Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/99½


Notes of a Meeting Held in the Foyer of the Senate House in the Chateau at Versailles, on Saturday, June 28, 1919, at 6 p.m.

  • Present
    • United States of America
      • President Wilson.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
      • Mr. Philip Kerr.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B. } Secretaries.
Captain A. Portier,
Professor P. J. Mantoux.—Interpreter.

1. With reference to C. F. 96 B., Minute 1,1

President Wilson read aloud a re-draft of the proposed statement to the Italian Government, prepared by Mr. Balfour.

Note. During the Meeting Baron Makino and Baron Sonnino arrived, but Mr. Lloyd George left the room to explain to them that the subject under consideration was Declarations by France and Great Britain on the one hand, and by the United States of America, on the other hand, to the new Italian Delegation, and they withdrew. Asia Minor: Proposed Statement to the New Italian Delegation

The above statement was approved, subject to some small amendments the most important of which was the omission of a reference to the Dodecanese, which, it was considered, might be interpreted as a repudiation of the Treaty of London.2

The draft as finally approved is attached in Appendix I. Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to obtain the signature of Mr. Lloyd George before his departure, and subsequently that of M. Clemenceau, who undertook to communicate it to the Italians.

President Wilson said he was forwarding a separate statement, which he intended should contain a reference to the Dodecanese, as he was not bound by the Treaty of London.

Villa Majestic, Paris, 28 June, 1919.

[Page 760]

Appendix I to CF–99A

[Redraft by Mr. Balfour of Statement to the Italian Delegation]

The change in the Italian Delegation has occurred at a moment in which the associates of Italy were feeling considerable anxiety with regard to the part she was playing in the common cause. While nothing could be more friendly than the personal relations which have united the representatives of the Five Powers through many months of anxious discussion, and while we gladly recognise the aid and cooperation which the Italian Delegation have rendered in the framing of the peace with Germany, we feel less happy about the general course of the negotiations affecting other aspects of the world settlement.

There is no doubt that the present uncomfortable condition of affairs is largely due to the complications which the development of political and military events has brought about since the Treaty of London was signed in 1915. Since then the aspect of the world has changed. The Treaty was contracted with Russia, France and Britain, but Russia is no longer in the war. It contemplated a victorious peace with the Austro-Hungarian Empire; but while victory of the completest kind has been achieved, the Austro-Hungarian Empire has ceased to exist. It assumed that if Turkey was completely defeated, fragments of the Turkish Empire might be assigned to the victors; but while Turkey has indeed been completely defeated, and the alien peoples which she misgoverned are to be separated from her Empire, they are not to be handed over in possession to the conquerors, while any spheres of influence which the latter may acquire will be held by them not independently, but as Trustees or mandatories of the League of Nations. In 1915 America was neutral; but in 1917 she entered the war unhampered by any Treaty, and at a period when the development of this order of political ideas, to which she gave a most powerful impulse was in process of rapid accomplishment.

It is not surprising that the situation thus created presents complexities which only the utmost good-will and the most transparent loyalty can successfully deal with. The Treaty of London with which the history may be said to open was from the very beginning not strictly observed. Italy had undertaken to employ all her resources in prosecuting the war in common with her Allies against all their enemies. But she did not declare war on Germany for more than a year, and she took no part in the war against Turkey. By the Treaty of London, the central portion of Albania was to be made into an autonomous State under Italian protection; while northern and southern Albania were under certain circumstances to fall respectively to Serbia and Greece. But in 1917 Italy declared a [Page 761] Protectorate over the whole country—a Protectorate which she seems to have exercised ever since. By the Treaty of London Fiume was, with Italy’s consent, assigned to Croatia. But since the armistice, Italy has been accumulating troops in that neighbourhood and local laws appear to have been promulgated in the name of the Italian King. Meanwhile America, which, unlike France and Britain, was not a party to the Treaty of London, has, in conformity with the general principles of settlement on which all the Allied and Associated Powers, including Italy, are agreed, declined to hand over reluctant Slav majorities in the Eastern Adriatic to Italian rule; and no arrangement on this vexed question has been arrived at.

Evidently the situation thus described is one of peculiar difficulty; but we feel bound to add that the difficulties have been greatly augmented by the policy pursued in Asia Minor by the Italian Government and Italian troops. This matter, as perhaps Your Excellency is aware, was the subject of warm debate in the Council of Four. President Wilson, Monsieur Clemenceau and Mr. Lloyd George complained in the strongest terms of the proceedings at Scala Nuova and elsewhere in South-Western Anatolia. They drew the sharpest contrast between the policy of the Greek Government, which moved no troops except with the cognisance, and usually at the request of the Allied and Associated Powers, including, of course, Italy herself, while Italy, which was one of those Powers, and as such cognisant of all that was being done by her friends, landed troops and occupied important positions without giving the least inkling of her proceedings to those whose counsels she shared, whose general policy she professed to support, but whose remonstrances on this point she persistently ignored.

We find it difficult fully to understand this action on the part of a friendly Power. At first sight it might seem to be animated by the idea that territories occupied by troops of a given nationality would be assigned to that nationality by the final terms of Peace. But this has never been the view of the other Allied and Associated Powers, and we had the best reason for supposing that it was not the view of Italy. We venture to quote a paragraph on the subject to which the Italian Representative gave his adhesion:—

“No State will be rewarded for prolonging the horrors of war by any increase of territory; nor will the Allied and Associated Powers be induced to alter decisions made in the interests of Peace and justice by the unscrupulous use of military methods”.3

It is needless to say that we have not made the recital of our common difficulties for any other purpose than to contribute to their removal. The Treaty of London, the Anglo-French Declaration of [Page 762] November, 1918, President Wilson’s fourteen points all bear on the situation, all have in different ways to be considered when Italy is discussing with her Allies and Associates the aspects of the final settlements which most nearly concern her. But they cannot be debated as contracts susceptible only of a strict legal interpretation. Italy herself has not so treated them; and if her partners attempted the task an amicable settlement would seem beyond the wit of man. For, as has been pointed out, they were framed in different periods in a rapidly changing world and under the stress of widely different motives. They could not be and are not in all respects consistent. They are in part obsolete or obsolescent, and cannot in their entirety be carried out. What in these circumstances seems to be required is a re-survey of the whole situation. Let the four Great Powers of the West, America, France, Britain and Italy, consider together with a fresh mind and perfect frankness, whether some solution cannot be found which is consistent both with the material interests of Italy, her enduring aspirations and the rights and susceptibilities of her neighbours. The difficulties in the way of such a solution may be great. But they should not be insuperable. We feel, however, compelled to add that it is wholly useless in our judgment to discuss Peace Terms in Paris as friends and associates, while one of our number is elsewhere pursuing an independent and even antagonistic course of action. If, for example, Italy insists, after our earnest protests, on maintaining troops in Anatolia, it can only be because she intends to obtain by force all she claims to be hers by right. This is quite inconsistent with genuine alliance; its inevitable end is complete isolation. It is for Italian statesmen to say whether or not this is in Italy’s interests. To us and the world the loss will be immense, for the aid which Italy can render to mankind by helping in the establishment of a durable Peace through international co-operation is beyond price. To Italy it will mean the loss of all claim to further assistance or aid from those who were once proud to be her associates. To us such a consummation seems to be disastrous, but if Italian policy runs its course unchanged it seems also to be inevitable.

  1. Ante, p. 738.
  2. Great Britain, Cmd. 671, Misc. No. 7 (1920): Agreement Between France, Russia, Great Britain and Italy, Signed at London, April 26, 1915; a translation from the Izvestia which was transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Russia on December 5, 1917, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1917, supp. 2, vol. i, p. 497.
  3. See appendix V(A) to CF–65, p. 411.