740.0011 EW (Peace)/3–1048: Telegram

The Minister in Hungary (Chapin) to the Secretary of State


386. Note from Hungarian Foreign Office refusing military information (British received identical note) unless requested in concert (mytel 385, March 10)1 poses question of next step especially in view [Page 306] telegram received by Helm2 March 6 in which British Foreign Office relatively categoric in pointing out it considers pressing case into Council of Ministers under Article 40 and arbitration undesirable due weakness of case for unilateral requests under Article 39. Dept will recall Helm and I aware possible weakness our case under Article 39 and deprecated proposal for formal representations re military information from beginning and reluctantly undertook this course on understanding that if once begun matter would be pushed thru to conclusion via recourse Article 40. Accordingly both Helm and I assumed Foreign Office and Dept had considered carefully strength our case. Helm completely baffled by present attitude of Foreign Office which has suggested (a) requesting Soviet concurrence in request or (b) allowing matter to drop with Hungarian reply. Both courses repugnant. As lesser of two evils Helm is suggesting latter course of allowing matter to drop until prima facie case of treaty violation occurs, though pointing out to Foreign Office this is outcome he originally predicted.

Feel we have 5 alternatives:

Appeal to Soviets to support our contention that powers individually entitled demand information.
Appeal Soviets to support our request for information. Both these appear barren and likely to result in a well publicized “kick in the teeth” for US with only possible advantage that of showing Soviet obstructionism prior to reference matter to 3 chiefs mission.
Refer matter to 3 chiefs mission with eventual reference con-conciliation or arbitration (this appears also to be logical outcome of first and second alternatives with advantage of being direct in approach and less susceptible to rebuff). In this case Legation feels that if legal case weak under Article 39 we might pursue it on basis right US as signatory to information it requires. Disadvantages lie in present British Foreign Office attitude which forecasts lack support and possible restrictive resolution our contention would entail.
To drop matter entirely awaiting prima facie case of violation. Legation considers this undignified retreat.
To close correspondence with short note stating Hungarian reply unsatisfactory and considered by US to show disheartening lack cooperation in fulfilling treaty obligations. This gives rise possibility Hungarians may then appeal 3 heads mission exposing weakness our case under Article 39. Legation prefers third alternative but prefers [Page 307] [refers?] British Foreign Office attitude. Fifth is second choice. Dept’s instructions requested.3

  1. On December 11, 1947, the Legation in Budapest addressed a note to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry requesting information relative to the fulfillment of the military clauses of the Hungarian Peace Treaty; for the text of the note, see telegram 1955, December 11, 1947, from Budapest, Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. iv, p. 49. In a note to the Legation in Budapest dated January 12, 1948, not printed, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry declined to respond to the American request on the grounds that such requests for treaty-fulfillment information had to be made by the heads of the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet missions in Hungary acting in concert, and the Soviet Embassy had made no such request. The Legation in Budapest renewed its request for military information in a note of January 27, 1948, and on March 10 the Hungarian Foreign Ministry renewed its refusal.
  2. Alexander Knox Helm, British Minister in Hungary.
  3. Telegram 263, March 15, to Budapest, not printed, instructed the Legation to acknowledge the Hungarian Foreign Ministry note of March 10, stating that the reply was unsatisfactory and pointing out the Hungarian obligation under the peace treaty to limit its military personnel, which could hardly be determined as being fulfilled unless information on the subject were forthcoming. The Department added that it was considering the convening of an ad hoc meeting of American, British, and Soviet ministers in Budapest in order to ascertain the Soviet position on the right of treaty signatories to obtain information unilaterally (740:0011 EW (Peace)/3–1048).