|Transylvania - The Roots of Ethnic Conflict|
As the armistice agreement declared the Vienna Award of August 30, 1940, to be null and void, the Hungarian government was looking for a solution of the Transylvanian problem along new lines. The revival of the ethnographic arguments, which were the basis of the Vienna Award, was considered unwise and was rejected at the outset. Although a variety of projects were prepared for solution, I would have preferred a general rather than specific demand until we ascertained what support we could get from the great powers. I was overruled, and the foreign minister decided to accept a plan worked out by a member of the Paul Teleki Institute for Political Science, Imre Jakabffy. This proposal envisaged the return of 22,000 square kilometers to Hungary with roughly 1,600,000 inhabitants. According to the 1930 Rumanian census, this territory was inhabited by 865,620 Rumanians and 495,106 Hungarians. In the 1941 census, the proportion of the Hungarians was somewhat higher, but this difference did not change the basic disproportion. Meanwhile, over one million Hungarians would have remained under Rumanian sovereignty. The idea was to counter-balance the number of the Hungarian and Rumanian minorities in Hungary and Rumania. It was assumed that these conditions would have resulted in better treatment for minorities in both countries.
In early April, the Soviet government invited leading members of the Hungarian government to Moscow, and this was considered a good occasion to raise the question of Transylvania. A meeting held under the chairmanship of the president of the republic on the eve of the departure for Moscow endorsed the Jakabffy plan, but decided that the delegation should have in reserve an alternate solution aiming at only the border districts with a clear Hungarian majority. Following the meeting, I was ordered to prepare the alternate plan that night. In a few hours, experts in the Teleki Institute worked out another plan,
which proposed the return to Hungary of 11,800 square kilometers and 967,000 people. According to the Rumanian figures of 1930 the Hungarians had a slight majority (442,000 as compared to 421,000 Rumanians) in this territory. Ethnographically, the second plan looked better, but it would have caused economic difficulties to the local inhabitants both in Rumania and in Hungary.
The delegation returned from Moscow full of optimism. They had been extremely well received. Soviet hospitality knew no bounds. They were lavishly entertained. On April 11, 1946, Molotov and Stalin devoted several hours to discussions with the members of the Hungarian delegation. The atmosphere seemed most friendly. In addition, there were some positive results. The period for the fulfillment of the reparation liabilities was extended from six to eight years. Stalin promised an early return of the Hungarian prisoners of war and recognized the validity of the Hungarian claim for equal rights of Hungarians in Czechoslovakia. The Soviet demand for $15,000,000 for the restoration of Hungarian railroads was cancelled, and the delegation believed that they had received a Soviet pledge for the support of Hungarian territorial claims against Rumania.
Gyöngyösi explained to the leading officials of the Foreign Ministry how the discussion concerning Transylvania developed. According to him, Stalin, after listening to the Hungarian arguments and requests, turned to Molotov and asked him if there was a basis for such aspirations. Molotov correctly replied that Article 19 of the Rumanian armistice agreement left the way open for Hungary's territorial claims regarding Transylvania. Stalin nodded and said that the Hungarians thus seemed to be really entitled to raise claims. The next day, V. Dekanozov, in charge of Southeastern European affairs in the Soviet Foreign Ministry, strongly advised the Hungarian foreign minister that, before raising territorial claims, direct negotiations should be attempted with the Rumanian government. Later Molotov repeated this advice. No one from the delegation asked Stalin or Molotov whether the Hungarian claims would be supported by them. Nevertheless, the atmosphere of the conversations was so friendly and Stalin's attitude so benevolent that the delegation took Soviet support for granted. There was another reason that Moscow's apparent goodwill toward Hungarian claims appeared credible. As mentioned, Voroshilov and Pushkin had encouraged Gyöngyösi and Tildy time and again that Hungary should raise territorial claims against another former satellite country, Rumania. In reality, both before and after the Moscow visit of the Hungarian delegation, Molotov opposed most resolutely in the Council
of Foreign Ministers an American proposal favoring a slight modification in the Transylvanian boundary line in favor of Hungary.
The Hungarian delegation returned from Moscow in an optimistic mood. Some confident politicians concluded that Stalin seemed to be a reasonable man of goodwill with whom the Smallholder politicians would be able to negotiate without the mediation of the Hungarian Communists. (It should be noted parenthetically that Stalin made similar favorable impressions on several Western politicians).
After the Moscow visit, the Communist party in Hungary made a full turn-about and began to support Hungarian territorial claims. One of the leading Hungarian Communist authorities in foreign affairs, József Révai, delivered such an irredentist speech on April 26 that it would have satisfied even the League of Revision of the Horthy regime. Révai demanded that all territory along the Rumanian borders inhabited by Hungarians should be returned to Hungary, together with such cities as Arad, Szatmárnémeti (Satu Mare), Nagybánya (Baia Mare), and Nagyvárad (Oradea). Moreover, he asserted that the Communists in the emigration between the two World Wars were the true representatives of Hungary's national aspirations but that their efforts were annihilated by the suicidal pro-Nazi and anti-Soviet policy of the Horthy regime. A few weeks before that speech, Révai had wanted every "reactionary" who asked for territory from Groza's Rumania to be brought before the people's court. "We cannot weaken Groza's democracy," he had said at that time.
This reversal of Communist policy concerning Hungary's territorial claims gave a basis for optimistic speculation. Later it became evident that the motive behind the change in Communist tactics was the hope of winning the support of Hungarian public opinion. The change of tactics did not alter their final goal. The Communists apparently did not want to burden the Party by opposing national aspirations; they preferred to ride a popular bandwagon. In all probability, the leaders of the Hungarian Communist party believed that after the Moscow visit the Soviet government would support some Hungarian territorial aspirations. According to my observations, Soviet authorities gave orders and instructions to the Muscovite Communists but did not inform them of the real objectives and tactics of Soviet foreign policy.
On May 5, the prime minister at Székesfehérvár and the foreign minister at Szolnok delivered addresses outlining in vigorous terms the peace aims of Hungary. Public opinion became optimistic all over the country for a short time, although the first disappointment occurred a few days before the delivery of these addresses. In accordance with Moscow's advice, a high official of the Foreign Ministry, Pál Sebestyén,
was sent to Bucharest to initiate negotiations. Prime Minister Petru Groza and Foreign Minister Gheorghe Tatarescu gave him a courteous reception, but refused to discuss Hungarian territorial claims. For this reason Sebestyén returned home immediately, and a note was dispatched to the representatives of the major victorious powers in Budapest on April 27. This note was based on the above described proposal prepared in the Paul Teleki Institute and presented in Moscow by the Hungarian government delegation. The Hungarian government requested the return to Hungary of 22,000 square kilometers, that is, twenty percent of the total area of 104,000 square kilometers transferred to Rumania by the Treaty of Trianon.
The optimism that followed the visit to Moscow soon vanished, and uneasiness developed in political circles. One of the reasons for this change was the negative attitude of Rumanian statesmen with regard to Hungarian overtures. The shrewd Tatarescu would not have refused negotiations with Sebestyén had the Rumanian government lacked assurance of full Soviet support. Groza and Tatarescu hinted as much to the Hungarian envoy.
The coalition parties became disappointed when it appeared that the members of the government delegation to Moscow could not support with facts the optimism they had expressed in public speeches. The warm reception and the small concessions gained at Moscow had not warranted such optimism. Even the economic concessions gained were of small value.
Because of dissatisfaction and reproaches from many quarters, the foreign minister decided to send me to Paris, where at the time the Council of Foreign Ministers was in session preparing the drafts for the peace treaties. Pushkin refused to grant me permission to leave the country, saying that peace preparation would not be needed in Paris. Gyöngyösi --- under attack at that time even in the Smallholder party --- remained adamant. He told Pushkin that if he was not allowed to send a high official of the Foreign Ministry to Paris to make contacts and preparations for the peace conference, he would no longer consider himself as foreign minister. Pushkin, not wanting to make a political issue of this trifle, told Gyöngyösi that he could give me the necessary permit to leave the country if I would be appointed to the Hungarian Legation in Paris. The foreign minister promptly appointed me minister-counselor to the Hungarian Legation, and I left for Paris on May 9. Shortly before my departure news arrived from Paris like a bombshell about the decision of the Council of Foreign Ministers reestablishing the Trianon boundary between Hungary and Rumania.
FINALE IN PARIS AND NEW YORK
When I arrived in Paris, the Hungarian minister to France, Paul Auer, received me in a pessimistic mood because of the unfavorable decision of the Council of Foreign Ministers, a body established by the Potsdam Conference to prepare the peace treaties with Italy, Finland, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Rumania. The Council was composed of the foreign ministers of the five victorious great powers, but only those nations that had signed the armistice agreement with a particular enemy state prepared the peace treaty for it. This meant in the case of the three Danubian states, Britain, the United States, and the USSR.
In Budapest, we were forced to live behind a diplomatic iron curtain and knew little of the Council activities, but in Paris I gradually reconstructed the chain of events in the Transylvanian question. I understood that at the first session of the Council in London, in September, 1945, the American secretary of state, James Byrnes, had proposed the consideration of a modest boundary revision along ethnic lines to decrease the Hungarian minority in Rumania. When Molotov heard this proposal, he turned to one of his advisers and asked: "Are there Hungarians in Transylvania?" The Soviet delegation refused to discuss the American proposal, and the British delegation supported the Soviet position. The situation was similar in March, 1946, when at the session of the deputy foreign ministers the Soviet delegation submitted draft treaties for Bulgaria, Hungary, and Rumania. These sketchy documents were briefer than the armistice and did not mention frontiers with the exception of the restoration of northern Transylvania to Rumania. The United States delegation proposed that the Council either make a direct investigation of the boundary problem or request the Rumanian and Hungarian governments to discuss the dispute directly. The Soviet delegation refused again even to discuss the matter. After these antecedents, Secretary Byrnes at the Paris session of the Council of Foreign Ministers abandoned the fruitless attempt to take up the revision of the Hungarian-Rumanian boundary and proposed the restoration of the frontier between Hungary and Rumania as it existed on January 1, 1939. This meant that the American delegation gave up its endeavors for a modest revision on ethnic grounds of the boundary between Hungary and Rumania. Byrnes wanted to expedite the convocation of the Paris conference and for this purpose he wanted to eliminate as many conflicts as possible between the United States and the Soviet Union. Since the Council of Ministers made all decisions unanimously and the Russians were unwilling even to discuss any
boundary rectification between Hungary and Rumania, this seemed to him a hopeless case.
For Hungarians it was impossible to accept this verdict as final, and we brought up the Transylvanian question through all possible channels. This was one of our major topics when I visited along with Auer the ambassadors of most countries participating in the Paris Conference. Such visits brought a few surprises. At the Polish Embassy, the ambassador interrupted our presentation to tell us that our colleague from London had visited him recently and had given him all the information about the Transylvanian problem. We suggested that this was impossible because the Hungarian envoy to Britain would have informed us of his visit to the Polish Embassy. We continued to explain the intricacies of the conflict between Hungary and Rumania. The ambassador interrupted us again and said, "Gentlemen, I will call my secretariat and will prove to you that your colleague from London visited me a few days ago and gave me the same information." He went to the telephone and after a brief conversation said, "I apologize. My visitor was the Rumanian ambassador from London." We witnessed such lack of knowledge about Danubian affairs on several occasions.
Despite hopeless political conditions, we wanted to raise the Hungarian-Rumanian frontier question at the Paris Conference and for this we needed American support. Auer and I visited the foremost Eastern European expert of the American delegation, Philip E. Mosely, on May 17. He told us that at the London meeting of foreign ministers Secretary Byrnes "had not advanced any proposal for a revised frontier but had merely pointed out that the question existed and should be studied to see if the boundary could be improved over that established in 1920 and of which the United States government had been critical at that time." Mosely pointed out that "the Soviet delegation had been unwilling at all times to admit even that the question deserved study." To the question whether Hungary would have an opportunity to raise the question at the Paris Conference, Mosely stated his personal understanding that "Hungary would be free to present its view on any aspect of the treaty which affected its position or interest." Concerning various Hungarian suggestions for boundary readjustment, Mosely avoided detailed discussion but stated that the concept of a numerical balancing of minorities on opposite sides of the frontier "might seem somewhat mechanical in approach and might be interpreted to imply a willingness to provide for large-scale exchanges of population." He stated as his strictly personal view that "a moderate suggestion for rectification based mainly on ethnic and economic factors might have a better hearing."
Mosely's cautious statements reflected accurately the American position, of which he had been one of the major architects. The Hungarian government decided to ask for a hearing. The Soviet bloc countries opposed even a debate about the frontier between Hungary and Rumania, but the strong American support prevailed.
When Foreign Minister Gyöngyösi visited most heads of delegations, he discussed with them Hungary's major political and economic problems, our conflict with Czechoslovakia, and the frontier dispute with Rumania. Gyöngyösi in a plenary session of the conference was permitted to present the views and proposals of the Hungarian government. In his address on August 14, he asked the reattachment to Hungary of 22,000 square kilometers of Rumania; that is, he repeated the request expressed in the Hungarian note of April 27. As Mosely told us in cautious diplomatic terms three days later, this proposal had no chance for consideration.
At the meeting of the Political and Territorial Commission for Rumania on August 29, Mr. Officer from the Australian delegation proposed that the Commission hear the views of Hungary on Article 2 of the draft treaty. This article dealt with the boundaries of Rumania. Ambassador Alexander Bogomolov (USSR) saw no need to consult the Hungarian government since the text of Article 2 had been agreed to by the Council of Foreign Ministers. After a long debate, a Czechoslovak motion for adjournment was defeated by eight-to-four vote, and the Australian proposal was carried by a vote of eight to four. The Commission decided that both the Hungarian and Rumanian delegations should be invited to appear before it to express their views on Article 2, the Hungarian delegation speaking first.
On August 31, Auer in a joint session of the Hungarian and Rumanian Territorial and Political commissions delivered an address. In view of the unfavorable decision of the Council of Foreign Ministers, he asked the reattachment to Hungary of only 4,000 square kilometers along the boundary; this would have meant reattachment to Hungary of approximately a half million persons --- about two-thirds of whom were Hungarians --- and with them the major cities along the boundary. Auer emphasized the necessity of guaranteed international protection of Hungarians remaining in Rumania. The foreign minister of Rumania, Gheorghe Tatarescu, in his address delivered in a joint session of the Hungarian and Rumanian Territorial and Political commissions on September 2 opposed Auer's proposals and argued for the maintenance of the boundary established by the Trianon Treaty.
Such addresses had mainly symbolic significance, because the Conference could not have changed the decision of the Council of
Foreign Ministers. When we asked the Soviet delegation for support in the Transylvanian question, we received the answer that they could not do anything because Secretary Byrnes had withdrawn his proposal concerning revisions of the boundary between Hungary and Rumania. Technically, this was true, because Byrnes proposed on May 7 in the Council of Foreign Ministers the reestablishment of the Trianon boundary between Hungary and Rumania. He acted this way because the Soviet Union was not willing even to discuss a boundary change and he wanted to eliminate a point of friction between the United States and the USSR. In view of the fact that both Hungary and Rumania were occupied by Soviet troops and in the Council of Foreign Ministers unanimity was necessary for all decisions, American diplomacy had little clout in the matter.
At the meeting of the Political and Territorial Commission for Rumania on September 5, the Australian delegate, Mr. Officer, wanted to hear from the representative of one of the states responsible for drafting Article 2, so that the Commission would know the reasoning that guided the Council. Averell Harriman, responding to the Australian request, said that
the United States had not been a strong supporter of the proposed text but wished to make it clear that he would vote for it since it had been agreed by the Council. He said that during the discussions in the Council the United States Delegation had made certain proposals for a study of possible modification of the frontier which might, by reducing the number of persons under alien rule, contribute to stability and to mutual cooperation between Hungary and Rumania. The other members of the Council of Foreign Ministers had not shared this view and, in view of the desirability of reaching unanimous agreement, the U.S. had not insisted on its position. Mr. Harriman reiterated his statement that he would vote for Article 2 as drafted but wished to take the occasion to say that, in view of the differences on various subjects evident in the statements of the Hungarian and Rumanian representatives, the United States hoped that progress might be made through direct negotiations between them toward a mutually satisfactory settlement of the outstanding questions.
After statements by the Soviet, British, and French delegates, Officer proposed that "Article 2 be adopted with a rider in the form of a recommendation that the Council of Foreign Ministers, before putting it into the final treaty, make a further effort to secure, in cooperation with the two interested parties, an adjustment by which some additional Hungarian centers might be incorporated in Hungary." This proposal was not accepted, and eventually Article 2 was adopted by ten
votes and two abstentions. Thus the Australian attempts to reopen the Transylvanian question failed.
The American position concerning the dispute between Hungary and Rumania was reiterated on September 23 in the Political and Territorial Commission of Hungary (heretofore Hungarian Committee) by General Walter Bedell Smith. He read into the record a statement similar to that made by Harriman in the Rumanian Commission "regarding the desire of Rumania to sign a protocol with Hungary or any bilateral arrangement which the United States Delegation felt would tend to improve relations and good understanding between the two countries."
The Hungarian territorial claim presented by Auer on August 31 was evaluated by the Rumanian specialist of the American delegation, John C. Campbell, in a memorandum of September 2. He pointed out that this territorial claim was based purely on ethnic consideration; it was about the same as the hypothetical ethnic line worked out in the Department of State. Campbell discussed the pros and cons of the Hungarian proposal and concluded that if there was any disposition on the part of the other members of the Council of Foreign Ministers to make any change in the frontier, "we might give as our view that the Hungarian claims appear reasonable with the exception of the claim for Arad and the immediate vicinity." Campbell also raised the possibility of direct Hungarian-Rumanian negotiations along these lines. Since the Council's attitude was negative, these ideas were not submitted to further discussion.
At the plenary meeting of the Conference on October 10, Molotov stated that "the treaty with Rumania was a matter of great importance for the peace of Europe. Rumania was now a democratic state and it was essential that the questions of Transylvania be settled to the satisfaction of the Rumanian people."
As a last endeavor, the Hungarian government addressed a note to the Council of Foreign Ministers, which was in session in New York in November-December, 1946, to draft the final text of the peace treaties. This note proposed that the third article of the Rumanian draft peace treaty should be supplemented by a clause, according to which the rights of the Hungarian minority in Rumania would be defined through direct negotiations between Hungary and Rumania. "Should these direct negotiations between Hungary and Rumania result in failure, the Hungarian government should be given an opportunity to apply to the Council of Foreign Ministers for a final adjustment of this problem." The Council disregarded this proposal.
MINORITY PROTECTION AND HUMAN RIGHTS
One of the major tasks of the peace preparatory work in Hungary was to defend the vital interests of the Hungarian population in neighboring states. The Hungarian government informed the victorious great powers and the Paris Conference in aide-memoires of the grievances of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania and pointed out that redressing of these grievances and securing of satisfactory conditions of existence for the Hungarians were the sine qua non of a reconciliation between Hungary and Rumania. A booklet submitted to the Conference gave an overall view of the situation of Transylvania since 1918 and enumerated the anti-Hungarian discriminations and atrocities between August, 1944, and May, 1946.
For the future, the Hungarian government proposed the application of the principles of self-determination of peoples and the institutionalization of the protection of minorities under the aegis of the United Nations. On one occasion, I pointed out to the Soviet ambassador to France, Alexander Bogomolov, that according to our views, a lasting peace must be based on self-determination of peoples. I quoted Lenin, who had taken a stand for this principle and condemned the injustices of the peace settlement after the First World War. Bogomolov replied that Lenin was right in his time but times and conditions had changed.
A Hungarian memorandum of June 11, 1946, addressed to the members of the Council of Foreign Ministers emphasized the importance of reviving and strengthening provisions for the international protection of minority rights. Later the Hungarian delegation submitted an elaborate draft treaty for the protection of minority rights, with a system of mixed commissions and tribunals to enforce them under the supervision of the United Nations. Such proposals for the modernization of the minority protection system were disregarded because the Council preferred provisions concerning human rights and fundamental freedoms. True, these provisions obligated the defeated states to take all measures necessary to secure to all persons under their jurisdictions, "without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion, the enjoyment of human rights and of the fundamental freedoms including freedom of expression, of press and publication, of religious worship, of political opinion and public meeting." But an international control for the enforcement of these rights was not established. An Australian proposal aiming at the creation of a European Court of Human Rights was rejected by the Paris Conference. The British, United States, and French delegations proposed that any dispute concerning the execution or interpretation of the peace treaties, which could not be settled by
direct negotiations, might be referred at the request of any party to the dispute to the International Court of Justice. This proposition, strongly opposed by the Soviet delegation, was accepted at the Conference by a vote of fifteen to six. But the Council of Foreign Ministers eliminated all reference to the International Court of Justice from the final draft because of Soviet opposition.
Events proved later that a weak legalistic system inserted into the peace treaties was not a workable arrangement in the face of the obstructive tactics of the Soviet Union and the Danubian Communist countries. When Great Britain and the United States charged Bulgaria, Hungary, and Rumania with having violated their obligations under the respective Peace Treaty provisions requiring them to secure to all persons under their jurisdiction the enjoyment of human rights and the fundamental freedoms, they simply refused to recognize the existence of a dispute. Moreover, the Danubian countries denounced the English and American notes as illegitimate interference in their domestic affairs and stated that they had fully complied with the human rights provisions of the peace treaties. Subsequent proceedings before the General Assembly of the United Nations and the International Court of Justice were fruitless.
In the absence of an effective enforcement procedure, the provisions concerning human rights and fundamental freedoms have become dismal examples of the kind of peacemaking that occurred after the Second World War.
|Transylvania - The Roots of Ethnic Conflict|