770.00/459: Telegram

The Chargé in France ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State

456. In discussing at the Foreign Office the results of the Little Entente Conference81 I was informed as follows:

To consider as a set back to French policy the failure of the Little Entente States to act on the proposal to alter their obligations for defense against Hungary into a general pact of mutual assistance is erroneous. The proposal was in the interests of the three Little Entente States and is not of direct interest as regards French security against an attack, say, by Germany on France, since such attack would inevitably cause a general European war in which the interests of the Little Entente would be on the side of France and would in any case bring into play the mutual assistance obligations of the Little Entente States under the Covenant. Czechoslovakia has been the one primarily interested in such a proposal fearing aggression from Germany; Rumania is less interested; Yugoslavia for the moment is not interested at all.

The fact of the matter is that the proposal to extend the Little Entente commitments into a general pact of mutual assistance was not discussed at all at the meeting of the Little Entente. Antonescu82 suggested to Krofta83 who had acquiesced that it would be unwise to discuss the matter because of the attitude of Yugoslavia and also because such discussion would bear the appearance of having been caused by the Italo-Yugoslav pact84 and of being an attempted reply to that pact. It would be a mistake to believe that the idea of a general pact of mutual assistance among the Little Entente States is dead; Beneš85 will discuss the matter during his visit to Belgrade; he will not, of course, as some of the French papers state, put Stoyadinovitch86 “on the spot” because of it; Beneš is far too subtle a person for that but [Page 67] he will see that the idea is kept alive; and it may be expected that French politics will come up again in the future.

It would likewise be erroneous to speak of the recently concluded Italo-Yugoslav pact as a setback to French policy. (In this connection, however, see my 416, March 27, noon87). What had caused momentary resentment here was the sudden manner in which the pact had been concluded and the appearance which it gave under the then existing circumstances of having contributed to an Italian diplomatic victory. They had been somewhat apprehensive here as to what the pact might be found to contain but on examining it they have felt relieved. It was true that the pact made no reference to the League of Nations and that in its preamble it referred to the Ethiopian empire; it was not perhaps the sort of treaty that would have been drafted by a professor of international law; however, Stoyadinoviteh was above all a realist, hard-headed, cynical, primarily concerned with the interests of his own country. He had found the moment favorable to advance these interests and he had seized the opportunity. The German and Italian press and part of the French press had interpreted the Italo-Yugoslav pact as a blow to France. The articles which had appeared in the French press in this sense were based upon stories sent by the Belgrade correspondent of the Sudest service; this service had been formed by Titulescu88 and was interested in giving the impression that since Titulescu’s disappearance from the scene France had lost influence in the Little Entente countries and the Little Entente was disintegrating. The conviction exists here, however, that the strength, moral and material, of France and England is steadily increasing, whereas Germany and Italy are at grips with internal problems which are becoming more serious and are steadily weakening them. It is felt here that this may not yet have been fully realized in the small states of Central and Eastern Europe but that it must inevitably become clearer to them with time.

The absence of any reference in the final communiqué of the Little Entente meeting to restoration of the Hapsburgs is important: Beneš is making efforts to improve relations and to come to an understanding with Austria and with Hungary; any statement in the communiqué against restoration would interrupt this policy; it would be a mistake, however, to interpret this lack of reference as in any way indicating a change in the attitude of the Little Entente States which remains opposed to restoration.

It is felt here that the manner in which the Italo-Yugoslav Pact was concluded will not be repeated as regards Hungary; that Yugoslavia will make an arrangement with Hungary only if the Hungarian Government [Page 68] is prepared to make similar arrangements simultaneously with the other two partners of the Little Entente.

Copies to London, Berlin, Rome, Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest, Praha, Belgrade.

Wilson
  1. Held at Belgrade, April 1, 1937.
  2. Victor Antonescu, Rumanian Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  3. Kamil Krofta, Czechoslovak Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Signed March 25, 1937, Documents on International Affairs, 1937 (London, Oxford University Press, 1939), p. 302.
  5. Eduard Beneš, President of Czechoslovakia.
  6. Milan Stoyadinovitch, Yugoslav Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  7. Post, p. 265.
  8. Nicholas Titulescu, former Rumanian Minister for Foreign Affairs.