The Secretary of State to the Minister in Greece (MacVeagh)

No. 256

Sir: Reference is made to the Legation’s despatch No. 796 of August 28, 1935, in which reference is made to the convention between the United States and Sweden for the exemption from military service of persons having dual nationality, Treaty Series, No. 890, and the suggestion is made that the Department may wish to consider the desirability of instructing the Legation to approach the competent Greek authorities with a view to ascertaining whether the Greek Government would be prepared to enter into a similar convention.

In its instruction No. 210 of December 1, 1928,30 the Department requested the Legation to propose to the Greek Government agreement upon an article reading as follows:

“A person born in the territory of one party of parents who are nationals of the other party, and having the nationality of both parties under their laws, shall not, if he has his habitual residence, that is, the place of his general abode, in the territory of the state of his birth, be held liable for military service or any other act of allegiance during a temporary stay in the territory of the other party.”

The Legation was authorized to add the following proviso to this proposed article if the Greek Government should consider that the term “temporary stay” was too vague and required definition:

“Provided, That, if such stay is protracted beyond the period of one year, it may be presumed to be permanent, in the absence of sufficient evidence to the contrary.”

Upon careful examination of its files, the Department is unable to find that the Legation ever submitted any report concerning the presentation of this proposed article to the Greek Foreign Office. The attention of the Legation was concentrated upon negotiations with respect to a treaty of naturalization with the Greek Government, a copy of such a proposed treaty having been sent to the Legation originally with the Department’s instruction No. 263 of October 1 [21], 1925,31 and a second copy31 having been sent with the Department’s instruction [Page 324] No. 157 of May 2, 1928.32 It seems possible that as a result of the negotiations concerning this treaty, the Legation found no opportune moment for the presentation of the article proposed in the instruction of December 1, 1928, and failed to report concerning the matter to the Department.

Since the proposal contained in the instruction of December 1, 1928, considerable progress has been made in the direction of establishing a satisfactory principle for the solution of the conflicts arising out of dual nationality. At the Hague Conference for the Codification of International Law, held in March–April, 1930, a Protocol Relating to Military Obligations in Certain Cases of Double Nationality33 was adopted. It was signed on April 12, 1930, and has been ratified by the United States, Great Britain and Northern Ireland and all parts of the British Empire not separate members of the League of Nations, India, Sweden and El Salvador and adhered to by Brazil and the Union of South Africa. This Government has concluded treaties with Norway (signed November 1, 1930)34 and Sweden (signed January 31, 1933), relating to exemption from military service of persons having dual nationality, each of which has been ratified by both parties and is in force. The treaty with Norway also provides for exemption from “any other act of allegiance”. An article upon this subject is included in the naturalization treaty of April 5, 1932, with Albania,35 which also has been ratified and is in force.

You are requested to examine the files of the Legation to determine whether any action was ever taken in pursuance of the Department’s instruction No. 210 of December 1, 1928, mentioned above. If the article proposed in that instruction was never presented to the Greek Foreign Office, you are authorized to propose to the Foreign Office the negotiation of a treaty to embody the following article as its fundamental provision:

“A person possessing the nationality of both of the High Contracting Parties who habitually resides in the territory of one of them and who is in fact most closely connected with that Party shall not be held liable for military service or other acts of allegiance in the territory of the other Party.”

If you find that the article as set forth in the Department’s instruction of December 1, 1928, was proposed by the Legation to the Greek Foreign Office you may suggest to it the desirability of renewing the negotiations for the completion of an agreement concerning the subject matter of that article, and offer the above article as a substitute for the one originally proposed.

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You may invite the attention of the Foreign Office to the fact that the proposed article is substantially similar to the provisions contained in the treaties concluded by this Government with Sweden and Norway, and to Article IV of the naturalization treaty of April 5, 1932, with Albania. For your information two copies of the treaties of November 1, 1930, with Norway, of January 31, 1933, with Sweden, and of April 5, 1932, with Albania, are enclosed. There is also enclosed a copy of Treaty Information Bulletin No. 15, December, 1930, containing the text of the Protocol Relating to Military Obligations in Certain Cases of Double Nationality. You may also point out to the Foreign Office that the article proposed is substantially similar to the first paragraph of Article I of the Protocol just mentioned, except for the addition of the phrase “or other acts of allegiance”.

With reference to the penultimate paragraph of your despatch No. 796 of August 28, 1935, the Department leaves it to the exercise of your judgment and discretion to determine whether, in submitting the above proposal, you should also bring up the question of endeavoring to renew negotiations for the conclusion of a treaty applicable to naturalized citizens as well as to persons born with dual nationality, that is, a treaty similar in scope to the treaty with Albania. It would seem most desirable to have a treaty of this kind, and you may find it expedient to discuss the matter informally with the appropriate officials, bearing in mind the observations contained in the Department’s instruction No. 274 of July 2, 1929.36 If, after discussion of the matter, it seems impossible to reach an agreement concerning the status of naturalized citizens which would be satisfactory to this Government, you may proceed with the negotiation of a treaty relating to persons having dual nationality.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Wilbur J. Carr