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

No. 268

Sir: In pursuance of the Department’s instruction No. 79 dated October 25, 1933, I have the honor to inform the Department that I called upon the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs last evening and took up with him the subject matter of the proposed naturalization convention between the United States and Italy. I took a copy of the draft of the treaty as transmitted by the Department in its instruction No. 816 dated December 14, 1932, and handed it to Mr. Suvich and asked him if he would indicate the objections which his Government had to that draft in order that there might be something more concrete and that we might have an opportunity to come to an understanding. I impressed upon him the urgency of the matter if we were to have any agreement in the comparatively near future because the Italian law is such that from the point of view of the Italian Government it needs to be changed and it can only be changed with the concurrence of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, and as the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate will be in session only during the coming month of December, the law, if it is to be changed so as to enable Italy to enter into an agreement, must be agreed upon, at least in substance, in the near future.

To all this Mr. Suvich agreed and said that they were anxious to come to some understanding with the United States but that things closer to home and of the greatest importance had tended to exclude from their [Page 582] attention the subject of this treaty. He recalled some of the various activities in which the Foreign Office had been engaged in the last few months but said that he thought that with the adjournment of the meeting of the National Council of Corporations which is now in session in Home and which is scheduled to adjourn on Saturday, there would come next week an opportunity which he hoped to take advantage of and discuss the matter with me in more detail. He said that he would get out his papers and the file and would make an engagement with me some day during the coming week and would at that time be prepared to discuss certain points in the proposed draft of the treaty to which Italy had some objection. Mr. Suvich also indicated that it would be necessary to have an entirely new draft.

While Mr. Suvich has not indicated any particular reasons for their objections to the present draft, I am of the opinion that those objections are not related to the suggestion in the last paragraph of the Department’s instruction No. 79 of October 25, 1933, “that the Italian authorities are apprehensive lest the conclusion of the treaty would encourage Italians to obtain naturalisation in the United States with the purpose of returning to reside in Italy”.

From my several former conversations with the Undersecretary, I am convinced that it is the situation which concerns them in southern France and in the French possessions in Africa, where there are a great number of Italian citizens. They are afraid that France will take advantage of the most favored nation clause and demand the same treatment for Italians naturalized in France. So that having studied very carefully the draft which the Department enclosed with its instruction, and considering the Italian point of view as obtained in my interview with the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, I believe that the lack of legal requirements for compulsory military service in the United States is not sufficiently emphasized in the draft of the treaty. In other words, I feel that, if the whole treaty was predicated upon that legal situation or absence of legal requirement, it might appeal more favorably to the Italian point of view in that it would make it perfectly clear that the basis of the treaty was such that the French could not take advantage of the most favored nation clause.

Without having discussed the draft or any proposed changes in the Department’s former draft with Mr. Suvich, I have redrawn the preamble and certain other clauses of the treaty which I submit herewith for the Department’s consideration.10 They are not sent with the idea at the present time of substituting it for the Department’s draft, but simply in order that the Department may have more definitely in mind the principal objection which the Italians may have to the proposed [Page 583] draft and a possible solution of it. During my conversations with Mr. Suvich I may have occasion to refer to this draft, though I shall not propose any new draft to Mr. Suvich, and shall not propose this draft without specific instructions from the Department.

Primarily, I feel that it would be a tactical mistake to submit any new draft until the authorities of the Italian Government have submitted a new draft or have indicated specific objections to the one already proposed.

I expect to have during the coming week another conversation with Mr. Suvich and shall not fail to keep the matter before the attention of the authorities of the Italian Governmment and prosecute the matter to some termination during the next two months.

Respectfully yours,

Breckinridge Long
  1. Not printed.