C.F.M. Files: Lot M–88: Box 2063: US Delegation Minutes

United States Delegation Record, Council of Foreign Ministers, Second Session, Fifth Meeting, Paris, April 30, 1946, 3 p.m.81


The records of the meetings of April 25 and April 26 were adopted.

M. Bidault called on the Chairman of the Deputies meeting of that morning, Mr. Dunn, to report to the Council.

Mr. Dunn recalled that the Deputies had previously recommended that the Foreign Ministers consider at the present meeting the questions of the Italian-Yugoslav frontier and the port of Trieste. The report of the Commission of Experts on the Italian-Yugoslav frontier had now been received by the Deputies and was placed before the Foreign Ministers. This report was in four parts. It was intended that a fifth part should consist of conclusions and recommendations. The Commission, however, had been unable to reach agreement on recommendations. They had decided, in view of the limited time available, that each Commissioner should report his own recommendations to his Foreign Minister, and these recommendations would be made available officially to the other delegations. The Commission’s report is thus submitted to the Council without agreed recommendations.82

[Page 178]

With respect to the port of Trieste, the special committee which had been instructed to consider this problem had not completed its report. Therefore, the Deputies had instructed the Committee to get on with its work and to report by Friday, May 3rd. The Committee was to consider the question of the port and transit facilities of Trieste on the basis of the decision of the Council of Foreign Ministers taken in September, reserving the question of Trieste as a whole, which was part of the question of the location of the Italian-Yugoslav frontier. The Deputies, therefore, recommended that consideration of the question of the port and transit facilities of Trieste be deferred by the Council.

M. Bidault suggested that the Council agree to take up first the question of the Italian-Yugoslav frontier, it being understood that the question of the port of Trieste was reserved pending receipt of the report of the special committee. (This was agreed.)

Italian-Yugoslav Frontier

M. Bidault suggested that the various delegations could state their views on the question of the frontier either in general terms or specifically, region by region. The French Delegation had no particular views on this question of procedure.

Mr. Bevin presumed that the discussion would be governed by the decision taken at the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in London in September. The question was how far the report of the Commission of Experts gave effect to the decision to leave a minimum of the population under alien rule. If that decision was followed, then it became merely a question of the facts. He thought it might be well to start in the north and to work downward.

M. Bidault said that the report of the Commission simply stated facts and gave no recommended solution. He understood that Mr. Bevin desired that the Council consider the question of the frontier region by region. The French Delegation had no objection to that procedure or to starting in the north.

M. Molotov pointed out that the members of the Commission which had been set up to study the question of the frontier had not arrived at a unanimous recommendation. Nevertheless, he believed that the Commission had done useful work and had collected a great deal of information bearing directly on the question, and that this information could be considered in the light of the earlier decision of the Council. Information in the possession of the Soviet Delegation and the conclusions of the Soviet expert on the Commission and of the members of his staff showed that according to the census of 1910 and later data the Istrian Peninsula was populated predominantly by Slavs, Italians being in the minority. However, an opposite view [Page 179] had been presented. In view of this situation the question arose whether the Council would be in a position to examine the question with sufficient impartiality, without hearing from the governments concerned, Yugoslavia and Italy. It might be objected that those government had been heard already at the London meeting, but that had been before the experts had carried out their investigation on the spot. Since that time much information had been made available enabling the Council to consider the question with greater knowledge. The Soviet Delegation wondered whether it might be advisable to have the Yugoslavs and Italians state their views once again.

M. Bidault believed that the Council had already received the request from Yugoslavia to be heard after the report of the experts had been submitted. He asked for the views of the other delegations on the proposal of M. Molotov that Yugoslav and Italian representatives be heard at the present session.

Mr. Byrnes did not believe that the Council would profit much by conducting another hearing on the subject. They had listened for many hours to both sides at the September meeting. Since then the Commission had made an investigation on the spot. It seemed that one Yugoslav representative had talked to the Commission for 13 hours giving the Yugoslav views. Italians had also been heard by the Commission. Now it was time to make a decision. This decision would be sent on to the Peace Conference. There the representatives of Yugoslavia and of Italy would be in a position to give their views. At the present time the Council should try to arrive at a decision on the basis of information available to it.

M. Molotov felt that it should be made clear that the Commission did not hear the views of the Yugoslav and Italian Governments, but only those of representatives of the local population. If the Foreign Ministers should be too occupied with their work to give hearings, at least the Deputies might hear the views of the two governments concerned. They had been heard in September but that was before the experts had made their report. While believing that such hearings should be given, the Soviet Delegation had no objection to hearing at once the opinions of other delegations which desired to express their views on the frontier question.

Mr. Bevin said that if the Foreign Ministers tried to draw a provisional line today, they would then be able to submit it to the Peace Conference where both the Yugoslav and Italian Governments could give their views. A decision on this point depended on the ability of the Council to agree on the facts. Looking at the report, he could see that the differences between the views of three of the Commissioners were quite narrow, whereas the view of the fourth diverged considerably from the others. He suggested that, taking as a basis the decision [Page 180] taken in London in September, the various recommended lines could be looked at in order to see how they conformed to the facts. Then, if possible, the Council should agree on a line for submission as a provisional line to the Peace Conference. Mr. Bevin stated that he assumed that all four delegations on the Commission of Experts had acted impartially and without instructions from their governments and had taken as their guide the September decision of the Council. He felt, therefore, that it would be impossible to deduce what had led the four Commissioners to come to different conclusions.

M. Bidault said that two questions had been posed, one of principle and one of method. The question of principle concerned consultation by the Council with other states interested in the respective peace treaties. He mentioned that after the Moscow Conference of December 1945, which established the four-three-two method for drafting the peace treaties, the French Government had sent a letter of inquiry to the other three governments asking for elucidation of the proposed procedure. In this letter the French Government had said:

“The procedure determined by the Council of five Ministers for Foreign Affairs foreshadowed the possibility of inviting the representatives of other governments in the event of questions being discussed of particular concern to them … The proposals communicated to the French Government does not provide for the possibility of hearing at the Conference the representatives of the states with whom peace treaties have to be concluded. Such a procedure had already been put into effect at the Conference in London. In the light of the doubts mentioned in the preceding paragraph, the French Government believe that the discussion of treaties with Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland must entail the hearing of the representatives of those states.”83

In replying to the French Government’s communication Mr. Byrnes, in the name of the United States, United Kingdom and Soviet Governments, stated:

“… that the Potsdam Agreement provided for the possibility that the Council of Foreign Ministers might invite the representatives of other governments when matters which particularly concerned them were to be discussed. Inasmuch as the Moscow Agreement did not seek to repeal the Potsdam Agreement, the Council retains the authority to invite any state to participate in the discussions whenever there is pending a matter of direct interest to such state. The Council, as constituted for the preparation of specific treaties, or deputies of the powers represented for that purpose, may determine from time to time when such matters arise and are authorized to extend invitations … With respect to the views of the states with which the treaties are to be concluded, the work of preparation for the draft treaties [Page 181] will take into account the views of these states and full opportunity will be given these states to discuss the treaties and to present their views both in the formulation of the drafts, as was permitted in the earlier meetings in London, and at the May Conference. It is agreed that this does not constitute a precedent for peace settlements which are not the subject of the present discussion.”84

The question of principle was thus settled by that exchange of letters. It was obviously the responsibility of the Council to invite interested states to participate in discussions. As a matter of principle the French Government believed that such states should be consulted in each case at the appropriate stage of the preparation of the treaties.

On the second point, the question of method, M. Bidault indicated that the Council had a choice of several procedures. It could have Italy and Yugoslavia give their views at the present session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, or it could have the Deputies or the Commission of Experts hear the Italian and Yugoslav representatives. The French Delegation believed it desirable that once the principle that they should be heard was accepted the Foreign Ministers should turn their attention to this question of procedure. It should be decided who would hear the Italian and Yugoslav representatives and whether, before those representatives were heard, the Council could proceed to a preliminary examination of the boundary question. A preliminary examination was, of course, all that the Council was entitled to make.

M. Molotov said that he desired to repeat that the Soviet Delegation had no objection to hearing the views of other delegations, but that the Soviet Delegation would find itself in a difficult position unless the Council heard the views of Yugoslavia. The decisive stage of drafting the peace treaty with Italy had now been reached, whereas at London in September it was merely the preliminary stage. Now that the investigation on the spot had taken place and more definite information was available, the Soviet Delegation believed that it would be both advisable and fair to hear the views of Yugoslavia. M. Molotov reminded his colleagues of the fact that three days before the Council had received the Yugoslav Government’s request in writing to be heard. It would be difficult to refuse this request. This was a question of great national importance to Yugoslavia. All must remember that Yugoslavia made great sacrifices in the war and struggled for years not only in self defense but in the common Allied cause. It would only be just to meet the request of the Yugoslav Government and, from the point of view of impartiality, it was even necessary to do so.

[Page 182]

Mr. Byrnes said that if the Council was not going to decide the frontier question at this meeting, there was no reason why it shouldn’t go ahead and invite Yugoslav and Italian representatives to come and present their views. He recalled very distinctly the claims and counter-claims which had been made at the London meeting. Since it was clear that the frontier question was not going to be discussed and decided at the present meeting, he felt that the Council might as well send communications to Italy and Yugoslavia and invite them to be heard. He wondered on what specific subjects they should be requested to present statements of their views. The Commission had already agreed on most of the facts which it had been called upon to study. It had disagreed, however, on evaluating what is called the 1945 census. As he understood it, in their efforts to carry out the instructions of the Council to report on a line which would be in the main an ethnic line, some members of the Commission had taken as a guide the census of 1910, which was taken at a time of peace in the Istrian Peninsula and in which both Italians and Yugoslavs participated, whereas other members were inclined to follow the census of 1945. About two weeks after the Commission had been appointed this census lad been organized under the direction of a certain Professor Roglich, who carried out this task within a month. The question now was whether, in trying to fix a line, the Council should take as a basis the census of this professor or the census of 1910. Mr. Byrnes suggested that, if representatives of the Italian and Yugoslav Governments were to be invited, the Deputies might interrogate them and find out what questions were asked in the census of 1945. He had no objection to inviting representatitves of those two governments but preferred that they first be heard by the Deputies; then the Deputies could report to the Council the results of the hearings. He assumed that the Italian representative would speak in favor of something like the Wilson Line and that the Yugoslav representative would be in favor of a line something like that which was suggested by the Soviet representative on the Commission of Experts.

M. Molotov said that the Soviet Delegation had no objection to the Deputies hearing representatives of Yugoslavia and Italy. He thought it would be helpful for the Ministers to hear them also.

Mr. Byrnes agreed although it would take a little more time.

Mr. Bevin asked what time table was suggested. He made reference to Mr. Molotov’s statement at a previous meeting that the present conference should not be prolonged unduly.

M. Molotov said that representatives of the two governments should be heard immediately, in the shortest possible time.

Mr. Bevin suggested that the four lines recommended by the experts be communicated to the two governments, so that the Council [Page 183] would be able to hear their objections to those four lines. The two governments should be told that the Commission of Experts did not agree and had put forward separate lines, and that the Council wished to hear their views on those lines.

M. Molotov said that the Soviet Delegation was not proposing any specific line, so long as the Soviet Delegation had not heard the views, of the interested governments.

Mr. Bevin said that he was not suggesting that the lines be put forward as the proposals of different governments. He was not committed to any line yet. But he did think that if the Yugoslavs and Italians came before the Council, they ought to know the views of the; experts and to be in a position to give their opinions on the lines recommended by the experts.

M. Molotov had no objection so long as these lines were submitted as the views of experts and not of governments.

Mr. Bevin said that all he was concerned about was that the views of those governments should be directed to the situation which has emerged from the consideration of the problem by the experts. He did not want to sit and hear again everything which had been heard in September. He proposed that the report of the experts, with the recommended lines, be communicated to the Yugoslav and Italian Governments, and that they be invited to come to Paris and give their views on the report. He felt that it would involve delays for them to be heard by the Deputies, since they would probably have to be heard by the Ministers as well. Therefore, the Council itself should hear them and really get to grips with the question. Personally we would prefer that procedure. Finally, he suggested that the attention of the Yugoslav and Italian Governments be called to the London decision of September85 and that they be asked to address their minds to the problem of which of the recommended lines would give effect to that decision. These should be the terms of reference.

Mr. Byrnes said that he had no objection to the matter being referred to the Deputies, but if the Council was to hear these representatives, it might as well go right to it. By all means the Council should direct the attention of these representatives to the instructions given by the Deputies to the Commission and to the lines which have now been recommended by the experts. The views of the Italian and Yugoslav representatives should be asked on those points alone. He recalled that at the September session of the Council the hearings on [Page 184] this question had started at 9:00 o’clock one morning and lasted until after midnight.

M. Bidault, summarizing the situation, remarked that agreement had been reached to send invitations to the two governments saying that the Council wished to hear their views within the shortest possible time, and that the report of the experts, including the recommended lines, should be sent to the two governments. Agreement had not yet been reached regarding the procedure of hearing these representatives. It had been proposed that the Deputies hear them, and also that the Ministers hear them. On this point the French Delegation had no preference.

Mr. Bevin thought that in the communications to the two governments their attention should be called to the London decision, in order that they would not go over all the same ground again.

M. Molotov said that the London decision was made public and that he saw no reason to emphasize it by any new decision.

Mr. Bevin said that he was not asking for a new decision but only to have the communication indicate the basis on which the Council was working. He assumed that there was no dispute about that.

M. Bidault called Mr. Bevin’s attention to the fact that paragraph one of the report of the experts stated plainly the decision which was taken at London on September 19, 1945, and that report was to be communicated to the two governments. (It was agreed that this reference to the London decision was sufficient.)

M. Bidault asked what decision was to be made on the procedure by which the Yugoslav and Italian representatives would state their views.

Mr. Bevin suggested that they make their statements to the Foreign Ministers rather than to the Deputies. (This was agreed.)

M. Bidault said that he hoped to be able to send that same day the two invitations. (It was then agreed that the Italian and Yugoslav representatives should be invited to be present at the meeting of the Council on Friday, May 3rd.)

Schedule of Meetings

Mr. Bevin proposed that the Council hold two meetings on May 3rd, one at 11:00 a.m. and the other in the afternoon.

Mr. Byrnes suggested that from this point on the Council meet in the mornings as well as in the afternoons. He said that the Deputies did not have much work before them and that time might be saved by holding two meetings of the Ministers each day. At the rate at which progress was being made it seemed necessary to meet more often. It was necessary to get to the problems and to discuss them before they could be disposed of. (It was agreed that, as a rule, the Council would hold two meetings daily in the future.)

[Page 185]

Austro-Italian Frontier

Mr. Byrnes raised the question of an Austro-Italian frontier and asked whether his colleagues would like to consider it at the present meeting.

M. Bidault remarked that the agenda for that meeting had on it only the Italian-Yugoslav frontier and the port of Trieste, and that both of those questions had been adjourned until Friday. He felt that the Council should have a definite plan of work before it.

M. Molotov believed that the Council should take up the questions in the order already established.

M. Bidault had no objection to discussing the Austrian-Italian frontier if it was the next question in line for discussion. He recalled that the problem had been discussed the previous September and that it was decided that the frontier might undergo minor rectifications.86 He mentioned that the Deputies had had before them the Austrian claims and had decided that these were not proposals for minor rectifications but for major ones. The Deputies did not carry the matter further, and that was how it stood now.

Mr. Byrnes said that, as he understood the situation, the United Kingdom desired some change in the existing frontier. He asked for confirmation of this view.

Mr. Bevin replied that the United Kingdom Delegation did not propose any concrete changes. In the light of the September decision that there might be minor rectifications the United Kingdom Deputy had put forward some suggestions for minor rectifications, derived from the Austrian claim, to be considered on the expert level.87 Mr. Bevin believed that a modification along the line suggested might be of some benefit to Austria and would do no harm to Italy, and it would be wholly within the Council’s decision of September. He was referring particularly to the possible cession to Austria of the northeast corner of South Tyrol in which Brunico is located. But the United Kingdom Delegation had made no definite proposal, merely a suggestion for consideration by the experts. This modification would affect the Brenner Pass, which would go to Austria in order to give to Austria important railway communications. This change would improve the situation somewhat for Austria and, apart from the psychological effects which the loss of the Brenner Pass might have, would not injure Italy. Mr. Bevin was, however, open to any suggestions on this whole question. He had not been consulted when the suggested minor rectification had been put forward by the United [Page 186] Kingdom Delegation in the Deputies’ meetings, and had an open mind on the question.

Mr. Byrnes stated that the United States was willing to have the possibility of minor rectifications studied but had no positive views as to what should be done in that direction. The information at his disposal indicated that Austria claimed the cession of the whole province of Bolzano. He did not know whether Austria was particularly interested in the small area mentioned by Mr. Bevin. He thought that, as a rule, the stability of the frontier in question was a matter worth considering. Unless there was some strong reason for making a change, it might be well to let the line remain where it is. However, if his colleagues could present strong reasons for making a change, he would be glad to listen to their arguments.

Mr. Bevin said that if the Council heard Yugoslav and Italian representatives on the subject of the Italian-Yugoslav frontier, it might not be wise to try to dispose of the question of the Italian-Austrian frontier without hearing Italian and Austrian representatives. Perhaps they might be heard by the Deputies. After all, these frontier questions were the cause of much trouble in Europe and could not be dealt with lightly or without giving hearings to both sides.

M. Molotov quoted a decision taken by the Council in September that the frontier would remain unchanged subject to decisions which might be taken on any case which Austria might present for minor rectifications in her favor. He wished to ask Mr. Bevin whether the Council would stick to that decision or change it. On the subject of inviting Austrian and Italian representatives, he thought that a difference should be made between an Allied nation like Yugoslavia and other nations which were not in that category. It was comprehensible that Italy and Yugoslavia would be invited to express views regarding the Italian-Yugoslav frontier. The Council was qualified to invite Yugoslavia, and was in fact obliged to do so since it was an Allied state. M. Molotov suggested that the Foreign Ministers were not adequately qualified experts on this particular frontier question and that it might be appropriate to name a special committee to study it. Up to the present no one had submitted any concrete proposals although all delegations had displayed an interest in the question. Perhaps a committee of experts might prepare a report.

Mr. Bevin said that he was trying to follow the September decision, not to change it. He pointed to the latter part of the decision, taken without discussion, referring to the presentation by Austria of a case for minor rectifications in her favor. He did not think that the Council had carried out that provision. He wondered whether Austria had [Page 187] ever been informed of the September decision. The Austrian claim was not for minor rectifications but for the whole territory. The Council should take account of the London decision. The suggestion made by the British Deputy had been an attempt to keep within the decision. It did not seem that it was necessary to name any more commissions.

M. Bidault said that he was struck by the fact that in this very important question all the delegations hesitated to take a position or to make a concrete proposal regarding the interpretation of the term “minor rectifications”. Austria had suggested only major changes. In the absence of concrete proposals, M. Bidault wondered if the Council could refer the question to the Deputies with instructions to see just what concrete proposals there were, either from Austria or from any one of the powers represented on the Council.

Mr. Byrnes said that the United States was not very excited about this particular frontier question but that his attention had been called to the language of the Potsdam Agreement, which had a bearing on the question of hearing Austria’s views. The Potsdam Agreement stated that “whenever the Council is considering a question of direct interest to a state not represented thereon, such state should be invited to send representatives to participate in the discussion and study of that question.”88 When this particular frontier question was before the Deputies, the Soviet representative took the position that, since the Austrian proposal was for a major change, it did not come within the London decision and could not be considered. The United States Delegation had no objection to consideration by the Deputies of the question whether some change last [less?] drastic than Austria’s claim, a change which would be a minor rectification, might be made. In any case, in view of the wording of the Potsdam Agreement, Austria should be invited to present its views, otherwise Austria could argue later that it had been denied a hearing when its claim was worthy of consideration.

M. Molotov suggested that the Council agree to instruct the Deputies to examine the question. Considering, however, that only minor changes are involved he did not think a decision should be taken at the moment to invite representatives of Austria to appear. Mr. Bevin had mentioned the London decision in which it was implied that Austria would be heard. If the Deputies considered now the question of a possible minor rectification, could it be said that that would prejudice the decision at a latter stage if a request should be made by Austria.

[Page 188]

Mr. Byrnes confessed that he was struck by the clear wording of the Potsdam Decision on consultation of interested states. He would not want to be charged with having deliberately failed to comply with the language of that agreement.

M. Molotov said that in important cases an interested state might be invited to appear, but that in this case it was not an important question concerning Austria and that it was therefore an exception to the rule of the Potsdam Decision. If the Deputies found, however, that they could not examine the question without hearing Austria, they could consider the possibility of inviting Austria.

M. Bidault remarked that it seemed to be agreed that both the problem itself and the question of inviting Austria would have to be referred to the Deputies without any decision by the Council at the present meeting. The Deputies would thus be instructed to reach agreement on the question of inviting Austria and then on the problem itself.

Mr. Bevin thought that it would be better to ask the Deputies whether any possible minor rectification could be made in the frontier and that secondly they should consider whether Austria should be invited to express its views. He considered it obvious that, in view of the nature of the present discussion, poor Austria would not be consulted at all.

Mr. Byrnes had no objection to sending the question to the Deputies for consideration, but under the language of the Potsdam Agreement he had to insist that Austria be invited to express its views. Until that language was changed he would have to stand by it. Under the language of the agreement, Italy also must be invited. He was prepared to see Italian and Austrian representatives appear before the Deputies. But they certainly must be invited to appear before someone.

M. Molotov believed the Potsdam Decision to be a good one which should be carried out.

M. Bidault mentioned that there was a slight difference between him and Mr. Bevin regarding the order in which the problems were to be raised in the meeting of the Deputies. He felt that that could be left to the Deputies to decide in the light of their arrangements regarding implementation of the Potsdam Decision or any other arrangements.

Mr. Bevin said that he had merely wanted to get on with the business and had not had the intention of prejudicing the question at all.

M. Bidault, summarizing, said that the Council was then instructing the Deputies in the sense agreed upon at the present meeting. The Deputies would meet tomorrow to study those particular questions.

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(It was agreed that the Deputies would meet at 10:00 a.m., May 1, and the Foreign Ministers at 11:30. The Deputies would prepare the agenda for the Minister’s meeting.)

The meeting adjourned at 6:00 p.m.

  1. For a list of persons present at this meeting, see the Record of Decisions, infra.
  2. The Report of the Commission on the Italo-Yugoslav Boundary was circulated to the Council of Foreign Ministers as document C.F.M. (46) 5, April 27, 1946, p. 140. The recommendations of the French, Soviet, British, and American representatives on the Commission are included as annexes (pp. 149–152) to the Minutes of the 73rd Meeting of the Commission, April 28, 1946. The recommendations are depicted on the map facing p. 152.
  3. For the full text of the French note of January 3, 1946, a portion of which is quoted here, see telegram 37, January 3, 1946, from Paris, p. 3.
  4. For the full text of the Secretary of State’s note of January 13, 1946, a portion of which is quoted here, see Department of State Bulletin, January 27, 1946, p. 112.
  5. Reference here is to the agreement of the Council of Foreign Ministers at their 12th Meeting, September 19, 1945, with respect to the terms of reference within which the Deputies were to consider and report on the problem of the Yugoslav-Italian frontier. See item 1 of the Record of the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 469.
  6. For the decision of the Council of Foreign Ministers with reference to the Italo-Austrian frontier, see the Record of the Third Meeting of the Council, September 14, 1945, 11 a.m., Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 162.
  7. Regarding the British Deputy’s suggestions as to the Austro-Italian frontier question, see footnote 39, p. 21.
  8. The quotation is from the Protocol of the Proceedings of the Berlin Conference of August 1, 1945, Part I, Section 4, Subsection i, Foreign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. ii, p. 1479.