The President: We now come to the third point on the Agenda: Invitation to other States.
I should like to remind you that a draft resolution concerning the invitation to Albania was submitted this morning by the representative of Yugoslavia;61 the text of this proposal has been distributed [Page 164]and I should add that similar requests have been submitted either to the President or to the Secretary-General by several other States which are not members of the Conference, asking to be allowed to participate in its work. Further, to my knowledge, individual requests have also been addressed to various delegations officially represented at the Conference. These requests refer to the following States, mentioned in the chronological order in which they were received: Albania, Egypt, Mexico, Cuba.
Other States which have submitted similar requests subsequently made it clear that these referred to the Peace Conference with Germany; but it does not seem to me that this Conference is called upon to deal with these. The Conference should therefore confine itself to the four requests mentioned above, and in the first place to those connected with the Treaty of Peace with Italy. This is the question which was raised this morning, and I think that it should be dealt with by the Conference now.
M. Vyshinsky (U.S.S.R. (Interpretation): The Soviet Delegation’s approval of the Agenda of this meeting62 was based on a text distributed in two languages—in this connection I draw attention to the fact that I have not yet received the Russian text—of which item 3 reads—I read from the Russian translation of the text distributed in French and English—“Invitation to representatives of other States (Yugoslav Draft Resolution CP/Plen/8A)”.
A little later we received a draft resolution, submitted by Yugoslavia in connection with the admission of Albania, under reference “P.C.Plen. 8”. It was on the basis of the text of the Agenda and on the proposal submitted this morning by the Yugoslav Delegation and heard by the Conference that we signified our agreement, which takes into account the direct reference which had been made to the above documents.
With reference to the subsequent proposals for the admission of other States, we have not had time to examine the question, nor have we yet received the official documents relating to these applications. For these reasons I feel that it would be somewhat regrettable to examine, at such short notice, proposals for the admission of other States; and I think it would be preferable if the Conference were to restrict its examination solely to the concrete proposal submitted this morning by the Yugoslav Delegation concerning the admission of Albania to the Conference.
Furthermore I think I should also like to point out that the Secretariat has not yet been able to examine the other applications for admission submitted to it and that the Conference cannot therefore properly carry out its work under these conditions.[Page 165]
The President (Interpretation): With regard to the absence of a Russian translation, I sincerely hope that such an omission will not occur again. We ourselves have also sometimes been embarrassed by a lack of a translation, and the matter is sufficiently regrettable for us to sympathise with those who have had to undergo a similar inconvenience.
I should only like to point out, however, without, of course, as befits a president, expressing any opinion on the substance of the question itself, that item 3 of the Agenda contains the words “Invitation to the representatives of other States” in the plural, and that the only proposal which is officially and collectively before the Conference is the proposal referred to in it. A number of other applications were received before this. The Conference will have to decide how this question should be settled.
M. Tsaldaris (Greece) (Interpretation): The Greek Delegation considers that the proposal to admit Albania as a Member of this Conference is quite inacceptable; for Albania cannot comply with any of the qualifications laid down for agreeing to such an application. In fact, by the decision of the Moscow Conference of 26th Dec. 1945, only States Members of the United Nations which have actively participated in the war, with substantial military forces, against European enemy States have the right to participate in this Conference;63 Albania, however, did not take any part in the war against European enemy States. On the contrary, Albania took an active part in the war against an European Allied State, namely, Greece. From the very outset of the Italian offensive against Greece, Albanian regular forces, 14 battalions strong, were incorporated with Italian Troops; and in conformity with the law, unanimously adopted by the Parliament of Tirana, on 3rd July 1940, a state of war automatically existed with all States with which Italy was at war.
Subsequently an act recognising the existence of a state of war between Greece and Albania was promulgated at Athens on 10th November 1940; and when the Axis troops entered Athens, an Albanian contingent paraded with the other conquering troops. Albanian authorities were also installed on portions of Greek territory; and a sum, estimated at more than 200,000,000 drachma, was extorted from the Greek Treasury in the form of reparations for Albanian nationals.
It is, therefore, quite impossible to argue that an actual state of war between Italy and an Allied State did not exist, nor was such a state of war the result of a hasty decision, but was the logical result [Page 166]of the policy followed by Albania since 1921, which had its culmination in the Italo-Albanian agreements freely concluded in 1926 and in 1927.
This policy was subsequently confirmed by the attitude of the Albanian Government during the conflict between Italy and Ethiopia, when Albania definitely refused to take any part in the sanctions against Italy. It is, therefore, quite clear that Albania cannot put forward any claim as a Member of the United Nations; still less, as having been an Allied State, which participated in the war with substantial military forces in favour of the United Nations.
The fact that this country joined the Allied cause at the time of the German collapse, and issued a manifesto seeking to evade the grave responsibilities she had incurred, coupled with the fact of undertaking a few isolated guerrilla operations, stirred up and encouraged from the outside by the Allied General Staffs, cannot be said to constitute a real contribution to the Allied cause “with substantial military forces”, in accordance with the Moscow decisions; and cannot give Albania a legitimate claim to the rights and honours which the United Nations have earned by their sacrifices and valuable services to the common cause.
It was for these reasons that the Moscow Conference did not think fit to include Albania among the States which, in accordance with its decisions, had a right to be invited.
Greece can only regard the fact that such an application for admission has been submitted as a direct challenge to the sufferings she has endured during this war. She must categorically oppose this claim for the reasons I have had the honour to set forth; to accept such a proposal would amount to a serious modification of the Moscow decisions which form the basis of this Conference, and in virtue of which the States represented here have promised their co-operation. A modification of this kind would be liable to involve the most serious consequences.
The President (Interpretation)—I call on Mr. Byrnes, First Delegate of the United States.
Mr. Byrnes (U.S.A.)—I think it will be agreed that Albania cannot be invited under the authority of the Moscow Agreement. I think it will also be agreed, under the rules adopted today, that this resolution would not be in order because it does not invite Albania to appear and make a statement. It invites Albania to become one of a new category of consultative members. If we are to establish a new type of membership, then consideration should be given to the request submitted to the President of the Conference by Mexico, Cuba and Egypt.
Therefore, Mr. President, I think we should determine how this question is to be considered. We have, in the rules we have adopted, [Page 167]made provision for a General Commission of one representative from each of the member States which is set up to assist the Procedure Commission. I think the Commission should be called upon to assist the Conference here, and I therefore move that the resolution of the Yugoslav Delegation be referred to the General Commission to be considered in connection with the application of the other three States referred to by the President.
The President (Interpretation)—I call upon M. Manuilsky, First Delegate of the Ukraine.
M. Manuilsky (Ukraine) (Interpretation): Two lines of agreement [argument?] which have been put forward against the admission of Albania to this Conference in an advisory capacity.
I will first take those advanced by Mr. Byrnes. He has expressed the opinion that the admission of Albania to this Conference is linked up with that of three other countries, Cuba, Mexico and Egypt, and that all these questions should be considered simultaneously either by the Conference or by the General Commission.
The question we have to consider, namely, item 1 of the agenda, is that of the Yugoslav resolution. This is explicitly mentioned and only concerns the admission of Albania. Therefore, there are, in my opinion, both formal and substantial reasons not to consider the question of the admission of Albania as indissolubly bound up with that of the admission of Cuba, Egypt and Mexico.
Further, before discussing the admission of the three latter countries, we should be able to study the documents explaining why they consider that they should be invited as well as the form in which such admission has been requested. For the time being these documents are not to hand and, therefore, in order to avoid a too hasty decision and a discussion unsupported by definite information, there is no reason to regard as cogent the arguments advanced by the representative of the United States.
We have also heard the speech made by the representative of Greece. This is not the first time that Greece has objected to the admission of Albania to Allied Organizations. It is a matter of common knowledge that, for a country of one million inhabitants, Albania has substantially furthered the cause of the Allies. But, whenever the question of the admission of Albania to an Allied Organization comes up, Greece objects, whether here, or at the U.N.R.R.A., or, as we learn through the Press, at the Security Council of the United Nations, where the possibility of the admission of Albania is now being discussed.
M. Tsaldaris arguments are of a general character. For my part, I shall confine myself to established facts. Albania’s contribution to the Allied cause has been appreciated on various occasions by prominent statesmen of the Allied countries. I refer in particular to a statement [Page 168]made by a Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in December 1942; namely: “The British Government is watching with the greatest sympathy the situation of Albania, the first nation to be attacked by the Fascist Powers. The British Government hopes that the time is not far off when Albania can be freed and her independence proclaimed. At that moment, Albania herself will decide what form of Government is suitable for the Albanian people …” This extremely definite statement is that of an Allied statesman whom we all know and respect, namely, Mr. Eden.
I also wish to refer to another testimonial to the contribution of the Albanian people to the common cause, that of Mr. Cordell Hull, Foreign Secretary of another great Allied country. He wrote on December 10, 1942: “The Government of the United States wishes to express its deep appreciation of the effort now being made by the Albanian people and of its contribution to the common cause. The efforts and the sufferings of the Albanian people have aroused in the people of the United States the greatest respect and admiration for the courage of the Albanians. The United States Government trusts that the efforts of that people and those of the Allied Powers may contribute in the near future to the expulsion of the Fascist invaders.”64
Thus, two prominent representatives of Allied countries, the United States and Great Britain, have expressed their formal recognition of what the Albania people has done to maintain its independence and to fight the foreign invaders. We have before us two sets of statements: one by M. Tsaldaris, the others by Messrs. Cordell Hull and Eden. I apologize to M. Tsaldaris, but I feel that I should attach more weight to those of Mr. Cordell Hull and Mr. Eden.
There are four lines of argument which are definitely in favour of Albania being admitted to take part in the work of this Conference, and I consider that the Yugoslav Delegation has rendered a great service to the Conference in helping it to avoid the extremely awkward situation that might have arisen owing to the absence of Albania, if only in an advisory capacity. I will now take the arguments. The first is as follows: Albania was one of the first victims of Fascist Italian aggression. The country was attacked on the 7th April, 1940. During five years it had to support Italian occupation with all its consequences. Some fifty thousand Albanians were deported to Italy, that is a proportion of one in twenty. Thirty per cent of Albania’s towns and villages were destroyed by the occupying Powers as a result of the battles in Albanian terrtory. The tiny Albanian [Page 169]fleet was destroyed and in part captured. Throughout the occupation, the brave Albanian people maintained a heroic resistance—up to 1941, through groups of partisans, from then on by a regular army, constituted at that time and finally reaching a figure of some 50,000 men and officers—this is probably less than the actual number—the figure of 70,000 having also been quoted.
It should be noted that Albania’s resistance cost the country 28,000 men in killed and wounded, that is, more than half its total armed forces. Towards the end of 1941, or early in 1942, this army was effectively organized with a maximum of 70,000 men.
In September, October and November, 1944, at the moment when the Germans were preparing to evacuate Greece, the officer in command of the Albanian troops, that brave soldier, Colonel L. Hodja [Enver Hoxha?] received instructions to bar the route of the retreating German forces; he took over 55,000 prisoners, officers and soldiers, whom he subsequently made over to the Allied armies.
Moreover, the status of the regular units of the Albanian army fighting the Italian invaders was recognized by the Supreme Allied Command as early as 1942; the latter organized liaison missions and entrusted the Albanian troops with a difficult task and one hardly proportionate to the smallness of their numbers, namely, to defend the Straits of Otranto against the German fleet. The Albanians, aided by the American Navy, carried out these instructions in the most satisfactory manner.
The second argument adduced against the admission of Albania to this Conference consists, for the representative of Greece, in the war alleged to have been made on his country by the former. I regard this argument as still less convincing than the preceding one.
As a matter of fact, the war in question was made by Italy; it was declared by Italy on behalf of Albania; Italy merely made use of the puppet Government installed in Albania, which was completely subservient to the Government of the Peninsula.
Moreover, we must frankly admit that, whenever the Axis Powers occupied a country, they invariably set up a puppet Government and forced it to declare war on the Allied Powers. It is possible, for instance, to mention the fact that, on the eastern front, the Allied troops of the Red Army encountered Belgian, Dutch and even French Fascist units organized at the injunction of Laval and Pétain. No one, however, could demand the exclusion of Belgium and Holland from our discussions on the ground of their participation in the war against the Allied Powers, just because certain Fascist elements of their populations fought us.
In Greece itself, at that time, there was a government formed of collaborators. Certain Greek elements even took part in the war [Page 170]against the Soviet Union, including persons not too remote from the Government represented by the Greek delegate to this meeting.
I now come to my third argument. As far as we can judge, Albania’s merits have been highly appreciated by the Allied Command. I have already mentioned that, as from the end of 1941, the latter established liaison missions with Albanian units. I have referred to the task entrusted to the Albanan army in 1942, namely, to prevent the German fleet from entering the Adriatic. Finally, I have recalled the efforts made in 1944, highly meritorious on the part of such a small army, which contributed to the capture of a very large number of soldiers and officers of the retreating German armies.
In these circumstances, it is difficult to understand why, now that the victory is ours, Albania should find itself in the position of a country which cannot be admitted to the Peace Conference even in an advisory capacity. Bismarck’s remark that “the Albanians are not even a people” is well known, but I do not think that it could be accepted by this meeting. It derives from the German imperialistic conception as a whole, a point of view which we all condemn.
Finally, there is a fourth argument which might be adduced. It would seem impossible to admit that a country which substantially contributed to the common victory should be absent from a Peace Conference.
As a matter of fact, Albania was invited to the Paris Reparations Conference of November 1945; it was invited by the United States, that is, by Mr. Byrnes, by the United Kingdom (Mr. Bevin) and by France (M. Bidault). It is one of the 18 countries of western Europe which are taking part in the work of the Commissions and are dealing with questions of reparations. The Act of December 22, 1945,65 was signed by Albania as well as Greece.
Moreover, since December 12, 1945, normal diplomatic relations have been established between the United States, the United Kingdom and France on the one hand, and Albania on the other. It is, therefore, impossible to admit that a country, with which normal diplomatic relations have been instituted, should for indefinable reasons be kept from sharing in the joint work of the establishment of peace.66[Page 171]
Finally, one might refer—and the Yugoslav Delegate rightly did so this morning—to the importance, at least in the draft treaty—before us, of the section dealing with Albania, Albania’s interests are, in fact, dealt with in a special section composed of six paragraphs. This proves that these interests are undeniable, well founded and important.
Therefore, in view of Albania’s contribution to the common cause and of the political and international arguments concerned, we should invite Albania to share in the work of this Conference and thank the Yugoslav Delegation for an initiative which makes it possible to avoid a difficult situation.
The President:—Gentlemen, there are still two speakers on the list, the Delegate of Poland and the Delegate of the United Kingdom. The Conference will no doubt desire to adjourn the rest of the discussion to its next meeting. I suggest that the next meeting be held tomorrow, Saturday, at 10 a.m.
(The meeting rose at 8:10 p.m.)
- For an account of what transpired earlier in this meeting, see the editorial note, supra.↩
- For text of the proposal, C.P. (Plen) 8 A, see the Verbatim Record of the 8th Plenary Meeting, August 9, p. 148, and footnote 59, p. 160.↩
- The text of the agenda is not printed.↩
- For the Moscow decision of the Council of Foreign Ministers with respect to the preparation of the peace treaties, see Item I of the Communiqué of the Conference, contained in telegram 4284, December 27, from Moscow, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 815.↩
- For text of Hull’s statement to the press regarding continued resistance by Albania to Italian occupation, see Department of State Bulletin, December 12, 1942, p. 998.↩
- Reference is to the Final Act of the Paris Conference on Reparation. For text, which includes Draft Agreement on Reparation from Germany, on the Establishment of an Inter-Allied Reparation Agency, and on Restitution of Monetary Gold, see Department of State Bulletin, January 27, 1946, p. 121. For text of agreement as signed, which came into force January 24, 1946, see Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1655, or 61 Stat, (pt. 3) 3157. For documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iii, pp. 1169–1506, passim.↩
- Neither the United States nor the United Kingdom had established normal diplomatic relations with Albania; for documentation on efforts by the United States to find a basis for the establishment of such relations, see vol. vi, pp. 1 ff.↩