C.F.M. Files: Lot M–88: Box 2061: CFM Documents

Report of the Council of Foreign Ministers’ Commission of Experts for the Investigation of the Italo-Tugoslav Boundary 49

secret
C.F.M. (46) 5

I. The Task of the Commission

1. On 19 September 1945 the Council of Foreign Ministers agreed, with respect to the Italo-Yugoslav boundary, that the Deputies should [Page 141] “report on the line, which will in the main be the ethnic line leaving a minimum under alien rule, on the understanding that appropriate investigations will be carried out on the spot before the final limitation of the frontier”.50

2. The Deputies of the Foreign Ministers, in establishing the Commission of Experts for the Investigation of the Italo-Yugoslav Boundary, instructed the Commission to prepare a report and recommendations on fixing the boundary between Italy and Yugoslavia, in carrying out which task “the Commission of Experts shall take into consideration not only the ethnic composition of the areas to be investigated but also their special economic and geographical features”.

3. With respect to matters of procedure, the Deputies instructed the Commission:

(a)
to study the documents concerning the Boundary submitted by the Governments of Yugoslavia and Italy, and also of those countries who are engaged in drafting the peace treaty with Italy, as well as the views submitted by other United Nations Governments in accordance with the invitations which were extended to them by the Council of Foreign Ministers.
(b)
to make use of the statistics of the censuses carried out by Austro-Hungary and Italy;
(c)
to carry out the necessary investigations on the spot in order to ascertain the ethnic composition of the population of the areas assigned for special investigation. The Commission was also instructed to study the special economic and geographical features of those areas, devoting special attention to the changes which might take place in the economic situation of towns and villages in the event of their transfer to Yugoslavia or retention by Italy. The full text of the instructions issued to the Commission are set out in Annex A.51

4. The Commission accordingly proceeded to Venezia Giulia and, having made its investigations on the spot, herewith submits its report to the Deputies of the Foreign Ministers.

II. The Views Submitted by Governments

5. On invitation from the Council of Foreign Ministers, certain governments have submitted their views concerning the question of the Italo-Yugoslav boundary. There follows a brief summary of these views.

A. Yugoslavia

6. Speaking on behalf of his government, M. Edvard Kardelj, Vice Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, made a statement relating to the Italo-Yugoslav boundary before the Council of Foreign Ministers on 18 [Page 142] September 1945.52 The Yugoslav Government takes the view that the 1914 boundary between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy approximates what should be considered the proper line of demarcation between Yugoslavia and Italy. Certain departures, which are defined in M. Kardelj’s statement, are proposed in the 1914 line. In the north, it is proposed that certain territory to the west of the 1914 line extending to the line of Resiutta-Gemona-Tarcento-Cividale, and involving 900 square kilometers with a population of 20,000, should be included in Yugoslavia; and, in the south, it is proposed that certain territory to the east of the 1914 line extending to the lower Isonzo River, and involving 198 square kilometers with a population of 28,000, remain under Italian sovereignty. [See C.F.M. (45) 89]53

7. In support of its proposal, the Yugoslav Government lays greatest stress on the ethnic argument. It finds that the proposed boundary constitutes an ethnic borderline between Slovenes and Italians. It points out that to the west of the line there would still remain certain Slovene groups, which, however, are not a part of the territory inhabited by a compact Slovene or Croat population. With respect to the Italian elements to the east of the line, the Yugoslav Government takes the position that they are a definite minority which does not alter the essential Slovene and Croat character of Venezia Giulia.

8. The Yugoslav Government, in support of its proposed line, also presents geographic and economic arguments with respect to Trieste and other centers of Italian population within Venezia Giulia. It points out that they are integrally related with the Slovene and Croat hinterland and with Central Europe. To break these natural connections, it is argued, would cause these centers to atrophy.

9. The Yugoslav Government finally emphasizes the great contribution which was made by the Slovene and Croat resistance movements in the common Allied cause.

B. Italy

10. Speaking on behalf of his Government, Signor de Gasperi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, made a statement relating to the Italo-Yugoslav boundary before the Council of Foreign Ministers [Page 143] on 18 September 1945.54 The Italian Government takes the view that the Wilson Line54a with slight modifications constitutes a fair basis for a line of demarcation between the two countries.

11. The Italian Government agrees that the boundary between Italy and Yugoslavia should be moved to the west of the present boundary in order to incorporate additional Slovenes and Croats in Yugoslavia. It estimates that within Venezia Giulia there are 550,000 Italians and 400,000 Slovenes and Croats. It argues that the new boundary should take into account the interest of these 550,000 Italians from the ethnic point of view and, also, from the economic and geographical points of view. The importance to Trieste and Pola of the surrounding countryside is pointed out and the seriousness of severing their aqueducts and means of communication with each other is emphasized. A point is also made of Italy’s dependence on the coal and bauxite mines of Istria.

12. With respect to Fiume, the Italian Government takes the position that it should be autonomous.

C. Views Submitted by Other United Nations Governments

1. Australia

13. Dr. H. V. Evatt, Minister of External Affairs of Australia, appeared before the Council of Foreign Ministers on behalf of his Government on 18 September 1945.55 The Australian Government places strong emphasis on the ethnic factor. It believes that on the basis of ethnic data the boundary between Italy and Yugoslavia might properly be placed to the west of the present Morgan line.55a It is proposed that any special economic problems regarding coal or bauxite might be dealt with in a special international agreement.

14. With respect to Trieste, the Australian Government takes the view that neither Italian nor Yugoslav sovereignty should be established there, but that it should be demilitarized and placed under the control of an international body.

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2. New Zealand

15. Mr. R. M. Campbell appeared before the Council of Foreign Ministers on behalf of his Government on 18 September 1945.56 The New Zealand Government takes the position that a solution of the Italo-Yugoslav boundary problem should be based on the ethnic line, reducing to the minimum the number of Yugolsavs and Italians in the territory of each other.

16. With respect to Trieste, the New Zealand Government would establish it under the control of the United Nations, separate from the sovereignty of either Yugoslavia or Italy.

3. South Africa

17. Mr. Heaton Nicholls, High Commissioner for the Union of South Africa, appeared before the Council of Foreign Ministers on behalf of his Government on 18 September 1945.57 The South African Government makes special mention of the importance of making Trieste a free port open on equal terms to the commerce of the world.

18. It also deems it a matter of importance that the principle of individual self-determination should be freely applied in the case of persons who desire to transfer their domicile from one side of the new boundary to the other.

4. Poland

19. In a memorandum of 5 October, the Polish Government submitted views to the Council of Foreign Ministers with particular bearing on the question of Trieste. The view was expressed that Trieste should pass to Yugoslav sovereignty.58

5. Czechoslovakia

20. The Czechoslovak Government submitted a memorandum of 20 October to the Council of Foreign Ministers dealing specifically with the port of Trieste. The view was expressed that Trieste should pass to Yugoslav sovereignty under suitable arrangements for the free use by the interested countries of the port and connecting railroads.59

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III. Report on Investigation in the Field

21. During the period of twenty-eight days from 9 March to 5 April, the Commission investigated on the spot each of the seven areas set forth in the Instructions from the Deputies. In all, the Commission carried out its investigations in five cities and twenty-seven towns and villages. In addition, the Subcommittee of Economic Experts visited Fiume and a number of other places which the Commission as a whole did not visit—Monfalcone, Pulfero, Rovigno, Parenzo, Capodistria.

22. To secure necessary information, the Commission held fifty-two interviews. Annex B lists those interviews arranged according to the place of meeting; the names of the organizations whose representatives were heard are also set forth. In addition to the interviews, the Commission made informal investigations in the villages of Taipana, Stolvizza, Cepletischis, and Tercimonto.

23. The Commission received a large number of requests for interviews which it was unable to grant. In these instances, it sometimes invited the organization making the request to present a memorandum. A list of memoranda received from all sources is contained in Annex C.

24. The Subcommittee of Economic Experts, in addition to preparing the report on Fiume specifically called for by the Instructions from the Deputies, prepared reports on the following: Region of Albona; Trieste, Capodistria, Isola d’Istria, and Pirano; Pola, Rovigno and Parenzo; Monfalcone; Gorizia, Pulfero, Tarvisio (Railroads); Tarvisio (Mine of Cave del Predil); Pisino and the Bauxite Mines. [These reports are available in the records of the Commission.]59a

25. The Commission received many petitions and resolutions. Including those received at Lancaster House, these totaled, roughly, 4,000. About 350 are pro-Italian and 3,650 pro-Yugoslav.

[On April 27, 1946, Foreign Secretary Bevin called upon the Secretary of State and took up a number of matters. Bevin said that he felt that he must return to London over the weekend for talks with the Dominion Prime Ministers. The Secretary of State, at Bevin’s request, agreed to forego the Council meeting of April 28. Bevin discussed the difficult food situation in the United Kingdom and India, the Palestine question, the problem of the Greek election, the British [Page 146] position with regard to the Italian colonies and the withdrawal of British forces from Egypt, and the question of bases in the Pacific. H. Freeman Matthews prepared a memorandum of this conversation. For the portion of that memorandum covering Egypt, see Volume VII, page 72, footnote 6.]

  1. The text printed here presents only the first four pages (in the source text) of a 28 page report. Omitted from printing here are Part IV, “Survey of the Areas Assigned for Special Investigation”; an Appendix setting forth the views of each of the Delegations on the Commission with respect to the usefulness of the 1945 census for evaluating the ethnic composition of the population of Istria; Annex A, setting forth the instructions for the Commission and listing the areas for special investigation; Annex B, listing the interviews held by the Commission; and Annex C, listing the memoranda and other materials, excepting published books, received by the Commission as a whole. The Report was taken up by the Council of Foreign Ministers at its 5th Meeting, April 30, and its 9th and 10th Meetings, May 4; see the United States Delegation Records of these meetings, pp. 177, 225, and 237.

    With regard to the decision of the Commission on the Italo-Yugoslav Boundary to dispense with a proposed part V to this Report which would have set forth agreed recommendations for the Italo-Yugoslav boundary, see the Summary Minutes of the Commission, 73rd Meeting, April 28, 1946, p. 148.

  2. The quotation is from the decision reached by the Council of Foreign Ministers at its 12th Meeting in London, September 19, 1945; for the Record of that Council meeting, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 254.
  3. Not printed.
  4. The text of Deputy Prime Minister Kardelj’s statement at the 8th Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, September 18, 1945, was subsequently circulated to the Council as document C.F.M.(45) 26, September 18, 1945, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 229.
  5. Brackets appear in the source text. C.F.M.(45) 89, October 2, 1945, not printed, circulated to the Council of Foreign Ministers the text of a letter of September 29, 1945, from Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Kardelj on the ethnical considerations in relation to the Yugoslav-Italian frontier.
  6. The text of Italian Foreign Minister de Gasperi’s statement at the 9th Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, September 18, 1945, was subsequently circulated to the Council as document C.F.M.(45) 27, September 18, 1945, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 232.
  7. Regarding the Wilson Line, see footnote 2c, p. 78.
  8. Regarding the views of Australian External Affairs Minister Evatt as presented at the Tenth Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers at London, September 18, 1945, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, pp. 239241.
  9. Regarding the “Morgan Line” see footnote 2a, p. 76.
  10. Regarding the views of Richard C. Campbell, Acting New Zealand High Commissioner in London, as presented to the Tenth Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, September 18, 1945, see Foreign Relations, vol. ii, p. 241.
  11. Regarding the views of High Commissioner Nicholls as presented at the Tenth Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers at London, September 18, 1945, see ibid.
  12. The Declaration of the Polish Government on the Subject of a Peace Settlement with Italy, dated September 28, 1945, was circulated to the Council of Foreign Ministers as document C.F.M.(45) 95, October 5, 1945, not printed.
  13. The memorandum setting forth the views of the Czechoslovak Government regarding the peace treaty with Italy was circulated to the Council of Foreign Ministers as document C.F.M. (45) 100, October 20, 1945, not printed.
  14. Brackets appear in the source text.