No. 310 NAI DFA 217/39

Memorandum by the Department of External Affairs for Eamon de Valera
on the establishment of an Irish Legation in Berne1

Dublin, undated, but October 1940

1. Last year the Swiss Government raised its Consulate General in Dublin to the status of a Legation and sent us a diplomatic representative with the rank of Chargé d'Affaires. I need not say that the Government welcomed this step very warmly. In return it is now proposed to establish an Irish Legation in Berne and to accredit an Irish Chargé d'Affaires to the Swiss Government. The present estimate makes the necessary provision for this.

2. It is very appropriate and desirable particularly at the present time that we should have direct diplomatic relations with the Swiss Confederation. Switzerland occupies a very central position in Europe. The great continental systems of communication traverse her territory and the main European cultures meet in her population. The national character and traditions of her people give her a position of leadership among the small nations of the world. Switzerland is the seat of the International Red Cross Committee and of other international organisations of which this country is a member. Even in times of peace there is always a considerable number of our citizens in Switzerland either as visitors or as residents for health and other reasons. The new office in Berne will thus not only give Irish citizens on the Continent a further centre to which they can look for help and protection but it will serve as a further link between this country and the life of the Continent at this very difficult juncture of our history.

3. It is not proposed to continue the present office in Geneva once the Legation in Berne has been established. Even in the past very few countries maintained representatives of diplomatic rank in both Berne and Geneva, and in the present circumstances the office in Geneva is difficult to justify. The cost of the new office in Berne will be covered to a large extent, if not entirely, by the saving on Geneva so that the present proposal will represent little if any increase in the annual Vote for External Affairs.

1 The text of this document is close, but not identical, to the remarks on the same subject by de Valera in Dáil Éireann on 8 October 1940 (Dáil Debates, vol. 81; cols 61-2). The original of document 310 is undated. It has been printed at this point in DIFP VI so that it appears immediately before document 311 dealing with Cremins' presentation of his credentials in Berne.

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