Robert Lansing Papers
Brief Notes on a Meeting Which Took Place in M. Clemenceau’s Office in the Ministry of War at 2:30 p.m. July 3, 1919
- There Were Present:—
- M. Clemenceau,
- Mr. Lansing,
- Mr. Balfour,
- M. Tittoni.
- Professor Mantoux.
M. Clemenceau had called the meeting at the request of M. Tittoni.
M. Tittoni brought up the question in regard to the troops in Asia Minor. He proposed that the railway line running east and west should be controlled by the British, French and American authorities, and that it should constitute the boundary line between the Italian and Greek forces, but that both the Italians and Greeks should have the right to use it.
M. Clemenceau observed that the Italians had gone into Asia Minor without authority from the Conference. He also suggested that M. Tittoni should draft some formula regarding the proposition of the use of the railroad and the suggestion that it be made the boundary between the Italian and Greek forces. He also pointed out that no matter what action should be taken in this regard, the settlement of the question of Asia Minor should not be made a separate question, but that it would be considered in connection with the settlement of the whole Turkish question.
M. Tittoni explained that Italy did not desire to obtain sovereignty over that portion of Asia Minor now controlled by her troops. Italy did, however, desire to secure certain concession to the coal mines at Heraklia and to the oil wells at Van.
Mr. Lansing stated that he was sympathetic to the Italian desire to secure coal mines at Heraklia. On the other hand he thought that Armenia was too poor to be deprived of all her resources and that the oil wells at Van should not be taken from her.
M. Clemenceau pointed at [out] that the French had certain concessions at Heraklia, and that the Italians were now proposing to surround the French concessions.
Mr. Lansing asked M. Tittoni whether Italy had any coal mines.[Page 18]
M. Tittoni replied that Italy had none.
Mr. Lansing then asked M. Clemenceau what coal mines France had.
M. Clemenceau replied that of course Mr. Lansing knew what coal resources France possessed.
Mr. Lansing then stated that under these circumstances Italy should also have coal mines.
Thereupon, M. Clemenceau became somewhat excited and stated very emphatically that he could not bargain away the rights of his people.
Mr. Balfour inquired if M. Tittoni had anything to say regarding the Adriatic.
M. Tittoni stated that the Italian Delegation had based their position on the proposition that there was a Treaty of London.1 He also explained that the Italian Government had to consider Italian public opinion as regards this question.
Mr. Lansing asked M. Tittoni whether he would abide by the strict terms of the Treaty of London if the others consented to do likewise.
M. Tittoni avoided a direct answer by himself asking questions.
Mr. Balfour observed that M. Tittoni was not answering Mr. Lansing’s question.
Mr. Lansing stated that he had no objection to M. Tittoni using what might be called “Yankee Methods”.
M. Tittoni then asked Mr. Lansing whether the United States would accept the Treaty of London if his question were answered in the affirmative.
Mr. Lansing expressed his entire willingness to do so insofar as the terms of the Treaty of London were just. Mr. Lansing repeated his question to M. Tittoni.
M. Tittoni stated that he was forced to consider Italian public opinion. To which, Mr. Lansing replied that if public opinion varied the faith of treaties, then there would be endless trouble. For his part he would not venture to say what public opinion in Great Britain and France would do in varying the Treaty of London.
M. Clemenceau remarked that he knew well what French public opinion would do.
After some discussion it was proposed to abandon entirely the Treaty of London as a basis of negotiation, and it was agreed that M. Tittoni should approach the question as if no treaty existed and prepare a plan which would then be discussed in a very confidential way between those present.[Page 19]
Mr. Balfour remarked to Mr. Lansing that President Wilson had expressed his willingness to leave the determination of sovereignty over any point on the Adriatic to a plebiscite.
In reply Mr. Lansing stated that if this rule were to be applied at all it would have to be made applicable to all the Italian line which might cause trouble in the Tyrol.
It was agreed that M. Tittoni would submit to those present his views in writing as stated above.
M. Tittoni called attention to the fact that the Jugo-Slavs were holding certain Italians as prisoners in the Klagenfurt Region. He suggested that his colleagues should agree to take certain steps to secure the release of these Italians.
Mr. Lansing asked M. Tittoni what Italians were doing in the Klagenfurt Basin.
M. Clemenceau supported this question.
M. Tittoni explained that the railroad had been torn up by the Jugo-Slavs for some 30 miles and that the Italian troops had been sent in to repair it.
Mr. Lansing observed that the Jugo-Slavs would not have torn up the railroad if the Italian troops had not advanced.
No decision was taken but it was tacitly understood that M. Clemenceau, Mr. Lansing and Mr. Balfour would ascertain whether they had received any information in the matter.
- Great Britain, Cmd. 671, Misc. No. 7 (1920): Agreement Between France, Russia, Great Britain and Italy, Signed at London, April 26, 1915.↩