No. 408 NAI DFA 26/95

Letter from Seán Lester to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Geneva, 3 September 1930

A Chara,

I beg to refer to your letter L.N. 80/177 of the 22nd July.1 I found that many of the Permanent Delegates were absent during August, but I have made tentative appointments with the Ministers of Poland, Finland, Denmark and Persia for the next week-end.

Last evening, I called upon the Romanian Minister, M. Antoniade. (You will recall that the Romanian Minister at Paris promised his personal support last May or June, but there has been no further indication of the Romanian Government's views.)

I mentioned to M. Antoniade that I had been informed by my Government sometime ago of their intention to vote for M. Negulesco as Judge of the Permanent Court and I also spoke of the movement to elect M. Titulesco, as President of the Assembly (this was done, of course, without any commitment on the part of the Delegation).

Discussing the Council election, I told M. Antoniade that we had received a great deal of encouragement from all parts, and asked him if he could inform me as to the attitude of his country and of the Little Entente. The Romanian Minister then mentioned the statement issued by the Minister for External Affairs a few days ago and which appeared in one of the Genevese papers. 'That, of course' he said, 'is against us' (meaning the Little Entente). He had apparently been considering it and had come to the conclusion that it was a declaration particularly directed against his group, which is, in reality, the worst type of group in the League, being bonded together more in enmity against Hungary and the other defeated Powers than for peaceful co-operative purposes or for the mere purposes of election, etc. Faced with this attitude, I thought it well not to stand too strictly on the principle enunciated in the statement, and offered another aspect of the question for the consideration of the Roumanian Minister and his colleagues. I pointed out, and he agreed, that all the non-permanent seats, except one, had been already virtually allotted to groups. Outside those groups, there were, in addition to Dominions, several countries like Belgium, Portugal, Greece, which belonged to no group. If it were declared that the seat vacated by Canada must be reserved for nations of the British Commonwealth that would leave several States without any prospect of sharing in Council honours. This case was being made in certain quarters against our candidature, and we had to meet a certain amount of propaganda, some of which I feared came from the Secretariat. It seemed to me personally to be primarily a declaration of the position of the Saorstát vis-à-vis the other Dominions rather than, as he thought, an attack on the Little Entente. We made it known that our candidature was not a claim to the seat on behalf of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. If it were simply an attack on the group system, it would be a challenge also to the South American, the Scandinavian and the Oriental groups. The argument seemed to appeal to him and he said that after my explanation the Minister's statement began to have a different appearance, and that he would discuss it with his Foreign Minister in that light before the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Little Entente on the 7th instant, when a common policy would be agreed to.

The Romanian Minister eventually assured me of his warm personal support, repeating several times that it would always be useful to have 'a friend in the Council'.

I also told M. Antoniade of the visit last September of the Yugoslavian Minister who was seeking the Irish vote, and who had promised that Yugoslavia would vote for the Saorstát this year. I suggested that he might find an occasion before the meeting to discuss the matter with M. Choumenkovitch (At the last Assembly I had, immediately prior to the election, sought him out and informed him that the Irish delegation had agreed to vote for Yugoslavia). M. Antoniade expressed his gratification on being informed of this and promised to talk with his Yugoslavian Colleague.

He enquired as to the attitude of Britain and Germany. I said I did not know definitely as to Britain's attitude, but while we were very much concerned with the question of our independence and the absolute equality of status with Britain in the League and elsewhere, it was quite possible their vote would be given to us. That, however, was a personal opinion, and he would no doubt get more definite information when his Foreign Minister arrived at Geneva.

As to Germany, I of course said there was absolutely no indication, but that one had said to me that Germany was unlikely to vote for Ireland. That was quite true and seemed to cause much satisfaction to M. Antoniade, whose anti-German bias was evident.

I left him carrying cordial assurances so far as he was concerned, but I should not care to attempt to forecast the decision of the meeting next Sunday.

I trust there will be no objection to the line I took regarding the Minister's statement: it seemed to be the only one to meet the case of States strongly attached to the Group idea. I was careful throughout to make it clear I was offering a personal view of one aspect of the declaration.

Mise, le meas,
[signed] Seán Lester

1 Not printed.

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