Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/44
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 Monday, September 1, 1919, at 11 a.m.
United States of America
- Hon. F. L. Polk.
- Mr. L. Harrison.
- Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
- Mr. H. Norman.
- Sir George Clerk.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Pichon.
- M. Dutasta.
- M. Berthelot.
- M. de Saint-Quentin.
- M. Tittoni.
- M. Paterno.
- M. Matsui.
- M. Kawai.
- United States of America
|America, United States of
|Mr. C. Russell.
|Capt. E. Abraham.
|M. de Percin.
The following were also present for the items in which they were concerned:—
America, United States of
- Professor Coolidge.
- Mr. A. Dulles.
- Mr. Headlam-Morley.
- Mr. A. Leeper.
- Hon. H. Nicolson.
- Mr. Carr.
- Colonel Horlick.
- M. Tardieu.
- M. J. Cambon.
- General Le Rond.
- M. Aubert.
- M. Alphand.
- M. Kammerer.
- M. Laroche.
- Colonel Jourin.
- M. de Montille.
- M. Stranieri.
- M. Galli.
- M. Brambilla.
- Colonel Castoldi.
- Capt. Rossi.
1. The Council had before it the text contained in Appendix “A”.
Mr. Headlam-Morley said that the Treaty before the Council was similar to that with Roumania already approved by the Council. There were three such Treaties, one with Roumania, one with Jugoslavia and one with Greece, all on the same lines. The Treaty with Greece would be ready in a few days. The Committee had had the advantage of consultation with M. Venizelos in regard to the last of these Treaties. The suggestions he had made had been very helpful. His attitude had been very different from that adopted by the other States. As to the Treaty with the Serb-Croat-Slovene State, the Delegation of that State had protested both against the principles of the Treaty as a whole, and also against its application to old Serbia. The first of these objections was no concern of the Committee. As to the second, the Committee was of opinion that the questions involved were questions of principle which should govern the whole policy of the State. The Committee thought that it was not practically possible to distinguish between one part of the territory of the Serb-Croat-Slovene State and another. Serbia in 1912 had had a population of three millions, but after the Balkan war, this population increased to five millions, and at the present time it amounted to twelve millions. The State, moreover, had changed its name and a Constituent Assembly was to be gathered in order to draw up the Constitution for the whole territory. The Committee therefore, thought it was fair to consider the whole as a new State. It did not think that the stipulations in the Draft Treaty represented any real derogation from the authority of the sovereign State. Treaty with Serb-Croat, Slovene State for the Protection of Minorities
M. Clemenceau asked whether the supervision of the Minority Clauses was to vest in the Allied and Associated Powers, or in the League of Nations.
Mr. Headlam-Morley said that the State conferred these rights on the Allied and Associated Powers pending the creation of a League of Nations, and thereafter stipulated that they should be transferred to the latter.
M. Clemenceau said that this provision satisfied him.
Mr. Headlam-Morley said that there was agreement in the Committee on all points save one. Before proceeding to describe this point, he wished to draw attention to the very first sentence of the preamble. The date 1913 had been deliberately chosen in order to show that the Treaty had under consideration, not only the acquisition of territory made subsequent to the Great War, but also those which resulted from the Balkan War. This was the more necessary as the territory acquired in the Balkan war contained most of the [Page 31] population for whom special minority legislation was necessary, for instance, Macedonia. All were agreed that a strong and a just Government was necessary in Serbia. It was even more necessary that the Government should be strong than that it should be just. Macedonia was now to be delivered to Serbia in perpetuity. The question arose whether any restriction, not contained in the general clauses, for the protection of Minorities, should be imposed on the Serbian Government in this area. The French Delegation was of opinion that nothing should be done in this sense. The argument was that freedom of religion and language were to prevail in Macedonia and that the population would have appeal to the League of Nations. The French Delegation thought this sufficient. The Italian Delegation on the other hand proposed a far reaching scheme amounting to a special form of autonomous Government for Macedonia. He would not explain this scheme as the British Delegation had not supported it. He would prefer that it should be explained by a member of the Italian Delegation. The American, British and Japanese Delegations proposed what was included in the first version of Article 12 (see Appendix “A”). The suggestion was that the League of Nations should have their representative living in the country, who should report to the League and give advice to the Serbian Government. It was thought the presence of such a representative would be beneficial to the population as well as to the Serbian Government and might help to avoid outbreaks of violence. It was proposed that this arrangement should last five years. He had taken the liberty of consulting the Secretary-General of the League of Nations unofficially. He, on his side, made no objection.
M. Tittoni said that he would not insist on the Italian proposal (see second version of Article 12, Appendix “A”). He was ready to adhere to the proposal of the majority.
M. Berthelot said that the view of the French Delegation was that the Article proposed by the American, British and Japanese Delegations constituted an obvious mark of distrust of the Serbian Government. It had a further objectionable feature in that it left Macedonia open to Greek and Bulgarian intrigue, instead of allowing it to merge into Serbia, as it more naturally should, since it became part of Serbian territory. He thought the proposal would make it very difficult for the Serbian Government to accept the Treaty, especially as no special reasons for this distrust could be alleged.
Mr. Polk asked whether the proposal applied only to Macedonia.
Mr. Headlam-Morley said that it was intended to apply not only to Macedonia, but also to areas in the neighbourhood of Albania, where a considerable part of the population was Albanian.[Page 32]
M. Berthelot said that those people, like other minorities, had certain guarantees, including appeal to the League of Nations. The view of the French Delegation was that the Serbian Government had not deserved any special mark of suspicion.
M. Tittoni observed that the measure was a temporary one, and that the Commissioner could be withdrawn after five years.
M. Clemenceau said that he would prefer to tell the Serbian Government that the League of Nations would establish a Commissioner in the country if disturbances arose. The Minority Treaties were already ill-received by the Poles and the Roumanians. He thought it very undesirable to incur the ill-will of the Jugo-Slavs as well.
Mr. Balfour said that he also would like to avoid hurting the feelings of the Serbs. Apart from their feelings, however, he thought there were strong arguments in favour of the British, American, Japanese proposal. It was said that the people of Macedonia could appeal to the League of Nations if they were oppressed. Was it not better for the League of Nations to have an Officer on the spot who could report on the state of the country, rather than to receive Delegations from Macedonia in Geneva, Brussels or wherever the seat of the League might be? In the latter alternative, the League of Nations would have a poor chance of estimating the comparative mendacity of the reports brought to them. The Council had had experience of the kind of evidence supplied from the Balkans. There was equally hard swearing on both sides, and it was hardly ever possible to disentangle rights and wrongs. The Commissioner on the spot, assuming he were an able man, would know what really happened and he could give the League better evidence than could ever be obtained from rival Delegations. He did, however, think it was a serious matter to give offence to small Nations who were perhaps unduly sensitive about their sovereign rights. He was therefore inclined somewhat favourably towards M. Clemenceau’s proposal; but it involved delivering Macedonia to the mercy of the Serbs until such time as the arrangement broke down.
Mr. Headlam-Morley said that the Committee had been influenced by the evidence of people with a knowledge of Balkan affairs. They had led the Committee to apprehend not legal injustices as in Poland, but outbreaks of illegal violence, such as massacres and petty persecutions. He ventured to suggest that if the outbreak of such forms of disorder were to be awaited, the object of the Conference would not be attained. He thought it could be fairly stated to the Serb-Croat-Slovene Delegation that it was a matter of common knowledge that they would have trouble in governing certain areas, and it would be an advantage not only to the local populations, but also to their [Page 33] Government, to have a representative of the League of Nations on the spot.
M. Clemenceau said that the adoption of the preventive system would cause the Conference to have great difficulties with the Serbs. On the merits, he thought Mr. Headlam-Morley was quite right, but the result of any stipulation such as he proposed would be to encourage a large section of the Macedonian population to have recourse to the Commissioner of the League of Nations in opposition to the Central Serbian Government. This would in the end probably come about, but he would prefer that it should come about as the result of the faults of the Serbian Government, rather than as the result of action by the Conference.
M. Tittoni said that he thought an extraordinary commissioner might possibly cause annoyance. The desired result might be obtained by extending the powers of Consuls in Macedonia.
M. Clemenceau said that conflict would inevitably ensue with any such system. It might even amount to the re-introduction of the “capitulations”.
Mr. Headlam-Morley said that the object of the Committee should be to do away with any reminiscences of the old control of the Powers. A very careful attempt had been made to avoid this difficulty.
Mr. Polk said that he felt the same scruple as M. Clemenceau. He did not wish to hurt the national pride of the Serbs. On the other hand if nothing was done the Macedonians would suffer.
M. Clemenceau said it was for this reason that he suggested the threat of imposing a Commissioner. He suggested that a formula be introduced in the Treaty to the effect that the League of Nations would send a Commissioner to Macedonia, should trouble arise in the area. The Serbs would understand that they must behave.
Mr. Polk asked whether M. Clemenceau suggested the insertion of this in the Treaty of Peace itself.
M. Tardieu said that he thought that if anything of the sort was said, it would be better to say it in a letter, but he did not think it desirable to say anything of the kind. Why should Macedonia be specially singled out?
Mr. Polk asked whether the suggestion could not be made to the Serb, Croat Slovene Delegation. Their opinion might then be obtained.
Mr. Headlam-Morley said that though the Delegation had not seen the draft Treaty, he was quite certain they would refuse to sign it. He did, however, think it urgent to submit the Treaty to them. They would certainly make comment on the Article as at present drafted. It was better to submit it to them in a strong form, in order to have a margin for concessions.[Page 34]
Mr. Polk said he thought in the end it would be necessary to amend the Article in the sense suggested by M. Clemenceau. He agreed, however, that the Article in its present form might be shown to the Serbs.
Mr. Headlam-Morley said that the Committee wished genuinely to obtain the views of the Delegation. The Committee had not had the advantage of discussing the question with them in consequence of their uncompromising attitude. The conversations with M. Venizelos on the other hand had been very fruitful.
Mr. Balfour asked what the Committee would do if the Serbs regarded the Article as such an insult to them that they refused to discuss it.
M. Tittoni suggested that the Article be so worded as not to impose a Commissioner, but to suggest the appointment of one if necessary.
M. Tardieu said that whatever the situation in Macedonia might be, he did not think it right to add a special provision to the clauses, which in themselves were extremely unpopular. There were other areas in which disturbances might be expected. He did not look forward to the administration of part of Serbia by the League of Nations. Such a provision could not in any case be made general.
Mr. Balfour said that the Commissioner, he thought, would not have an agreeable post. He would have no executive authority and no protection. He could only offer advice which might be neglected with impunity. There seemed to be areas in which mutual massacres were the only method of reaching conclusions.
Mr. Headlam-Morley said that this was what the Committee expected would take place, if no arrangements were made in anticipation. There would be at once considerable agitation fostered by the friends of the Bulgars, in America, Great Britain and perhaps in France. They would claim the attention of the League of Nations; and the trouble would be aggravated.
M. Tardieu said that if information was all that was desired, consuls could make reports.
Mr. Headlam-Morley said that this was the old system, which it was desirable to eschew.
M. Tardieu said that the old system included international gendarmerie. The appointment of a Commissioner appeared to reintroduce that system, in contradiction of the principles of the Conference, and in particular of the League of Nations.
Mr. Headlam-Morley said that he accepted M. Tardieu’s general criticism, but that he thought this special exception was justified.
Mr. Balfour said that no doubt the Serbs, if they knew their own interests, would suggest the appointment of the Commissioner themselves, but it was clear they did not.[Page 35]
M. Pichon said that what chiefly shocked the world in the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia was the violation of Serbian sovereignty. If the Conference were to adopt the same course, Serbia would refuse to sign. M. Pachitch had already declared quite clearly that he would not.
Mr. Balfour enquired whether the League of Nations had a right under the Covenant to send representatives to make an enquiry, should massacres take place.
Mr. Headlam-Morley said that the League had this power according to the terms of the Minority Treaties; in this instance, according to Article 11, the League of Nations could act if an infraction of the Treaty occurred.
M. Clemenceau after reading Article 11, expressed the opinion that these stipulations were sufficient to protect Macedonian and Albanian minorities in the Serbian State.
Mr. Balfour agreed that it would be easier in practice to give effect to Article 11, rather than to Article 12.
M. Tittoni suggested that the words “prendre telles mesures” be substituted for the words “procéder de telle façon” in the French text of Article 11.
(It was then decided to accept the Treaty as a whole, to expunge Article 12 entirely, to amend Article 11 by the substitution of the words “prendre telles mesures” for “procéder de telle façon”, and, after the necessary drafting amendments, to communicate the Treaty to the Serb-Croat-Slovene Delegation.)
2. M. Tardieu explained the letter sent by M. Venizelos to the President of the Council on the 24th August. (Appendix “B”.) He pointed out that since then a new element in the situation had been introduced by the telegram from President Wilson (Appendix “C”). This telegram set aside both the alternatives considered. Frontiers of Bulgaria in Thrace
M. Clemenceau said that he thought that it was a very dangerous proposal to ask the Commissioner at Constantinople to take charge of an area containing 700,000 Greeks and 700,000 Turks, who would be in a continual state of warfare. He could not therefore accept the proposals made by President Wilson, but he was ready to listen to any new proposals that might be made.
M. Tittoni suggested that the question be adjourned, as no decision could be reached that day.
Mr. Balfour pointed out that the Bulgarians were awaiting the Treaty, which must be completed without further delay.
M. Clemenceau said that if President Wilson adhered to his proposal it was not possible to reach a settlement.[Page 36]
Mr. Balfour said that the future of Constantinople and Asia Minor need not be settled before the conclusion of the Treaty with Bulgaria. It was possible to say that Bulgaria should have nothing south or south-east of a given line. The fate of the territories outside that line might be reserved.
M. Tittoni said that if this plan was followed, difficulties would arise in Western Thrace. Eastern Thrace could be reserved without any difficulty, as it was occupied by Turkish troops. But the Bulgarians would be called upon to evacuate that part of Western Thrace they at present occupied. If so, they must be told to whom they were to deliver the country.
M. Tardieu said that there was also a difficulty for Greece if the decision were adjourned until the fate of Constantinople had been settled.
Mr. Balfour said that it was possible to distinguish between the questions at issue. The most pressing of the problems was to decide what was the boundary of Bulgaria. The other questions as to exactly how the parts of the Turkish Empire South of the Bulgarian boundary should be disposed of, could be for the time being deferred. As to President Wilson’s telegram, he could not help feeling the President had not given sufficient consideration to the position of M. Venizelos. M. Venizelos was the only statesman in the Balkans who had sincerely tried to assist the Conference, and whose policy aimed at maintaining peace in the Balkans, yet if the American policy in Eastern Europe were carried out, Greece of all these States, would fare worst. Serbia would acquire three times as much territory as she previously possessed. Roumania, in spite of her constant defiance of the Conference, would double her population. Poland and Czechoslovakia, were created by the Conference itself. Greece, if a large Greek population in Thrace were not added to her, would hardly increase at all, except in national debt which was as great as Bulgaria’s, even when the Bulgarian indemnity of £90,000,000 was counted in. He thought that it was not altogether fair to treat M. Venizelos in this manner nor did he believe it to be in the interest of Peace, especially as all Greece asked for was the application of the Fourteen Points. The President’s message, however, must be seriously considered. He therefore suggested that a line be adopted for the purpose of the Treaty with Bulgaria and that the attribution of all territories south of it be reserved.
M. Tardieu said that to the reasons adduced by Mr. Balfour might be added the fact that Greece since the Armistice, at the instance of the Conference, had mobilised three more divisions than she had under arms during the war. She had increased her army from 9 to 12 divisions. Greece was the only Power which had increased her Army [Page 37] since the Armistice. Out of 7¼ million Greeks living in compact masses in Greece, Thrace and Asia Minor, 2,300,000 living at the very gates of their own country would be excluded from it by the President’s plan. He did not think this would conduce to peace. There was also another aspect to the question. The Council had seen fit to deny the Hapsburgs the recovery of the throne in Hungary. If Greece were to be treated as was now suggested, King Constantine would be back on the throne within six months. He agreed that Mr. Balfour’s solution would meet the practical necessity of framing a treaty for Bulgaria, but he thought the arguments raised against the President’s message should be put to him.
Mr. Polk said he would gladly send the arguments to President Wilson. He heartily agreed with what Mr. Balfour had said concerning the attitude of M. Venizelos during the Conference. This attitude had always been most loyal and generous. It was therefore most distasteful to the American Delegation to adopt any decision not immediately acceptable to M. Venizelos. He did not wish to enter into all the reasons which had determined President Wilson. He would only point out to M. Tardieu that, if all the Greeks outside Greece were allowed to join Greece, it was rather the territory round Constantinople than the territory round Adrianople which would become Greek. He felt sure that the danger of the restoration of Constantine was recognised by President Wilson.
(It was decided that the Central Territorial Committee should determine a boundary line in accordance with President Wilson’s message, as the Southern frontier of Bulgaria. The portion of Western Thrace to be ceded by Bulgaria would be ceded to the Allied and Associated Powers. This territory would be occupied by British, French, Italian and Greek troops, the last being kept in the portion of this territory by general agreement attributed to Greece. The Treaty should, further, stipulate for Bulgarian access to a port on the Aegean.)
3. Mr. Balfour said that he had sent M. Clemenceau’s proposals (See H. D. 42, Minute 4,)1 to the British Government with a personal opinion in their favour, and was waiting to hear further as to representatives being sent out to confer regarding details. Situation in Armenia
(It was agreed the question should be adjourned.)
4. Mr. Balfour said that he understood the policy of the Conference to be that repatriation of the German prisoners in British and American hands should be carried out without delay under the auspices of an Inter-Allied Commission. It was not intended that the Commission should delay [Page 38] repatriation, even for an hour. The Commission itself was mere camouflage. He was ready to discuss any report the Commission might make, provided repatriation went on in the meantime. He did not, however, think that it was necessary for the Commission to make any report. All it had to do was to give a free hand to the British and American Authorities to carry out the repatriation. On Saturday he had heard that the engine drivers on the French trains said that they would take no German prisoner trains into Germany without a direct order from M. Clemenceau. Repatriation of Prisoners of War
M. Clemenceau said that no obstruction had been put by him on the process of repatriation.
M. Alphand explained the report made to the Council (Appendix “D”) and the interpretation of its orders made by the Commission. He further pointed out that the Treaty stipulated that repatriation of prisoners should be carried out with the help of German rolling stock.
M. Clemenceau pointed out that it had not been intended that the Commission should make any arrangements with the Germans. All it was to do was to facilitate in every way the repatriation of the prisoners held by the British and the Americans.
M. Matsui asked whether there was any objection to a discussion within the Commission regarding repatriation of prisoners held by the Japanese.
M. Clemenceau said that he saw no objection.
M. Alphand asked whether German civilian prisoners held by the French Government should also be repatriated.
M. Clemenceau replied in the negative.
5. The Council had before it a draft note to the German Government regarding the violation of the Treaty constituted by Article 61 in the new German Constitution. (Appendix “E”.)
M. Clemenceau said that he saw several solutions, constitution none of which were entirely satisfactory. One was to tell the Germans that the Treaty would not be ratified unless they altered their Constitution. Another was to say that, as Article 178 of the German Constitution rendered Article 61 inoperative, the German Government was asked to acknowledge the nullity of the latter. The third idea that struck him was that the Council should avail itself of the article in the Treaty providing for a prolongation of the occupation of the Rhine if guarantees against German aggression appeared insufficient. Article 61 of the New German Constitution
M. Tardieu pointed out that Article 428 of the Treaty of Peace with Germany stipulated for something to take place after the lapse [Page 39] of 15 years. The breach of the Treaty complained of had just occurred. It seemed a long time to wait before taking action.
Mr. Balfour said he thought the notion of not ratifying the Treaty must be rejected. He thought, however, it would be quite legitimate to occupy more territory on the East of the Rhine should the Germans not amend their Constitution.
M. Tardieu agreed with Mr. Balfour that action should be taken at once of such a kind as to discourage Germany from a repetition of the offence.
Mr. Balfour pointed out that the German Government alone could do nothing. It could not alter the Constitution. It could interpret it but its interpretation could be called in question by another Government. Only the German Parliament could deal with the matter and the German Parliament was not sitting. He suggested that the German Government be told that it had committed a breach of the Treaty which could not be accepted, and that this breach must be remedied within a certain time, failing which the Allied and Associated Powers would take such action as they might think fit.
M. Clemenceau suggested that such action might be the occupation of Frankfurt.
(It was decided that M. Berthelot should re-draft the message to the German Government regarding the breach of the Treaty constituted by Article 61 of the new German Constitution in the spirit of the discussion and that the new draft should be considered at the following meeting.)
(The meeting then adjourned.)
- Ante, p. 5.↩
- Dated August 22, 1919; draft in French and English.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1878, p. 895.↩
- Brackets here and in article 4 appear in the original.↩
- Brackets appear in the original.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- Does not accompany appendix B to HD–44.↩
- Based on telegram No. 2981 from Secretary Lansing to Mr. Polk, August 28, 1919, 4 p.m. (Paris Peace Conf. 868.00/194).↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- HD–40, minute 6, vol. vii, p. 945.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩