Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/37½
Notes of a Meeting Held at Mr. Lloyd George’s Residence, 23 Rue Nitot, Paris, on Wednesday, May 28, at 11 a.m.
United States of America
- Colonel House.
- Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
- M. Orlando.
- Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B., Secretary.
- Count Aldrovandi, Secretary.
- Professor P. J. Mantoux, Interpreter.
- United States of America
1. The Meeting had before them proposals for the settlement of the Italian claims, which had been discussed between Colonel House and M. Tardieu. (Appendix I.) The Italian Claims
Mr. Lloyd George apologised for arriving very late to the meeting, and explained that he had been in Conference with President Wilson with a view to reaching a settlement.
M. Orlando accepted this explanation.
Mr. Lloyd George said that President Wilson would be glad if M. Orlando would entirely separate the first page from the second page.1 The President was quite willing to discuss the question of Albania, but it was a new demand, and he could not agree to it right away. He agreed that some mandate was necessary for Albania, but wished the question to be considered as part of the question of mandates. There was no other country that could well take the mandate for Albania. Greece and Serbia were too closely involved in the politics of Albania. Neither France, Great Britain, nor the United States would care for it, and in his own view, Italy would certainly have the first claim. The President did not rule this out, but wanted to reserve it for further consideration. Turning to the first page of the proposals, Mr. Lloyd George said that the President had had two main comments. The first referred to the constitution of the proposed Commission for the administration of Fiume. It was contemplated [Page 79] templated that there should be five members, two nominated by Italy, one by Fiume, one by the Jugo-Slavs, and one by the other Powers. The ultimate effect of this depended on what was meant by Fiume. If Fiume was taken to refer only to the old town, an Italian would be chosen, and consequently the whole district would come practically under Italian administration. The President therefore suggested that the Commission should be composed of two Italians, one Jugo-Slav, one elected by the whole state of Fiume, and one by the other Powers; that is to say, the representative of the Powers would be in a middle position, and would practically have a casting vote.
Next, as regards the islands. President Wilson commented if all except Pago were assigned to Italy, it would create great difficulties. The Jugo-Slavs were violent on the subject of the islands, and would never agree that all should go to Italy. This was more especially the case as the island of Veglia was to be assigned to Fiume, although it was not in the Treaty of London assigned to Italy. On the contrary, it had been assigned to Croatia, and President Wilson felt that this made a great difference. He suggested, therefore, that Italy should name one or two of the islands which were important to her from a defensive point of view.
Colonel House explained that one of the primary motives of President Wilson was that there should not be to the eastward of Italy a population which was bitterly opposed to her. He did not want the Jugo-Slav population to have an irredentist movement directed against Italy.
Mr. Lloyd George asked which of the islands were most important to Italy.
M. Orlando said he would examine the matter and referred to Lesina. He said that the islands were largely complementary to Zara and Sebenico. He would like to examine the question with his naval experts. In fact, he felt it would be necessary to examine the whole question with the Italian Delegation, and the sooner he did so the better. He would give an answer in the afternoon.
Mr. Lloyd George said he would try to sum up the position. As far as he could judge, President Wilson was anxious to reach an agreement, and was prepared to recommend a reasonable agreement to the Jugo-Slavs. He considered the assent of the Jugo-Slavs essential. It would make all the difference, however, if President Wilson was prepared to urge the agreement on the Jugo-Slavs. Then the position would be that the Jugo-Slavs and not the Italians, would be standing in the way. In his judgement, the great thing was for the Principal Powers to stand together. If there were any coldness between Italy on the one hand, and France and Great Britain on the [Page 80] other, the position would be a very bad one. He then summed up the proposal as follows:—
The State of Fiume to be under the League of Nations, and to consist of a fairly large State, as indicated in the conversations which had taken place the previous evening. The State to be administered by the following:—two representatives nominated by Italy, one nominated by the State of Fiume, one nominated by the Jugo-Slavs, and one nominated by the other Great Powers.
At the end or 15 years a plebiscite to be held, when the people would decide whether they would remain independent, or become Italian, or become Croatian. Probably they would vote to continue as they were.
The arrangement would be somewhat similar to the Saar Valley settlement and general military protection would be afforded by the League of Nations. The whole of Dalmatia would be left to the Jugo-Slavs.
M. Orlando asked if Zara and Sebenico would not stand out. He had thought that these would be assigned to Italy.
Mr. Lloyd George said he did not think President Wilson could possibly agree to this. His idea was that Zara and Sebenico should be free cities under the League of Nations.
M. Orlando said that this made a great difference.
Colonel House repeated a suggestion made to him by Sir Maurice Hankey, that Zara and Sebenico might be attached to Fiume.
M. Orlando did not like this proposal.
Mr. Lloyd George did not think that President Wilson would agree to any proposal that did not leave the sovereignty of Zara and Sebenico under the League of Nations, if not under the Jugo-Slavs. If they were free ports under the League of Nations, they would be just as free to the Jugo-Slavs as to the Italians, and this was important as they gave access to Dalmatia. The great difficulty appeared to arise in connection with the islands. He urged upon M. Orlando with the utmost insistence that in considering the question of the islands, he should confine himself to as few as possible, and only those necessary for the security of Italy, and that he should choose islands which had a large Italian population. The question of Albania was reserved.
Colonel House said that President Wilson’s idea had been that a Commission should report in regard to Albania.
M. Orlando undertook to consider the general proposal with his colleagues and give an answer at 4.30 in the afternoon.
Mr. Lloyd George handed to M. Orlando a letter which he had written in reply to a letter he had received a few days before from M. Orlando.
Villa Majestic, Paris, 28 May, 1919.[Page 81]