Paris Peace Conf. 180.03201/25
Notes of a Meeting of the Foreign Ministers Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Wednesday, June 18, 1919, at 3 p.m.
|America, United States of||America, United States of|
|Hon. R. Lansing||Dr. Lord|
|Mr. L. Harrison||Dr. Coolidge|
|British Empire||Dr. Day|
|The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour||Dr. Seymour|
|Mr. E. Phipps||Sir Esme Howard|
|France||Sir Eyre Crowe|
|M. Pichon||Colonel F. H. Kisch|
|M. Arnavon||Mr. A. Leeper|
|M. de Bearn||Rear Admiral Sir G. Hope|
|M. de St. Quentin||Mr. H. J. Paton|
|M. de Percin||France|
|H. E. Baron Sonnino||
|Secretary||General Le Rond, for Items 1–2|
|M. Bertele||M. Laroche, for Items 1 & 3|
|Japan||M. Aubert, for Item 3|
|H. E. Baron Makino||Marquis della Torretta|
|M. Kawai||M. Vannutelli-Rey|
|M. Otehiai, for Items 1 & 2|
|America, United States of||Colonel U. S. Grant.|
|British Empire||Captain E. Abraham.|
|France||Captain A. Portier.|
1. Final Settlement of Frontiers Between the Poles and the Ukrainians M. Pichon said that the Council of Foreign Ministers had been asked by the Council of Four to find a definite settlement of the frontier between the Polish and the Ukrainian territories, in order that the forces of the two countries be ordered to withdraw behind them. He would ask M. Jules Cambon, as President of the Committee dealing with the subject,1 to explain what conclusions had been reached.
Mr. Lansing observed that he had read the report of the Committee.
M. Pichon then asked if any member wished to address any questions on the subject to M. Cambon.
Mr. Balfour said the Committee had been ordered to make suggestions, but to give no advice. The result was that the settlement of the question was left to the Council of Foreign Ministers. He had read the report and had talked to his military advisers regarding the situation in Galicia. He concluded that as a basis for discussion it would be preferable to put forward concrete proposals. He had therefore written a memorandum, a copy of which had been furnished to each of the Ministers members of the Council. (See Annexure “A”.) His justification for writing it was that M. Cambon’s Committee did not deal with the military question, which was of vital importance at the moment. The Bolshevists were attacking Galicia and gaining successes, and the Allies, on the other hand, were hampering the action of the Poles. This led to an unfavourable situation. If a solution favourable to the military action of the Poles were adopted, means must be found of safeguarding the future political status of the country. His memorandum, therefore, aimed at meeting the pressing necessity of keeping the Bolshevists out, and of providing an opportunity in the future for the self-determination of the Ruthenian population, which might choose to form part of Poland, or Russia, or federation with one or other, or even independence. He therefore suggested that his memorandum be taken as the basis for discussion.
M. Sonnino said that the Committee had formulated a number of projects. Among them was one suggesting autonomy for Galicia, under Polish sovereignty. This had the advantage of supplying a definite solution. A plebiscite would lead to agitation and intrigue by all parties with ambitions connected with the final verdict. If, therefore, the Ruthenians could be guaranteed such rights as they required under Polish suzerainty, all these disadvantages would be avoided. But it must not be forgotten that many parties were interested in the decision; for instance, the Poles and Roumanians wished to have a common frontier. Russia, which, he hoped, would [Page 829] ere long be restored, would doubtless wish to induce the Ruthenians to become Russian subjects. This would clash with the ambitions of the Roumanians, Czecho-Slovaks and Poles; and the Hungarians also might wish to have a common frontier with Russia. If, therefore, the whole question could be settled once for all, peace in that part of Europe would be greatly benefited.
Mr. Lansing said that his view of the question was based largely on the condition of the Ruthenian population. It must be recognised that this population was 60% illiterate, and therefore unfits for self-government. A period of education was necessary before it could be ripe for autonomy. Its natural connection by blood was with the Ukrainians, but it would seem that its disposition was rather towards the Poles, by reason of the relative stability of the Government in Poland, as compared with the Ukraine. He was therefore in general accord with Mr. Balfour’s memorandum, which was that a High Commissioner be nominated by the League of Nations, or pending the constitution of the League of Nations, by the Great Powers, in general control. At the same time, Polish troops would be authorised to extend their operations up to the River Zbruck. It would be notified through the High Commissioner that the occupation by Polish troops was only temporary, until such time as the Great Powers might consider a plebiscite appropriate. Until then, the country would be under Polish military authority, subject to supervision by the Commissioner.
The Ukrainians were commonly called Bolshevik, but he was not sure that this was correct. In some places they appeared to be fighting the Bolshevik. He had received reports from the country, including one from Lieutenant Foster, from Tarnopol, dated 8th June; Lieutenant Foster observed among other things that the great majority of the population was overjoyed by the arrival of Polish troops. Secondly, that the Ukrainian régime had been one of force, and brutality, entirely destructive and not constructive in its character. This report also went to support Mr. Balfour’s solution. He understood that it would have been easy for the Poles to occupy the whole of Eastern Galicia, but for the veto of the Great Powers. The Ukrainians were now extremely aggressive, and the Poles could not stop their operations. All the Military Representatives at Warsaw appeared to take this view.
M. Sonnino said that all the reasons alleged by Mr. Balfour and Mr. Lansing appeared to enforce the desirability of a definite solution, namely, that the country be governed under Polish sovereignty, with guarantees for the Ruthenians. If the population was as ignorant as Mr. Lansing believed, it would be a long time before an intelligent plebiscite could be obtained from them. They would meantime be wooed by Roumanian, Polish, Czecho-Slovak, Hungarian [Page 830] and Russian agitators. Hence, for the very reasons advanced by Mr. Balfour and Mr. Lansing, he advocated a definite solution. It would be easy to guarantee the linguistic and educational rights of the Ruthenians under Polish Government. If this were not done, there would be continual unrest and strife, fomented by neighbouring countries with rival interests.
M. Cambon said that he gathered from the observations of Mr. Lansing, Baron Sonnino and Mr. Balfour that there was a considerable measure of agreement between them. The Ukrainian question as such could not be solved, as we did not know what the Ukraine was, nor what its future would be. Further, there appeared to be no ground for trusting any Ukrainian Government, as Ukrainian Governments hitherto had behaved atrociously. Among the neighbours of Eastern Galicia, the only one with a high civilization was Poland. The towns in Galicia were Polish and the best classes throughout the country were Polish. The solution proposed by Mr. Balfour, therefore, appeared to him to be excellent. Polish control would be exercised under the Great Powers, represented by a High Commissioner. Thus, a mandate would be conferred on Poland for the government of the country. He would point out that this was among the solutions proposed by the Committee. He referred to Solution “B” in Report No. III of the Committee. If the Conference left the question open, Galicia would become the arena of every form of intrigue. He thought, therefore, that Galicia, with local autonomy secured, and governed in a liberal spirit by Poland, was the solution. This solution had another advantage. One of the most troublesome questions was the Western delimitation of Eastern Galicia. Two frontiers had been proposed, and both were very questionable. If M. Sonnino’s solution were adopted, it would be unnecessary to trouble any further about the frontier question. Frontier “A” could be adopted, and the whole of Eastern Galicia could be placed under the same régime.
M. Pichon asked whether M. Sonnino’s proposal was complementary to Mr. Balfour’s.
M. Sonnino pointed out that the two solutions were different. He proposed to secure Ruthenian autonomy at once, to give sovereignty to Poland. This dispensed with the High Commissioner and with the plebiscite. In addition, the frontier question was also solved at once, and the struggle concerning Lemberg was equally dispensed with.
M. Pichon pointed out that this would place Lemberg outside Poland.
M. Sonnino said that it would nevertheless include Lemberg in territory attached to Poland.
Mr. Balfour said that there were two inconsistent policies before [Page 831] the Council. M. Sonnino’s suggestion was different to his own. He thought there was much truth in M. Sonnino’s observation that if the question of the future sovereignty of the country were left undecided, the result would be years of intrigue and unrest. At the same time, he thought M. Sonnino a little exaggerated the advantages of his plan. M. Cambon had gone so far as to say the Conference need trouble no more about the frontiers of Eastern Galicia. M. Sonnino said that frontier “A” could be adopted, among other reasons, because the Poles, who objected to handing over Lemberg to an independent Galicia, could not object to including it in a dependent Galicia. He thought this was not quite correct. He was informed that the majority in Eastern Galicia, though doubtless ill-educated, was vigorously anti-Polish, and unwilling to be absorbed. He would like to know exactly what the autonomy offered by M. Sonnino meant.
M. Sonnino said he meant administrative self-government. There were various degrees of self-government and regulations had been proposed in other cases.
Mr. Balfour doubtless knew what he meant when he spoke of Irish Home Rule.
Mr. Balfour said that personally he attributed no meaning to Irish Home Rule. He, however, pointed out that M. Sonnino appeared to confuse self-government with linguistic and educational privileges. If his policy meant nothing more than minority guarantees, he thought it would not satisfy the Ruthenians.
M. Sonnino said that a representative body could be added, as there were many degrees of self-government up to federation.
Mr. Balfour said he ventured to suggest that the matter the Council had to deal with was the Bolshevist threat to Galicia. The Ruthenians would not be satisfied with the safeguarding of their language and schools. He thought, therefore, that the method he had suggested would have to be adopted.
M. Sonnino said that they might be satisfied with the kind of autonomy granted to Finland under Russian sovereignty. Mr. Balfour’s method did not offer the Ruthenians self determination, and practically told them that they must wait for another generation before exercising it.
M. Cambon said that if the presence of Polish troops in Eastern Galicia were held to endanger the rights of the Ruthenians, it was nevertheless difficult to find any other allied troops to police the country. The Poles were the troops nearest at hand and it was for the Conference to determine the limits of Polish control and to safeguard the rights of the Ruthenians. The objection, he thought, would come not from the Ruthenians but from the Ukraine. It was clear that Galicia must not be ceded to the Ukrainians.[Page 832]
M. Pichon asked M. Cambon to give his opinion as regards Mr. Balfour’s scheme.
M. Cambon said that as he had not consulted his Committee he could only give a personal opinion. He agreed with Mr. Balfour’s first point that the country should be occupied by Polish troops. As to the second point that control should be exercised by the Great Powers through a High Commissioner, he personally preferred M. Sonnino’s plan. He thought that anything that would give the impression to the undecided populations of those areas, an indication that the Peace Conference was expressing its final will, would put a stop to unrest and disorder.
Mr. Lansing said that he had listened with interest to the views expressed. He was impressed by some of the points made by M. Sonnino. He saw the difficulty of administering the country through a High Commissioner under whose authority customs and a judicial department would have to be set up. It would be extremely difficult to organise in detail out of nothing a complicated administrative machine. He therefore agreed with M. Cambon that it would be more satisfactory to give a mandate to Poland to hold the country under such conditions as might be fixed by the League of Nations or the Great Powers, until such time as these might decide that a plebiscite should take place. His conclusion, therefore, was that Eastern Galicia within frontiers to be determined by the Committee be administered by Poland as mandatory under conditions likewise to be determined by the Committee, until such time as a plebiscite could be taken regarding the ultimate sovereignty of the country. He therefore suggested that matter be referred to the Polish Committee which would be asked to submit a draft covering all the details required to carry out this policy.
Mr. Balfour said that he thought Mr. Lansing’s plan was open to the objections raised by M. Sonnino, namely, that until a plebiscite had finally settled the sovereignty of the country, there would be an open field for every sort of intrigue. Nor had the plan, he feared, the advantage of his own suggestion which, he admitted, was based on the hostility of the Ruthenian majority to the Polish minority. If his opinion on this subject were open to doubt, he would be prepared to revise his proposal.
Mr. Lansing asked from what source Mr. Balfour obtained his information.
Mr. Balfour said all the information received tended to produce in his mind the impression that in Western Galicia the majority was Polish or pro-Polish while exactly the reverse prevailed in Eastern Galicia. He was quite ready to refer this matter to the Committee if there were any doubt about it.[Page 833]
Mr. Lansing said his information was totally different. He therefore thought it would be well to refer the matter to the Committee.
Mr. Balfour said that his conviction was that the Ruthenians did not wish to be ruled by the Polish minority. It would therefore be an abuse of the mandatory principle to give Poland the mandate.
Mr. Lansing said that it would be a waste of time to continue the discussion based on a totally different hypothesis. There were three possible hypotheses
- that the Ruthenians were hostile to the Poles
- that they were friendly to the Poles
- that the Council did not know what their feelings were
His own proposal was based on the theory that the Ruthenians were friendly to the Poles, but with a qualification that he was not quite certain of. It was for this reason that he had proposed that after a certain interval of time, the Ruthenians should have a chance of option. Meanwhile, to avoid difficulties of administration under a High Commissioner, he would give a mandate to the Poles. He was quite ready to refer back to the Committee the question whether the Ruthenians were friendly or hostile to the Poles.
Mr. Balfour said that he had no objection. He would like to add that the Committee might, with advantage, examine the Constitution which had been proposed for the part of Ruthenia to be attached to the Czecho-Slovak State and discuss whether the adoption of a similar plan could fit the case of Eastern Galicia.
M. Cambon pointed out that this solution was one of those suggested by the Committee.
Mr. Balfour requested that it be put on record that Polish troops should have full liberty to advance up to the River Zbruck without prejudice to the future status of the country.
(It was decided that M. Pichon should communicate this decision in the name of the Allied and Associated Governments officially to the Polish Government and unofficially to the Ukrainian Delegation in Paris.
It was further decided that the Committee on Polish Affairs be asked to report regarding the sentiments of the population of Eastern Galicia and also on the suitability of a scheme of autonomy similar to that devised for the Ruthenians to be attached to the Czecho-Slovak Republic.)
2. Arrangements To Be Made for the Preservation of Order at Dantzig M. Pichon said that in accordance with a minute put forward by the British Delegation (Annexure B) it would be necessary to appoint an Inter-Allied Commission with a Naval and a Military representative from each of the Powers.
This was agreed to and the following members were nominated:— [Page 834]
- For the United States of America:
- General Bliss.
- Admiral Knapp.
- For Great Britain:
- General Sackville-West.
- Admiral Hope.
- For France:
- General Belin,
- and a Naval expert to be nominated later.
- For Italy:
- General Cavallero.
- Admiral Grassi.
M. Makino said that he would inform the Secretary-General whether Japan wished to take part or not.
3. M. Pichon said that action was required of the Council as a consequence of the following letter:—
17th June 1919.
Evacuation of Klagenfurt Basin “My dear Colleague,
The Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, this afternoon, considered the situation which has arisen in regard to the armistice in Carinthia.
The Council were informed that the forces of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, in disregard of the demands of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, have pressed forward and occupied Klagenfurt and have forced the Austrian[s] to accept armistice conditions which include the abandonment by them of Klagenfurt.
In these circumstances, the Council decided that a demand should be made for the evacuation of the entire district of Klagenfurt by the forces both of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, and of the Austrians.
It was agreed that the Council of Foreign Ministers should be asked to approve and send a telegraphic despatch to the Governments of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, and of the Austrian Republic demanding the evacuation of the Klagenfurt Basin by the forces of both contending parties. The boundaries behind which they were to withdraw will have to be defined in this despatch. A copy of this despatch should be sent to the Military Officers of the Allied and Associated Powers who are watching the armistice.
Since the meeting, I have learned that the Commission which has been considering the question of Klagenfurt is holding a meeting tomorrow and I am therefore sending a copy of this letter to Monsieur Tardieu, the Chairman of the Commission, with the suggestion that the Commission should be asked to prepare the boundaries for the consideration of the Council of Foreign Ministers in the afternoon.
I am directed to request that Your Excellency will confirm this action to M. Tardieu and will bring the matter before the Council of Foreign Ministers in the afternoon.[Page 835]
At M. Sonnino’s request, I am sending copies of this letter to the five Foreign Ministers.
Yours very sincerely,
M. P. A. Hankey.”
M. Tardieu said that the Committee on Jugo-Slav Affairs had received a copy of this letter on the previous day. The Committee had discussed the subject and three different opinions had been expressed. (See Annexure C.)
M. Sonnino said that in M. Orlando’s absence he brought forward the question in the Council of Four. The following was the history of the matter. On May 31st the Council of Four had decided to send to Vienna and Belgrade an intimation to both parties to withdraw from the Basin of Klagenfurt. The Austrians were to withdraw beyond the northern limit and the Slavs beyond the southern limit. The telegram to Belgrade, it would seem, had been delayed in transmission, whereas that to Vienna had arrived in time. On June 5th, Jugo-Slav troops had advanced on Klagenfurt and had forced the Austrian troops on June 6th to accept an Armistice. When the Allied Generals on the spot had informed the Jugo-Slav Commanders of the orders of the Council, the latter said that they had received no such orders and would stand by the Armistice. The Allied Officers had not felt competent to order the troops to retire and asked for instructions from the Conference. He had therefore brought up the question in the Council of Four. The Council, on the previous day, had decided that a telegram be dispatched by the Council of Foreign Ministers requiring the evacuation of the Basin of Klagenfurt by both parties.
In his letter Sir Maurice Hankey added a further suggestion that the Commission on Jugo-Slav affairs should determine the frontiers behind which the opposing Forces should retire. Now these frontiers had been already settled on May 31st when the previous order had been given. The Council of Four had also decided that notice of the decision should be given to the military Officers of the Allied and Associated Powers, in order that they should watch the execution of the order and make any necessary proposals. As the result of Sir Maurice Hankey’s intervention, the Commission now proposed something quite different from the intentions of the Council of Four, namely two zones for a plebiscite, the limits of which should be the lines for the withdrawal of the opposing Armies. This was quite a new feature. M. Tardieu’s view was that military lines should as far as possible be the ultimate political frontiers but the limits in this case were not frontiers of this character but only the limits of plebiscite areas. He submitted that it was necessary [Page 836] to stand by the decision of the Council of Four, namely that both Armies must withdraw from the whole basin of Klagenfurt. M. Tardieu further suggested that the void created by evacuation must be occupied, presumably in the interests of order. He would suggest that a Police Force should be evolved locally. In any case, this was not the business of the Council. All the Council was asked to do was to renew the order of May 31st, and adapt it to the new circumstances. There was no other Mandate binding on the Council and the suggestion made by the paragraph of Sir Maurice Hankey’s letter beginning with the words “Since the Meeting I have learned” had no binding force.
M. Tardieu said that if Baron Sonnino was right, the Commission had been called upon to deliberate under a misunderstanding.
M. Pichon, reading the letter, said that there was evidently a contradiction. In the first part the instruction was that the whole basin was to be evacuated, in the second it was indicated that boundaries should be fixed.
M. Sonnino said that in the despatch of May 31st, no exact definition of the Klagenfurt area had been given. The Council of Foreign Ministers was asked to define the frontier but not to establish new ones. The Council was to repeat the previous order adapted to the present circumstances.
Mr. Lansing said that he could find no authorisation by the Council of Four to Sir Maurice Hankey for submitting the question to the Commission. It would seem that the Council of Four had only directed the despatch to be sent.
M. Pichon said that all the Council itself had to do was to fix the outer limits of the Klagenfurt basin. This had been done.
M. Tardieu said that in his opinion this had not been done. A few days ago the Council of Four had asked the Commission to report on some communications made by the Jugo-Slav Delegation involving this very question. The Commission had not yet reported, but it might be inferred from this that the exact limits of the Klagenfurt basin had not yet been fixed by the Council of Four.
M. Pichon asked whether M. Tardieu could furnish his report to the Council of Five instead of the Council of Four.
M. Tardieu replied that the report was ready but had not yet been sent in.
Mr. Balfour said that he could not understand Sir Maurice Hankey’s letter. Did it mean that the Council of Foreign Ministers was to “approve” without discussion what was suggested? He himself disapproved of leaving the Klagenfurt basin unoccupied. He would require a great deal of convincing argument before he approved of any such thing. Further, the Council of Foreign Ministers [Page 837] was asked to draft a telegram and in his view this was not their business.
M. Sonnino restated the case as previously explained by himself.
Mr. Balfour thought that if the Council of Four only intended that their previous telegram should be repeated they would not have asked the Council of Foreign Ministers to meet to do it for them. They could presumably do this themselves.
M. Sonnino pointed out that the order would not be repeated in the same terms, as in the interval an Armistice had taken place and some notice of this fact was required.
M. Tardieu said that he entirely agreed with Mr. Balfour. If the question was merely one of repeating the previous telegram no discussion was required. If on the other hand a new definition of the Klagenfurt basin was under consideration, he would point out that two considerable modifications had been suggested. One by the Jugo-Slav Delegation, namely the addition to the Plebiscite zone of the Valley of Miesthal; the other by the Italian Delegation, namely, the exclusion of the triangle of Assling.
M. Sonnino said that it was clear that the Council of Five must take some action as the Heads of the Governments were away and the military situation was urgent.
Mr. Lansing suggested that the question be adjourned until the Commission had furnished material for a delimitation of the Klagenfurt basin.
(At this stage Mr. Balfour withdrew.)
M. Tardieu pointed out that nothing would be gained by delay as the findings of the Commission were not unanimous. He could only present on the following day the same divergences of opinion that he had already explained.
M. Sonnino further observed that the findings of the Commission, even if unanimous, could not assign final frontiers to the Klagenfurt basin until these had been accepted by the Council of the Heads of Governments.
(Mr. Lansing at this point withdrew.)
(The Meeting then dispersed.)
Paris, 19th June, 1919.