127. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Merchant) to the Secretary of State1
- Extreme Italian concern over UN membership question
During the past month the Italian Ambassador and Minister have stated and restated with increasing emphasis that should any other country be admitted to the UN without the simultaneous admission of Italy, the domestic effects in Italy would be disastrous for the Italian Government.2 The admission of Austria by itself or with the Bandung powers seems to be the greatest specific fear of the Italians. On the other hand, Italian representatives have taken pains to say that no serious effects would be likely to occur if Italy remained out of the UN along with all the other applicants.
You may recall that the same clause regarding UN membership that appears in the preamble to the Austrian State Treaty also appears in the preamble of the three satellite and Italian peace treaties signed in 1947. The Italians, therefore, consider that among the Western nations Italy has priority on the basis both of the peace treaty and date of application for membership.
The latest development was in Foreign Minister Martino’s general foreign policy speech before the Italian Parliament on September 27, when according to our Embassy’s report, he “stressed that Italy would consider unfriendly any action to elect other countries without Italy”. Such strong language applied to friendly and unfriendly governments alike is probably intended to impress upon us the seriousness with which the Italian Government regards this question. Should Martino’s assessment of Italian public opinion have been exaggerated (which we are not really in position to charge), such a statement would tend to produce the opinion he believes already exists.
That the Soviet Union is and has been responsible for the situation in which Italy finds itself is true. Nevertheless, the fact that the Soviets are now willing to accept a large or small package, either including Italy, would, I believe, result in the United States [Page 308] being held responsible by the Italian Government and public should some other state or states obtain admission without Italy. Such a potentiality in an allied country where the “Geneva spirit” constitutes an exceedingly serious problem for the government and where the electorate is already 35% social-communist warrants the most serious consideration in connection with United States decisions and actions regarding UN membership.
That this problem be kept in mind.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 310.2/9–3055. Secret. Drafted by Freund and cleared by Wilcox. The source text indicates that a copy was sent to Lodge.↩
- See the memoranda of conversation with Ambassador Brosio of September 9 and 28, and with Minister Ortona of September 20, ibid., 310.2/9–955, /9–2055, and /9–2855, respectively.↩