Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray)
Mr. Nano, the Rumanian Chargé d’Affaires, called on me this morning at my request, at which time I look up with him the matters mentioned in the Minister’s aide-mémoire regarding the status of Bessarabia, handed to Mr. Cotton on February 18, 1930. I referred to the Minister’s subsequent third-person note of August 22, 1930 in which he requested the Department to let him have a reply to the above-mentioned mémoire, which in the latter instance he describes as “concerning the status of Rumanian citizens born in Bessarabia.”
I explained to Mr. Nano that the Department had not considered that the Minister’s aide-mémoire of last February required a reply and that hence none was made. Since the receipt, however, of the Minister’s note of August 22, 1930 we had examined certain of the points raised in the original aide-mémoire and that I was now prepared to talk to him on the subject.
I stated that inasmuch as the Minister had not specifically raised the question of our recognition of Rumanian sovereignty over Bessarabia there would appear to be no need to touch upon that question in our conversation. Proceeding then to the question of immigration quotas I informed Mr. Nano that the Immigration Act of 192429 presented statutory obstacles to shifting Bessarabia from [Page 806] the Russian to the Rumanian quota; that I had been informed by the competent authorities of the Department in Visa matters that the Rumanian wishes in this matter could not be met except by a modification of our present immigration legislation, which I thought would not be feasible.
With regard to the objections which the Rumanians have at various times raised regarding the map of Europe and Asia Minor prepared in 1924 by the War Department, and on which Bessarabia is indicated as being under “Rumanian occupation,” I pointed out to Mr. Nano that the above map bears the following notation:
“The boundaries shown upon the map should not be regarded as having political significance, or as involving recognition of new Governments, or of new boundaries, or of transfers of territory, except as the United States Government has already made such recognition in a formal and official manner.”
I reminded him that the State Department had had no hand in the preparation of the map and that it was not responsible for the acts of the War Department; in case, however, the latter Department should at any time consider revising its present map, or publishing a new one, the Department of State would be glad to suggest that it omit, in the case of Bessarabia, the description “Rumanian occupation.”
Mr. Nano then went over the usual arguments of the Rumanians against our position on the Bessarabian question. He felt the Department had been very inconsistent in insisting that Rumania should come to an understanding with Soviet Russia over Bessarabia before the annexation of that territory could be recognized by this Government. He expressed himself as unable to understand how this Government could take cognizance of any act of the Soviet Government, which this Government refuses to recognize as the proper spokesman for the Russian people. I must confess that there is a good deal to what Mr. Nano says in the above connection. Mr. Nano then pointed out that if the Department wanted to be consistent in this matter it never would have recognized the seizure of the southern districts of Bessarabia by Russia in 1878 against the will of the Rumanian people, since no agreement was ever reached between Russia and Rumania over this territory at that or at any subsequent time. I pointed out, in reply, that we could hardly make retroactive the principle enunciated by Mr. Colby in 1920, since that would lead us to a situation of reductio ad absurdum.
Mr. Nano agreed with me that no useful purpose would be served in discussing the matter at the present time, when there was no clear motivation for such action. I remarked that if and when this Government should consent to reopen the question it would doubtless be on some occasion when such action would be clearly [Page 807] warranted by the circumstances; such circumstances were not, I believed, existent at the present time. Mr. Nano then remarked that the matter was really not one of very great importance, since Rumania now holds Bessarabia and intends to keep it despite Russian protests and that she will conduct herself just as Russia did after 1878 when Rumania protested in vain. He added that, at the time Rumania adhered to the Litvinoff Protocol putting the Kellogg Pact prematurely into force as between Soviet Russia and certain limitrophe States, Litvinoff had stated that the Pact applied to Rumania within her present frontiers and that Soviet Russia, while not giving juridical recognition to Rumania’s annexation of Bessarabia, would not use force in order to regain possession of that province.
Mr. Nano said one thing during our conversation which arrested my attention, and it was that it might be difficult for the Rumanian Government to secure from the Rumanian Parliament ratification of any American-Rumanian treaties since the deputies from Bessarabia might obstruct on the ground that this Government had refused to recognize the Rumanian annexation of Bessarabia. I hope what Mr. Nano said in the above connection is not true, since we shall shortly be negotiating a new treaty of commerce and navigation with Rumania and it would be unfortunate to have the treaty defeated because of the opposition of Bessarabian deputies.
- Approved May 26, 1924; 43 Stat. 153.↩