HC Deb 23 June 1921 vol 143 cc1554-6
Major-General SEELY

Is the Prime Minister in a position to make any statement regarding the visit of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to Paris?


Yes. I am glad to have the opportunity, on behalf of my right hon. Friend, of making the following statement to the House:—

In default of a meeting of the Supreme Council which cannot for the moment be arranged, the Foreign Secretary went to Paris in order to exchange views with Monsieur Briand upon the principal questions which are at present concerning Great Britain and France, notably the position in the East and in Silesia. Prolonged and friendly conversations took place between them, and the Italian Ambassador joined the Conference when questions of Allied policy or Allied action were involved.

It was felt by all the parties to be desirable that a renewed attempt should be made to terminate hostilities in Asia Minor and to conclude a peace between Turkey and the Allies. With this object in view it was decided to send a telegram to the Greek Government, to which the assent of the Italian Government was given, offering the services of the Allied Powers.

The conviction was expressed in this communication that whatever might be the immediate result of a renewal of conflict between the Greek and Turkish forces in Asia Minor there was not to be found therein the prospects of any enduring pacification of the East or of a solution compatible with the real interests and ultimate capabilities of either party.

In these circumstances the Allied Governments informed the Greek Government that they felt they were only discharging an international duty as well as an obligation of friendship in stating that they were prepared to attempt the task of conciliation if the Hellenic Government were disposed to place its interests in their hands. Should the Greek Government decide that it was not prepared to accept outside intervention or advice, the Allied Powers could not persevere in an action that would obviously be fruitless. In such a case the responsibility for the consequences of renewed struggle would rest upon the Greeks themselves. On the other hand, should the Hellenic Government decide in its own interests to accept the intervention of the Powers, the latter were prepared to state the terms upon which their assistance would be proffered, and, in the event of these being accepted, to approach the Turkish Government with a view to the immediate suspension of hostilities and to negotiations for the conclusion of peace.

The Greek Government were invited to return a prompt reply to this proposal. The three Allied representatives then proceeded to discuss the terms in question, and arrived at a general agreement as to the lines on which they would proceed. It would not be advisable to state these terms in detail at the present juncture, since a reply to the opening invitation to Greece is still awaited.

We have since heard that it will be considered at once by the Greek Council of Ministers, the President of the Council and the Minister of War being expected to return to Athens from Smyrna this evening.

Concerning Silesia, the local situation was exhaustively examined and approval was given to the scheme for bringing about a progressive withdrawal from the disputed area of the insurgents on the one hand and the German self-protection forces on the other, the Allied forces, which now amount to nearly 20,000 men, being responsible for the maintenance of order in the evacuated territory pending a decision on the future boundaries by the Supreme Council. It was decided to give every possible support to the Allied Commission in Silesia, both on the spot and by representations to the Governments at Warsaw and Berlin. Further with a view to expediting the ultimate solution, it was decided to invite the Commission to consider whether in view of the altered conditions they could now within a reasonable period of time draw up a joint report in place of the divided reports which were submitted some weeks ago, and the help of technical officers to be attached to the Commission, if the latter so desired, was offered. In the event of neither of these courses being found practicable or convenient, the Allied Governments were prepared to-refer the matter to a technical Committee, sitting in London or Paris, in order to assist the Supreme Council in arriving at a final decision.

It was agreed that a meeting of the Supreme Council should be held at Boulogne in the course of next month, in order to consider this and other matters that await the decision of the Powers.

The Paris conversations were characterised throughout by a spirit of the greatest friendliness, and the intention of the Powers to act in close co-operation in both the subjects that came under examination was re-affirmed.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any truth in the statement that wholesale destruction has been wrought by the armed forces-in Silesia?


I have seen reports of destruction—I cannot say the extent of it—created on the one side or the other. It is lamentable and deplorable, and must prejudice the case of those who give way to such measures.