HC Deb 14 March 1945 vol 409 cc210-2
12 and 13. Captain Duncan

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether he can make a statement on the present political situation in Rumania;

(2) how many British newspaper correspondents there are in Rumania; and whether he has received any complaints about difficulties in the communication of news from that country.

Mr. Eden

A new Government assumed office in Rumania on 6th March headed by Doctor Groza, leader of a party known as the Ploughman's Front. The new Government is composed of 12 representatives of the National Democratic Front which is a coalition of Social Democrats, Communists and Ploughman's Front with the addition of four non-Party members. The Soviet Government have informed His Majesty's Government that a change of government in Rumania had become necessary, owing to the fact that the Government of General Radescu had been found incapable of maintaining order in the country, which is a back area of the Red Army, and had taken inadequate measures to curb the activities of pro-Hitler and pro-Fascist elements in Rumania. The Soviet Government felt that this situation could not be tolerated and that it must be ended by the formation of a Government which they felt to be capable of guaranteeing order and of fulfilling the armistice terms. They accordingly sought the agreement of the King of Rumania to the formation of a new Government under Dr. Groza, and this has now been installed.

After the change of Government had taken place General Radescu sought sanctuary with the British political representative in Rumania on the grounds that his life was in danger from his political opponents. As His Majesty's Government have no evidence to show that General Radescu personally has been involved in anti-Allied activities, the British political representative in Bucharest was authorised to give him sanctuary.

As regards the general situation, communications are now passing between the United States Government, the Soviet Government, and ourselves. As regards newspaper correspondents, there are at present three British and two Palestinian correspondents in Rumania. As regards complaints about difficulties of communication, while I have received no complaints, I understand that a very strict censorship is in fact enforced by the Soviet authorities, on the ground that the lines of communication of the Red Army fighting in Hungary run through Rumania, necessitating the adoption of exceptional measures for the maintenance of security.

Captain Duncan

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is considerable interest in Rumania at the present time, particularly in view of the British interests involved; and will he keep this House in touch with developments in that country?

Mr. Eden

Naturally, I will certainly keep the House informed. At the same time, I think that, in judging this situation, the House should bear in mind that the German armies, on leaving Rumania, no doubt made all the necessary arrangements to maintain contacts with certain elements of the population and to stir up trouble on the Russian lines of communication. I mention that only because it is completely in accordance with normal German practice.

Sir Percy Harris

Will the right hon. Gentleman say if the principle of joint responsibility laid down by the Crimea Conference will apply to Rumania as to other liberated countries?

Mr. Eden

Perhaps my right hon. Friend noticed that I said that there were at present communications passing between the three Governments.

Mr. Maģnay

Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House if any greater freedom has been extended to religious and other communities in Rumania than hitherto obtained in that country?

Mr. Eden

I have had reports that there has been a greater degree of toleration granted, and, if that is so, it will be warmly welcomed by us. Perhaps my hon. Friend will put a question down next week, so that I can deal with it.

Mr. Price

Is it not a peculiar British interest that the communications of the Red Army in its rear should not, in any way, be interfered with during its struggle in the East?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir. It most certainly is, and I think that I brought that out in my answer.

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