Tuesday, July 7, 2015

ADSS 1.60 Valeri to Maglione: alternative peace proposal

ADSS 1.60 Valerio Valeri, France to Luigi Maglione, Sec State.

Reference: Report 8415/179, (AES 3754/39)

Location and date: Paris, 10.06.1939

Summary statement: The idea of calling a meeting of the International Diplomatic Academy to study the conditions of peace has been proposed and the encouragement of the HS sought.  Valeri explained HS difficulties with its participation.

Language: Italian


A few days ago, M. de la Barra, ex-President of Mexico, and M. Frangulis, Manager of the International Diplomatic Academy, both well known to your Eminence came to see me.  The purpose of the visit was to inform me about a project of theirs and to ask for the support of the Holy See. (1)

In consideration of the fact that the League of Nations – said M. Frangulis – has lost almost all its influence on international affairs, especially on account of the withdrawal from it of several important States, he and M. del la Barra, in agreement with other personalities in the political and diplomatic world, had in mind to invite all the members of the International Diplomatic Academy to a Conference, or rather to a meeting, without any discrimination, to discuss, in an atmosphere of mutual understanding, all the outstanding issues endangering the peace between peoples.  This meeting should not have any official character, nor would it presume to solve the problems in the practical field, but would confine itself to create contacts and facilitate an exchange of opinions between person who, being citizens of nations now standing in opposite camps, would not otherwise have the opportunity to meet, to know each other and discuss matters of interest.  Such meetings would be held in Paris, or to allay understandable mistrust, in Switzerland or Luxembourg.

In order to ensure a wider success to this project, M. de la Barra and M. Frangulis solicited, by visiting me, the approval, the encouragement and, if possible the participation to their initiative of the Holy See, who is so eager to maintain peace in the world.

At this point I observed that the Holy See, while it cannot but praise and approve all sincere endeavours to improve relations amongst nations, could not take up a position which would bind it, even indirectly, and compromise its moderating action which, while it remains independent, is all the more effective.  In fact – I added – even recent events show how delicate the Holy See’s position is in the field of international issues, where it is so difficult to put forward a proposal which could be easily misunderstood and distorted.

I promised M. de la Barra and M. Frangulis anyway that I would report this interview to your Eminence, as they had asked me, and submit their praiseworthy intentions to your enlightened judgement.  I point out to them at the same time that if they wanted to reach some results it was necessary that the proposed meeting should keep to the utmost impartiality towards the representatives of the various contrasting tendencies in order not to give the impression that it was a French affair.

To tell the truth I wouldn’t be surprised if this initiative was mixed with a little vanity on the part of the promoters, both for the wish of gaining fame in the diplomatic and political field, and to bring more importance to the Academy which they direct.

I think that if the project gains hold – something very problematical at present as they first wish to know indirectly through M. Béranger, what the French Government think if it – the Holy See could perhaps limit itself to expressing its approval in a general way by praising everything done for peace. (2) But your Eminence will decide.

(1) Francisco de la Barra (1863-1939) interim President of Mexico 1911, highly regarded expert in international law; Antoine Frangulis (1888-1975), Greek jurist and diplomat, Greek representative at the League of Nations 1920-22, co-founder of the International Diplomatic Academy.  Frangulis was one of the first lawyers to specialise in human rights in the 1920s, his work contributed to the process that led to the Declaration of Human Rights in 1947. The International Diplomatic Academy, founded in Paris in 1926, was one of the first organisations dedicated to the study of international relations.

(2) Henry Béranger (1867-1952), French senator 1912-45, French delegate to the League of Nations 1932, French delegate at the Evian Conference 1938. He was a known anti-Fascist.

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