800.51 W 89Belgium/40: Telegram

The Ambassador in Belgium (Phillips) to the Secretary of State

65. The following note has just been received from the Foreign Office:

“Mr. Ambassador: Your Excellency’s memorandum of May 31 has received the attention of the Government of the King. In reply I ask Your Excellency to be so good as to communicate to your Government the following:

The Government of the King has confirmed several times its determination to honor its engagements contracted with the United States.

1. As far as concerns the advances granted to Belgium by the Allied and Associated Governments before November 11th, 1918 the Belgian Government considers it its duty to remark that according to the terms of article 232 of the Treaty of Versailles3 Germany is obliged to carry out their reimbursement. This treaty having become a Belgian law, the arrangements agreed to by the Government of the King in order to replace the clause of the Treaty of Versailles which has become void as far as concerns the Government of the United States by reason of its nonratification, will require the approval of the legislative powers.

The Belgian Government cannot help but recall that it only accepted to sign the Treaty of Versailles notably because of the advantages which article 232 accorded to it. Had it been able to foresee that this treaty would not be ratified by all the signatory powers it would have taken measures to have Belgium freed entirely from the sums which she had been required to spend during the hostilities as a result of violation of the treaties of 1839.

The United States not having ratified the Treaty of Versailles the Belgian Government cannot legally make a point of article 232 vis-à-vis the United States. The elements of fact however and the moral and juridical considerations which in 1919 determined the Allied and Associated Powers to accord special advantages to Belgium by reason of her particular situation still retain all their value.

The declarations of the President of the United States during the war on the subject of the complete restoration of Belgium, the constitution [sic] developed in the course of the peace negotiations, and which demonstrated the necessity of according to my country a special treatment in satisfaction of its recognized right to such restoration, constitute a right which continues to exist whatever may have been the fate of article 232.

During the progress of the conversations which are about to commence the two Governments should take this into account.

2. The advances granted to Belgium after November 11, 1918 figure already in the table of our public debt. After an accord shall have been arrived at with the American Government on the subject of their consolidation the necessary credits must be provided for in the budget and submitted to Parliament.

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Having in mind the benefits of the considerations above exposed (sous le bénéfice des considérations exposes), and it being well understood that the sum of $480,000,000 indicated by the American Government as capital and interest of Belgian debt is subject to verification by the negotiators, the Government of the King adheres in principle to the contents of the memorandum transmitted by Your Excellency May 31 last and engages itself to send to Washington at a time to be fixed by agreement between the two Governments a mission charged to negotiate the consolidation of its debts.

I take this occasion Mr. Ambassador, etc.”

I believe that the contemplated oral communication is embodied in this note.

  1. Malloy, Treaties, 1910–1923, vol. iii, p. 3419.