Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/49
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 8, 1919, at 11 a.m.
United States of America
- Hon. F. L. Polk.
- Mr. L. Harrison.
- Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
- Mr. H. Norman.
- Mr. P. Kerr.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Pichon.
- M. Dutasta.
- M. Berthelot.
- M. Massigli.
- M. Tittoni.
- M. Paterno.
- Barone Russo.
- M. Matsui.
- M. Kawai.
- United States of America
|America, United States of||Capt. Chapin.|
|British Empire||Capt. E. Abraham.|
|France||M. de Percin.|
The following were also present for the items in which they were concerned:
America, United States of
- Hon. H. Gibson.
- Mr. A. W. Dulles.
- Mr. Carr.
- Colonel Kisch.
- M. Jules Cambon.
- General Desticker.
- General Le Rond.
- M. Laroche.
- M. Kammerer.
- M. Hermite.
- Col. Castoldi.
- M. Ricci-Busatti.
- M. Brambilla.
1. The Council had before it a Note from the Drafting Committee asking for instruction as to the language in which the Conventions replacing the Acts of Berlin1 and Brussels2 should be drafted. (See Appendix “A”.)
M. Clemenceau pointed out that the Acts of Berlin and Brussels had been in French, and that some of their provisions were maintained, in the new Conventions.
Mr. Balfour said that in view of this he agreed that the new Convention ought to be in French. Language To Be Used in the Conventions Taking the Place of the Acts of Berlin and Brussels
Mr. Polk agreed.
M. Tittoni also agreed.
(It was decided that the Conventions replacing the Acts of Berlin and Brussels should be drafted in French.)
2. M. Clemenceau said that the Germans had first asked the Conference to send Commissions of Control to Germany before the Treaty came into force. Consequently advance detachments had been appointed and each of the Allied Powers had been represented in each section. The Germans had then sent a request that the despatch of the Commissions should be delayed as they appeared to them to be too numerous. The Council then decided to postpone the sending of the advance detachments (See H. D. 47, (l).).3 Now it appeared that the Germans withdrew their objection to the numbers and desired the Commissions to be sent at once. He suggested that the Commissions should accordingly be sent immediately and be composed in the manner already decided on. He was informed that General Nollet was ready to begin. Commissions of Control in Germany
M. Polk said that it was understood that the United States could not make appointments for the present.
(It was decided that the advance delegations of the Inter-Allied Commissions of Control should be sent to Germany forthwith.)
3. The Council had before it a reply from the German Delegation regarding the ultimatum of the Conference and a draft answer to this reply. (See Appendices “B” and “C”.)
Mr. Balfour said that he thought the draft a somewhat rough answer. It was the general desire that Germany should carry out the Treaty, but no one constitution wished her to do so under compulsion, whether by arms or by blockade. This would be a misfortune not only for Germany but for the Allied and Associated Powers. Germany should be given every chance of behaving reasonably. The [Page 130] draft said very truly that the German Government was not the final authority on the interpretation of the Treaty, but the same might be alleged against the Allied and Associated Powers. The interpretation of the Treaty had now become a subject for jurists. He did not think that the Council was the final authority regarding its interpretation. Reply to the Note of the German Deiegation Regarding Article 61 of the German Constitution
M. Tittoni observed that two points in the German reply had not been met in the answer. The first was a legal point. Article 178 of the German Constitution declared that no Article in the Constitution should affect the Treaty of Peace. Article 61 was thereby rendered ineffective. The second was, that in threatening the extension of the occupation, the Allies were not taking their stand on any Article in the Treaty. Neither of these points were met in the draft reply.
M. Clemenceau said that this had been deliberately done. He did not think that either of these points required a reply. It was hardly tolerable that Germany should violate the Treaty and that the Allies should remain bound by it. The question of legality should have been raised when the letter had been drafted on behalf of the Conference to the German Government. It was impossible now to withdraw from the position then taken up. He reminded the Council that the Austrians were at the moment represented in the German Assembly. This could not be tolerated. He was persuaded that if the Allies threatened to carry out what they had indicated, they would not be forced to execute their threats. Austria had not yet signed the Treaty and was not, therefore, bound in the same way as Germany, but it must be remembered that she protested against the clause that prevented her from joining Germany.
Mr. Polk said that he agreed with M. Clemenceau’s contention that the Allies could not withdraw from the position they had taken up. He thought that perhaps it might be as well to begin by answering the German arguments. When this had been done the Council could be as stiff as it wished. He would like to consult the Jurists in respect to the first part of the answer.
M. Clemenceau said that he was quite ready to adopt this method and asked Mr. Polk to prepare the draft.
(It was agreed that a new draft answer to the German reply concerning Article 61 of the German Constitution should be prepared by Mr. Polk and submitted to the Council on the following day.)
4. The Council had before it a letter from M. Pachitch, dated September 4th, 1919 (Appendix “D”), protesting against certain of the provisions in the Treaty between the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, (see Appendix “E”). Protest of the Serb-Croat-Slovene Delegation Against the Treaty for the Protection of Minorities
M. Berthelot said that the protest of the Delegation was a long one. The main desideratum was that [Page 131] no mention in the preamble should be made of the year 1913, in order that Serbian sovereignty over territories acquired in Balkan wars should not be limited. The argument was that, as Serbia had settled her own affairs then without the help of Europe, the settlement she had made ought not to be called in question now.
M. Tittoni asked whether this request applied to a matter of form only or to a matter of substance. If only a matter of form was involved, he would agree. Otherwise, the effect would be that minority clauses would not apply to Macedonia.
M. Pichon observed that they would not apply to the part of Macedonia acquired by Serbia in the Balkan War.
M. Tittoni reminded the Council that the Commission had recommended the appointment of a Commissioner to reside in Macedonia on behalf of the League of Nations the Council had decided against this.3a It was now asked to go much further in the opposite direction and to exclude Macedonia from the protection of the League of Nations. This, he thought, was not acceptable.
M. Berthelot said that, if the passage of the preamble objected to by the Serb-Croat Delegation were suppressed, the change would be a matter of form, but the change carried with it an alteration to Article 9, the last paragraph of which would have to be struck out. This would have to be a substantial change. It was questionable, however, whether the Conference could enact any measures affecting the pre-war acquisitions of any State. If the last paragraph of Article 9 were suppressed, some other Article would be inserted to make the language and educational clauses applicable to Macedonia. This however represented intrusion in another form. It was questionable whether such intrusion was legitimate.
M. Pichon observed that, when the Treaty of Bucharest of 19134 had been called in question in relation to the Boumanians, M. Tittoni had declared that the Conference had no power to modify pre-war Treaties.
M. Tittoni explained he had maintained the Treaty could not be abrogated, but that the Conference was free to introduce stipulations into its Treaties even in contradiction of the terms of that Treaty, by which they were not themselves bound. He observed that the Commission had unanimously decided that protection for minorities was necessary in Macedonia.
M. Clemenceau said that he did not feel bound by the unanimous decision of the Commission. In his opinion, the Council could attach conditions to territory which it gave; it could not attach any conditions to territory previously acquired. He suggested that M. Berthelot should draft the additional clauses intended to preserve the [Page 132] linguistic and educational guarantees of the population in Macedonia before discussing the matter any further.
M. Tittoni said that the view of the British Delegate on the Committee had been that the Balkan settlement in 1913 was not final until its recognition by the Powers. This recognition had not taken place, as negotiations on the subject had been interrupted by the outbreak of the Great War.
M. Berthelot said that the Treaty of Bucharest was valid, even without a recognition by the Great Powers.
M. Tittoni observed that recognition was necessary to give the Treaty full authority from a diplomatic point of view. He reminded the Council of its previous conclusion, that the protection of minorities was even more necessary in Macedonia than elsewhere. It was now suggested that Macedonia should be excluded from the operation of the Treaties intended to protect minorities.
M. Clemenceau said that the problem was exactly as M. Tittoni stated. It was for this reason that he would like to see a new formula before continuing the discussion of the question.
Mr. Balfour said that the discussion was concerned with two questions—one relating to international law and practice, and the other to the situation of the Macedonian population. In regard to the first, he thought there was no great difference of opinion between the French and British Delegations. Both thought that the Treaty of Bukarest of 1913 was not a completed transaction until ratified by the Great Powers. This ratification had not taken place because of the outbreak of the Great War. The French Delegation recognised that the general situation in the Balkans, especially regarding financial arrangements, was not final before the outbreak of hostilities in 1914. The French and British Delegations were, therefore, in accord in thinking that the Great War had cut into the necessary completion of the Balkan settlement. This appeared to afford some justification to those who thought that on the legal point, the Conference had a right to alter what had been agreed on in the Treaty of Bukarest of 1913. On the other point, he thought that all were entirely agreed. Special protection for the Macedonians was necessary. Some means might be found of affording the Macedonians special protection in a manner satisfactory to the Powers, but it was unlikely to be satisfactory to Serbia. The Serbians thought that all they had acquired in 1913 should be outside the control of the Powers. The Powers thought that the considerable accession of territory to Serbia and the special difficulties of Macedonia justified them in exercising control.
M. Clemenceau said that all he desired was to find a text which might be acceptable. The Minority Clauses were unpopular and must be made palatable by some concession.[Page 133]
Mr. Polk said that the Council had previously concluded that Macedonia required a special guarantee.
M. Berthelot said it would be very difficult to find a formula reconciling (a) the absence of reference to 1913, and (b) special protection for the Macedonians. As the Treaty now stood, the Serbians would probably refuse to sign on the following Wednesday. He, therefore, suggested, that he be authorised to have an interview with M. Vesnitch. If M. Vesnitch agreed to a compromise, the situation might be saved. If not, the reference to 1913 could be preserved, and if the Serbo-Croat-Slovene Delegation refused to sign the Treaty with Austria, the risk must be run. As to the minor points raised in the letter (Appendix “D”), he suggested that the Committee be allowed to dispose of them.
Mr. Polk suggested that the compromise, as suggested by M. Berthelot, should, when drafted, be submitted to the Committee also.
M. Berthelot pointed out that the Delegation also asked for a modification of Article 11. He did not think this could be accepted, and he suggested that the request be refused.
M. Clemenceau said that this might be considered on the following day, together with the other points raised on the subject.
(It was decided that M. Berthelot should consult with M. Vesnitch as to a formula, affording protection to the population of Macedonia, in a manner acceptable to the Serbo-Croat-Slovene Delegation. This formula, if agreed on, should be submitted to the Council after consultation with the Committee on New States, to which the other points raised in M. Patchitch’s letter (Appendix “D”) were also referred.)
5. M. Clemenceau said that he had just received a letter from the Roumanian Delegation, offering to sign the Treaty with Austria, with a reservation, regarding Article 60, concerning minorities, transit and trade. (Appendix “F”.) Roumanian Reservation Regarding Article 60 of the Treaty of Peace With Austria
Mr. Balfour asked whether any Power could sign a Treaty with reservations.
M. Clemenceau said that this had not been permitted in the case of the Treaty with Germany. He thought it was necessary that a Power should sign, or should not sign.
M. Pichon observed that Article 60, which he read, covered the whole case of the protection of minorities everywhere.
M. Clemenceau suggested that the substitution of the expression “League of Nations” for the expression “Principal Allied and Associated Powers” might perhaps induce the Roumanians to be more tractable. If so, he would adopt the alteration. The Roumanian argument was, that if each of the Allied and Associated Powers considered itself the protector of minorities in Roumania, there would be no end to their troubles. If, on the other hand, the League of Nations [Page 134] was the only Court of Appeal, the matter could be settled without repeated diplomatic interventions at Bukarest.
Mr. Balfour observed that if the words “Principal Allied and Associated Powers” were deleted, and the words “League of Nations” introduced, Article 60 would stipulate that there should be a Treaty with the League of Nations. This appeared to be impossible.
M. Tittoni said that he understood the Clauses for the protection of minorities had been formulated by the Conference, and accepted by the Poles, Serbs and Czechs in the Treaties signed with these small States. The League of Nations had been introduced to supervise the execution, but the clauses had been framed by the Allied and Associated Powers and the Treaties had been signed with them. If so, it was hardly possible to mention clauses to be framed by the League of Nations, which did not yet exist, seeing that the clauses had already been framed by the Allied and Associated Powers. He thought Roumania must accept the clauses as laid down, but that she might be asked to accept the supervision of the League of Nations for the execution of these clauses. Since the other small States had agreed, Roumania must also agree.
M. Pichon pointed out that Roumania would only acquire the Bukovina from Austria. The area she was likely to obtain from Hungary, i. e., Transylvania, was far bigger. If Article 60 in the Treaty with Austria were confined to the Bukovina, possibly Roumania would accept. At all events, she would be on worse ground for refusing.
M. Tittoni said that if this would induce Roumania to sign the Treaty with Austria, the expedient might be accepted.
M. Pichon said that he was not certain that this would induce Roumania to sign.
Mr. Polk said that he thought an exception in favour of Roumania could not be made. Poland had signed the minority Treaty, in spite of its extreme unpopularity in Poland. M. Paderewski had overcome great opposition before he was able to sign it. If Roumania were now allowed to evade a similar Treaty, M. Paderewski and his country would feel that they had been treated unjustly.
Mr. Balfour agreed. He thought that Poland had deserved far better of the Conference than Roumania.
M. Clemenceau said that Mr. Polk’s argument concerning M. Paderewski and Poland was very strong. If Roumania would not sign, he would like to know what effect this would produce on the rest of the Treaty.
M. Tittoni asked whether the Minority Clauses for Roumania were the same as those for the other new States.
M. Berthelot said that the clauses were the same for all. There was a special clause for the protection of Jews in Roumania, and this clause also applied to Poland.[Page 135]
(It was decided to consult the Drafting Committee on the legal issues involved.)
(The Members of the Drafting Committee then entered the room.)
M. Clemenceau asked M. Fromageot what legal effect would result from the absence of Roumanian signature to the Treaty. Roumania was unwilling to sign the Treaty without making a reservation on Article 60. The Council was unwilling to allow her to sign with a reservation. What, then, was the situation, for Roumania, should her signature be refused, and for the powers that did sign?
M. Fromageot said that if Roumania did not sign, she would not be a party to the Treaty, could claim no advantages under it, and be made subject to no obligations established by it.
Mr. Balfour asked whether Roumania would still be at war with Austria.
M. Fromageot said that war could cease without a Treaty, just as it could begin without a formal declaration. War was a state of fact. War, for instance, had ceased between France and Mexico without a Treaty.
M. Clemenceau asked what would happen to the Bukovina.
M. Fromageot said that, according to his personal opinion, Roumania could claim no rights over the Bukovina on the ground of a Treaty she did not sign.
M. Clemenceau said that the Roumanians would doubtless stay in the country without the consent of the Powers. He asked whether she could acquire any financial or economic rights.
M. Fromageot said that no such rights could be acquired under the Treaty, if Roumania did not sign it.
Mr. Balfour asked whether Austrian rights in the Bukovina would be extinguished.
M. Fromageot said that there was an article requiring Austria to give up her rights in the Bukovina. This article would stand, even though Roumania did not take up the inheritance. It might, perhaps, be stipulated that the abandonment of the rights in the Bukovina be made in favour of the Allied and Associated Powers, as it was clear that none but a signatory to the Treaty could acquire rights transferred by it.
Mr. Balfour asked whether it would be possible to adopt the suggestion of substituting the League of Nations for the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, as it was their supervision that Roumania appeared to resent.
Mr. Hurst pointed out that if the League of Nations were substituted for the Allied and Associated Powers, the question regarding the protection of minorities would come before the Council of the League. By the constitution of the League, Roumania, if concerned, would have the right to be present in the Council. As no decision of the Council [Page 136] was operative without unanimity, the mere presence of Roumania would secure no interference with her policy.
M. Tittoni pointed out that a similar difficulty would arise in respect of the Treaty with Hungary. Roumania might be satisfied with the actual possession of the Bukovina and Transylvania without a title de jure to either, because she might argue that neither Austria nor Hungary would be able for a long time to dispute her possession. But in the case of Bessarabia, unless she acquired treaty rights, it must be clear to her that Russia, once she was restored to power, would certainly wish to regain the country. In this instance, Roumania would see that she required the assistance of the Allied and Associated Powers or the League of Nations. This might be pointed out to her, and she might be influenced by this argument.
Mr. Polk said that he was not prepared to bribe Roumania into good behaviour. He did not think that the Council had fallen so low as to be forced to resort to such tactics.
Mr. Tittoni pointed out that he would not have made his proposal unless he had regarded Roumania as having a good title to Bessarabia.
Mr. Polk said that he quite understood this.
Mr. Balfour said that he thought the proper course was to make no mention of Bessarabia at all. He would confine himself to reasoning with the Roumanians, and pointing out that Poland, Serbia, Czecho-Slovakia, had all accepted similar treaties. This would put the Roumanians on bad ground for maintaining their refusal.
M. Clemenceau said that it might be added that Rotimania had failed to carry out what she had undertaken to do under the Treaty of Berlin of 1878.5
Mr. Polk thought it might be stipulated in Article [59?] that the surrender of the former Duchy of Bukovina should be made in favour of the Allied and Associated Powers.
Mr. Balfour said this would do away with any necessity for a letter to the Roumanian Delegation.
Mr. Polk agreed that this might be reserved for use in case the Roumanians refused to sign. The change might be made by a special protocol added to the Treaty.
M. Clemenceau said he thought the Roumanians would be sufficiently punished if they did not sign, by the effects of their not being parties to the Treaty.
Mr. Balfour said that he would accept any suggestion which did not involve a postponement of the signature of the Treaty.
M. Tittoni said that he would adhere to Mr. Polk’s suggestion, if there were the time to spare. He pointed out that there was yet time [Page 137] to penalise Roumania in the Treaty with Hungary, from which she expected to receive Transylvania.
M. Fromageot pointed out that a special protocol could be contrived, permitting Roumania to sign the Treaty with Austria, after the other Powers.
Mr. Polk said that he had received visits from some of the Roumanian Delegation. He thought that the Roumanians wished to be conciliatory, but at the bottom of their attitude was a sense of grievance that they were not obtaining their due share of reparations. They thought that they were faring less well than France and Belgium in this respect.
M. Clemenceau said he thought the best suggestion to adopt was Mr. Balfour’s, namely, that an answer be sent to the Roumanians, arguing with them that Poland and the other new States had accepted the minority clauses. As to the Bukovina, Transylvania and Bessarabia, he thought it would be better to say nothing, but to wait and see what action the Roumanians would take.
(It was accordingly decided that no alterations should be made in Article 60 of the Treaty with Austria, and that Mr. Balfour should prepare a draft answer to the Roumanian Delegation, in the spirit of the above discussion, and that the draft should be submitted to the Council on the following day.)
(The Meeting then adjourned.)
- General Act of Berlin, February 26, 1885, British and Foreign State Papers, vol. lxxvi, p. 4.↩
- General Act of Brussels, July 2, 1890, William M. Malloy (ed.), Treaties, Conventions, etc., Between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1776–1909 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1910), vol. ii, p. 1964.↩
- Ante, p. 97.↩
- See HD–44, minute 1, p. 30.↩
- British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cvii, p. 658.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1878, p. 895.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- FM–27, minute 3, vol. iv, p. 856.↩
- Appendix A to HD–45, p. 62.↩
- Vol. vi, pp. 795, 832.↩
- Ibid., pp. 926, 945.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- Dated September 2, 1919; draft in French and English.↩
- Brackets here and in article 4 appear in the original.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩