Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/7


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House, Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Saturday, May 17, 1919, at 4.15 p.m.

  • [Present]
    • United States of America
      • President Wilson.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
    • British Empire
      • Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
    • Italy
      • M. Orlando.
Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B. Secretary.
Count Aldrovandi Secretary.
Professor P. J. Mantoux Interpreter.

1. The Italian Landing on the Coast of Asia Minor M. Clemenceau said that he and his colleagues had been considering the action of the Italian Government in landing forces at Scala Nova and other places on the Coast of Asia Minor, without consulting them. They had prepared a document which was now being reproduced, and which he would hand to M. Orlando. He then made a statement identical with the document. (Appendix 1.)

M. Orlando said that on the day when his colleagues had announced to him the decision to disembark forces at Smyrna, Mr. Lloyd George had asked for details of the Italian landings elsewhere, and he had replied he knew very little about them, which was the absolute truth. He had then said he would consult Baron Sonnino. On the same afternoon, he had visited Mr. Lloyd George at his flat, and Baron Sonnino had explained that these landings were carried out for dealing with disorders that had arisen. Nothing more had been said on the matter, which he had presumed to be disposed of. He would receive the communication which his colleagues had to make to him, and would discuss it with Baron Sonnino.

Mr. Lloyd George said that on the previous occasion when this subject had been raised, all that had been heard of was a landing to repair a pier at Scala Nova, after which, the Italian forces had been re-embarked. This fresh news, however, was of a far more formidable nature, since 500 troops were reported to have been landed, the Italian flag had been hoisted, the Customs House occupied, and some of the troops pushed some distance inland. The occupation of Marmarice had only been reported by the Italian fleet, but these last reports were [Page 687] of definite landings. Moreover, they had occurred at a time when the three principal Powers associated with Italy had expressed themselves rather opposed to Scala Nova being in the Italian sphere, and in favour of it being in the Greek sphere. It had been a subject of discussion and no final decision had been taken. It was in this state of affairs that the Italian landing had taken place. In such conditions, it was difficult to take a decision in regard to Asia Minor or anywhere else. If such a thing were to happen in any dispute between France and Great Britain, it would create a most difficult situation. What he specially regretted was that this action tended to prejudice a discussion which he thought was going very well. He and his colleagues had been sincerely anxious to meet the views of Italy as far as they could, and he thought it was a very grave matter that this action should be taken, as it were, to jump the claim, when the matter was under discussion.

M. Orlando said he quite understood the feelings of Mr. Lloyd George, and thought, giving the interpretation placed by him on this action by Italy, that he was dissatisfied. He, himself, had not the intention which Mr. Lloyd George had suggested, and he deplored it. He had believed this landing to be merely a repetition of the same sort of thing as had occurred before, namely, a disembarkation to meet some local difficulty. He did not know of any serious landing of any considerable forces. He knew nothing of the landing of troops, the seizure of the Customs House, or the hoisting of the Italian flag, in fact, he had believed this to be a landing without any intention of prejudicing the future disposition of this territory. It was necessary, however, to preserve respect for each other’s opinions, and he repeated that he would study the memorandum and take whatever dispositions were necessary.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he would like to add that he and his colleagues had deliberately kept Greek troops away from Scala Nova, because they thought it would be unfair to Italy for them to land while the question was sub judice.

(At the end of the meeting, the memorandum was communicated to M. Orlando).

2. Russia President Wilson said he had received a report of a great victory by General Denekin on the Czaritzen front. He claimed to have captured 10,000 prisoners, 128 machine guns, and 28 field guns, which ought to account for a large part of the Bolshevist forces on this front.

Mr. Lloyd George said that coming at the same time as the capture of Samara by Koltchak, this was news of great importance.

Sir Maurice Hankey called attention to the expression of opinion by the Foreign Ministers that the Council of the Principal Allied and [Page 688] Associated Powers should consider the question of policy towards Russia.1

President Wilson said he had communicated with the United States Ambassador at Tokio, in order to arrange for the despatch of Mr. Morris as promised.

(At this point the Council adjourned to the room upstairs, in order to hear the Indian Delegation, which is dealt with separately in a stenographic report.2 On the withdrawal of the Indian Delegation there was some conversation in regard to mandates in Asia Minor).

3. Mandates in Turkey Constantinople and the Khaiifate Mr. Lloyd George said that he was much impressed by the accumulating evidence of the unrest that would be caused in the Moslem world by the removal of the Sultan from Constantinople. Neither Great Britain nor France, as great Mohammedan Powers, could afford this unrest, and neither could the United States, if she was about to become a Mohammedan Power. If the Turkish capital were removed to Brussa and the Sultan with the Khalif ate was established there, there would always be ferment and intrigue. He, himself, was in favour of keeping the Khalifate at Constantinople. The United States of America, the probable mandatory of Constantinople and the Straits, could be relied on to be absolutely impartial. He felt himself more or less pledged by the declaration he had made on behalf of the Turkish Government. M. Clemenceau had sent him a telegram approving this declaration.

M. Clemenceau said he could not recall it.

Mr. Lloyd George said he would let M. Clemenceau have a copy. The British Empire had nearly a million men fighting the Turks when no-one else had more than two thousand. He asked his colleagues to consider the desirability of keeping the Khalifate at Constantinople.

Villa Majestic, Paris, 17 May, 1919.

Appendix to CF–17

[Memorandum Regarding Landing of Italian Forces on the Coast of Asia Minor]

The President of the United States and the Prime Ministers of France and Great Britain have been told that Italian troops have occupied Scala Nova, landing sailors and marines, taking charge of the customs house, and hoisting the Italian colours. They would be very much obliged if the Prime Minister of Italy would inform them as to whether this statement is correct and if so as to the reasons which have influenced him in taking this action without giving his colleagues [Page 689] any previous intimation of the intentions of the Italian Government. They are the more anxious as this landing has been preceded by other landings at Adalia, Marmarice and Budrum about which they have also not been consulted. They would point out that they have never taken any action in Turkey without previous consultation with their Italian colleague. In the case of the recent Greek landing at Smyrna they discussed the proposal with him before orders were given for a single Greek detachment to leave the shores of Greece and Signor Orlando himself agreed to the expedition and to a joint Allied landing to secure the forts. They also feel bound to express their astonishment at the action of the Italian authorities, if it is true, in view of the fact that M. Clemenceau had informed Signor Orlando on Thursday last that, in the opinion of the majority of his colleagues on the Council of Four, Scala Nova ought not to be included in an Italian sphere of influence in Asia Minor. They would be much obliged if Signor Orlando could give them full information in regard to this matter as they feel it is impossible for the Council of Four to attempt to deal with the problems of the near East if one of its members persistently takes action on its own account without previously consulting the other members.

  1. See vol. iv, pp. 719720.
  2. CF–18, p.690.