Notes of a Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of the Five Great Powers Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Friday, July 18, 1919, at 10 a.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • Hon. H. White.
    • Secretary
      • Mr. L. Harrison.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, O. M., M. P.
    • Secretary
      • Sir Percy Loraine, Bt.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
      • M. Pichon.
    • Secretaries
      • M. Dutasta.
      • Capt. de St, Quentin.
    • Italy
      • M. Tittoni.
    • Secretary
      • M. Paterno.
    • Japan
      • Baron Makino.
    • Secretary
      • M. Kawai.
Joint Secretariat
America, United States of Lieut. Burden.
British Empire Capt. E. Abraham.
France Capt. A. Portier.
Italy Lieut. Zanchi.
Interpreter—Prof. P. J. Mantoux.

1. M. Clemenceau said he had received a dispatch stating that the Greeks had committed atrocities in Smyrna and its neighbourhood.

Proposal To Send Commissioners To Enquire Into Disorders in Anatolia (Appendix A.) The Sheikh-ul-Islam formally accused them. He wished to propose to his Colleagues that they should send a Commission of Enquiry. The Council was not without responsibility, seeing that it had sent the Greeks to Smyrna.

Mr. Balfour said he had been much concerned about the reports from Asia Minor. A question had been asked in the House of Commons. It had been found on investigation that the Greeks had in fact committed atrocities. M. Venizelos had been greatly perturbed, and had himself been forced to admit the truth of the allegations.

M. Tittoni said that fighting between the Turks and Greeks must be put an end to. It was very bitter, and no quarter was given on either side.

[Page 192]

M. Clemenceau asked whether his colleagues would be prepared to agree at once to the dispatch of the Commission.

Mr. Balfour said that he would prefer, before deciding to do this, to discuss the whole question of Asia Minor. He did not object to the proposal in itself, though he would point out that if Commissions of Enquiry had to be sent to investigate all charges of atrocities throughout the world, he did not think he would be able to lay his hand on a sufficient number of officers.

M. Clemenceau said he proposed to send French Commissioners, even if his Colleagues appointed none. He would, however, prefer, that they should do so.

Mr. Balfour said that he had no objection, but that it was more important to prevent recurrences of atrocities in the future than to investigate those which had already taken place. Control could only be exercised by the Conference through the local Commander-in-Chief.

M. Clemenceau said that Mr. Balfour’s plan would only result in the issuing of a proclamation, which would have no effect at all. The Allies would have to deal with the Turks hereafter, and it must be made clear to them they did not send the Greeks to Smyrna merely to commit atrocities.

M. Tittoni said that he agreed with M. Clemenceau. It was very important to make the Turks feel that the Allies did not propose to have them massacred.

Mr. Balfour pointed out that the atrocities complained of had been committed by soldiers. They should be checked by the Commander-in-Chief in Anatolia. Orders of the Council could be sent and executed through him. He would have certain proposals to make on this subject, and he thought that M. Clemenceau’s plan would fit in with his own.

(It was decided that the question of appointing a Commission of Enquiry should be postponed till the Meeting in the afternoon.)

2. M. Clemenceau said that he had received an account of proceedings at Dédéagatch which, seeing that Italy as well as the other Allies was still at war with Bulgaria, deserved comment and perhaps action by the Italian Government. (For this information see Appendix B.)Fraternisation of Italian & Bulgarian officers

M. Tittoni said that he agreed with M. Clemenceau that the behaviour of the Italian officers in fraternising with the Bulgarians was, if correctly reported, highly reprehensible. He undertook to have an enquiry made into the matter, and asked that M. Clemenceau’s information be handed to him.

[Page 193]

3. Mr. White informed the Council that he had received the following telegram from President Wilson, and asked his colleagues what answer he should give on their behalf:— Telegram From President Wilson Regarding Policy in Turkey

“Respecting the decision announced in your telegram of June 30th, to postpone further discussion of the Treaty with the Ottoman Government until the Government of the United States is in a position to say whether it will be able to undertake a mandate for a part of Turkish territory, I am afraid that the delay which this will involve will be very considerable and should like to know what attitude towards Turkey the Powers propose to take in the meantime.”

M. Clemenceau said that the only attitude the Powers could adopt as far as he knew was one of expectancy. He was for certain reasons not ready to talk about Asia Minor. He did not know what kind of declaration the President expected the Council to make.

Mr. White said he thought perhaps the President had the maintenance of order in his mind.

M. Clemenceau said that on this subject the Council would take the necessary measures in concert. As to the future he could at present enter into no pledges. If the Greeks, Turks, and Italians were fighting it was not his fault.

Mr. White asked if M. Clemenceau’s intention was to wait until the Government of the United States was in a position to say whether it would undertake a mandate.

M. Clemenceau said he would not undertake to wait indefinitely. For the time being he could make no statement. When other work had been done, the Council would do its best to settle the affairs of Turkey. All he could say in reply to the President’s message was that the Council had taken note of it. President Wilson knew full well what the difficulties were. He wished to obtain a mandate in Armenia and an American Commissioner had been appointed. He asked for part of Cilicia, and was favourably disposed towards accepting a mandate for Constantinople. The question of Constantinople was one of the greatest importance for Europe. It had caused wars in the past, and required the closest study.

Mr. Balfour agreed that no definite answer could at present be given to President Wilson. The President was unfortunately prevented by the American Constitution from undertaking anything for the time being. Meanwhile the Council would try and maintain order in Turkey.

(It was agreed that Mr. White should reply in the above sense to the President’s telegram.)

[Page 194]

4. M. Tittoni read the following agreement between himself and M. Venizelos:—1

“The line of division between the Greek and Italian occupations in Asia Minor begins from the mouth of the river K. Menderez: thence it will follow the course of the river up to the Ayassoluk-Scala-Nova road: thence it will follow the line of the Greek occupation of Ayassoluk and old Ephesus. Agreement Between M. Tittoni & M. Venizelos Regarding Greek and Italian Zones of Occupation in Anatolia

From old Ephesus it will follow a line at an average distance of 600 meters from the railway Smyrna-Aidin to the west, then to the south of the said railway, the line to be fixed on the spot by the Greek and Italian Governments in order to allow the Greek troops to protect the railway from sudden attacks from Comitagis.

The line will then reach the river Muschluk-Deresi which will be followed to its junction with the Menderez.

Thence it will follow the bed of the Menderez to the east as far as Keuehk.

The two Governments agree not to pass beyond the line above established. Moreover this occupation has only a provisional character corresponding to the actual state of affairs, the consideration of the definite regime for these regions being reserved to the Conference.

Each of the two Governments agrees to afford in the territory which it occupies full and complete protection to the co-nationals of the other.

Instructions will be given to the commands in order that the officers of the two armies may maintain towards each other most friendly relations.”

He explained that the expression “occupation” implies occupation at the present time.

Mr. Balfour said that the question must be considered from a larger aspect than that of a friendly agreement between the Greeks and the Italians. The Entente had told the Greeks to go to Smyrna. Since their arrival there was a divergence of opinion as to whether they had or had not obeyed the instructions of the British Naval Authority on the spot. Commodore Fitz-Maurice2 considered that they had exceeded their orders, which were not to go beyond the Sandjak of Smyrna. This might not be the fault of M. Venizelos, but nevertheless it would seem that the harm was done. As to the Italians (he knew this was not M. Tittoni’s policy) they had gone to Asia Minor without informing their Allies, and they had made successive advances into the country, also without informing them. The Council of Three had informed M. Orlando that there could be no possible conversations until the Italian troops had been entirely withdrawn.3 Then a change of Government had taken place in Italy, and there had been a friendly [Page 195] meeting with M. Tittoni. M. Tittoni had said that the Italian Government would be put into a very serious difficulty if the British and French Governments insisted on the total withdrawal of the Italian troops. No formal decision had been taken as a result of this declaration, but the French and British Governments had not insisted.

M. Clemenceau observed that it had been decided to send M. Tittoni an answer.

Mr. Balfour, continuing, said that, in effect, nothing had been done. There were, therefore, in Anatolia, Greek troops who were disobeying orders, and Italian troops who were there without orders. From this resulted a difficult and confused situation. He was anxious that no national susceptibilities should be hurt, but he supposed that the Council also had susceptibilities. He thought, therefore, that he might suggest that the whole method of procedure should be altered. The Greeks had been told to consult a naval officer before making any movement. It was not the business of a naval officer to know all the intricacies of land operations. This system had not worked well. The Italian troops, on the other hand, acted in an irresponsible manner, and were under no Allied control. Would it not be better for the orders of the Council to be conveyed to all the troops in Asia Minor through its local Commander-in-Chief? In Eastern Europe, General Franchet d’Esperey was the medium for the Council’s policy and Marshal Foch in the rest of Europe. Why should the same procedure not be adopted in Asia Minor, where the Commander-in-Chief was General Allenby? It was not because General Allenby was a British officer that he suggested this, but because he was Commander-in-Chief. There might even be some advantage in his being British, seeing that the British Government had no interests in the region affected. He suggested, therefore, that General Allenby be utilised as an agent of the Council just as Marshal Foch and General Franchet d’Esperey in other parts of the world. If this were done, the Turks would realise that the Conference did not approve of outrages, and that they were to be put a stop to. The face of both Greeks and Italians would be saved, and order would be established in Turkey. This solution would not only be logical, but would conduce to sound administration. This method could not injure Italian pride, as there were Italian troops at Konia already under General Allenby’s command. A very difficult situation could thus be regularised and some order could be made to reign over the trespasses of the Greeks and the unauthorised presence of the Italians.

M. Pichon said that he thought that General Milne4 was directly in command.

[Page 196]

Mr. Balfour said he thought that was the case, but that General Milne was under the superior authority of General Allenby.

M. Clemenceau said that to speak his mind freely, though he had great respect for General Allenby, he felt that, in Turkey, he acted as a British officer receiving orders from the British Government rather than as an Allied Commander-in-Chief. The effect of his activities was distinctly anti-French. This ambiguous situation was unsatisfactory. General Allenby commanded British troops as a British General. As an Allied Commander-in-Chief he refused to allow French troops to be relieved. He refused to allow them to enter Syria. He placed them in Cilicia, knowing that the mandate of Cilicia was likely to go to the Americans. All his agents were consistently against the French. On every occasion, he said that the unpopularity of the French troops rendered their relief or their stationing in Syria undesirable. There was a pyramid of files on this subject, and he could prove what he said. General Hamelin5 had telegraphed that he did not dare celebrate the 14th of July, to which he (M. Clemenceau) had replied, ordering that the day should be celebrated. It had been done and there had been no trouble. In Damascus, the French had been welcomed, in spite of all General Allenby had said. As a result of all this, a condition of confidence did not exist. He would have more to say on the subject later, but he was so anxious to make peace, that he did not absolutely refuse Mr. Balfour’s proposals, provided some assurance would be given that General Allenby would consider himself not a British, but an Allied agent.

Mr. Balfour said that he regretted M. Clemenceau had raised the vexed question of Syria. He did not believe that his charges against General Allenby would be sustained. M. Clemenceau said that he had provoked agitation against the French.

M. Clemenceau said that General Allenby’s agents had done so even if he had not. He had also refused to allow the relief of French troops already in the country.

Mr. Balfour said that he felt sure that no responsible British officer desired to impair French popularity in Syria. They know that, under no circumstances, would Great Britain accept a mandate in Syria. The British Government, therefore, had no motive for creating difficulties in the path of others. He did not wish to pursue this matter, but only to enter his caveat against these allegations. M. Clemenceau might be thoroughly assured that any officer, British or other, to whom the work was entrusted, would be impartial. He thought, in fact, the officer in charge would be General Milne, acting under the directions of General Allenby. This said, he did not think he need add anything to the arguments he had previously used.

[Page 197]

M. Clemenceau said that he had not disagreed with the proposal, but had felt it necessary to make a reservation.

Mr. White said that he was inclined to approve of Mr. Balfour’s proposal. An arrangement made only between the Italians and Greeks would not reassure the Turks. The proposal would regularise the position of the Italians, who had gone to the country without the authority of the Conference. The Commander-in-Chief would be able to issue orders to Turks, Greeks and Italians, and thus the Conference would be put in charge of the situation.

M. Tittoni said that (as Mr. White had observed), the proposal under discussion would amount to an official recognition of Italian presence in Asia Minor. He took note of this, as he thought that this ultimately must be done. Italian troops were there. They could not physically be there and officially not be there. He, personally, had not sent them there, but he was, nevertheless, in an equivocal position and he would like it regularised.

M. Clemenceau said that though M. Tittoni was not responsible for sending Italian troops to Asia Minor, he seemed disposed to take advantage of their presence there. He trusted that whatever arrangements were made, M, Tittoni would not base any claim on this situation again.

M. Tittoni said that he undertook not to plead accomplished facts, but to rely entirely on justification, based on title.

M. Clemenceau said that provisionally the Council should accept the arrangements made between the Greeks and the Italians, and that it should also accept Mr. Balfour’s proposal as giving the Council a means of being obeyed, provided only that the question of substance was entirely reserved. On this understanding only would he accept these arrangements. He suggested that M. Venizelos be asked to come into the room to express his formal adhesion to the arrangement made with M. Tittoni.

(M. Venizelos then entered the room.)

M. Clemenceau, addressing M. Venizelos, said that the Council was about to take two decisions, to one of which he was a party.

M. Venizelos said that he was in full agreement with M. Tittoni.

M. Clemenceau said that the agreement was accepted by the Council subject to the proviso that it did not affect the ultimate decision either on Greek or on Italian rights. Furthermore, the local Commander-in-Chief would be in control of all troops—Turkish, Greek and Italian. They would have to obey the orders of General Milne. It was probable also that Commissioners would be sent to enquire into the atrocities which it was reported had been committed by Greek troops. M. Venizelos was doubtless aware of what had taken place.

M. Venizelos said that he fully understood. He would, however, observe that the Government at Constantinople was not in full control [Page 198] of the situation. Action at the Capital therefore might not produce all the effect desired in Anatolia. The Committee of Union and Progress still had more power than appeared on the surface.

M. Clemenceau observed that M. Venizelos himself did not always control the actions of his countrymen.

M. Venizelos said that whenever excesses had been complained of, he had caused the culprits to be severely punished. There had been two executions. He did not wish to conceal anything and was quite ready to accept the Commission of Enquiry. He wished, however, to leave a note with the Council, asking for the execution of two Clauses of the Armistice, namely the disarmament of Turkey and the control of railways either by Allied troops or failing them by Greek troops and Allied Officers. (See Appendix C.) He further asked that he might be heard when the Council came to determine the southern frontier of Bulgaria.

(This was agreed to.)

(M. Venizelos then withdrew and it was decided that his note should be submitted to the Experts.)

(It was decided provisionally to accept the agreement reached between M. Tittoni and M. Venizelos as given above.)

It was further decided to adopt the following Resolution proposed by Mr. Balfour:—

Resolved that the Conference shall communicate to the Turkish Government their intention of immediately marking out the limiting lines beyond which neither Greek nor Italian troops will be permitted to move, all rights secured to the Allies under the armistice being of course reserved. The Turkish Government is required to withdraw its troops to a position which will be determined by the Commander-in-Chief. The Turkish Government shall be at the same time informed that the limiting lines above referred to, have no relation to the ultimate territorial arrangements which will be imposed by the Peace Conference.
The Commander-in-Chief of the forces belonging to the Allied and Associated Powers in the Asiatic possessions of Turkey shall be directed to send officers who, after communicating with the Senior Naval Officer at Smyrna, and the Italian and Greek Generals, shall fix the military lines above referred to.
Any future movement of the Allied forces shall be under the supreme direction of the Commander-in-Chief who is responsible to the Conference for military operations in the Asiatic portion of the Turkish Empire.

5. M. Clemenceau questioned whether it would be useful to discuss this matter before Mr. Balfour and Mr. White had obtained the views of their Governments.

Military Operation Against Hungry Mr. White said that he would like more precise information before he consulted his Government.

[Page 199]

Mr. Balfour said that the policy he would like to see carried out was:—

that the execution of the Armistice by Hungary was required by the Conference.
that if the Armistice were carried out, Roumanian troops should withdraw to the original frontier.
that the Allies could not negotiate Peace with those who were breaking their engagements.
that the Conference could not tolerate the continuation of conditions which would make Peace, Commerce and disarmament in Central Europe impossible.

Unless satisfactory evidence of compliance were obtained the necessary steps should be taken to enforce the will of the Conference. His attention had been drawn that morning to certain figures given on the previous day by Marshal Foch regarding the forces at the disposal of Bela Kun (See H.D. 9 para. 3, first statement by Marshal Foch.6) His own hypothesis had been that the Hungarians were trying to collect an aggressive force to attack their neighbours. If this was untrue, the policy built upon it naturally must be abandoned, but if the hypothesis were true, he would recommend his Government to agree to military action.

M. Clemenceau suggested that four Officers representing each of the Powers concerned should be sent to Hungary to verify the military situation and that Bela Kun be asked to allow them to make their investigation. Should he refuse, he would be admitting his guilt. Should he accept, the Council would be in a position to form an accurate judgment. A short time ago the Council had addressed him and said that no further conversation could be held with him because he had broken the Armistice. He had replied that a breach of the Armistice had been committed not by him but by the Roumanians. The Council before acting, wished to know the exact truth.

M. Tittoni said that he had no objection but he would like to re-enforce this action. The Council was dealing with a man whose ill-faith was proverbial. He had already used such communication as he had had with the Powers for his own advantage. He represented a small minority ruling an immense majority which was deprived of the means of rebelling. If his permission were solicited, this would increase his prestige. The Commission should be sent to Hungary without asking for his consent.

M. Clemenceau said that he entirely agreed.

Mr. White drew attention to the resolution of the Council recorded in H. D. 7 Para. 1,7 taken on July 15th:—

“It was decided to refer the communication received from Bela Kun [Page 200] to Marshal Foch for a full report on the observances and non-observances of the original Armistice conditions by all parties concerned.”

M. Clemenceau said that information obtained direct from the country would be more valuable than any information accessible to Marshal Foch.

M. Tittoni said that the Commission should be numerous in order that it should produce a great moral effect.

M. Clemenceau thought that four General Officers would be sufficient. Instructions could be given to them, before they started, by the Council.

Mr. White said that he would prefer to reserve his opinion until the afternoon’s meeting.

(It was agreed that the decision should be postponed until the next meeting at 4 p.m. on the same day.)

(The meeting then adjourned.)

Villa Majestic, Paris, July 18, 1919.

Appendix “A” to HD–10


Telegram From Sheikh-id-Islam

His Excellency M. Clemenceau, President of the Peace Conference. After the occupation of the city of Smyrna, an occupation which was quite unjustified, the Greek troops gradually spread into the other parts of the vilayet. There they occupied various localities whose populations are in large majority or entirely Mohammedan.

The entry of Greek troops into each of these localities has been followed by all kinds of violence and atrocities against the Mohammedan elements, atrocities in which the native Greeks also participate.

The Mohammedan quarters are burned and their inhabitants put to death without mercy; children and women are not spared. The latter are violated and killed with refinements of cruelty. Such has been the death of the city of Aidin, one of the principal cities of the province, as well as other localities where the vast majority of the population is Mohammedan.

Thousands of Mohammedans have perished and more than 150,000 have been obliged, in order to escape the massacres and horrors, to leave their homes and to seek refuge in the interior of the country, [Page 201] where they now are without shelter and in a state of complete destitution.

These facts could be determined easily by a commission of inquiry, which we request be sent immediately to the spot.

Moreover, the Greek authorities have brought into the province, to settle them there, a great number of Greeks from other provinces of Turkey or from the exterior to replace the natives who are driven away.

This fact, added to those which precede, leaves no room for doubt that the object pursued is obviously to cause the Mohammedans to perish by systematically exterminating them or by forcing them to leave their homes under the influence of terror, and to replace them with Greeks.

Profoundly moved by the danger which menaces the Mohammedan populations of the vilayet of Smyrna, the Imperial Government believes it to be its duty to present it to the attentive good will of the great Allied Powers.

The Imperial Government is persuaded that these powers will not fail, in their just and high appreciation, to take all the measures which they will judge effective in putting an end to a situation which, it has the firm conviction, does not correspond with their intentions nor to the sentiments of justice and equity by which they are animated with regard to all peoples.

The most just of these provisions and that which at the same time corresponds best with the principles of President Wilson, would be, obviously, the prompt evacuation by the Greeks of the territories which they have occupied in Asia Minor and to which they have no valid claim.

Signed: The Grand Vizier ad Interim,
Sheikh-ul-Islam Moustafa Sabri

Appendix B to HD–10


[Note Presented to the Council of the Heads of Delegations by the President of the Council (Clemenceau)]

According to information communicated by the French Military Commission at Dedeagatch to General Franchet d’Espérey, the Italian officers on July 7 gave a soirée which was attended by a large number of officers of the Bulgarian Army and Navy. Commandant [Page 202] Perretti of the 61st Italian Infantry Regiment presided at this festivity, at which music was supplied by the Bulgarian 40th Infantry Regiment band. Toasts were pronounced in the Bulgarian and Italian languages in which the words “Salonica, Greece, Bulgaria” recurred. They were greeted by repeated cries of “Viva Italy! Viva Bulgaria!”

Appendix C to HD–10


Notice Sent by M. Venizelos to the Supreme Council of the Peace Conference on July 17, 1919

The state of anarchy which reigns in the Ottoman Empire, and especially in Anatolia, does not permit one to hope that the government at Constantinople, whatever the good will that one may ascribe to it, might be in a position to compel respect for the decisions that the Allied and Associated Powers should agree upon in order to prevent new conflicts between the Turkish forces and the Greek troops of occupation.

It would seem indispensable, then, to take a number of supplementary precautions, which might be the following:

(1) Make effective the control which the Allies reserved to themselves under Article 15 of the Armistice of October 30, 1918, with Turkey,11 over all the railroads, by the occupation of the lines converging towards Smyrna, at least to Balikesri on the North and to Alashehr on the East.

If the Allied and Associated Powers do not consider themselves able to assign contingents of their own troops to this service, the Greek Government would be willing to place at their disposition the necessary contingents, which could be employed for this purpose under the command of officers to be designated by the commanding general of the Allied armies in Asia Minor.

(2) Require the delivery of Turkish war material to the Allied Powers, in conformity with Article 20 of the armistice.

  1. An English text of the agreement which appears in appendix A to HD–80, vol. viii, p. 861, has been substituted here for the French text.
  2. Commodore M. S. Fitz-Maurice, commander of the British Aegean Squadron.
  3. For previous discussion of this subject, see CF–9, CF–10, CF–17, CF–19, vol. v, pp. 565, 570, 686, and 716 and CF–37B, CF–93A, vol. vi, pp. 82 and 710.
  4. Gen. Sir George Francis Milne, commander of the British forces in the Near East.
  5. Gen. Jules C. Hamelin, commander of the French forces in the Levant.
  6. Ante, p. 177.
  7. Ante, p. 129.
  8. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  9. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  10. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  11. Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 441.