Official Statements of War Aims and Peace Proposals, December 1916 to November 1918

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

DEBATE IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS: STATEMENT OF FOREIGN MINISTER BALFOUR ON THE PRINCE SIXTUS EPISODE, ALLIED AIMS AND PEACE NEGOTIATIONS1
May 16, 1918

Mr. RUNCIMAN ( Dewsbury, L.) said he rose to call attention to the Emperor of Austria's letter not with the idea of causing difficulty to the Government, for he realized how delicate the position had been, still was, and might continue to be, but in order to obtain some information as to the part taken by the Prime Minister or other members of the Government who had dealt with the matter in this country. After referring to the events and proceedings which appeared to have arisen from the letter, which was shown by Prince Sixtus to M. Poincaré, the right honorable gentlemen asked the Foreign Secretary: --When the Emperor Charles's letter was first communicated to our Prime Minister, were any of the other Allies, except Baron Sonnino, consulted? Was there any communication to any of the other European Allies, and, in particular, was any communication made by our Prime Minister or by the French Government to the American Government, which was as deeply concerned in the attaining of a peace as we were? That these great transactions--they might have been great--should have gone on without the knowledge of President Wilson was almost inconceivable.

So far as one could ascertain Russia was not informed of what had taken place. M. Kerensky was, it was to be presumed, entirely in the dark at that time and that was the very moment when he was appealing to the Allies to take some steps towards a negotiated peace. Mixed up in this curious tangle of events was the proposed conference at Stockholm. It was impossible to disentangle the Stockholm Conference from this transaction, and it had a direct bearing on the attitude of M. Kerensky and of other important persons since then. He further asked Mr. Balfour: Did our Prime Minister inform the Foreign Office at the time of the communication of the fact of the communication having been made and having been shown to him? Why were the negotiations dropped? Was it on purely territorial grounds? Was it because the demand was made by France, not only for Alsace- Lorraine, but for the 1814 line, or even, as was said in some quarters,

____________________
1

Text in The Times, London, May 17, 1918, p. 8.

-323-

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