HC Deb 17 July 1919 vol 118 cc576-8
15 Mr. R. McNEILL

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether (1) Montenegro declared war against Germany on the 9th August, 1914; if so, why Montenegro was not invited to sign, and did not sign, the Treaty of Versailles between Germany and the Allies;

(2) if he has any official information as. To the number of Montenegrin refugees still detained in France; whether these refugees are forbidden to correspond with their relatives and friends in Montenegro, or to return to their own country except with Serbian passports and subject to conditions imposed by Serbian authorities in occupation of Montenegro; if he is aware that these refugees include a number of Montenegrin soldiers who were- anxious to return to their country during the War to fight under their native flag, but refused to swear allegiance to the Serbian monarchy and to enlist in the Serbian Army; whether steps will be taken to facilitate the return to Monte negro of all who have been exiled as a result of Serbian action, in order that they may take part in any plebiscite that may be taken to determine the future destiny of their country;

(3) whether the declaration of war by Montenegro against Austria on the 6th of August, 1914, and against Germany on the 9th of the same month was in pursuance of treaty obligations to Serbia and loyalty to a kindred race; whether he is aware that this action was adduced by the German delegation at Paris as evidence that Montenegro had been an aggressor against the Central Powers and consequently disentitled to a war indemnity; whether he is aware that one-third of the Montenegrin Army perished on the battlefield endeavouring to stem the Austrian invasion and to cover the retreat of the Serbians across Montenegrin territory; whether, in view of this record, the Montenegrin Government or people have done anything to forfeit the confidence and esteem of their Allies;

(4) if he is aware that during the War reports were current reflecting gravely on the loyalty to the Allies of the King of Montenegro; that these reports were widely credited in certain quarters, were and are believed by many persons to have been originated by parties in Serbia for the purpose of discrediting the Montenegrin monarchy and thus preparing the way for the annexation of Montenegro by Serbia; and whether, in view of the fact that the conclusion of Peace renders reticence on such matters no longer obligatory, he will now make a full disclosure of the facts of the case, stating the evidence, if any, on which the reports referred to were based?


The hon. Gentleman is correct in stating that Montenegro declared war on Austria-Hungary on 6th August, 1914, but my information is that war was declared by her on Germany on August 8th and not on August 9th, 1914.

As regards the question of the Montenegrin refugees in France referred to in question No. 16, I have no official information, and I would point out that as these individuals are detained in France, provision of facilities for their return to Montenegro is a question for the French Government. I have already answered the first part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's question No. 17. I have no information as to the second part. I am afraid I have no figures as to the actual losses of the Montenegrin Army, but I know that they were heavy.

As regards the last part of Question No. 17, and as to question No. 18, I should like to assure the hon. Gentleman that he is incorrect in supposing that the Montenegrin people have done anything to forfeit the confidence and esteem of His Majesty's Government. On the contrary, His Majesty's Government are endeavouring to discover their true wishes and aspirations, and in this connection I would refer to the replies returned to the hon. Gentleman on the 1st July. I can add nothing to those replies at present, and I would remind the hon. Gentleman that peace with Austria has not yet been signed.


Does the hon. Gentleman realise that there is a number of points which have been left unanswered, and that if I do not press them at this moment it is for no other reason than that I want to avoid embarrassing the Foreign Office?


Yes. I fully realise that, and I thank my hon. Friend.