Paris Peace Conf. 180.03201/12


Secretary’s Notes of a Meeting of Foreign Ministers Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Thursday, May 8th, 1919, at 4 p.m.

Present Also Present
America, United States of America, United States of1
Hon. R. Lansing. Dr. C. Day.
British Empire Prof. M. Jefferson.
The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, M. P. Mr. A. W. Dulles.
Secretaries Major D. W. Johnson.
Mr. H. Norman. Mr. Hoover.
Mr. E. Phipps. British Empire
France Mr. H. Nicolson.
M. Pichon. Mr. A. Leeper.
Secretaries Colonel W. L. O. Twiss.
Capt. de St. Quentin. Lt. Colonel A. C. Temperley.
M. de Bearn. France
Italy M. Tardieu.
Baron Sonnino. M. Laroche.
Secretary-General M. Aubert.
Count Aldrovandi. Italy
Japan M. de Martino.
H. E. Baron Makino. Count Vannutelli-Rey.
Secretary-General M. Stranieri.
M. Saburi.
M. Kawai.

Joint Secretariat

America, United States of Lieut. C. Burden.
British Empire Capt. E. Abraham.
France Capt. A. Portier.
Interpreter:—M. Cammerlynck.
[Page 671]

1. M. Pichon said that it would be convenient to begin with the frontiers laid down for Roumania, and he would ask M. Tardieu to explain the finding of the Committee.2

Reports of Territorial Committees on Frontiers of Austria & Hungary: (a) Question of Secession of Parts of Austria and Hungary Mr. Balfour thought that before examining the particular reports it might be desirable to define what Austria and Hungary were to be, in terms of territory. He instanced the case of Vorarlberg. Was it to be Swiss or Austrian? In the former alternative, if Vorarlberg was allowed to split off, how was the Conference to prevent other fractions of previous Austrian territory to follow suit, in order to alleviate the debt on the population or for any other reason whatever? Before the Treaty could be made with Austria or Hungary this question must be settled in principle.

Baron Sonnino said that as far as he was concerned, Vorarlberg was part of Austria. He had no knowledge of this territory as an independent unit. Its recognition as such would lead to the secession of other populations, and result in endless confusion.

Mr. Balfour said that if he understood Baron Sonnino aright, it was intended that the discussion should result in a definition of Austria.

Baron Sonnino said that it should result in a definition of Hungary as well as Austria.

Mr. Balfour agreed that the method of defining the frontiers by adopting the results reached by the territorial committees might perhaps be the best. The circuit would then be complete and the various difficulties arising on the way could be considered.

Mr. Lansing said that in his view the Council was dealing with the territory which in 1914 had been the domain of Austria and Hungary. It was recognised that this territory was to be dismembered, that Austria and Hungary were to be made separate States, and that their lands were to be limited by new States, whose frontiers were to be determined. No definition of Austria and Hungary, therefore, appeared necessary. The definition would arise automatically as a result of establishing the new States.

Mr. Balfour said that the question still remained what would the conference do if any other part of Austrian or Hungarian territory wished to split off like Vorarlberg?

Mr. Lansing said that this question would have to come before the conference when it arose. In his opinion the population could not be allowed to secede in order to avoid paying taxes.

Mr. Balfour thought that in the Treaty there should be a clause covering such cases. He pointed out that there was to be a plebiscite [Page 672] in Vorarlberg in fifteen days, and that the Conference was doing nothing to stop it.

M. Pichon observed that the French Government had several times been informed by the Swiss Government that the adhesion of Vorarlberg was not desired. On the last occasion the Swiss Government had said that they would not welcome Vorarlberg, unless a crushing majority in the plebiscite practically forced their hands. The question, however, had not yet arisen, and it did not appear necessary for the Council to deal with it before it arose. He would therefore ask M. Tardieu to begin his explanation of the boundary adopted by the Committee for Roumania.

(After a short discussion it was decided not to consider the boundary of Roumania on the Russian side, but only to deal with its boundary on the Hungarian side.

Mr. Lansing said that in his opinion when the delimitation of Roumania and Russia was made, it would be necessary that Russia should be represented. The Peace Conference could not adjudicate on territory belonging to a State with whom the powers represented were not at war.)

(b) Hungarian Frontier With Roumania M. Tardieu said that he would explain the finding of the Committee in respect of the Roumanian-Hungarian boundary in Transylvania. Referring to the map attached to Report No. 13 (W. C. P. 656) he explained that the red line indicated the demands of the Roumanian Delegation, and the blue line the recommendations of the Committee. There had been long discussions on the subject of the frontier in question, occupying no less than twelve meetings. He would explain in a few words the reasons which had prevailed with the Committee. Had the demands of the Roumanian Delegation been accepted without modification, a very large number of aliens would have been attributed to both sides. These numbers were halved by the recommendations of the Committee. Ethnologically, therefore, he thought that the results obtained were satisfactory. It had also been thought reasonable to keep within Roumanian territory a main line of communication running from North-East to South-West; from Szatmar-Nemeti to Nagy-Varad, while a parallel line connecting Szeged and Debreczen was left in Hungary.

Mr. Lansing asked where the proper ethnic line would be.

M. Tardieu said that the population was very mixed and that the blue line represented an equitable compromise. A truer line might perhaps in some cases be 20 kilometres east but on the whole, as he had explained, he thought the line would be satisfactory.

[Page 673]

Mr. Lansing asked why a more accurate ethnic line could not be followed.

M. Tardieu explained that it would cut the railway line and suppress continuous communication.

Mr. Lansing asked if anywhere west of the line there could be found a preponderant Roumanian population.

M. Tardieu said that this might occur in certain isolated places.

In reply to further questions, M. Tardieu said that some 600,000 Hungarians would remain under Roumanian rule while some 25,000 Roumanians would remain within Hungary.

Mr. Lansing expressed the view that this distribution did not appear very just; in every case the decision seemed to have been given against the Hungarians.

M. Tardieu said that any other adjustment would have been all in favour of the Hungarians and correspondingly to the detriment of the Roumanians. The whole question had been discussed with the very greatest care—the solution had been adopted unanimously and represented, he thought, the best that could be done in very difficult circumstances. In some places where the Committee had thought it possible for new lines of communication to be built they had adhered more strictly to ethnographical considerations, but on the main part of the frontier, by reason of the mountainous ground, it was impossible to substitute new lines for those already existing. By reason of the way in which the Hungarians were grouped in Transylvania, it was absolutely impossible to avoid attributing large numbers of them to the future Roumanian State.

Mr. Lansing said that he appreciated the efforts of the Committee to make an equitable distribution. After further consideration, he withdrew his criticisms and made no objection to the recommendations of the Committee.

Mr. Balfour also stated that he raised no objection.

It was not possible for the Council to go over in detail the whole work of the Committee. As long as the Council was satisfied that the Committee had done the utmost to find an equitable solution, he felt that nothing could be done to improve the resolution, unless there had been disagreement within the Committee itself.

Baron Sonnino also expressed his agreement.

(No other objections being raised to the finding of the Committee, the frontier between Roumania and Hungary, as proposed by the Committee from the former frontier of Russia at Khotin to the point of contact with the Danube was accepted.

It was decided that the frontier as between Roumania and Jugo-Slavia in the Banat should be reserved for future discussion.)

The hope was expressed that a solution of the latter question would [Page 674] be reached by agreement between the Roumanian and the Jugo-Slav Government.

(c) Frontier Between Hungary and Jugo-Slavia M. Tardieu said that the eastern frontier of Hungary had now been determined. There remained the southern frontier between Hungary and Jugo-Slavia. Referring to the map attached to Report No. 2 of the Committee4 (W. C. P. 646) he pointed out that there was a very considerable variation between the demands of the Jugo-Slavs and the recommendations of the Committee. The Committee had certainly excluded a large number of Slavs from the area to be attributed to Jugo-Slavia, but they were not in sufficient numbers in the Committee’s opinion to justify the line claimed by the Jugo-Slavs.

The Committee had therefore unanimously adopted the blue line from west of Mako to the point of intersection with the former boundary between Austria and Hungary.

M. Pichon asked if any criticisms of this line were forthcoming.

No criticisms were made and the boundary proposed by the Committee from the angle west of Mako to the point of intersection with the former boundary between Austria and Hungary was accepted.

M. Sonnino asked whether anything had been done regarding the boundary between Austria and Hungary.

(d) Boundary Between Austria and Hungary M. Pichon said that no Commission had been charged with this subject.

Mr. Lansing questioned whether it was necessary to make any alteration in this boundary.

Mr. Balfour said that it might possibly be necessary to do so, as he understood that there was a German population in Hungary which might wish to join Austria. If so, it might be desirable to be prepared to deal with this eventuality.

M. Sonnino pointed out that up to date neither Austria nor Hungary had raised the question.

Mr. Balfour said that the question did not greatly interest the Allies, unless the financial or economic terms were to differ as between Hungary and Austria. In that case, some trouble might arise.

M. Sonnino said that he could see no reason why any difference in the treatment of the two countries should be made.

Mr. Balfour said that if the Treaties in both cases were identic, it might not be necessary for the Conference to define the areas of the two states. In the other alternative, it might be desirable to do so.

M. Pichon thought it was unnecessary to deal with the question at once.

[Page 675]

Mr. Lansing said that, in his view, certain economic questions might arise which, unless the frontiers had been adjusted, might cause difficulties. As these two countries were now to be separated, he thought it would be well to ask a Commission to make a report to the Conference as to whether the previous boundary lines required to be changed or not. The Conference would therefore be prepared beforehand to deal with any proposal that might be made either from the Austrian or from the Hungarian side.

M. Sonnino said that if either the Austrians or the Hungarians had raised the question, he would be inclined to agree. As neither had done so, he could see no reason for setting a Commission to work. As far as he was concerned, he accepted the old frontier. Should either side desire an alteration, he would then be prepared to recommend examination by a Commission.

Mr. Lansing observed that neither the Austrians nor the Hungarians were present to raise the question. He suggested that, as the Allies had so often been unready to deal with emergencies when they arose, they should in this case take steps to be prepared in advance.

M. Sonnino pointed out that full liberty had been left to the Serbians and the Roumanians to compose their differences. It was only should they disagree that the Conference would step in. He suggested that the same procedure be adopted regarding Austria and Hungary. He saw no reason for stirring them up. The Hungarians were not represented but had made a very considerable fuss about their frontier with Roumania. It appeared to him quite gratuitous to suggest to them that they should raise needless trouble. The two countries had not quarrelled for fifty years over this frontier; their present Governments were very insecure and the time seemed very inopportune for thrusting a controversy upon them.

Mr. Lansing said that his suggestion was that the question should be dealt with without rousing either the Austrians or the Hungarians.

M. Sonnino said that if it could be done without the knowledge of either he would not object.

M. Pichon said he understood the suggestion to be that a Committee should be asked to deal objectively with a possible rectification of boundary between Austria and Hungary.

(It was decided that a Commission be appointed to collect information regarding any possible rectification of frontier between Austria and Hungary which might be proposed by either of the parties concerned. The object of the investigation was to be to place the Council in a position to settle rapidly any trouble that might arise between Austria and Hungary on this subject. No action would be taken unless the question were to be raised by Austria or Hungary.)

[Page 676]

(e) Frontier Between Czecho-Slovakia and Hungary M. Laroche explained that the finding of the Committee5 had been unanimous. From the point where the ancient boundary between Hungary and Austria met the Danube to the confluence of the Ipoli and the Danube, the frontier between Hungary and Czecho-Slovakia followed the stream. The reason for giving this frontier to Czecho-Slovakia was obvious. It was necessary to endow the new State with wide access to this important international waterway. A suggestion had been made to give up to Hungary the Grosse Schütt in exchange for a bridge-head across the Danube at Pressburg. This solution had been unanimously rejected.

Mr. Lansing asked whether the population of the Grosse Schütt was Hungarian.

M. Laroche replied that it was partly Hungarian and partly German, but that this area was closely connected economically with the Czecho-Slovak hinterland. The people desired to maintain connection with the Czecho-Slovak State, in order to save their economic interests. The problems in this region were complicated and had been studied very carefully at a great number of sittings. The Committee had adopted what appeared to be the most reasonable solutions and unanimous agreements had been reached on all points.

Mr. Lansing pointed out that, as a result of the findings of the two Committees, some two million Hungarians were to be placed under alien rule in Roumania and in Czecho-Slovakia.

M. Laroche observed that, as far as the Czecho-Slovak Committee was concerned, it had so reduced the claims of the Czechs that only 855,000 Hungarians instead of 1,300,000 would become subjects of Czecho-Slovakia. On the other hand, a great number of Czechs and Slovaks lived outside the boundaries of the new State. According to M. Benes, no less than 638,000 Slovaks would be left in Hungary. This figure might be exaggerated, but the number was considerable, and might be regarded as a guarantee for the good treatment of the Hungarian minority in Czecho-Slovakia.

(After some further discussion, the line proposed by the Committee, from the intersection of the former boundary between Austria and Hungary up to the angle formed by the meeting of the Roumanian and Ruthenian territory, was accepted as the Northern frontier of Hungary.)

(f) Ruthenia Mr. Balfour said that the problem of dealing with the Ruthenians was one which had not been settled. The Ruthenians had some affinity with the Slovaks, but not enough to be included without some precautions in the same State. Some kind of local autonomy had been suggested for them. [Page 677] The definition of the expression “some form of autonomy” was still to seek. There were, he was told, some 400,000 Ruthenians. They were considered too few to form an entirely separate state. On the other hand, it might be desirable to save them from the various annoyances arising from association with a larger and, to some extent, alien population in the same State. The precise means of dealing with this difficulty had not been thought out. A similar difficulty however, would arise not only in the Peace with Austria and Hungary but elsewhere.

M. Pichon said that the Committee had referred the question of Ruthenian autonomy to the Supreme Council. He suggested that a Commission be asked to make recommendations as to the form of autonomy suitable to the Ruthenians.

Mr. Balfour thought that the question might perhaps be referred to the Committee dealing with the rights of minorities.

M. Sonnino said that he had no knowledge of this Committee, on which there was no Italian representative.

Mr. Lansing said that he would prefer to name a new Commission with local knowledge of the area in question. He proposed that the question be referred to the Committee on Czecho-Slovakia.

Mr. Balfour asked whether it was proposed to proceed in this manner whenever the question of autonomy should arise.

Mr. Lansing said that he would support this, provided that the Council had the opportunity of examining the proposals, in order to ensure that contradictory principles were not applied in the various cases.

M. Laroche said that the Committee on Czecho-Slovak Affairs would ask the Czecho-Slovak Government for its proposals. Should these proposals not meet with the approval of the Committee experts could be consulted and the Ruthenians themselves could be asked to make their own suggestions. As far as the Treaty was concerned, all that need be stipulated was that the territory of the Ruthenians be ceded to the Allied and Associated Powers.

(It was then decided that the Committee on Czecho-Slovakia be asked to make recommendations regarding the future status of the Ruthenians in relation to the Czecho-Slovak State.)

2. Agenda for the Following Meeting The frontiers of Hungary having been defined by the above resolutions, it was decided that the question of the frontiers of Austria should be discussed on the following day.

(The meeting then adjourned.)

Villa Majestic, Paris, 9th May, 1919.

  1. According to an attached notation, Mr. L. Harrison should also have been recorded as present.
  2. The Commission on Rumanian and Yugoslav Affairs.
  3. Report No. 1 (April 6, 1919) of the Committee for the Study of Territorial Questions Relating to Rumania and Yugoslavia (Commission on Rumanian and Yugoslav Affairs).
  4. Report No. 2 (April 6, 1919), of the Committee for the Study of Territorial Questions Relating to Rumania and Yugoslavia (Commission on Rumanian and Yugoslav Affairs).
  5. The Commission on Czecho-Slovak Affairs in its Report of March 12, 1919.