The Ambassador to the Yugoslav Government in Exile (Biddle) to the Secretary of State

No. 78

Sir: At the request of the Yugoslav Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Milan Grol, I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of a [Page 1019]note of July 26, 194363 in which Dr. Grol sets forth the Yugoslav Government’s territorial claims against Italy and request that certain measures be taken respecting those areas in any eventual Armistice Agreement that may be made.

I summarise below the principal features of the note. Dr. Grol states that the Yugoslav Government is convinced that the victory of the United Nations will result not only in the future restoration of the independence and the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia but also in the liberation and reunion of Yugoslavs within the boundary of their national State.

He adds that when the opportunity arises, the Yugoslav Government will submit for the consideration of the United States Government, its views concerning those territorial questions in which vital Yugoslav interests are involved.

For the time being, however, the Yugoslav Government, in view of developments in the Mediterranean, feels obliged to present its claims against the Kingdom of Italy.

After an extended retrospect of the considerations which have determined Yugoslav-Italian frontiers in the past, and after a survey of the ethnic, economic and strategic considerations involved, Dr. Grol asserts that all this clearly demonstrates that every trace of Italian domination should be entirely and finally eliminated from the West coast of the Balkan Peninsula, including all the islands, which ethnically belongs exclusively to Yugoslavia, Greece and Albania, and that Italian rule should be restricted to the purely Italian ethnic areas. He adds that the Greek Government is in full agreement with the Yugoslav Government that Italy must be made to withdraw entirely from the Balkans.

Claiming that the natural geographic and economic frontiers between Italy and Yugoslavia coincide almost entirely with the ethnic frontiers, Dr. Grol states that, in the opinion of the Yugoslav Government, the boundary between the two countries should be established as follows: from Pontafel (Pontebba) towards the south, along the former Austro-Italian frontier to Mount Kanin, where it would turn towards the west in order to include the region inhabited by the Kesian (Venetian) Slovenes. North of Krmin (Cormons) this new boundary would again reach the former Austro-Italian frontier and, in general, follow it down to the coast. Wherever it should prove necessary to resort to local corrections of the proposed line for economic, communicational or topographic reasons, the Yugoslav Government trusts that these corrections would not be made at the expense of Yugoslav interests.

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In conclusion, Dr. Grol states that the Yugoslav Government considers it of the highest importance that any eventual Armistice Agreement with Italy should contain a clause providing for the immediate evacuation by all the Italian military and civil authorities of all the territories east of the proposed boundary line and that these should without delay be handed over to Yugoslav or, in their absence, provisionally to allied authorities, as the Italian attitude toward the Yugoslav population both before and during the present war does not provide any guarantee for the maintenance of order or for the just treatment of the Yugoslav population in these parts.

Respectfully yours,

A. J. Drexel Biddle, Jr.
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