Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

The Minister of Albania called at his own request. He was greatly depressed with the news of the invasion of his country by Italian troops and said simply that he had come to protest against Italy’s invasion of his country. I then proceeded to ask questions, in reply to which he said that his country had 15,000 troops in the standing army and 100,000 reserves; that their armaments were inadequate; that they had some medium artillery on the coast; that there were good roads up the mountains from the coast to the capital, Tirana, a distance of some twenty miles; that the Italians had some 40,000 troops and between four and five hundred bombers in their expedition; that other troops would follow; that some German troops were with them apparently as Axis symbols; that there were only six or seven hundred Italians in Albania and that of course they were entirely free from harm; that the Italians each day were offering different excuses for their invasion, one being to protect Albania, and another to protect Italians in Albania, et cetera, et cetera. He stated that Albania owes Italy a debt of 30 million dollars, ostensibly loaned for the economic development of Albania, but in fact the Italians stipulated that it was to be applied chiefly to the construction of military [Page 375] roads through Albania to Yugoslavia on the representation by Italy that this would enable Italy to protect Albania from Yugoslavia; that this took place from 1930 to 1936. I inquired as to any secret agreement between Italy and Albania in regard to Italy’s occupation of the latter country. He said there was an agreement to the effect that in case the independence of Albania was threatened she might call for the help of the Italian military forces, and a further provision to the effect that Italian troops were not to come to Albania unless invited by Albania. He confirmed the clause in the Agreement of 1937 between Italy and Yugoslavia to the effect that it was agreeable to those two countries that Italy might aid in the economic development of Albania. I expressed great surprise and the keenest disappointment at this understanding, which seems definitely to threaten world peace.

I then asked his opinion as to the purpose of Italy in occupying his country by force, and he replied that he thought it was a springboard for further movements relating to Greece, Turkey and the Dardanelles; that it probably represented both Italy and Germany. In answer to another question, he said he thought it related also to the reported movement of the British, the Poles, and French, to establish peace alliances with countries in Southeastern Europe, including Turkey and Greece.

C[ordell] H[ull]