Paris Peace Conf. 180.03801/4


Notes of a Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of the Five Great Powers, Held in M. Pichon’s Room, Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Friday, January 9, 1920, at 12:15 p.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • The Hon. Hugh Wallace.
    • Secretary
      • Mr. L. Harrison.
    • British Empire
      • The Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, O. M., M. P., Prime Minister.
      • The Right Hon. A. Bonar Law, M. P., Lord Privy Seal.
      • The Right Hon. the Earl Curzon of Kedleston, K. G., G. C. S. I., G. C. I. E., Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
    • Secretary
      • Sir Maurice Hankey, G. C. B.
      • Mr. Leeper.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau
      • M. Cambon.
    • Secretaries
      • M. Dutasta
      • M. Berthelot
      • M. Massigli.
    • Italy
      • M. Nitti
      • M. Scialoja
    • Secretary
      • M. Trombetti
    • Japan
      • M. Matsui.

Interpreter: M. Mantoux

Mr. Lloyd George said that he had had the pleasure of several conversations with M. Nitti in London. The latter had made certain suggestions which he himself had taken into consideration with his colleagues. As the result of their deliberations he had prepared a Memorandum of Proposals which he would now invite his colleagues on the Supreme Council to examine. The Adriatic. The Question of Fiume

(At this point Mr. Lloyd George’s proposals were handed round—Appendix).

His latest proposals, though based on M. Nitti’s suggestions, had not yet been seen by M. Nitti. His suggestion was that the proposals in his Memorandum should be considered as presented to the [Page 860] Conference and to M. Nitti by the signatories of the Treaty of London.1 In this connection Mr. Lloyd George recalled that on April 19th, at the Council of Four, in the presence of President Wilson, he had informed M. Orlando that Great Britain stood by the Treaty of London, and had made it clear that, if Italy insisted on it, Great Britain would abide by it.2 At the same time he had also made it clear that, in the opinion of the British Government, the Treaty of London was not quite suitable to existing conditions. He was quite well acquainted with M. Nitti’s difficulties, which were largely internal. The fact was that Fiume had become, as it were, a “flag” to Italian public opinion. Apart from that, it was not really a question of any great intrinsic importance. Nevertheless, it was very urgent to settle the matter. Otherwise the situation was full of peril to Italy, to the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and to Europe. He did not think the Council could take the responsibility of allowing the present state of affairs to continue. In this complicated question no perfect solution was possible. The populations of this area were so mixed as to prevent this, and the only thing to do was to reach some rough and ready solution which all parties could accept. Consequently, if his new proposals should prove acceptable to Italy, he proposed that the Council should then see the representatives of the Serbo-Croat-Slovene State and put the proposal before them.

M. Clemenceau asked if M. Nitti had had an opportunity of studying the document.

M. Nitti replied that he had not.

M. Clemenceau then proposed that, in order to give M. Nitti time to study the question, it should be adjourned until 11-30 on Saturday, January 10th.


the adriatic situation

Draft of Suggested Joint Memorandum by M. Clemenceau and Mr. Lloyd George

The British and French Governments have consistently declared their willingness to abide by the Treaty of London. They cannot forget that Italy voluntarily came to the aid of the Allies at a critical and dangerous moment in the war, and that, in spite of the very gallant and memorable fight put up by the Serbian nation, it was [Page 861] mainly through the courage, self-sacrifice, and the endurance of the Italian people and Army that the Croatian and Slovene peoples have won that independence and freedom from German and Magyar domination which they now enjoy. They are prepared, should the Italian Government require it, to abide by the terms of the Treaty they have signed. If, however, the Italian Government agrees in thinking that, owing to the disappearance of the Hapsburg monarchy, the rise of national States in its place, the great uprising of Italian feeling in Fiume, and the other great events which have occurred since 1915, the Treaty of London no longer constitutes a satisfactory settlement of the Adriatic question, they are willing, subject to the amendments set forth below, to adopt as the basis of settlement the memorandum presented to Signor Scialoja by the representatives of France, the United States of America and Great Britain on December 9th, 1919,3 and modified by the proposals made to them by Signor Nitti on January 6th, 1920.4 They advance these amendments to Signor Nitti’s memorandum in the conviction that, while they are wholly consistent with Italy’s vital interests, they are essential to lasting peace and good relations between Italy and its neighbours which the British and French Governments have so much at heart and which they regard as their duty to promote. The British and French Governments, therefore, would propose to the Conference the following settlement of the Adriatic question:—

There should be constituted a “Free State of Fiume according to President Wilson’s plan” but the Western frontier of the proposed State should in the South be moved Eastwards. As, however, it is vital that the railway running northward from Fiume should be wholly within the Free State, it is proposed that the frontier should run as follows:—

The line should leave the Coast at Punta Kolova and run through points 642, 1095 and 1142 up to Mount Planik, thence northwards it would follow the red line shown on the map.

“The City of Fiume with its district (corpus separatum) should be guaranteed by a statute efficaciously safeguarding its Italianita”. This would be fully attained by conferring upon the corpus separatum the same degree of autonomy within the Free State as it enjoyed under Austro-Hungarian rule. Both the privileges of Fiume (corpus separatum) and the Free State itself should be placed under the guarantee of the League of Nations. The international character of the port, together with full facilities for its development in the interests of all nations concerned, and especially of Jugo-Slavia, Hungary and Roumania, must also be secured under the guarantee of the League of Nations.
Inasmuch as the preponderant population of the Island of Cherso is Slav, there are serious objections to the removal of the Island from the Free State of which it is an integral part. The Island of Lagosta, however, should be ceded to Italy should the Italian Government consider it necessary for strategic reasons.
The Free State of Zara should be governed by a High Commissioner advised by a Council representative of the inhabitants which should select its own diplomatic representation. Arrangements should also be made governing the economic relations of Zara with the rest of Dalmatia which falls to the Jugo-Slav State. Zara will therefore be within the Serb-Croat-Slovene Customs Union.
The Italian proposals for the effective neutralisation of all the Islands of the Adriatic should be accepted, but the proposal to neutralise the mainland of Dalmatia as well, involving as it must the prohibition to an independent State of all measures of self-defence, is one which can hardly be forced upon a friendly Ally. The Conference, therefore, should ask the Italian Government to be content with the neutralisation of all the Islands which, together with the other most important safeguards conceded under the present arrangement, would seem to give as absolute security as they can reasonably demand.
The Italians of Dalmatia should be free to choose Italian citizenship without leaving the territory. In view of the fact, however, that Fiume is to be set up as a corpus separatum within the Free State under guarantee of the League of Nations, it is not possible to extend the arrangement to the citizens of Fiume.
Existing economic enterprises in Dalmatia should have their security safeguarded by an International Convention.
There must also be a discussion of the boundaries of Albania.

In conclusion, the British and French Governments would point out that the present proposal involving the severance of the Free State containing an overwhelming majority (200,000) of Jugo-Slavs from their motherland, the modification of its Western frontier in favour of Italy the cession of islands containing a Slav majority, and other points are very great concessions to ask of a State which is now a friendly Ally. The British and French Governments are prepared to ask the Serb-Croat-Slovene State to make these great concessions for the sake of an amicable and prompt settlement of a question which now threatens the peace and progress of Southern Europe. But they can go no further and they earnestly trust that the Conference and the Italian Government will accept them.

Paris, January 9, 1920.

  1. Great Britain, Cmd. 671, Misc. No. 7 (1920): Agreement Between France, Russia, Great Britain and Italy, Signed at London, April 26, 1915.
  2. IC–171D, minute 10, vol. v, p. 91.
  3. Great Britain, Cmd. 586, Misc. No. 2 (1920): Correspondence Relating to the Adriatic Question, p. 3.
  4. Ibid., p. 10.