Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/87½


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on June 23, 1919, at 4:30 p.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • President Wilson.
      • Mr. Lamont.
      • Mr. Norman Davis.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, O. M., M. P.
      • Lord Sumner.
      • Colonel Peel.
      • Mr. Dudley Ward.
      • Mr. Sutton.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
      • M. Loucheur.
    • Italy
      • Baron Sonnino.
      • M. Crespi.
    • Japan
      • Baron Makino.
Secretaries { Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B.
Count Aldrovandi.

1. The Council had before them proposals for meeting the Belgian claims for priority in reparation payments.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he had had no time to consider those proposals; so far as he could make out those that had been submitted to him were the result of agreement between two Delegations only. He asked that the question might be referred again to the financial experts of all the Delegations who were dealing with the matter, and that their report should be referred to the Supreme Council. Reparation: Priority of Payment for Belgium

(This was agreed.)

2. M. Loucheur proceeded to describe his negotiations with the representatives of Czecho-Slovakia, Poland, Serbia and Roumania, in regard to their claims for reparation and the proposed payment by them of contributions towards the cost of the war of liberation. As regards claims for reparation, he instanced the settlement suggested by him and his colleagues to Serbia. They had made an offer of Fr. 500,000,000 as reparation, half of this sum to be paid in priority: Serbia to assume a part of the pre-war Austrian debt on account of the newly acquired territories but not to be liable for payment for the public property taken over in those territories. The Serbian representatives were not disposed to accept this offer and preferred [Page 639] to have their claims dealt with under the general provisions of the Treaty; and this was generally the view of the Delegations of the other states in question. New States in East Europe: Reparation and Contributions to Cost of War

As regards the payment of contributions towards the cost of the war, all the states in question appeared to be ready to agree to pay a sum equal to 20 per cent of the Austrian war debt held in the newly acquired territories; this sum in the case of Serbia and Roumania to be set off against their claims for reparation. He desired, however, the further instructions of the Council in regard to dealing with claims for reparation: The Serbians, e. g. had suggested an extravagant sum—5 milliards of francs—and he was disposed to suggest that these states should be dealt with under the general provisions for reparation.

Mr. Lloyd George asked whether he was to understand that if, for instance, 20 per cent of the Austrian war debt in Jugo-Slavia amounted to 100 millions and the Serbian claim for reparation amounted to 150 millions, the Jugo-Slav state would receive 50 millions.

M. Loucheur said that he assumed that the contributions would be payable in local currency, while reparation received would be in gold. He added that he could not recommend demanding a higher payment from Serbia and Roumania, having regard to the fact that they had already borne the expenses of a war. He thought, however, that Poland and Czecho-Slovakia should be treated on different lines and that from those two latter states payment might be demanded in external debt. He was disposed personally to suggest that no contribution should be asked from Serbia and Roumania.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that this latter proposal would appear to ignore the large increase of wealth accruing to these states as a result of their acquisition of territory.

Mr. Lamont then recalled to the minds of the Council the history of the negotiations with those new states on the question of the payment of contributions, which he, and subsequently, M. Loucheur, had conducted.

In the first instance he had been instructed by the Council to negotiate as follows:—In the case of Serbia and Roumania the agreed payments contributory to the cost of the war were to be set off against their claims to reparation. Poland and Czecho-Slovakia, which were not entitled to claim reparation, were to be called upon to make a contributory payment. Subsequently M. Loucheur had proposed to relieve the new states of any responsibility for Austrian war debt. But this suggestion, which was inconsistent with the proposed financial clauses, had been abandoned. The difficulty was, however, that Serbia and Roumania were not disposed to agree, at [Page 640] the present juncture, to an assessment of the amount of their reparation claims.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that this did not appear to be material: if they accepted the principle, the Reparation Commission could fix the sum, and the amount of their proposed contribution could then be deducted.

(It was agreed that a settlement with Serbia, Roumania, Poland and Czecho-Slovakia in regard to their proposed contribution to the cost of the war should be communicated on the following lines:

The existing financial and reparation clauses to remain.

Each of the countries to which Austro-Hungarian territory passes shall pay as a contribution to the expenses of their liberation a sum equal to 20 per cent of that portion of the bonded war debt of Austria-Hungary as legally constituted on October 27, 1918, apportioned to such territory on the same principle as the pre-war debt.

Those countries to which reparation is due shall set off the amount of the contribution referred to above and the value of the public property taken over by them in the newly acquired territory against their claim to reparation.)