Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs (Kelley)
During the course of an extended conversation at the Rumanian Legation on the evening of March 15,9 the Rumanian Minister urged that the United States, in any discussions which it might have with the Soviet government preceding the extension of recognition, indicate to the Soviet authorities the desirability of the Soviet government coming to a [Page 659] settlement with the Rumanian Government with respect to the question of Bessarabia. Mr. Davila emphasized that he did not mean that we should inject ourselves into the details of the settlement to be arrived at between Rumania and Russia, but merely that we should indicate to the Soviet authorities that we would like to see the Bessarabian question settled. He said that such a suggestion on our part would be in accord with the policy which we have been pursuing with respect to promoting international peace and cooperating in efforts made to solve problems standing in the way of the reduction of armament and strengthening of world peace. He referred to the recent statement made by the Department in connection with our acceptance of the invitation to cooperate with the Advisory Committee created by the League of Nations with reference to the Far Eastern situation:
“The promotion of peace, in no matter what part of the world, is of concern to all nations. It has been and is the desire of the American people to participate in efforts directed toward that end. In this spirit we have in the past established the practice of cooperation and observation without direct participation.”10
He expressed the opinion that the Soviet authorities would be so pleased with the prospect of our recognition that they would readily comply with a suggestion on our part with regard to the settlement of their differences with Rumania. He said that the Rumanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Titulesco, was very much interested in bringing about a settlement of the dispute with Russia over Bessarabia and that he had received numerous telegrams from him indicating that Mr. Titulesco thought that the most propitious time for a settlement of the matter would be that preceding the resumption of relations between the United States and Russia.
Mr. Davila set forth at great length the Rumanian position with respect to Bessarabia and reviewed the discussions that have taken place with Soviet officials concerning this matter since 1920. He stated that in the period from 1920 to 1925 the Soviet government was willing to recognize the incorporation of Bessarabia into Rumania in return for the renunciation by Rumania of its claim to the gold, amounting to approximately $80,000,000, and other treasure which had been deposited in Moscow by the Rumanian Government and seized by the Soviet government. Mr. Davila said that unfortunately the Rumanian Government was not prepared at that time to come to an agreement on these terms. Since 1925, however, the Soviet government has taken the position that it cannot recognize the annexation of Bessarabia by Rumania unless Rumania holds a plebiscite in that territory. Mr. Davila [Page 660] emphasized repeatedly that the Soviet government, in its discussions with representatives of the Rumanian Government, did not lay claim to Bessarabia on the basis of historic rights, but merely took the position that it could not recognize such a transfer of territory without a plebiscite. He said that it was clear to him from his conversations with Litvinov11 that the Soviet government believed that it must have some good grounds on which to base its acceptance of the Rumanian annexation of Bessarabia in order to satisfy the extremists in the Communist Party, and it was for this reason that it insisted upon a plebiscite. He was of the opinion that the atmosphere which would be engendered in Moscow in connection with recognition by the United States would make it easier for the Soviet authorities to enter into a settlement of the matter with Rumania, especially if the Government of the United States indicated that it would like to see the dispute settled.
In the course of the conversation the Rumanian Minister referred to the recent strengthening of the alliance between Rumania, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia and stated that under the new arrangement Rumania will be able to prevent the recognition of the Soviet government by either Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia. I gathered pretty clearly that Rumania intends to use its veto power in this respect until a settlement is reached between itself and Russia with respect to the Bessarabian question. He stated that in return for the recognition by Russia of the incorporation of Bessarabia into Rumania, Rumania would be willing to renounce its claims to the Rumanian gold reserve seized in Moscow by the Soviet authorities and enter into agreements with Russia, such as a non-aggression pact, etc., which would strengthen the security of the Soviet State as concerns any intervention from Western Europe. In addition, the Soviet government would obtain recognition by all the States of the Little Entente.
The Minister also advanced the argument that the settlement of the Bessarabian question would tend to strengthen Russia’s position in the Far East, and he thought that this was a factor which would be of interest to us. He said that if the Bessarabian question were not definitely settled at the time of our recognition of the Soviet government, the matter would probably drag on indefinitely, and while he did not foresee any war arising out of this question, yet the mere fact that it was unsettled would be prejudicial to the cause of disarmament and the promotion of world peace.
The Minister also touched upon the question of the abolishment of the special immigration quota for Bessarabia, urging that we eliminate what he referred to as “public discrimination” with regard to Bessarabia. He also thought that we ought to recognize the present situation existing with [Page 661] respect to Bessarabia in view of the fact that we had recognized the decision of the Conference of Ambassadors in the matter of the territorial dispute between Lithuania and Poland,12 although Lithuania had not accepted the decision. I pointed out that it has been the policy of the Department to refrain from participating in purely European territorial adjustments and to take cognizance of such territorial adjustments when the parties concerned had come to an agreement. I said that the Department’s action in the case of Poland had been based on the belief that both Lithuania and Poland had agreed to accept the decision of the Conference of Ambassadors. Mr. Davila, however, did not press the question of our recognition of the annexation of Bessarabia by Rumania and the abolishment of the special immigration quota for Bessarabia, but devoted the greater part of his remarks to urging that the United States, in its discussions with the Soviet authorities preceding recognition, intimate that it would be pleased if a settlement were reached between Rumania and Russia with respect to Bessarabia.
- Present were: Charles A. Davila, the Rumanian Minister; F. C. Nanno, the Rumanian Counselor; George Boncesco, the Rumanian Financial Counselor; Andrei Popovici, the Rumanian Secretary; and Robert F. Kelley.↩
- See telegram No. 87, March 13, 1933, 6 p.m., to the Minister in Switzerland, Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 118.↩
- Maxim Litvinov, Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs.↩
- For French text of the decision of the Conference of Ambassadors on the subject of the frontiers of Poland, Paris, March 15, 1923, see British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxviii, p. 960.↩