765.84/4439: Telegram

The Consul at Geneva ( Gilbert ) to the Secretary of State

180. Consulate’s 177, May 15, 8 p.m., paragraph 8. I have just learned in confidence the length to which the question of a Mediterranean pact has actually proceeded. In the conversations described in my telegram under reference the following privately transpired.

The Balkan Entente representatives broached to Eden and to the French representative who remained here, the question of a Mediterranean pact to include Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey, which the last three named jointly and individually advocated.

While Madariaga47 discussed such a development with certain interested representatives under the guise of seeing a settlement of the League situation, in some instances he disclosed the favorable attitude of the Spanish Government to the project and it must be assumed that he was acting under instructions.

The attitude of Eden toward the Balkan representatives and toward Madariaga was most carefully assumed. He took care especially to impress upon his own auditors that he himself had not raised the question in any way, although his spoken statements were merely that the idea was not excluded, the impression gained by them was that his attitude was distinctly favorable and in fact that he seemed to be relieved that such a scheme was in the making. It is known that he immediately communicated with London on the subject.

Madariaga presented the question to the Italian representative here who made no comment except that he would transmit the matter to Mussolini direct.

France is known to be favorable.

The whole plan is being most cautiously advanced partly through the agency of Madariaga, not in the form of a proposal but as a private raising of the matter in respect of the problem with which the League is faced.

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As a part of the picture here, Madariaga rather freely discusses a plan for League reorganization in which it will be noted such a pact would fit. This plan is in brief a reaffirmation of the Covenant by all League states accompanied by such reservations as each might wish to make concerning, for example, articles such as 16 and the setting up of regional arrangements which would embody any article or groups of articles of the Covenant. The foregoing is in fact a serious project for the reestablishment of the League, but my informants also regarded it as being susceptible of preparing public opinion at the same time for a Mediterranean pact.

The proposed pact is in reality perceived as a means of presenting a counter to Germany as well as to Italy in the entire European field. Russia is known to be advocating its consummation for this reason. Beneš,48 through advance soundings, appears to be entirely favorable and Madariaga will shortly visit Praha to confer with him concerning its development. Rumania is officially aloof but it is known that Bucharest will be favorable provided it shows signs of being realized, the advantages to her lying through her interlocking arrangements with the Little Entente and Balkan Entente. The preoccupation of the Balkan Entente states in respect of this question is primarily their fear of Italy. Their attitude is therefore that such an arrangement is of no value to them whatsoever unless it embodies mutual assistance guarantees by Great Britain and France.

Thus the whole question is seen to hinge at this time on the British position.

My informants, who participated in the discussion concerned, tell me that they regard this whole endeavor as of genuine significance.

A general difficulty is found in how the Italian position respecting “recognition” of Abyssinia can be surmounted.

  1. Salvador de Madariaga, Spanish permanent delegate to the League of Nations.
  2. Eduard Beneš, President of Czechoslovakia and President of the League of Nations Assembly.