Paris Peace Cont 180.03201/26


Notes of a Meeting of the Foreign Ministers Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Thursday, June 19, 1919, at 3 p.m.

Present Also Present
America, United States of America, United States of
Hon. R. Lansing Mr. Johnson
Secretary Dr. Seymour
Mr. L. Harrison British Empire
British Empire Sir Eyre Crowe
The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour Mr. A. Leeper
France Major Temperley
M. Pichon France
Secretaries M. Tardieu
M. de Bearn M. Laroche
M. de St. Quentin M. Aubert
Italy General Le Rond
H. E. Baron Sonnino Italy
Secretary Count Vannutelli-Rey
M. Bertele Colonel Pariani
Japan Japan
H. E. Baron Makino M. Otchiai

Joint Secretariat

America, United States of Lieut. C. Burden.
British Empire Capt. E. Abraham.
France M. Fould.
Italy Lieut. Zanchi.
Interpreter:—M. Cammerlynck.

1. Evacuation of the Klagenfurt Basin M. Pichon said that he thought it would be best to ask M. Tardieu to inform the Council of the conclusions of his Committee regarding the limits of the Basin of Klagenfurt for the purpose of the telegram which the Council was requested to send (see previous Minutes I. C. 197, Minute 3).1

M. Tardieu said that the answer to this question was to be found in Minute 5 of a note addressed to the Supreme Council by the [Page 843] Commission for Roumanian and Jugo-Slav Affairs. (See Annexure A). The consequence was that no change was made in Zone A and none proposed in Zone B, and that the boundaries shown on what was known as President Wilson’s map were maintained by the unanimous assent of the Committee.

M. Pichon said that if the Council approved the proposal sent to them from the Council of Four, it would follow that a telegram should be sent demanding the evacuation of the Klagenfurt Basin by both sides, the frontiers being those shown on President Wilson’s map excluding the Miesthal region.

M. Sonnino said that as no alteration was proposed in the frontier, no specification need be made in the message. The telegram of May 31st should be repeated.

Mr. Balfour said he could not quite understand what it was proposed the Council should do. Was it to order that a large tract of country should be left with no troops in it either Austrian or Jugo-Slav?

M. Tardieu observed that the Commission had no remarks to make on this policy as the question had not been submitted to it.

M. Sonnino said that the Council of Heads of Governments wished the Military Representatives on the spot to be informed of the order given for the evacuation of the Klagenfurt Basin. These Officers would then make proposals in accordance with events for maintaining order in the evacuated area. This was the resolution adopted in the Council of Four.

Mr. Lansing said that he did not quite follow M. Sonnino. He read the letter written by Sir Maurice Hankey on June 17th (see I. C. 197, Minute 3) to mean that entire evacuation of the Klagenfurt Basin was to be ordered. At the same time the Council of Foreign Ministers were asked to determine certain limits. M. Sonnino said these limits had already been laid down. If the outline of the Klagenfurt Basin had already been determined, the letter must mean lines behind which the occupying troops should retire.

M. Sonnino maintained that this was not the meaning of the resolution of the Council of Four. Seeing that the Commission proposed no change in the outer limits of the Klagenfurt Basin, all that remained to be done was to re-affirm the orders of May 31st.

Mr. Lansing pointed out that the Council of Foreign Ministers was asked to “approve”; for his part he did not.

Mr. Balfour also said that he did not approve.

M. Sonnino said that he had himself raised the question in the Council of Four and asked what was to happen

if evacuation took place
if it did not take place.

[Page 844]

He asked whether the Council would authorise the military Representatives on the spot to take action. The Council had decided that these Officers should not take action but should make proposals to the Council.

M. Pichon observed that this matter was not within the terms of reference.

M. Sonnino said that if his Colleagues did not approve the evacuation of the Klagenfurt Basin in spite of the fact that it had been decided on by the Council of Heads of Governments, he could do no more. In his view the proper thing to do was to send a telegram and ask the military authorities on the spot to make proposals for dealing with the consequences.

M. Pichon said that as Mr. Balfour could not approve of the telegram, it clearly could not be sent. The Council was, therefore, at the very start precluded from doing what M. Sonnino suggested.

Mr. Lansing proposed that a reply be sent on behalf of the Council of Foreign Ministers to the effect that having been asked to approve of the total evacuation of the Klagenfurt Basin, the Council returned the reply that it did not approve of this policy. It would, however, approve of the withdrawal of the opposing troops behind the line proposed by the Jugo-Slav Commission.

M. Sonnino said he could not agree to this. It appeared to him quite contrary to the decision of the Council of the Heads of Governments as understood by him.

M. Pichon said there was another proposal formulated by Mr. Lansing and supported by Mr. Balfour. He also concurred with it. All he could do was to put this to the vote. He thought it would be a wise decision as supplementary information just received reported disturbances in the Klagenfurt area. He quoted a telegram from the French General on the spot saying that Allied troops were urgently required to keep order.

Mr. Lansing said that he thought there must be some mistake in the account given of the matter by M. Sonnino. The more natural course would have been to consult the military men on the spot before asking the Foreign Ministers for their approval.

(At this stage Mr. Balfour withdrew.)

M. Sonnino said that the news quoted by M. Pichon showed the necessity of doing something. He referred again to the history of the telegram sent on May 31st and to the subsequent events.

M. Pichon said that, to sum up, as Mr. Balfour and he himself supported Mr. Lansing’s views, all he could do was to report to the Council of Four that with the exception of M. Sonnino, all supported a withdrawal of the contending armies north and south of the line shown on the map known as “President Wilson’s Map”.

[Page 845]

M. Sonnino said that his view was that a telegram should be sent renewing the order of May 31st for the total evacuation of the Klagenfurt Basin and that the Military authorities should be asked to make proposals for dealing with the consequences. The following resolution was then adopted:—

“The Council of the Foreign Ministers decided to reply to the Council of the Heads of Governments that their interpretation of the letter addressed by Sir Maurice Hankey to the Secretary-General of the Peace Conference on June 17th, 1919, regarding the evacuation of the Klagenfurt Basin was that they were asked to approve the action suggested in paragraph 3.

With the exception of Baron Sonnino, this interpretation was unanimous and, with the same exception, the answer was that the Council of Foreign Ministers could not approve of the total evacuation of the Klagenfurt Basin.

It was further proposed by Mr. Lansing, and approved by the other Foreign Ministers, excepting Baron Sonnino, that the troops of the contending forces be ordered to withdraw north and south respectively of the purple line drawn on the map known as President Wilson’s Map.

Baron Sonnino maintained that the duty of the Council was to send a telegram ordering the total evacuation of the Basin and to ask the 4 Military Representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers on the spot what proposals they had to make to deal with the consequences of the evacuation.”

(The Meeting then adjourned.)

Paris, June 19, 1919.

Annexure “A” IC–198 [FM–26]

Note Addressed to the Supreme Council of the Allies by the Commission for Rumanian and Yugo-Slaw Affairs

The Commission were requested by a letter from Sir Maurice Hankey to submit their recommendations concerning two letters dated June 17th [7th?] from Monsieur Vesnitch.

The Commission were unable to meet earlier than June 18th, several of its members being on the Committee for revising the reply to the German Delegation.

The opinion of the Commission is as follows:—

1. The two letters dated June 7th from M. Vesnitch completed by a third one dated June 9th suggest methods referring to a solution of principles which was set forth in a letter of June 3rd, and drafted as follows:—

“Assignment of Zone “A” to the Serbo-Croatian-Slovene State; but the inhabitants are recognised the right to express by a plebiscite [Page 846] to be held within a period of three months or six months at the most, their wish to see this territory placed under Austrian sovereignty.

“Assignment of Zone “B” to Austria, but reciprocally the same right is allowed to the inhabitants of the territory in favour of the Serbo-Croatian-Slovene Kingdom.”

The Commission agree to this suggestion in its general line, it being understood that both zones will be placed under the control of the International Commission.

2. Regarding paragraph 1 of the letter of June 7th, the Commission unanimously recommend that the delay provided in paragraph A should start from January 1st, 1919, instead of from “the coming into force of the present Treaty”. The American, British and French Delegations recommend the approval of Monsieur Vesnitch’s proposals as contained in paragraphs B and C. The Italian Delegation agree to paragraph B: they request that in paragraph C the words “from August 1st 1919” should be substituted for “on a date previous to January 1st 1905”.

3. Regarding paragraph 2 of Monsieur Vesnitch’s letter the Commission recommend an International Commission consisting of seven members, namely: five appointed by the principal Allied and Associated Powers, one by the Serbo-Croatian-Slovene State, and one by the Republic of Austria.

4. Regarding paragraph 3 of Monsieur Vesnitch’s letter, the American, British and French Delegations recommend that the plebiscite should be held in zone “A” three months after the coming into force of the Treaty. The Italian Delegation ask that it be six months at the earliest or eighteen months at the latest, as for Upper Silesia.

As regards the date when the plebiscite shall be held in zone “A”, Monsieur Vesnitch’s proposals are unanimously agreed to.

5. Regarding paragraph 4 of Monsieur Vesnitch’s letter, the Commission unanimously recommend that the boundaries of zone “A” such as shown on “President Wilson’s map” should be maintained, which means the exclusion of the Miesthal region.

  1. FM–25, p. 834.