871A.014 Bessarabia/185

The Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray) to the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary:

Mr. Under Secretary:

The Rumanian Minister2 came in to see me this morning to discuss further the Bessarabian question.

For convenient reference there is attached a memorandum3 setting forth briefly an outline of this question, which has occupied the attention of the Department almost continuously for the last 12 years.

The Rumanian Minister asserts that the United States is the only country besides Soviet Russia that has refused to recognize the annexation by Rumania of Bessarabia, a former Russian province. While we have no means of ascertaining positively the accuracy of the Minister’s contention, we are aware that several Powers have formally recognized the annexation and we have no record that any have declined to do so. We have consistently refused to consider Bessarabia as a part of Rumanian territory as long as the dispute over the possession of this province has not been settled by the two parties to the dispute. As a special concession to Rumanian sensibilities on this subject, the Department, in June 1931, separated the Bessarabian immigration quota from the Russian quota and set up an independent Bessarabian quota. The Rumanians have since that time urged that the Department go one step further and include the Bessarabian quota in the Rumanian quota. This cannot be done without at the same time tacitly recognizing Bessarabia as a part of Rumania.

The immediate and urgent concern of the Rumanian Government is that before this Government comes to any decision with regard to the recognition of the present régime in Russia4 it should give careful and [Page 657]impartial consideration to the Rumanian case respecting Bessarabia. The Rumanians, quite naturally, fear that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for us to alter our position on the Bessarabian question once we shall have recognized the Soviet régime.

The Rumanian Minister emphasized the viewpoint of Mr. Titulescu, the Rumanian Foreign Minister, that if we recognize the Soviet régime without modifying our position on the Bessarabian question we shall be recognizing at the same time that a dispute—”question litigieuse”—exists between Rumania and Soviet Russia. The Rumanian Government steadfastly refuses to admit the existence of such a dispute and considers that the possession of Bessarabia by Rumania is a fait accompli. The Rumanian Minister described our present position on the Bessarabian question as a “public discrimination” against Rumania. He said that while it had been possible hitherto to suppress discussion of this question in the Rumanian press, it would not be possible to do so in the future; that Rumanian official opinion is aroused at our attitude and that public opinion will be much more so once the question is discussed in the Rumanian press.

I reiterated to the Rumanian Minister this Government’s traditional policy of refraining from being drawn into questions of this kind and repeated what I had told him before, namely that any settlement which the Rumanian Government and the Soviet régime might be able to arrive at in this matter would hardly be questioned by this Government. I reminded him that we had consistently adhered to such a policy of detachment in the case of many territorial disputes in Latin America. I pointed out further that there was no such thing as recognizing a “country”; that governments or régimes are recognized, not the specific territories over which they exercise control. I referred to the fact that in recognizing the Government of Yugoslavia in 1919,5 as well as that of Armenia in 1920,6 this Government had specifically refrained from recognizing the territorial boundaries of either country, it being considered that the boundaries thereof were matters not of concern to this Government. I contested his statement that a commercial treaty between two countries necessarily implied a recognition by each of the boundaries of the other. I pointed out that when our new commercial treaty with Turkey7 came up in the Senate in 1930 and when certain Senators desired to add an amendment to the effect that this treaty should not be taken to imply that we recognize the present territorial boundaries of Turkey, the Department strongly objected on the grounds that a commercial [Page 658]treaty was not concerned with the exact territorial delimitations of any given country.

Returning to the subject of Soviet Russia, I stated that, in my opinion, if and when American recognition of the Soviet régime came up for consideration, I saw no reason why Soviet territorial questions need necessarily be involved in the discussions. I did not of course say that such questions would not be discussed.

The Minister then added that in any eventual conversations that this Government might have with the Soviet authorities concerning recognition a suggestion from us to the Russians that it would be desirable for them to come to an amicable settlement of the Bessarabian question with the Rumanians would go far to bringing about such a settlement. He said that Bessarabia was one of the danger spots in the world and that the failure of Soviet Russia to come to a satisfactory understanding with the Rumanians on this issue constituted a menace to world peace. For that reason, and in view of this Government’s interest in the proper functioning of the Kellogg Pact,8 he felt that we should be willing to use our influence with the Russians with a view to removing this menace. The Minister remarked that he could of course not make such a request officially but that it would be proper for him to do so informally. He thought that such a move on our part would undoubtedly be successful and said it would earn for us the eternal gratitude of the Rumanian Government and people.

I promised the Rumanian Minister that I would not fail to inform you of the substance of our conversation and said I felt sure that due consideration would be given to the Rumanian position on the Bessarabian question if and when the matter of Soviet recognition became active.

Wallace Murray
  1. Charles A. Davila.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For correspondence regarding recognition of the Soviet Union by the United States, see pp. 778 ff.
  4. See telegram No. 622, February 6, 1919, 4 p.m., from the Commission to Negotiate Peace, Foreign Relations, 1919, vol. ii, p. 899.
  5. See note to the Representative of the Armenian Republic, April 23, 1920, ibid., 1920, vol. iii, p. 778.
  6. Signed at Angora, October 1, 1929, ibid., 1929, vol. iii, p. 838.
  7. Treaty for the Renunciation of War, signed at Paris, August 27, 1928, Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. i, p. 153.