765.75/418: Telegram

The Minister in Yugoslavia (Lane) to the Secretary of State

62. My telegram No. 61, April 6, 11 a.m.,5 Foreign Office advised me today that Yugoslav Government does not regard Albanian situation as serious and that rumors which have been circulated regarding disembarkment of Italian troops are false. Foreign Office admitted however that several Italian war vessels have proceeded to Valona to protect Italian subjects in case of trouble. Informant said that Yugoslav Government has received assurances from Italian Government that no military measures will be taken respecting Albania.

British Minister informed me that he told Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday that Great Britain would regard Italian occupation [Page 371] of Albania as violation of British-Italian Pact regarding Mediterranean status quo.6 Campbell7 said that Perth8 had spoken to Ciano a few days ago in similar vein and that Lord Halifax9 had written to Campbell requesting him to give similar explanation to Prince Paul.10

Unless there have been some developments of which I am not aware I still consider that the opinion expressed in my No. 39, March 21, 8 p.m.,11 is correct, namely, that any Italian action with regard to Albania would not be to Italy’s advantage but would merely create unnecessary resentment on the part of Yugoslavia and Greece, especially the latter. According to Greek Minister a secret protocol forming part of Italo-Yugoslav Pact of 193712 provided for maintenance of status quo in the Adriatic and particularly guaranteed independence of Albania; hence Italian aggressive action there would put Yugoslavia against Italy at the very moment when the two countries have mutual need of one another. We feel that Yugoslav official declaration on this morning was inspired by Italy and was intended to show that Italy and Yugoslavia are proceeding harmoniously.

German Military Attaché who is usually very well informed said to me today that Italy had “not yet” occupied Albania but that occupation might be expected momentarily. This opinion has not been confirmed from any other source. Perhaps it is a case of the wish being father to the thought.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Signed January 2, 1937, League of Nations Treaty Series, Vol. clxxvii, p. 241; for agreement signed April 16, 1938, reaffirming the 1937 agreement, see League of Nations Treaty Series, Vol. cxcv, p. 77.
  3. Ronald Hugh Campbell, British Minister in Yugoslavia.
  4. Earl of Perth, British Ambassador in Italy.
  5. British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  6. Prince Regent of Yugoslavia.
  7. Not printed.
  8. Revue de Droit International, 1937, Vol. 19, pp. 370–371.