No. 98


Memorandum by Joseph N. Greene of the Office of Western European Affairs



I have had long talks with the Political Section of the Embassy in Rome and with USPolAd, the Zone Commander, and the AMG Legal Adviser at Trieste on Cassation. AMG feels very strongly that this is a key issue and that if we in any way recognize any competence of Italian courts in Zone A matters, we will open the way to virtually complete Italian take over. There is no disagreement with this analysis of the importance of the issue on the part of the Embassy.

The matter cannot simply be left without further action on our part, because the judicial processes have almost come to a stop in Trieste and the Legal Adviser is suspending replies to a large [Page 226] number of communications from the courts and lawyers asking where matters stand.

The Embassy at Rome would not object to quietly telling the Italian Government that we do not want a fuss over this issue but that AMG cannot recognize the jurisdiction of Italian Courts over Zone A or give effect to judgments of those courts. They do not have particularly strong feelings whether this is done before or after the administrative elections, as it could and should be done quietly as far as the US and UK are concerned. The AMG Legal Adviser will, of course, have to reply to the communications he has received, and it may be that his reply or replies will become public.

It is my estimate that the Italians, both in Italy and Trieste, will keep pushing this thing as hard as they can until we take a stand, that is as long as they think they can beat us down.

The AMG Legal Adviser pointed out that, while the Italians could theoretically defeat us by withdrawing or firing the judges now on duty in Trieste, they probably could not afford politically to do so, as they would then be open to the charge of abandoning the interests of the Italians in Trieste. The Legal Adviser also pointed out that the Trieste judges, being Italian, follow precedents established by Italian courts on Italian law, so that there is no substantive need for formal procedure whereby the Trieste courts could seek the advice of the Rome court of cassation.

It might be borne in mind that if at any future time we are looking for a way to give effect to an Italo-Yugoslav settlement of the Trieste question, one way, among others, to get it started would be to recognize the jurisdiction of the Rome court of cassation over Zone A, or any part of the free territory which is to go to Italy.1

  1. On June 4 the Department of State sent telegram 5435 to Rome (repeated to Trieste and London) instructing the Embassy to reassert the position of the U.S. Government that the jurisdiction of Italian courts over the Free Territory of Trieste could not be recognized. This telegram, drafted by Greene, cautioned the Embassy to avoid an open clash with the Italians on this issue but stressed the need to once again clarify the U.S. position. (750G.31/5–1651)