connection by the League of Nations and rendered applicable to all of the States composing the League, as well as those adopted by the various special Commissions of the Peace Conference to which the Roumanian Delegates have given their adhesion.

[Page 398]

D

In agreeing to adhere to the stipulations set forth in the draft Treaty with Austria—subject to the reservations stated in the attached declarations—Roumania has been animated by the desire of maintaining her solidarity with the Allies. However, while giving her adhesion, she finds herself compelled to state that it must not be inferred therefrom that she will acquiesce in all similar principles which may be embodied in the Treaties with other enemy States.

E

Proposals concerning the Financial Clauses:—

1.
In Article 2, last paragraph, substitute for the words “in the currency of the creditor State” the words “in crowns, gold.”
2.
In Article 10, leave to each interested State the right of fixing the periods within which it will stamp or repay the currency notes, this being a matter of domestic concern. Each State, being acquainted with its own capacities, is in a better position to fix the periods of time for effecting these operations.
3.

In regard to the liquidation of the Austro-Hungarian Bank, the Roumanian Delegation is of opinion that, in view of the small amount of the available assets of this Bank, if the securities deposited by the Austrian and Hungarian Governments as cover for the currency notes issued up till the 27th October, 1918, inclusive, are, as stipulated in Article 10, likewise cancelled, the cover remaining for those notes would be so reduced that the latter would scarcely have any value. Such a situation would bring about too heavy a charge from the Roumanian point of view.

The Roumanian Delegation therefore thinks it just to request that no such cancellation should take place.

4.
The Roumanian Delegation states afresh that it considers neither as just nor as in conformity with the principles of international law that the cedee States of territories of the former Austrian Empire, or those formed as a result of that Empire’s dismemberment, should be obliged to pay the value of the goods and properties which belonged to the Government of the former Austrian Empire and are situated on their respective territories.

The President explains that the Financial Clauses will be referred to the Drafting Committee for an immediate report. He then adds:—

“As far as territory properly speaking is concerned, it must of course be understood that, whether regarded as the League of Nations or as separate Governments, we are unable to guarantee any portions [Page 399]of territory other than those which we have ourselves assigned, and that it is impossible for us to guarantee others.

“I am very glad to know that, as regards the rights of minorities, Mr. Bratiano’s opinion coincides precisely with our own. What we have to ascertain is whether in view of the past history of several peoples it may not be necessary to give, I will not say additional guarantees, but such guarantees of a more complete nature as may be admitted to be necessary. That is a question in regard to which we have got to take a decision, and I beg Mr. Bratiano and anyone else who may have observations of a like character to offer, to rest assured that there is no intention of humiliating anyone or of encroaching on the sovereign rights of any nations whatsoever, but rather to remember that, in the matter of minorities, everyone’s history has not been quite the same. Some distinctions are necessary in this connection, so much so that we desire to humiliate no one when we suggest conferring a right of control, not on foreign governments, as Mr. Bratiano states in his text, but on the League of Nations, whose control we all accept in our own territory in the circumstances to which Mr. Bratiano has alluded.

“In this matter, therefore, there is no question of humiliating anyone or of encroaching on anyone’s sovereignty.”

Mr. Klotz (France) points out that the Financial Clauses and those concerned with Reparation, are altogether inter-dependent. As the Reparation Clauses have not been included in the text to be communicated to the Austrians on the following Monday, he proposes that a like decision shall be taken in respect of the Financial Clauses.

Mr. Bratiano (Roumania) points out that, according to the text distributed, the small States are to be controlled, not by the League of Nations, but by the Great Powers; the text reads: “Roumania likewise adheres to the insertion in a Treaty with the principal Allied and Associated Powers of the measures which those Powers may consider necessary for the protection in Roumania of the interests of the inhabitants, &c. …”

It is, therefore, the Great Powers which are to intervene in order to safeguard the rights of minorities within the Kingdom of Roumania. That is the principle against which the modification proposed by Mr. Bratiano is made, because Roumania was an independent country before the war, and he cannot believe that her attitude during the war can have warranted in the slightest degree any derogation from that political independence.

The President admits that Mr. Bratiano’s observation in regard to control being exercised by the Governments, in the place of the League of Nations, is in accordance with the text. He does not, however, [Page 400]think that it can be humiliating for Roumania to receive friendly counsel given her by States which are named, the United States of America, Great Britain, Italy, and France. No one of these States desires to exercise any improper power in Roumania. He adds that rectifications of historical traditions which have been perpetuated in certain countries have been requested for a long time past, even in other Treaties, but it has been impossible to secure them. In these circumstances the text under criticism is rather in the nature of an encouragement and support.

Mr. Bratiano (Roumania), in order to justify the statement which he has read out, expresses himself in the following terms:—

“As I do not wish to waste the time of the Conference, I will refrain from any complete explanation of Roumania’s policy in the past. I must, however, say that she does not deserve the situation which it is sought to impose on her to-day. In any case, we stand here—at least, we have always understood it in that way—before the Conference of the Allied and Associated Powers which have striven to establish the right to equality of great and small States, and to set up rules which may henceforth serve both as principles and precedents. Among those rules there are some in virtue of which it is sought to-day to establish classes of States which differ in the matter of sovereignty. On behalf of Roumania I am unable to admit this principle. There is no question here of friendly counsel, but of formal engagements. The Roumanian Government will always be willing to accept such advice, but counsels which are recorded in Treaties and in the form of precise engagements between one Government and another cease to have the character of advice.

“History supplies us with precedents in this connection: the Russians, for instance, interfered in the policy of Turkey for the protection of Christians, but the result so far as Turkey is concerned has been her dissolution. Such an attitude naturally commanded our sympathy, but it could only be logical if its final aim was to secure the independence of these peoples.

“Except with this object in view, it is not possible, in the interests either of States or of minorities, to accept a rule of this nature. As I had the honor to state in the short summary which I read to you just now, we desire, together with you, to set up a new world to take the place of the old one. This new world must be established in such manner as to enable States to find in the persons of their citizens devoted sons and a life of brotherly concord. If minorities are conscious of the fact that the liberties which they enjoy are guaranteed to them, not by the solicitude for their welfare of the State to which they belong, [Page 401]but by the protection of a foreign State, whatever it may be, the basis of that State will be undermined. At the very basis of the new state of things which it is sought to establish, the seed is being sown of unrest, which is in contradiction with the aims which this conference pursues.

“Gentlemen, it is on behalf not only of the independence of the Roumanian State, but also of the two great principles which this Conference represents, that I have given expression to these remarks; one of those principles is that of peace, order and fraternity among the peoples of the same State, while the other is that of the equality of all States, both great and small, in respect of their rights of domestic legislation. Those are the reasons for which I request you, on behalf of Roumania, not to impose conditions on her which she could not accept.”

As Mr. Bratiano has declared his acceptance of Mr. Klotz’s proposal, the President states that his observations will be subjected to fresh examination by the heads of Governments, and thereupon calls on Mr. Paderewski to speak.

Mr. Paderewski (Poland) explains the point of view of the Polish Delegation as follows:—

“Poland has submitted her remarks in writing as regards the financial questions; but as these questions are to be considered in connection with the Reparation Clauses, I will refrain from speaking on that subject.

“On the other hand, I state, on behalf of the Polish Government, that Poland will grant to all minorities of race, language and religion, the same rights as she does to her other nationals. She will assure to those minorities all the liberties which have already been or may be granted to them by the great Nations and States of the West, and she will be ready to amplify those rights in the same degree as the League of Nations may consider desirable for the States which compose it.

“I am convinced that these guarantees when once incorporated in the fundamental laws of Poland by her Constituent Diet, will be in absolute harmony with the noble and lofty spirit which animates the great labors of the Peace Conference.

“That is all I have to say.”

In reply to a question by the President, Mr. Paderewski states that his proposals as regards the property of nationals have already been made in writing, and that he has no further request to make.

Mr. Kramar (Czecho-Slovakia) states that he is quite satisfied that the Financial Clauses should be dealt with in the same way as the Reparation Clauses; the question of the claim to State property [Page 402]belongs to the Financial Clauses, and he will therefore now confine himself to presenting his remarks in writing. Mr. Kramar thereupon expresses a wish to say a few words in regard to a question concerned with the frontiers in the Czecho-Slovak State, and proceeds to do so in the following terms:—

“In the Frontier Commissions we were not in a position to discuss the question, namely, that of the Station of Gmund, which was rebuilt a few years ago and moved further to the south. In view of this there might well be misunderstandings, unless the frontier be clearly defined.

“I propose to substitute for the proposed text the words ‘by the extreme easterly point of the railway bridge.’ Such a modification would not be in any way out of accord with the ideas of the Frontier Commission, while it would avoid considerable inconvenience.”

As this question has not yet been submitted to a competent Commission, it is decided, after an exchange of remarks between the President, Mr. Kramar and Mr. Jules Cambon, that the two last named gentlemen shall come to an agreement for the Commission to draw up a report as soon as the Conference adjourns.

Mr. Kramar (Czecho-Slovakia) resumes his statement in the following terms:

“As regards minorities, I accept the proposed text, subject to some slight modifications. I request the deletion of two words which, in my opinion, are quite useless and might, on the other hand, cause us considerable inconvenience because people would consider our situation to be quite different from that which the President has indicated. We are ready to do everything possible for minorities in order to have peace at home, and we are perfectly ready to deal with this question together with the Great Powers. However, there are three words which I consider quite useless. It is stated:—

“‘Czecho-Slovakia agrees to incorporate in the Treaty with the principal Allied and Associated Powers all measures which may be regarded as necessary for the protection in Czecho-Slovakia of the interests of the inhabitants who differ from the majority of the population in race, language or religion. …’

“I ask for the deletion of the words ‘which may be regarded as necessary,” because they are superfluous and even rather wounding to our feeling of independence. The result will be the same if they are omitted. It goes without saying that the Great Powers possess sufficient authority to ensure our acceptance of what we may be able to concede without fear for the sovereignty of our State; but there is no advantage in saying so in the Treaty.”

[Page 403]

The President: If you will kindly underline the three words which you ask should be deleted and give me the text, I will bring it to the notice of the Assembly.

Mr. Kramar (Czecho-Slovakia): I shall have a few amendments to bring forward to the clauses submitted to us, which are very difficult for foreigners to understand. I shall not, however, press these points, because the Drafting Committee will no doubt examine the question and our amendments with the courteous attention to which we are accustomed.

We wish, for instance, to give the Germans of Bohemia the right to opt for Austrian nationality, whereas, according to the text under consideration, that would not be altogether possible.

The other modifications which we propose are of a similar character to this one, and are designed to make the text clearer.

The President having inquired whether the Drafting Committee would be ready to make a very early report, Mr. Fromageot states that the Committee has already sent a note on the subject to the Supreme Council.

The President points out that agreement has been reached in regard to the Financial Clauses, and calls on Mr. Trumbitch to speak.

Mr. Trumbitch (Serb-Croat-Slovene State), expresses himself as follows:—

“The Serb-Croat-Slovene Delegation has had the honor to deposit with the Bureau of the Conference proposals for the modification of certain clauses, especially in regard to the questions of minorities, of freedom of transit and commerce, of our northern frontier, and of the Financial and Economic Clauses.

“I will not concern myself with the Financial and Economic Clauses, as that is not necessary, in view of the declarations which have already been made by Mr. Klotz.

“As regards the question of minorities I must make substantially much the same observations as Mr. Kramar. We should like to delete certain words from the official draft and say that ‘the Serb-Croat-Slovene State undertakes to determine in agreement with the principal Allied and Associated Powers, the necessary measures for protecting within the territories formerly belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and ceded by the present Treaty to the Serb-Croat-Slovene State, the interests of minorities.’ The difference between the two texts is clear.”

The President: Is that the Serbian and Czecho-Slovakian claim?

Mr. Trumbitch (Serb-Croat-Slovene State): The Serbian claim is identical with that of the Czecho-Slovak State. I will hand you, Mr. President, the text of our new proposal. Our request is that the [Page 404]principal Powers should come to an understanding with us for the insertion by common agreement of these provisions in a general Treaty.

The second question to which I should wish to call your attention is the limitation of the text as regards minorities to the territories formerly belonging to Austria-Hungary. We ask you not to extend that limitation to Serbia. The reason is clear: Serbia was an independent State; she had certain acquired rights; to-day it is not desirable to impose on former Serbian territories certain clauses which might interfere with the sovereign rights which she possessed as a State existing before the war.

I beg leave to offer you, Sir, the precise drafting which we should wish you to accept.

The second question relates to the northern frontier of the Serb-Croat-Slovene State. We are under the impression that the text in regard to this frontier is not sufficiently clear or accurate. The first draft assigned the town of Radkersburg to the Yugo-Slav State; whereas in the final draft that is no longer the case. The text, therefore, lacks in clearness, as it is impossible to know whether Radkersburg will belong to the Yugo-Slav State or remain in Austria.

Carinthia was the subject of a question raised in the territorial Commission on the 21st May. In regard to Prekmurje, we have put forward a fresh draft, the substance of which is as follows.

In the Treaty of Peace with Austria we read in Part II, Frontier of Austria 3o, Article 1, 2 and 3, that the frontier between Austria and Yugo-Slavia, so far as it is to be drawn between the eastern extremity of the Austro-Italian frontier (to be determined later on) and Hill 1054 at Stroina, will be fixed ultimately by the principal Allied and Associated Powers. From Stroina onwards, the frontier will be either a line to be fixed on the ground, or the Drave below its confluence with the Lavandt and passing by Hill 1522, or (as is stated in the Summary on page 2) a line passing just to the east of Bleiburg and crossing the Drave just above its confluence with the Lavandt. In Part III, paragraph 5, Section 2, Article 4, we find the remark: “Klagenfurt is reserved.”

The Delegation of the Serb-Croat-Slovene State declares that these provisions do not take account either of its claims or of the minimum demands with which it acquainted the Territorial Commission. The point as regards Stroina and Bleiburg actually opens up a prospect which is in direct contradiction with the claims of the Delegation. Our Delegation is under the discouraging impression that it is sought to exclude the Serb-Croat-Slovene State from Carinthia; in fact, none of our numerous proposals have been taken into consideration. Now, even according to the Austrian statistics, [Page 405]about 100,000 Slovenes reside on the territories in question; there is nothing, therefore, to prevent an equitable solution.

The Serb-Croat-Slovene Delegation notices with regret that the Allied and Associated Powers have not taken this request into account, even to the extent which the Germans themselves had, as is proved by the book “Staatsgrenze des Karntengebiets (1919)” (“State Frontiers of the Carinthia Territory”). The Delegation therefore considers itself compelled to call the urgent attention of the Great Powers to the untenable situation in which the Slovene people would be placed if the loss of Slovene Carinthia were added to its sacrifices in the Adriatic. The soul of the Slovene people would never recover from this blow, while a constant ferment of irredentism would hinder the peaceful development of the Serb-Croat-Slovene State and would become a perpetual source of hostile feelings towards German Austria.

The Serb-Croat-Slovene Delegation must therefore make a final appeal to the Conference in order to secure the definite assignment of the territory situated above the line fixed in Annex I and traced on the map Styria-Prekmurje.

In Part II, already mentioned, the Mur may be considered as a natural frontier up to its meeting with the frontier between Austria and Hungary, whereas, according to our Delegation, that formula would involve the exclusion from the Serb-Croat-Slovene kingdom of the region of Radkersburg.

Finally, we call the attention of the Great Powers to the fact that, in Section 4 of Part II of the Treaty with Hungary, the determination of the point from which the frontier between Austria-Hungary starts is inaccurate, because it leaves out of account the fact that Prekmurje is to form part of the Serb-Croat-Slovene kingdom. The same is the case in the Summary on page 3.

I have the honor to state that our Delegation urges this proposal, and I beg this high Assembly to give the matter its favorable consideration.

Mr. Tardieu (France) offers the following explanation: As regards Radkersburg, it is an actual mistake in the text of the old proof which warrants Mr. Trumbitch’s remark. The line of the frontier has been rectified as he wishes.

As regards the rest of Prekmurje, there is no need to mention it in the Treaty with Austria, because, except the little corner of Radkersburg, Prekmurje is Hungarian territory. Provisions in regard to Prekmurje will be inserted in the Treaty with Hungary.

The President of the United States, speaking in English, makes the following speech:— [Page 406]

“Mr. President, I should be very sorry to see this meeting adjourn with permanent impressions such as it is possible may have been created by some of the remarks that our friends have made. I should be very sorry to have the impression lodged in your minds that the Great Powers desire to assume or play any arbitrary role in these great matters, or presume, because of any pride of authority, to exercise an undue influence in these matters, and therefore I want to call your attention to one aspect of these questions which has not been dwelt upon.

“We are trying to make a peaceful settlement, that is to say, to eliminate those elements of disturbance, so far as possible, which may interfere with the peace of the world, and we are trying to make an equitable distribution of territories according to the race, the ethnographical character of the people inhabiting them.

“And back of that lies this fundamentally important fact that, when the decisions are made, the Allied and Associated Powers guarantee to maintain them. It is perfectly evident, upon a moment’s reflection, that the chief burden of their maintenance will fall upon the Great Powers. The chief burden of the war fell upon the Greater Powers, and, if it had not been for their action, their military action, we would not be here to settle these questions. Therefore, we must not close our eyes to the fact that in the last analysis the military and naval strength of the Great Powers will be the final guarantee of the peace of the world.

“In those circumstances is it unreasonable and unjust that, not as dictators but as friends, the Great Powers should say to their associates: ‘We cannot afford to guarantee territorial settlements which we do not believe to be right, and we cannot agree to leave elements of disturbance unremoved, which we believe will disturb the peace of the world’?

“Take the rights of minorities. Nothing, I venture to say, is more likely to disturb the peace of the world than the treatment which might in certain circumstances be meted out to minorities. And therefore, if the Great Powers are to guarantee the peace of the world in any sense, is it unjust that they should be satisfied that the proper and necessary guarantees have been given?

“I beg our friends from Roumania and from Serbia to remember that while Roumania and Serbia are ancient sovereignties the settlements of this Conference are greatly adding to their territories. You cannot in one part of our transactions treat Serbia alone and in all of the other parts treat the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes as a different entity, for they are seeking the recognition of this Conference as a single entity, and if this Conference is going to recognize these various Powers as new sovereignties within definite territories, [Page 407]the chief guarantors are entitled to be satisfied that the territorial settlements are of a character to be permanent, and that the guarantees given are of a character to ensure the peace of the world.

“It is not, therefore, the intervention of those who would interfere, but the action of those who would help. I beg that our friends will take that view of it, because I see no escape from that view of it.

“How can a Power like the United States, for example—for I can speak for no other—after signing this Treaty, if it contains elements which they do not believe will be permanent, go three thousand miles away across the sea and report to its people that it has made a settlement of the peace of the world? It cannot do so. And yet there underlies all of these transactions the expectation on the part, for example, of Roumania and of Czecho-Slovakia and of Serbia, that if any covenants of this settlement are not observed, the United States will send her armies and her navies to see that they are observed.

“In those circumstances is it unreasonable that the United States should insist upon being satisfied that the settlements are correct? Mr. Bratiano—and I speak of his suggestions with the utmost respect—suggested that we could not, so to say, invade the sovereignty of Roumania, an ancient sovereignty, and make certain prescriptions with regard to the rights of minorities. But I beg him to observe that he is overlooking the fact that he is asking the sanction of the Allied and Associated Powers for great additions of territory which come to Roumania by the common victory of arms, and that, therefore, we are entitled to say: ‘If we agree to these additions of territory we have the right to insist upon certain guarantees of peace.’

“I beg my friend Mr. Kramar, and my friend Mr. Trumbitch, and my friend Mr. Bratiano, to believe that if we should feel that it is best to leave the words which they have wished to omit in the Treaty, it is not because we want to insist upon unreasonable conditions, but that we want the Treaty to accord to us the right of judgment as to whether these are things which we can afford to guarantee.

“Therefore the impressions with which we should disperse ought to be these, that we are all friends—of course, that goes without saying—but that we must all be associates in a common effort, and there can be no frank and earnest association in the common effort unless there is a common agreement as to what the rights and settlements are.

“Now, if the agreement is a separate agreement among groups of us, that does not meet the object. If you should adopt the language suggested by the Czecho-Slovakian Delegation and the Serbian Delegation—the Yugo-Slav Delegation—that it should be left to negotiation between the principal Allied and Associated Powers and their several Delegates, that would mean that after this whole Conference is adjourned groups of them would determine what is to be the basis [Page 408]of the peace of the world. It seems to me that that would be a most dangerous idea to entertain, and therefore I beg that we may part with a sense, not of interference with each other, but of hearty and friendly co-operation upon the only possible basis of guarantee. Where the great force lies, there must be the sanction of peace. I sometimes wish, in hearing an argument like this, that I were the representative of a small Power, so that what I said might be robbed of any mistaken significance, but I think you will agree with me that the United States has never shown any temper of aggression anywhere, and it lies in the heart of the people of the United States, as I am sure it lies in the hearts of the peoples of the other Great Powers, to form a common partnership of right, and to do service to our associates and no kind of disservice.”

Mr. Bratiano (Roumania) then makes the following speech:—

“The eminent personality of President Wilson invests both his words and his advice with a specially authoritative character. I beg leave, in the name of the great principles which the President himself has proclaimed, to call his friendly attention to the apprehension lest the application in certain instances of principles, even with the best intentions, may bring about results precisely in contradiction with the end in view.

“As I said, there must emerge from the labors of this Conference results which do not admit of discussion. The Conference has accomplished a great work of justice; it has set up, not only guarantees against the enemy, but also equality of rights for all States, great and small. If principles such as those which it is sought to embody to-day in the Treaty with Austria had been inserted in the Statutes of the League of Nations, we should not have raised any objection. President Wilson will certainly admit that the Roumanian Delegation voted in favor of these principles being established once for all and as applicable to all. To act as it is proposed to act in the present Treaty means the establishment of varying degrees of sovereignty. Notwithstanding the feelings of friendship and profound admiration which I entertain for the Italian people, I am unable to conceive why, in identical circumstances, countries like Roumania or Serbia should be treated differently from Italy.

“On the other hand, as I have likewise had the honor to explain, we are seeking to establish a life of brotherhood between the peoples which are compelled by their geographical situation to form themselves into a single State. It would be a cardinal error to make these friendly relations dependent on a third party, whatever it be.

“Further, we must not lose sight of the fact, even though men imbued with these principles are at the head of the Governments [Page 409]of the present Great Powers, it is quite possible that political evolutions will bring about the representation of those same States by other men, or that new interests may arise such as to make certain Governments deviate from their former attitude and involve them in actions of which the mainspring will not reside in these great principles, but rather in certain special interests.

“It is undeniable that the Great Powers, by their sacrifices, have made certain the victory of the great cause common to us all. I may be permitted to add to the words pronounced by the President—words for which I thank him on behalf of all the small States—when he asserted that we can rely henceforward on the solicitude for our welfare of the great political factors, and that he wishes to guarantee the security of all of us; but I will add that the responsibility of each State in matters of independence and security nevertheless remains just as entire, whatever be its extent.

“Thus, at the present moment, Roumania is compelled to provide with her own troops for the defence, not only of her own frontiers, but also of a cause which is a matter of concern for the whole of Central Europe. Therefore, even though the Great Powers have a more important part to play, in proportion to their size, the responsibility and duties of independent States, whatever their size, remain undiminished.

“I beg the Representatives of the Great Powers, and especially President Wilson, not to limit those responsibilities by a dangerous application of the principles which are dear to us all.

“It needs no effort to secure the recognition of the rights of minorities. There is no single State represented here which is not convinced of the necessity for respecting and developing those liberties; therefore, allow these States to develop themselves in the only atmosphere likely to render possible the consolidation of the general political state which we are here to establish to-day.

“Such are the feelings, alike of respect and gratitude for the services which they have rendered, which animate me in earnestly praying the Great Powers to examine, with all the attention demanded by such important principles, the proposals and declarations made by the Roumanian Government; it is necessary that these proposals should be accepted, for otherwise Roumania would no longer preserve in its entirety the independence which she enjoyed in the past for the settlement of her domestic concerns.”

Mr. Veniselos (Greece) offers a few remarks in the following terms:—

“I beg leave to remark most respectfully that the clauses under ‘discussion do not necessarily form an essential part of the Treaty of [Page 410]Peace with Austria. I should wish, therefore, to suggest to you the desirability, after detaching those clauses, of communicating on Monday the remainder of the Conditions of Peace with Austria and referring those clauses to examination by the Heads of the Five Great Powers at a special meeting in conjunction with the Heads of the Powers with limited interests which are specially concerned. There would thus be nine or ten persons in all seated at one table, who would certainly find some means of allaying the legitimate uneasiness of the Powers with limited interests, while giving satisfaction to the Great Powers.

“If you think it necessary to embody those clauses in the Treaty of Peace with Austria, we shall have sufficient time, up till the day before the signature of the Treaty—since these clauses do not concern Austria—to formulate them and insert them in the Treaty in order to obviate the drafting of a special Treaty for matters which concern the Powers with limited interests.”

The President: Mr. Veniselos’ proposal will, of course, be examined together with those which have already been submitted.

The Agenda being disposed of, the Session is adjourned at 17 o’clock (5 p.m.).

The President,
G. Clemenceau.

The Secretary-General,
P. Dutasta.

The Secretaries,
J. C. Grew,
M. P. A. Hankey,
Paul Gauthier,
Aldrovandi,
Sadao Saburi.

  1. The representatives of the Press were not admitted to this Session. [Footnote in the original.]
  2. The draft texts to which reference is made in the discussions of the Plenary Session of May 81, 1919, do not accompany Protocol No. 8.