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RUSSIA: Litvinov’s Protocol

4 minute read
TIME

When Comrade Maxim Maximovich Litvinov appeared at Geneva and offered to sign with the Great Powers a pact of total disarmament (TIME, Dec. 12, 1927), he was called a hypocrite. When he appeared again, this time with a pact of partial disarmament (TIME, April 2), the Acting Foreign-Minister of Soviet Russia was once more called a hypocrite. Nobody believed that Red Russia would keep a pledge to disarm.

When M. Litvinov signed the Kellogg pact renouncing war, and when Soviet Russia led even the U. S. in ratifying it, the hypocrisy of the Soviets seemed proven up to the hilt. But Comrade Litvinov did not stop there. He has been deviling the statesmen of Rumania, Poland, Latvia and Esthonia ever since to sign a special protocol embracing the Kellogg pact, and specifically binding these nations and Soviet Russia to keep the peace of Eastern Europe.

Last week plenipotentiaries from the bedeviled Countries journeyed to Moscow, purposing to sign the Litvinov protocol, and to consummate a crowning piece of Red hypocrisy (i. e., pacifism).

The occasion marked the first time since the War that a duly accredited representative of Rumania has appeared in Moscow. For eleven years Rumania and Russia have been at odds, in fact ever since Rumania possessed herself in 1918 of the rich Russian province of Bessarabia (pop. 2,600.000). Thereafter the govern-ment at Bucharest refused to recognize the Bolshevist regime; and, for eleven years, Soviet school children have been studying maps on which Bessarabia appears as part of Russia labeled: “Under temporary Rumanian military occupation.”

Last fortnight the new, progressive peasant government of Rumania (TIME, Nov. 19) announced that they would sign the Litvinov protocol, but only on condition that the Soviets permanently renounce all claims to Bessarabia.

Acceptance of this hard condition would mark the longest step toward peace in Eastern Europe taken in a decade. When Comrade Litvinov had carefully scanned the Rumanian proposal and discussed it with Red Dictator Josef Stalin, he .acted with characteristic hypocrisy, and soon Rumania’s new Foreign Minister, M. Nicholas Mironescu, declared:

“The negotiations between Russia and Rumania have been brought to a successful conclusion and our Minister to Warsaw, M. Davila, will sign the Litvinov protocol at Moscow. . . . Rumania considers the Bessarabian question is finally settled. The Soviet has thus taken a step toward the restoration of normal relations with the Border States.”

This statement can only mean that Rumania has received what she considers a satisfactory assurance that Russia-will not in future try to get back Bessarabia. Any other understanding would not, from the Rumanian point of view, leave the Bessa-rabian question “finally settled.”

Protocol signed. Under these pleasant auspices the Rumanian Minister to Poland, Carol A. Davila, sped post haste to Moscow (where he found thermometers at 22 degrees below zero) and announced himself ready to sign the Litvinov protocol. After a little diplomatic jockeying the delegates assembled at the Soviet Foreign Office, and sat down around a table draped in dark magenta—not red. Three movie arc-lights sputtered, seven cameras whirred. Then came a puzzling interlude.

Comrade Maxim Maximovich Litvinov arose, and in the course of welcoming the plenipotentiaries of Rumania, Poland, Latvia and Esthonia, referred to Rumania as “a country with which we had serious difficulties—difficulties not settled by this protocol.”

What did that mean-Bessarabia? Oracle Litvinov did not explain. Perhaps he was alluding to the several hundred pinpricks and quarrels which have estranged Bucharest and Moscow. But whatever he meant, ‘his words provoked no slightest frown or trace of annoyance on the smiling face of Carol A. Davila.

The Rumanian statesman participated in the signing of the protocol; he delivered an effusion to the effect that Eastern Europe thus became the only area where the Kellogg pact was in force last week,* and finally M. Davila joined all present in a champagne toast—Crimean champagne.

The next long journey to be made by Rumania’s Davila will be to Washington, D. C., where he is slated to replace M. George Cretziano as Rumanian Minister.

Significance. If Rumania actually did receive a secret assurance that Soviet Russia has renounced her claims to Bessarabia, that was the biggest news in Europe last week. Secrecy may well have been necessary, in order to give the Soviet Government time in which to break gently to Soviet citizens, school children and map makers the news that Bessarabia has been in Rumania for the last eleven years.

*When all the original signatories have ratified the pact, it will become operative among them. The nations of the British Commonwealth were dallying over ratification last week. Of the 15 original signatories, only four—Poland, Germany, Czechoslovakia, the U. S. have ratified, but all unquestionably will.

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