The Italian Embassy to the Department of State 25
Summary of Italian Views for an Equitable Solution of the Principal Questions Which May Be Discussed at the London Peace Conference
1. Eastern frontier with Yugoslavia
Italy wishes a complete understanding with Yugoslavia and believes that the “Wilson Line”26 may be taken as a basis for an adjustment of the common frontier, although this would mean the very painful loss of two flourishing Italian cities, Fiume and Zara, and of nearly 80,000 Italians.
Italy is ready to reach an agreement with bordering countries on the utilization of the harbour of Trieste and to conclude with Yugoslavia—under the auspices of the United Nations—mutual obligations for the granting of cultural guarantees and local autonomies to respective minorities. The enforced transfer of populations is against Italian feelings and traditions, but, if deemed necessary Italy will not oppose it. To ensure peace in the Adriatic, Italy is willing to [Page 107] accept the demilitarization of Pola, if requested, provided that the same measure be put into effect for the naval base of Cattaro and that the full independence of Albania be maintained.
2. Western Frontier with France
On February 29, 1945 Italy signed with France an agreement renouncing all Italian rights (deriving from previous treaties) to the protection of Italians in Tunis. Consequently, the French Government stated that they did not intend to advance any other claims than those relating to Fezzan (in Southern Libya). Now the French ask for adjustments on Italy’s Western frontiers. Even on this issue Italy has not maintained an uncompromising attitude, but pursues the road of direct and friendly negotiations with the firm intention of attaining a sound understanding between the two countries.
3. Northern Frontier of the Brenner Pass
In these days Italy is enacting the legislation that will give the most large and guaranteed autonomy to German minorities that live together with the Italians in upper Adige, applying to the full extent also in this region (as in the Valley of Aosta and for Slav minorities) all democratic principles of individual and collective liberties.
4. Aegean Islands
The Italians would willingly see them entrusted to Greece as a compensation and token of friendship between the two Mediterranean countries.
The ancient African colonies of pre-fascist Italy are bound by indissoluble ties to Italian minds: they are poor territories inhabited by a small native population composed mostly of nomads, where Italy has achieved a great work of civilization and where large Italian communities have established their homes.
- Italy is willing to give military guarantees in order to ensure full security to the bordering countries and to the international sea and air routes. The Italian Government believe that such a security could be obtained through the establishment of “strategic areas”, air and naval bases and other guarantees in the Tobruk sector and in Marmarica, while Italian direct sovereignty is maintained in Libya which is inhabited by more than 140,000 Italian settlers.
- The Italian Government consider that the maintenance of Italian sovereignty in Eritrea, inhabitated by nearly 70,000 Italians is fully reconcilable with Ethiopia’s requirements for a free outlet to the sea in the zone of Assab (Southern Eritrea), for which purpose Italy has built the road leading from Dessiè to Assab. This access could [Page 108] be guaranteed either within Italian territory or through frontier rectifications. Furthermore, to meet the requirements of the Northern Abyssinian regions a free zone could be established in the harbour of Massawa.
- If requested, Italy is ready to discuss the establishment and the technicalities of a trusteeship system.
6. Fleet, Army, Aviation
Italy is glad to cooperate, within the security system of the United Nations, with an adequate contribution in strength, proportioned to her position.
- Received in the Department September 4, 1945. One of the two file copies of this document bears the marginal note: “Left with President by It. Ambassador during his recent call.”↩
- During the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson put forward a proposal for the demarcation of the Italo–Yugoslav frontier. The most detailed formulation of the line by the American delegation at the Peace Conference appears in a memorandum by Douglas Johnson, dated May 8, 1919, printed in René Albrecht-Carrié, Italy at the Paris Peace Conference (New York, 1938), p. 93, and in Ray Stannard Baker, Woodrow Wilson and the World Settlement (New York, 1923), vol. iii, pp. 296–302. For President Wilson’s brief description of his proposal, made at a meeting of the Council of Four, May 13, 1919, see Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. v, p. 579. The “Wilson Line” is indicated on the map facing p. 252.↩