Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/27
Secretary’s Notes of a Conversation Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Saturday, 1 February, 1919, at 3 p.m.
- America, United States of
- President Wilson
- Mr. R. Lansing
- Mr. A. H. Frazier
- Col. U. S. Grant
- Mr. L. Harrison
- British Empire
- Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George
- Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour
- Gen. the Rt. Hon. Louis Botha
- Lt. Col. Sir M. P. A. Hankey
- Major A. M. Caccia
- Mr. E. Phipps
- M. Clemenceau
- M. Pichon
- M. Dutasta
- M. Berthelot
- M. de Bearn
- M. Guerin
- Capt. Portier
- M. Orlando
- Baron Sonnino
- Count Aldrovandi
- Major Jones.
- Baron Makino
- H. E. M. Matsui
- M. Saburi
- America, United States of
Present During Discussion of Roumanian Question
- America, United States of
- Major Stephen Bonsai
- British Empire
- Mr. H. Nicolson
- M. Bratiano
- M. Nicolas Misu
- M. Al. Laperdatu
- M. Constantin Bratiano
Interpreter: Professor P. J. Mantoux.
Meeting of Russian Representative at Prinkipo President Wilson asked permission to communicate to the Conference the gist of a telegram, which he had received from M. Tchicherin, the Commissioner for Foreign Affairs of the Bolshevik Government. In this telegram M. Tchicherin said that he had seen in the Press some reference to the summoning of a Conference of Russian Delegates at Prinkipo, and he asked for an official invitation.1 He, (President Wilson), wished to know what action should be taken. To send an official communication would be tantamount to a recognition of the Bolshevik Government.[Page 836]
Mr. Lloyd George expressed the view that M. Tchicherin had received his notice like everybody else.
President Wilson pointed out that a notification had been made to the Press and not in a direct manner. He was quite willing to ignore M. Tchicherin’s request, but the Great Powers were anxious to get these delegates together, and perhaps an answer should be sent to take away the excuse that they had received no invitation to attend the meeting. Apparently M. Tchicherin wanted a personal invitation.
(It was decided to adjourn the question for further consideration).
Agreement Between Czecho-Slovaks and Poles Regarding Teschen M. Clemenceau handed in the following document representing the final agreement reached between the Czechs and the Poles regarding the occupation of the Principality of Teschen:
“The Representatives of the Great Powers, having been informed of the conflict which has arisen between the Czechs and Poles in the Principality of Teschen, in consequence of which the mining district of Ostrawa-Karwin and the railway from Oderberg to Teschen and Jablunkau has been occupied by the Czechs, have declared as follows:
In the first instance they think it necessary to remind the nationalities who have engaged to submit the territorial questions which concern them to the Peace Conference, that they are, pending its decision, to refrain from taking as a pawn or from occupying the territories to which they lay claim.
The representatives take note of the engagement by which the Czech Delegates have declared that they were definitely stopping their troops on the line of the railway which runs from Oderberg to Teschen–Jablunkau.
Pending the decisions of the Peace Conference Congress as to the definitive assignment of the territories that part of the railway line to the North of Teschen and the mining regions will remain in the occupation of Czech troops while the southern section of the line starting from and including the town of Teschen down to Jablunkau will be entrusted to the military supervision of the Poles.
The undersigned consider it indispensable that a Commission of Control should be immediately sent to the spot to avoid any conflict between the Czechs and Poles in the region of Teschen. This Commission, apart from the measures that it will have to prescribe, will proceed to an enquiry on the basis of which the Peace Conference may form its decision in fixing definitely the respective frontiers of the Czechs and Poles in the contested zone. The seat of this Commission will be situated in the town of Teschen.
In order to seal the Entente between two friendly nations which should follow a policy in full accord with that of the Allied and Associated Powers, the representatives of the Great Powers register the promise of the Czech representatives that their country will put at the disposition of the Poles all its available resources in war material and will grant to them every facility for the transit of arms and ammunition.
The exploitation of the mines of the Karwin-Ostrawa district will be carried out in such a way as to avoid all infraction of private property [Page 837] while reserving any police measures which the situation may require. The Commission of Control will be empowered to supervise this and if necessary to secure to the Poles that part of the output which may be equitably claimed by them to meet their wants.
It is understood that the local administration will continue to function in accordance with the conditions of the pact of the 5th November, 1918, and that the rights of minorities will be strictly respected.
Pending the decision of the Peace Congress, political elections and military conscription will be suspended in the Principality of Teschen.
No measure implying annexation of all or of a part of the said Principality either to the territory of Poland or of Czecho-Slovakia taken by interested parties shall have binding force.
The Delegates of the Czech Nation engage to release immediately with their arms and baggage the Polish prisoners taken during the recent conflict.”
On the proposal of Mr. Lloyd George and General Botha—
It was agreed that the document should first be signed by the representatives of the Great Powers and subsequently by the Czech and Pole delegates and by the members of the Commission for Poland.
Allied Troops of Occupation in Turkish Territory and Trans-Caucasia M. Clemenceau read the following reply received from the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council, Versailles, with reference to the Resolution passed by the Delegates of the Five Great Powers at the Conversation held at the Quai d’Orsay on the 30th January, 1919, (see I. C. 128)2 on the subject of the proper distribution of the Allied Military forces required for the maintenance of order in the Turkish Empire and in Trans-Caucasia:—
The Military Representatives consider it necessary for them to be further advised on the three following subjects:
- The territories to be occupied in view of the fact that certain parts of the Ottoman Empire are not at the present time occupied.
- The total number of troops required to maintain order in these territories as estimated by the local military commanders.
- Whether a joint occupation of these territories is intended, or whether definite zones are to be attributed to the interested Powers, who would be designated by the Great Powers.
M. Clemenceau said that the Conference had put certain definite questions to the Military Representatives, who had merely asked the same questions in reply.
Mr. Lloyd George expressed the view that it was the duty of the Military Representatives to reply to the questions set to them. The first question put by the Military Representatives was perhaps only partly a military question, but the second was wholly a military one. It was one of the very questions the Military Representatives themselves had been asked, and, in his opinion, they should certainly [Page 838] give an answer. The third question was one which the Conference could perhaps, and, indeed, ought to answer.
President Wilson said that the answer to the last question would be that definite zones would be allotted to particular Powers, and there would be no joint occupation.
After some further discussion, it was agreed to transmit the following reply to the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council at Versailles through the Secretaries:
- The Conference does not contemplate a joint occupation of any territories.
- The Conference did not contemplate the military occupation of any territories other than those already occupied, unless the Military Representatives think that the occupation of additional territory is desirable.
- The Military Representatives should themselves obtain and submit estimates regarding the number of troops required for the maintenance of order in the occupied territories.
- The Minutes of the Meeting of the 30th January, 1919, relating to the question under reference, shall be supplied to the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council at Versailles.
Instructions To Be Issued to the Commission for Poland M. Clemenceau said that he would next ask the Conference to give their formal approval to the Instructions for the Delegates of the Allied Governments to Poland.
On proposal of President Wilson it was agreed, after some discussion, that the following clause should be added to the Instructions for the Delegates of the Allied Governments to Poland:
“Marshal Foch is requested to inform the German military authorities that the Associated Powers are sending to Poland a commission which is fully empowered to compose all disturbances there so far as possible, and instructed, for that purpose, to insist that the Polish authorities refrain from all use of force against the German forces, and the Marshal is requested to convey to the German authorities in German Poland the demand of the Associated Powers that they altogether refrain from the further use of force in that province and from interference with the life of the people there pending the conclusion of the Peace Conference.”
General Botha then proposed the addition of the following final clause to the Instructions:
“Where matters within the scope of these instructions require the making of special arrangements for their immediate disposition, the delegates are authorised and empowered to make such necessary and provisional arrangements, which shall be binding upon all parties concerned unless and until disapproved by the four Powers concerned.”
(This was agreed to.)[Page 839]
General Botha pointed out that the Delegates would have to deal with the neighbours of Poland. One of these neighbours would be the Bolsheviks. He enquired whether the Delegates were authorised to enter into negotiations with the Bolshevik representatives.
President Wilson expressed the view that it was almost an inevitable part of their duties as Commissioners to endeavour to bring about an armistice between the Poles and the Bolsheviks.
Mr. Lloyd George said that there would be no objection to the Delegates seeing the leaders of the Bolshevik Armies. But it would obviously not be necessary for them to meet either M. Trotski or M. Lenin.
M. Clemenceau thought the sense of the meeting would be that the Delegates could meet whoever they liked, provided they did not ask for definite permission to meet particular individuals to be named.
(The following text of Final Instructions for the Delegates of the Allied Governments in Poland was then formally accepted:
“It will be the business of the Delegates of the Allied Governments to convey as early as possible information to their Governments on the present situation in Poland. The Military question and the Food question are the most urgent, but reports on the political and social conditions of the country should be sent without unnecessary delay.
The Polish Government should be warned against adopting a policy of an aggressive character. Any appearance of attempting to prejudge the decisions of the Conference will have the worst possible effect. The Delegates should invite the most earnest consideration of the Polish Government to the declaration recently made on this subject by the representatives of the Powers at Paris.
Every effort should be made to bring to an end the hostilities which are now taking place between the Poles and neighbouring peoples. Armistices should be arranged wherever possible and the Delegates should use their good offices to bring them about.
In this connection it should be noted that the invasion by the Poles of German territory tends to restore the German military spirit and to delay the breakup of the German Army; and it has the further disadvantage of complicating the arrangements for German disarmament which the Allies desire to carry out with the least possible delay.
The Delegates should enquire how far the Polish Government possess the means to maintain order within their existing territory and of preserving it from external aggression whether carried out by Bolshevists or any other forces and they should study and report on the measures necessary to supply any deficiencies which may be found to exist.
The food question will require their earnest attention and they should co-operate with the Mission about to be despatched to Poland by the Supreme Council of Supply and Relief. In order to secure this cooperation the principal Delegates of the Supreme Council of [Page 840] Supply and Relief should be attached to the Delegation whenever questions of food supply have to be dealt with.
Marshal Foch is requested to inform the German military authorities that the Associated Powers are sending to Poland a Commission which is fully empowered to compose all disturbances there so far as possible, and instructed, for that purpose, to insist that the Polish authorities refrain from all use of force against the German forces, and the Marshal is requested to convey to the German authorities in German Poland the demand of the Associated Powers that they altogether refrain from the further use of force in that province and from interference with the life of the people there pending the conclusion of the Peace Conference.
Where matters within the scope of these instructions require the making of special arrangements for their immediate disposition, the Delegates are authorised and empowered to make such necessary and provisional arrangements, which shall be binding upon all parties concerned unless and until disapproved by the four Powers concerned.”)
Procedure M. Orlando invited attention to the fact that the period granted for the submission of documents relating to territorial claims would expire on that date. He wished to enquire whether this period was to be rigidly applied. He had been informed by M. Dutasta that, up to yesterday, no documents had been received by the Secretariat General, except a part of the Greek case and a report by the Czecho-Slovak Delegates.
Mr. Balfour expressed the view that a time limit having been granted, the Conference could now proceed with their business. Should any of the Delegations object, the obvious reply would be that the Delegations themselves were to blame for not having submitted their reports in due time. On the other hand, the Conference should not refuse to accept any documents which might be sent in hereafter.
Nomination of Members of Commission for Teschen M. Clemenceau said that the members of the Commission for Teschen would have to be nominated. France would appoint M. Veltel, one of the Members for the Commission for Poland.
Mr. Lloyd George enquired whether the members of the Teschen Commission should be military or civil.
(It was agreed that the Members of the Commission for Teschen might be either military or civil, and that their names should be handed in Monday morning, 3rd February, 1919.)
Roumanian Territorial Claims At this stage M. Bratiano and M. Misu, members of the Roumanian Delegation to the Peace Conference, accompanied by their experts, MM. A. Laperdatu and Constantin Bratiano, were admitted to the Conference.
M. Clemenceau asked M. Bratiano to put forward the Roumanian case.[Page 841]
M. Bratiano then read the following report on the situation in Roumania:
(a) Roumania’s Attitude During the War M. Bratiano said that the Balkan War, into which Roumania entered at the appeal of the Serbs and Greeks, who had been attacked the Bulgars, bore witness to the strength and moral ascendancy of her people in that region of Europe. Far-reaching democratic reforms of a social and political nature were being carried out. The last sixty years of Peace made it possible to profit fully by the productivity of her soil, which had been constantly ravaged for centuries. It was in this phase of productive labour and of great political and economic prosperity, that the world-war broke upon Roumania. But, from the very outbreak of hostilities, Roumania, although bound to the Central Powers by a defensive alliance, refused to follow the aggressors in their action, which was contrary to her feelings and opposed to her interests.
During the course of the war she never ceased to emphasise the benevolent nature of her neutrality with respect to the Entente. Thus, contrary to her own most important economic interests, she restricted such of her exports as might benefit the Central Powers, and only let them have an indispensable minimum as compensation for the supply of necessary arms and equipment to the Roumanian army, which she was, at that time, unable to obtain elsewhere.
Roumania facilitated the passage of arms for Serbia and prevented the transit of any war material for Turkey—just at the time when the question of Constantinople appeared to be of paramount interest. The importance of the services thus rendered to the Entente, which drew down upon Roumania the unfriendly feeling and threats of Germany, was expressly recognised by the Entente Governments and gave rise to a formal undertaking on the part of Russia defining the territories in Austria-Hungary claimed by Roumania, which had, moreover, been recognised in principle by the Russian Government at the outset of war in consideration of the benevolent neutrality of Roumania. (Agreement of 1st October, 1914).3
At the request of the Entente Governments, Roumania declared herself ready to give effective support by her army to a cause which she already considered her own. She accordingly notified London of the conditions on which she could take effective military action and which would assure victory, at the same time appealing to the great [Page 842] principles of justice, and stating the conditions necessary for the national development of the Roumanian people.
The Roumanian point of view, summarised in the reply made by the Roumanian Government to the Entente in the Spring of 1916 was determined by the necessity:
- Of denning the position of Italy, whose intentions certain of the Allies at that time appeared to doubt, although the Roumanian Government knew them to be quite favourable;
- Of defining on the map the claims which had already been admitted in the former undertaking by Russia, in order to obviate any discussion at a later date, which is always to be deprecated;
- Of ensuring the supply of arms and munitions for the Roumanian army;
- Of ensuring the position of Roumania against Bulgarian aggression by political and military conditions, and to guarantee her against a war on two fronts which her geographical position would not allow her to wage successfully.
After various delays, the causes of which it is unnecessary to explain, but which did not emanate from the Roumanian Government, whose attitude never varied, the Entente Powers finally recognised the justice of the Roumanian demands and undertook, by a Treaty of Alliance4 and a Military Convention,5 to give effect thereto. These two documents were intended, on the one hand, to ensure the ability of Roumania to assist the common cause by effective military action, and at the same time to guarantee, after victory, the claims which had been recognised as legitimate and necessary for the development of the Roumanian nation.
Roumania was conscious that, without allowing herself to be discouraged by the worst disappointments, which did not always come from the side of the enemy, she loyally fulfilled her duty to the great cause which she had espoused, to the extreme limits of possibility and in the supreme hope that, no matter what her sacrifices might cost, they might be in proportion to the services she rendered.
Neither the Bulgarian attack, nor the possibility accorded to Germany by quiet on the other fronts of concentrating her efforts against Roumania, nor the inactivity of the neighbouring Allies, who did not meet in Transylvania as arranged, nor the delay in the Russian assistance which might have covered Bucharest and Wallachia, nor that which from the material and moral points of view represented the loss of two-thirds of the country, including the capital, [Page 843] shook the loyalty and devotion of the Roumanians to the cause they had made their own.
Aided by the French Mission, the Roumanians, who had lost more than half their army, continued the fight, and at Marasesti inflicted a defeat upon Marshal Mackensen’s best troops and made the invasion of Russia from the south impossible.
Unfortunately, Russia collapsed at this time, and the Roumanian army found itself surrounded by the enemy, with whom its Russian Ally was openly treating. Neither this situation nor the Bolshevik example and propaganda succeeded in demoralising the Roumanian army and nation. Although enveloped and penetrated on all sides by these elements of disorder, not a single Roumanian company, not a single platoon deserted.
The armistice concluded on the Roumanian front was the result, not of Roumanian discouragement, but of the condition demanded by the Ukrainian command, which at that time was the last hope of the Allies in Russia, who saw in this measure the sole possibility of re-forming a Russian front capable of carrying on the struggle. This possibility was far from being realised. Bolshevism continued to complete its work of dissolution on the Russian front in Moldavia and began open hostilities with the Ukrainian command which the representatives of the Allies attempted to constitute on the Roumanian front.
At the demand of the representatives of the Entente, who declared in writing that this operation was the last military co-operation that they were entitled to expect from Roumania, the Roumanian army commenced open hostilities with the Bolshevist troops which then occupied the whole territory of Moldavia and Bessarabia. It was thought that this supreme effort would at least ensure the existence of an Ukraine friendly to the Allies.
In spite of all the risk involved in an operation of this nature, when Roumania had the enemy army before her and no possibility of obtaining supplies, she did not hesitate to provoke the hostility of the million Russians who were in occupation of her territory, thus giving her Allies a last proof of her spirit of sacrifice in their cause and affording them, since they thought it possible, an opportunity in which she herself did not believe.
Whilst desultory warfare was being waged on Roumanian territory with her Allies of yesterday, the peace of Brest-Litovsk was concluded. The Ukraine threw off its mask, openly negotiating and signing the peace with the Germans, who occupied its territory and descended the Dniester, threatening the rear and cutting off the retreat of the Roumanian Army.[Page 844]
As the representatives of the Allies admitted, military action on the part of Roumania was no longer possible at that period of the war.
The only thing that remained for the King of Roumania and his Government to do, was to attempt to maintain the Roumanian Army at sufficient strength to enable it to resume active operations so soon as more favourable conditions should render this possible. This resolve—which was immediately communicated to the Allied Governments—gave its right interpretation to the so-called “Treaty of Bucharest”—6 i. e. that of a lull in a conflict which was to be resumed.
The peace negotiations were only entered into in order to gain time and not to separate the King from his Army. The peace was merely a means of awaiting events.
Neither legally, practically, nor morally, were the Roumanians ever really at peace with the enemy.
The Treaty of Bucharest, passed by a Parliament elected under the German occupation, when the Moldavian refugees were not allowed to return to their homes and all electoral manifestos were subject to German censorship, was never sanctioned or ratified by the King.
The character of the military occupation continued the same; 8 German divisions, having to maintain Germanic order in Roumania, were prevented from returning to other fronts; 40,000 Roumanian prisoners were still in Germany. The burden of requisitions increased even after the signature of the general armistice. The restrictions imposed on persons and property continued arbitrary and violent; Roumanian institutions such as the Appeal Court and the large government offices refused, with the consent of the King, to continue their functions at Bucharest, in fact both individuals and property were subjected to the same reign of iniquity and violence which inaugurated the occupation by the enemy.
In their hearts, neither King, Army, nor people, had ever ceased longing for the day when they could once more take action. The military and civil representatives of the Allies at Jassy continued to co-operate in expectation of that moment.
Therefore it was without a day’s delay that Roumania responded to the call of the Allies when they thought it once more possible for Roumania to resume operations, and on the same day that General Berthelot’s7 army crossed the Danube, the Roumanian troops crossed the line of trenches which had never ceased, during the Peace of Bucharest, to form a fortified line between two enemy nations.
It is thus that the position and action of Roumania developed during the war. Having espoused a great and noble cause, she had [Page 845] served it with loyal devotion, and had achieved even more in the common interests than was imposed by her treaty conditions.
The occupation of two-thirds of her territory, the pillage and exhaustion of the whole country, the decimation of her population by epidemic disease, casualties in her army amounting to over 335,000 men, such in broad outline were the sacrifices borne by Roumania. She did not grudge them for a single instant, being convinced that they were entailed by the service she was rendering to the Allies and that they were at the same time assuring the realisation of her national ideals, as guaranteed by the Treaty signed with the Allies and by the sense of justice of those whose cause she had joined. Roumania had an unshakeable trust in that sense of justice, which she found faithfully expressed in the noble words of President Wilson, who in his speech on the 27th September, 1918,8 stated “That solutions* have arisen from the very nature and circumstances of the war; the most that statesmen or assemblies can do is to carry them out or be false to them”.
In very truth, the question of Roumania arose from its “very nature” on the day when the principles of justice, independence and liberty for the peoples were proclaimed; it also arose from “the circumstances of the war” when, by the treaty of 16th [17th] August, 1916, the Allies undertook to ensure the national unity of Roumania.
The claims of Roumania, as recognised by her treaty of alliance had never been of an imperialistic character. Her claims had only represented the manifestation of the national aspirations of the people and the desire of the Roumanians to be once more united on the ethnical territory assigned to them by history.
(b) Roumania’s claims to Transylvania A reference to the map would show in this corner of the world a mountainous district forming the central portion of Transylvania. This elevated region on the one side gradually sloped down to the rich plains of the Danube and the Dniester, whilst on the North it was bordered by the Carpathians and Galicia, and so constituted a well defined geographical area from every point of view. It was in this territory that the Roumanian nation had been constituted and formed; and all its aspirations for centuries had tended towards the political union of that territory.
At the outbreak of War, Hungary, with the Banat, constituted what might be called Transylvania, because from the political point of view Transylvania occupied’ the exact centre of the whole of that region. [Page 846] But in order to avoid mentioning different parts of that territory at every turn, in the term “Transylvania” would be included not only the Banat but all the countries extending as far as the Galician Carpathians and as far as the Theiss; the whole of that region having formed part of the late kingdom of Hungary.
According to Hungarian statistics, (the nature of which were such that they could not be taken as basis for an accurate estimate), the Roumanians represented 55% and the Magyars 23% of the population.
M. Orlando enquired how many Hungarians there were in this district.
M. Bratiano replied that, according to these same statistics, there were 1,000,000 Hungarians and 2,500,000 Roumanians in Transylvania, not including the Banat. It was, moreover, certain that these statistics were inaccurate. As a matter of fact, if one considers the increase in the Roumanian population according to these statistics, one finds fanciful figures, varying according to the political situation and the degree of acuteness of political struggles. Whilst the Roumanian population on the other side of the Carpathians had tripled and quadrupled, the Roumanian population of Transylvania remained stationary, according to the Hungarian statistics. If an exact census could be taken, 2,900,000 Roumanians and 687,000 Magyars or 72% and 15% respectively of the population would be found to be the exact figures. Whilst the Roumanian population represented 23% of the population of the towns and 72% of that of the villages, the Magyars only represented 40% of the urban population and 13% of that of the villages. The Magyars were chiefly officials and soldiers, but from the ethnical point of view they were tar from representing the ethnical proportion that they claimed for themselves. The Magyar population formed a dominating class which had lived in the midst of the Roumanian population.
Transylvania also included, near the Moldavian frontier, a race related to the Hungarians and a Saxon population: the former numbering 450,000 and the latter 260,000.
On the whole, the great ethnical majority of the population was therefore Roumanian. There was one region that Roumania did not claim, although it included some Roumanian villages, namely the district of Debreczyn; but, in order to maintain the ethnical character of their claims, the Roumanians did not claim such an active Hungarian centre as this town constituted for the adjacent district.
At the beginning of the armistice, the German colonies on the Wallachian and Moldavian frontiers joined Roumania, and the union of Roumania was accomplished with the greatest ease. The Saxon colonies even concluded a formal deed of union with the Kingdom [Page 847] of Roumania. The Roumanians of Transylvania immediately held a great meeting and constituted themselves into an Assembly, 150,000 men meeting for this purpose from all parts of the region; Roumania had already admitted into its Government three Ministers representing Transylvania and the Roumanian countries in Hungary.
(c) Roumanian Claims to Bukovina As regards the Roumanian claims in the Bukovina, this was a Moldavian province, annexed 140 years ago by Austria. The policy of Austria with regard to this province was quite different to that of Hungary. Hungary tried to suppress the ethnical character of the populations by means of violence. The programme of Austria, on the contrary, was peaceful penetration. Thus, for example, she encouraged Ruthenian immigration. In the Bukovina there are about 200,000 inhabitants of various races who had rallied to the Roumanian rule. The Bukovina had constituted an autonomous government since Austria collapsed, thus annulling the annexation by Austria in 1775.
In 1916, Roumania had claimed the whole of the Bukovina, but Russia had not wished the Roumanians to cross the river.
The Bukovina, by its reunion with Bessarabia and Moldavia on the Dniester, had become once more what it originally was, and it would be inconsistent, both politically and geographically, not to leave to Roumania the Bukovina in its present form. 500,000 inhabitants out of 800,000 were represented at the proclamation of the union of the Bukovina with Roumania.
(d) Roumania’s Claim to Bessarabia As regards Bessarabia, there were at the present moment 500,000 Roumanians on the other side of the Dniester, more than 100,000 in Bulgaria, more than 300,000 in Serbia, and several hundred thousand in Macedonia, but they did not form groups sufficiently compact for Roumania to be able to claim them at present. It was otherwise in Bessarabia, which was severed from Moldavia in 1812. Part of the province was restored to Roumania after the Crimean War, but after the war of 1878, Russia took back this province, although admitting the integrity of Roumania by a formal treaty.
The Roumanian claims had always extended to Bessarabia, but they would probably not have been allowed if a great political event had not occurred; Tsarist Russia collapsed and Bessarabia constituted itself an autonomous Republic, recognised by the Russian Government under the presidency of M. Kerensky. The Bolshevist disturbances created a serious situation in Bessarabia, and the Government then applied to Roumania for help in maintaining order. Roumania had refused until she had received similar requests from the Ukrainian Government and the representatives of the Allies at [Page 848] Jassy. The military occupation of Bessarabia by Roumanian troops only took place, therefore, with the consent of the local Government and at the request of the Ukraine and the representatives of the Entente. Subsequently, Bessarabia separated itself completely from Russia and, later, the Bessarabian Government declared its desire to unite with Roumania, and united itself once more to Moldavia, from which it had been severed in 1812.
Such was the history of the reunion of Bessarabia and Roumania. A great injustice had thus been righted. More than 72% of the inhabitants are Roumanians, the remainder are Slavs, Bulgars, or Germans, and they did not represent even 15% of the populations; therefore from every point of view Bessarabia was a Roumanian country.
The incorporation of Bessarabia with Russia was an anachronism which could no longer be allowed to exist. Whatever may be the fate of Russia, she could and must no longer exercise supremacy in the Balkans. This dream was perhaps cherished by the Russian Government at the beginning of the 19th century, and the occupation of Bessarabia was doubtless a first step towards the occupation of Moldavia, Bulgaria and Constantinople, but it was a false political move. Bessarabia was, moreover, of no importance to Russia, for there was scarcely a Russian in the country. But after having once seized the country, it was difficult for Russia to restore it. As soon as circumstances allowed, it returned to Roumania who was able to prevent the work of destruction which the Bolsheviks had begun. It was far more advantageous to have a friendly country as neighbour than a country foreign in her ideas and ways of life. Now Bessarabia would possess community of ideas with Roumanian national consciousness.
For all these reasons, Roumania believed that the Peace Conference would not question the justification of the union of Bessarabia with Roumania.
(e) Present Constitutional Arrangements in Transylvania and Bukovina Bessarabia Mr. Lloyd George enquired whether the national assemblies formed in these three countries, Transylvania, the Bukovina had demanded their return to Roumania and whether they had laid down any conditions?
Mr. Bratiano said that the three countries had made different constitutional arrangements. In Transylvania, the Roumanian representatives formed themselves into a National Assembly, which the representatives of the Saxon population joined: But the Hungarian population had refused to do so.
For the Bukovina all nationalities, except the Ruthenians, elected a government, which had proclaimed the union of the Bukovina with Roumania.[Page 849]
In Bessarabia, elections had taken place under the Russian Republican Government, and the Assembly thus elected had proclaimed the union with Roumania, subject to certain reservations which the Assembly had since withdrawn, on condition that it should be granted a special Agrarian Law.
Transylvania had proclaimed complete union, but with provisional autonomy, in order to settle the legal conditions under which effect would finally be given to such union. Transylvania had, as a matter of fact, different laws from those in force in Roumania and her representatives wished to study these specially important questions and to refer the decision reached to the people before signing the final act of union.
Mr. Lloyd George enquired whether Roumania was asking the representatives of the Powers purely and simply to proclaim the annexation of these different territories, or was she asking the Conference to declare that in these various regions regularly constituted assemblies shall have power definitely to declare for union and to settle the conditions? When the union of Scotland with England had taken place, that union was only effected after certain conditions imposed by Scotland had been carried out.
Mr. Bratiano said that Roumania asked for the recognition of the union of these provinces with Roumania, for that union had already been proclaimed and the latter had already sent three Ministers to the Roumanian Cabinet. A Statute had even been arranged. The same remarks applied to the Bukovina.
Mr. Lloyd George said that he had reason to believe that certain minorities had not taken part in the elections. It was important that the decision should be made by assemblies representing the whole population.
Mr. Bratiano said he could not quite follow the question put by the Prime Minister of England. Roumania had fought in order to impose her national will on the Hungarian minority in Transylvania. It was certain, therefore, that if the Hungarians were asked to vote in favour of union with Roumania, they could hardly be expected to do so. He did not think a fresh election should be held at the present time. As regards the situation created in Transylvania by the armistice, he considered that the question of principle had been decided by the war, and that these territories must be restored to Roumania. In their future political life, the rights of the minorities would assuredly be respected and they would be granted the greatest possible freedom. But the vanquished could not now be expected willingly to unite themselves to a country, which for a thousand years they had sought to dominate.[Page 850]
Mr. Lloyd George agreed that the majority must be the final arbiters: but it was essential that the wrongs which had been imposed under Hungarian domination should not be perpetuated. It must not be possible for the minorities to be treated in future as were the Roumanians in the Hungarian State, who were deprived of their language, their traditions and their own life.
(f) Roumania Asks Authorization to Occupy Immediately All Territories Claimed by Her M. Bratiano expressed complete agreement on that point. In the Deed of Union with Transylvania it had been stipulated that the religious and political liberty of all the nationalities Transylvania would be recognised, and that was the reason why the Saxon population had associated itself with the Union. The principle involved was one of general application, to be extended to all annexed countries without exception. But it would be an act fraught with serious consequences if the union with Transylvania were not to be declared now, at a time when her late masters were convinced that their cause was lost. There had been too much delay already; occupation of the territories must take place under the most favourable conditions, in the very interests of the nations who were to live together. For instance, the conditions were most satisfactory in the districts bordering on the Roumanian frontier which had been occupied before the signing of the armistice, even though Roumanians there actually formed the minority of the population, on the other hand, in the territories not occupied by Roumania, although Roumanians were in the majority, conditions were very serious owing to the enemy having organised a violent agitation on Bolshevik lines. The division of wealth and the abolition of rank had been promised: Wilson’s policy had been proclaimed to be nothing but a capitalist policy; people had been told to kill officers and to do away with the governing classes. This propaganda had caused 100,000 workpeople to strike and the news received from Transylvania was very disquieting. This state of affairs was largely due to the uncertainty of the future. Therefore, he would beg the Commission to come to an immediate decision on the practical questions arising out of the war, and to authorise Roumania to occupy these territories immediately. The Roumanian Government might still be able, without bloodshed, to make relations between the various nations possible and even fraternal. But if the present situation were allowed to drag on, a new animosity would be created and blood would flow once more. Roumania was in a condition of great exhaustion due to the trials she had undergone and to the Bolshevik propaganda which had spread from the Ukraine through Bessarabia. Roumania was in need of the moral support of the Allies, if she was to remain what she had been hitherto—a rallying point for Europe against [Page 851] Bolshevism. He did not know what decisions would be reached by the Conference with regard to Bolshevism; but it was not a political doctrine; it was a serious and contagious disease that must be fought. Roumania asked to be placed in a position to resist it. She asked this not only in her own interests, but in those of the whole of Europe and, without exaggeration, of the civilisation of the world.
Mr. Lloyd George asked what troops were at present occupying Transylvania.
M. Bratiano replied that the small tract bordering on the Roumanian frontier had been occupied by the Roumanians and that the remainder of the country, not being under any occupation, was a prey to anarchy. The Bukovina had been occupied by the Roumanians.
(f) Roumania Asks for Occupation of Banat & Dobruja by Allied Troops Yesterday, at the close of the meeting with the Serbian representatives, he had ventured to request that the Banat should be evacuated by Serbian troops, and that these should be replaced by the Allied troops at present in that neighborhood. In consideration of the nature and purpose of the meeting, he did not wish to enlarge upon the acts of violence which the Serbian Army were committing against the peoples of the Banat, and which might sow regrettable seeds of enmity. Whatever might be the decision of the Conference, it was most desirable that such occupation should be effected by Allied and not by Serbian troops. The question was an urgent one. The same applied to the Dobruja, where, by reason of the armistice conditions, the Roumanian State was not yet able to exercise its full authority. Whatever decision the Conference might reach, it surely could have no desire to wrest a portion of territory from an Allied State, without such State having consented to an alteration of the frontier line; and justice demanded that Roumania should remain mistress of the Dobruja. (g) Situation in Dobruja
Mr. Lloyd George expressed the view that the question of the Banat could not be discussed in the absence of the Serbs.
M. Clemenceau thanked M. Bratiano for his statement with regard to Roumania’s claims.
(The Roumanian delegates then withdrew.)
Mr. Lloyd George said that, speaking for himself and for many of those whom he had been able to consult, it was extremely difficult to decide questions of boundaries on statements, however lucid, made in the course of a Conversation. He wished, therefore, to propose that in the first place experts of the five Great Powers should examine such questions, and, if possible, make a unanimous recommendation. It is quite possible that on many of the questions to be considered, the experts would agree. Naturally, these experts [Page 852] could not decide the problem, but they could clear the ground, and, in cases of disagreement, the representatives of the Great Powers would be compelled to argue out the case there in that Council Chamber. But there were many questions regarding which the Great Powers were perfectly impartial. For instance, they were quite impartial regarding the Roumanian claims on Hungary, to an expose of which they had listened that day. He thought, therefore, that if a preliminary investigation was carried out by experts, it would greatly assist. He fully admitted that this procedure could not be introduced as a permanent arrangement, or be accepted as a precedent for universal application; but in the particular case of the Roumanian claims, in order to arrive at a decision, he hoped the experts would be allowed to examine the ground in the first instance, and the representatives of the Great Powers would eventually decide the question. He wished, therefore, to move the following Resolution:—
“It is agreed that the questions raised in M. Bratiano’s statement on the Roumanian territorial interests in the Peace Settlement shall be referred for examination in the first instance by an expert Committee composed of two representatives each of the United States of America, the British Empire, France and Italy.
It shall be the duty of the Committee to reduce the questions for decision within the narrowest possible limits, and to make recommendations for a just settlement.
The Committee is authorised to consult the representatives of the peoples concerned.”
President Wilson expressed the view, which he felt sure was shared by the mover of the Resolution, that only those aspects of the question, which did not touch the purely political side of the problem, should be examined by the experts. All other questions requiring the exercise of tact and compromise must necessarily be reserved to the representatives of the Great Powers, including the protection of minorities, etc. The experts, therefore, should merely consider the territorial and racial aspects of the case.
Mr. Balfour thought that strategical questions might also be considered by the experts.
M. Orlando said he had a statement to make in reference to a matter of individual conscience, which he did not wish to force on his colleagues. But he felt himself bound to Roumania by a Treaty. In his opinion, the laws relating to public and civil rights only became valid after their promulgation. He did not wish to defend secret treaties which, indeed, were now out of fashion; but a treaty having been signed by Italy, France and Great Britain, he could made no distinction between a secret treaty and a public treaty.[Page 853]
M. Clemenceau drew the attention of M. Orlando to the fact that the Roumanian Treaty had, by the common assent of the representatives of the Great Powers there in that room, been cancelled. It had been agreed that Roumania should, for reasons given, have proper representation at the Peace Conference; but, it was distinctly understood that the grant of representation would not renew every clause of the Treaty, which she had broken by going out of the war. (I. C. 104.)9
Mr. Lloyd George also pointed out that Roumania was now claiming more than she had been granted by the secret treaty.
M. Orlando said he had no recollection of the incident quoted. But, in any case, the treaty of 1916 between Roumania and the Allies having been signed, did that fact tend to invalidate the Peace Treaty subsequently signed by Roumania with the Central Powers at Bucarest? If so, the previous treaty with the Allies was ipso facto annulled. In his opinion, Roumania was forced to sign the Peace Treaty with the Central Powers, and she had not been a free agent. Consequently, he did not consider the latter treaty to be valid, no more than he would consider himself bound by an agreement signed whilst a pistol was being held at his head.
M. Clemenceau remarked that he did not think such an argument really helped the case of the Roumanians.
M. Orlando said that, at any rate, he had given expression to a matter which had lain on his conscience. He turned now to Mr. Lloyd George’s proposal and was glad to find that it was not to form a precedent. Therefore, some of his objections would fall to the ground. But, as regards the application of the proposal to the case under consideration, the decisive question to be settled was wholly and solely a political one. Being exclusively political, the whole responsibility for the settlement must rest with the representatives of the Great Powers.
Mr. Lloyd George’s resolution said that specialists would be appointed. What kind of specialists? If it was intended to appoint specialists on the Roumanian question, he himself had none; and they would be difficult to find. But even then, he would ask: What branch of the Roumanian question should those specialists represent? Should they be geographical, historical, strategical or ethnographical specialists? The question was a very complex and mixed one, and its various aspects could not be separately examined. Consequently, the specialists who might be appointed though knowing their particular subject could not give good assistance in the final solution of the problem. Further, the resolution said that the Committee would [Page 854] consult the representatives of the people concerned. The experts would thus, in fact, become examining magistrates. Mr. Lloyd George’s proposal thus became a very serious one, since the experts would constitute the Court of First Instance and the delegates of the Great Powers, the Final Court of Appeal. He failed to see how such a procedure would expedite matters. In his opinion, it necessarily meant delay, especially if the experts decided that the enquiry must take place in situ. His proposals might not be acceptable to his colleagues: but he had felt obliged to put forward his views though he did not wish to press them. In his opinion, the procedure proposed by Mr. Lloyd George in this case had great inconveniences, and, if accepted, he noted with pleasure that it would not form a precedent.
M. Sonnino expressed the view that the experts might find themselves compelled to go to the spot to consult the representatives of the people concerned.
Mr. Lloyd George explained that the experts would carry out their work in exactly the same manner as their Committee on Teschen had done.
M. Sonnino replied that unfortunately in the case of the Roumanian claims, the representatives of the minorities, (Hungarians, Ukrainians, Bolshevists), would have to be consulted, and they had no representatives here in Paris. He did not see why the representatives of the Great Powers themselves should not first discuss the question with their own experts, and afterwards consult the delegates of the countries concerned, who could give the most expert information available.
President Wilson agreed that perhaps it might be wise to omit the clause of the resolution which authorised the experts to consult the representatives of the people concerned. Ever since the United States of America had entered the war, he had had a body of scholars continuously studying such questions of fact as racial aspects, historical antecedents, and economic and commercial elements: the two latter being of very great importance in many of the questions under dispute, as had been realised in the case of the Banat. Furthermore, it must be remembered that however complete their confidence might be in the delegates of Roumania, Serbia, and other countries, who would present claims; these delegates were merely advocates, and they made opposite claims as to the right inferences to be drawn from facts. They did not represent their facts in the same way, and there would always be something that was not quite clear. As the United States of America were not bound by any of the treaties in question, they were quite ready to approve a settlement on a basis of facts. But the claimants did not always restrict themselves even to the [Page 855] limits set by Treaties and their claims frequently exceeded what was justified by the Treaties.
Mr. Lloyd George, in this connection, drew attention to the Roumanian claims on the Banat. The Roumanians now claimed the whole of the Banat, whereas the Treaty only gave them a part.
President Wilson, continuing, said that he was seeking enlightenment, and this would no doubt be afforded by a convincing presentation by the experts. If the resolution proposed by Mr. Lloyd George did not receive acceptance, he would find himself compelled to fight the question merely on the views expressed by the American experts; but he would prefer that these conclusions should be corrected by the views of the French, British and Italian experts.
M. Clemenceau enquired from M. Orlando whether he still objected to the resolution.
M. Orlando said that he had already expressed his willingness to accept the resolution, provided it was not to create a precedent.
(It was agreed that the questions raised in M. Bratiano’s statement on the Roumanian territorial interests in the Peace settlement should be referred for examination in the first instance by an expert committee, composed of two representatives each of the United States of America, the British Empire, France and Italy.
It shall be the duty of this Committee to reduce the questions for decision within the narrowest possible limits, and to make recommendations for a just settlement.
The Committee is authorised to consult the representatives of the peoples concerned.)
Naval Peace Terms Committee It was decided that the Naval Peace Terms Committee should forthwith meet to draft the Naval clauses to be introduced in the Peace Treaty with Germany.
(The Meeting adjourned to 11 o’clock on Monday, the 3rd February, 1919).
2 February, 1919.
- A telegram dated February 4, 1919, but answering this description, sent by M. Chicherin to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan is printed in Foreign Relations, 1919, Russia, p. 39.↩
- BC–18, p. 817.↩
- For a description of this agreement, see the telegram of September 20/October 3, 1914, from the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs (Sazonov) to the Russian Ambassador at Bucharest (Poklevsky), French translation in Documents diplomatiques secrets russes, 1914–1917, d’après les archives du ministère des affaires é’trangères à Pétrograd (Paris, 1928), p. 179.↩
- Treaty of Alliance of August 17, 1916, between the Allies and Roumania; for French text, see Italy, R. Ministero degli Affari Esteri, Trattati e convenzioni fra il regno d’ltalia e gli altri stati, vol. 23, p. 412.↩
- Military convention of August 17, 1916, between the Allies and Roumania; French text, ibid., p. 415.↩
- Treaty of Peace between Roumania and the Central Powers, May 7, 1918, Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 771.↩
- Gen. Henri Mathias Berthelot, of the French Army, commander in chief of the Army of the Danube.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 316.↩
- In the “Times” of September 28th, 1918, President Wilson is quoted as follows: “It (the war) has positive and well defined purposes, which we did not determine and cannot alter—no statesman or assembly created them … they have arisen from the ‘Very nature’ etc. … [Footnote in the original.]↩
- BC–A1, p. 486.↩