No. 89 NAI DFA 226/46

Report from Francis T. Cremins to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Geneva, 12 December 1939

I have to forward the enclosed copies of the communiqués which were issued to the Press by the Secretariat after yesterday's and today's meetings of the Special Committee for the examination of the Finnish appeal.

I do not know in what form journalists picked up accounts of the meetings which were private. I considered it well to say that I supported M. Unden's1 proposal, as it was altogether a question solely of bringing about conciliation and the cessation of hostilities. M. Unden did not propose any time limit. He said merely that an immediate reply should be asked for, as the Committee would be sitting only a few days. It was in the subsequent brief discussion that a time limit 'tomorrow evening' was inserted, as several members thought that the word immediate was not sufficiently definite. M. Unden said that the Finns also were anxious that such a telegram should be sent.

The telegram was also addressed to the two parties, in accordance with the usual procedure. The communiqué issued by the Secretariat omitted to state this – a very unfortunate oversight. This apparently gave the impression that Russia was being singled out exceptionally.

The telegram was a normal attempt to bring about a settlement of the dispute under paragraph 3 of Article 15 of the Covenant which begins:- 'The Council/Assembly shall endeavour to effect a settlement of the dispute'.

My statement of this morning was for the purpose of indicating that I was on the moderate side. The South Americans are pressing hard for a definite recommendation from the Assembly to the Council to expel Russia under paragraph 4 of Article 16. The Scandinavians do not support this. They would prefer a milder wording, such as a request from the Assembly, in a separate report, asking the Council to consider the Argentine proposal as that proposal comes within the competence of the council.

Many delegations here seemed to expect that Ireland would as a matter of course be all out for expulsion. As I have not yet received instructions in the matter and in view of our attitude as explained on the telephone, I considered that it was desirable that I should give some indication that we would take full account of the views of the neighbouring States. Also that this indication could best be given in a private meeting.

[signed] F.T. Cremins

1 Bo Osten Unden (1886-1974), Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs (1924-6, 1945-62).

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