740.0011 Mutual Guarantee (Eastern Locarno)/71: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union ( Wiley ) to the Secretary of State

407. Izvestiya December 8 announced conclusion at Geneva of “protocol”50 between Laval51 and Litvinov in which they agreed “to continue the diplomatic action planned in connection with the conclusion of an Eastern Pact” and “not to carry on separate negotiations with other governments concerning the conclusion of any agreements whatsoever or to conclude any agreements which might be detrimental to the above mentioned action or run counter to its spirit”. Izvestiya goes on to explain that “not only has opposition to the pact arisen in certain countries but attempts are being made to complicate the conclusion of the pact by means of intrigue. The agreement of Litvinov and Laval will put an end to these intrigues as well as to attempts to impede the increasing cooperation between the U. S. S. R. and France in their joint struggle for peace. Finally this agreement will be a blow to the attempts to substitute for the Eastern Pact combinations either less effective or serving purposes which have nothing to do with the preservation of.”

Pravda December 9 prints interview given to Tass by Litvinov. “The threats to peace existing at present cannot be removed by subjective declarations even of the most pacific character from this or that statesman particularly when such declarations are countered by statements of opposite character whether written or oral, old or new, newly repeated or newly spread. Objective tangible material guarantees are necessary in order that all peoples may exist peacefully and may continue their creative domestic work. It is self-evident that the agreement just concluded will by no means obviate the conclusion of other agreements between the U. S. S. R. and France at present or in the event that the Eastern Pact, for reasons independent of the renewed efforts of these two powers, should not be realized. The protocol of December 5 contains no limitations in respect of bilateral agreements between the U. S. S. R. and France.” Expressing the wish that other countries adhere to eventual Franco-Soviet agreements Litvinov added “in particular the U. S. S. R. has never ceased to wish [Page 520] for the best possible relations with Germany in every way. Such, I am sure, are also the aims of France in respect to Germany. The Eastern Pact would make possible the creation and further development of such relations between these three countries as well as between the other participants in the pact and would introduce into the international situation a calming element for which the peoples of Europe and North America are thirsting. Doubtless at the same time the new Franco-Soviet agreement will offset at least a further increase of the existing uneasiness for it must be understood that the significance of this agreement is not limited by the period of the diplomatic action connected with the Eastern Pact.”

Commenting editorially the Pravda states “It would seem that there could be no objections to the profoundly peaceful purpose which the Eastern European Pact serves. Yet it is known there are capitalist governments which are trying with all their strength to prevent the establishment of firm and permanent peace in Eastern Europe. While Czechoslovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Esthonia have expressed readiness to join in an Eastern European Pact, Poland and Germany would adopt a different attitude. Furthermore, within those countries whose governments take a positive attitude toward the idea of mutual assistance against the disturbers of peace, against the aggressor there are groups which assume a negative position. The Franco-Soviet agreement is an answer to these attempts of international adventures, an answer to the ruling circles of those countries which are trying by every sort of intrigue to disturb the conclusion of a pact of mutual assistance.”

Pravda emphasizes significantly that influential organs of the French press regard the agreement as definitive repudiation of rumor of a bilateral pact between France and Germany.

In connection with Litvinov’s statement that “The significance of this agreement is not limited by the period of the diplomatic action [in?] connection with the Eastern Pact”, Izvestiya December 9, quotes the Havas Agency as stating that the operation of the agreement “is limited by the duration of the negotiations undertaken for the purpose of concluding a pact of mutual assistance in Eastern Europe. This agreement envisages exclusively Franco-Soviet mutual relations and their relationship to certain definite regions of Europe”. This contradiction is eloquent of the difficulties which characterize Franco-Soviet relations. Indeed the agreement between Litvinov and Laval seems to reflect mutual mistrust rather than unity of purpose; possibly also an urgent need for Litvinov to fortify his personal position by a conspicuous coup. Importance may be attached to Litvinov’s recent hasty return to Moscow presumably only for the purpose of obtaining authority to make definite concessions to France in compensation for the present agreement.

[Page 521]

My telegram No. 398, November 30, noon,52 Marchandeau53 leaves tonight. In conversation last night with de la Baume54 who accompanied him in place of Coulondre55 I received the impression that their visit has had more negative than positive results. De la Baume was outspokenly critical.

  1. Post, p. 523.
  2. Pierre Laval, French Minister for Foreign Affairs after Barthou’s assassination on October 9, 1934.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Paul Marchandeau, French Minister of Commerce.
  5. Renom de la Baume, French Vice Minister of Commercial Affairs.
  6. Robert Coulondre, French Assistant Director of Political and Commercial Affairs.