The Ambassador in Italy (Child) to the Secretary of State

No. 251

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 177 of January 16th,1 in which I reported certain information which I obtained from Mr. Ralph Soper, representing the Sinclair Oil Company, 45 Nassau Street, New York, who had just returned from Albania, [Page 595] where his Company had been seeking an oil concession, with reference as well to your telegram No. 28 of March 16, 5 p.m.2 and to my reply No. 41 of March 18, 1 p.m.,2 and previous correspondence in regard to the Albanian situation. I now have the honor to enclose herewith copies of two letters2 from Mr. C. Telford Erickson, dated respectively, Tirana February 23 and Tirana March 20, to the Military Attaché of this Embassy. Colonel Donnelly had recently to make a report on Albania under instructions from his Department, and it was at the suggestion of the Embassy that he wrote direct to Mr. Erickson. The Embassy has heretofore refrained from direct correspondence with anyone from Albania, and it was thought that Colonel Donnelly’s need for information from that quarter would provide a suitable opportunity for communication with Erickson, who is probably the best informed American on Albanian conditions. The Department may recall that Mr. Erickson was in America last year representing the Albanian Government. He was originally a missionary and his name has figured frequently in previous despatches from this Embassy in connection with the affairs of the Sinclair Oil Company and other embryo oil concessions in Albania.2

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According to Mr. Erickson’s letter, the Albanian Government is turning to Great Britain for aid, has asked for a financial expert, and is trying to obtain at the same time a loan with the help of the British Government, in return for which they promise to the Anglo-Persian Oil Company the oil monopoly for all Albania. Mr. Erickson adds that two government engineers, one Italian and the other Austrian, have just examined the oil fields and that their reports indicate very large deposits easy of development.

I venture to hope, therefore, that this matter will receive the considered attention of the Department and that a definite policy in regard to Albania will be formulated. It is quite possible that if skillfully handled some definite benefit could accrue to American interests through the promise of recognition and the timely culmination of that event. It would appear quite possible that if we defer action much longer British and other interests will obtain such ascendency in this small vulnerable country that American interests will be virtually excluded and their claims relegated to the usual official protests through diplomatic channels for the equality of opportunity. The Embassy stands ready, of course, to assist in this matter in any way in its power.

Apart altogether from the utilitarian aspect of the matter, the moral influence of American recognition would be very considerable. [Page 596] It appears to Mr. Erickson that there are thousands of American Albanians to whom America is almost as dear as their motherland and upon whom no other country has such a hold on their imagination and affection. The imminence of possible recognition might also have a salutary influence upon certain phases of our relations with the Italian Government.

I have [etc.]

Richard Washburn Child
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