765.75/396: Telegram

The Minister in Albania (Grant) to the Secretary of State

15. Legation’s 14, April 4, 2 p.m. Following a meeting this afternoon of the Albanian Cabinet and other political leaders with the King presiding, a delegate, former Prime Minister Mehdi Frasheri, called on the Greek Minister, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, and made the following verbal statement for the King.

The Italian demands upon Albania if accomplished would constitute a protectorate over the whole country and the concessions which have been requested would result in Albania becoming Italian from every point of view. The Italian demands embodied: to [the] control of all administrations of the Albanian state including the army, the placing of Italian troops at all strategical points in Albania, and at other points designated by Italy, including the principal centers of population. The King refuses to accept the demands which he regards as against the freedom and independence of his country and he is trying to gain time by negotiating with the Italian Government. The King has decided to resist Italian invasion by force and has approximately 15,000 troops prepared to defend where the Italians may attack. The King made an appeal to the Governments of the Balkan Entente States, namely, Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia and Rumania [Page 369] whose security would be threatened by the occupation of Albania by the Italians. The King requests the Governments of these States to make a collective statement with the view of stopping the contemplated Italian action. The King is making a similar démarche to France and Great Britain in view of their vital interests in the Mediterranean.

The Greek Minister has informed me in the strictest confidence discreetly of the opinion and he informed the delegate that the Albanian appeal to the Balkan States has perhaps been made too late. The Greek Minister said he based his opinion upon reports which he has received including a report this afternoon from the Greek Consulate at the port of Saranda quoting the captain of a Greek steamer from Brindisi to the effect that 10 Italian warships and 10 transports were at Brindisi last night Monday and that approximately 10,000 soldiers were embarking. The Greek Minister transmitted this evening to his Government the King’s appeal.