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INTERNATIONAL: Diplomatic Billingsgate

5 minute read
TIME

The tactics of a rough & tumble shyster lawyer, alternately jabbing insults and drawing laughs, are not those of professional diplomacy and last week the Delegate of Uruguay, phlegmatic Dr. Alberto Guani, was visibly aghast when his duty called him to cross verbal rapiers in Geneva with Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Maximovich Litvinoff.

The roly-poly Russian was born of Jewish parents in what is now Poland, scraped his living precariously in England as a traveling salesman, and toward the close of the Tsarist Regime acted as a fence in disposing of valuables obtained by Joseph Stalin and other terrorists. At evidence an opponent may produce, M. Litvinoff is prone to shout “Forged!” and in Geneva last week he was itching to do so.

The Uruguayan Government recently satisfied itself that Communist revolutionaries in various South American countries have been cashing large checks drawn “to bearer” by the Soviet Legation in Montevideo. When it broke off diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, it left Russia without a single embassy or legation in any South American country (TIME, Jan. 6). In rip-roaring fashion last week Russia’s roly-poly Foreign Minister pitched into Uruguay’s Guani and soon sent the League of Nations off into gales of laughter by reading two cablegrams sent to. him in Moscow by the former Soviet Minister to Uruguay who sat beside M. Litvinoff last week. Russia, said her Foreign Minister, had refused, just before the cablegrams were sent, to admit to Russia an anarchist named Simon Radovitsky whom Uruguay was anxious to deport.

Cabled Soviet Minister Alexander Minkin: URUGUAYAN FOREIGN MINISTER TELLS ME PRESIDENT OF REPUBLIC WOULD CONSIDER HIMSELF COMPENSATED FOR OUR REFUSAL TO ADMIT RADOVITSKY IF WE WOULD BUY 200 TONS OR SO OF URUGUAYAN CHEESE. I WOULD RECOMMEND FOR IMPROVEMENT OF RELATIONS WITH PRESIDENT TERRA THE PURCHASE OF A SMALL CONSIGNMENT OF CHEESE.

Nine days before Uruguay broke off relations, Comrade Minkin cabled again: THE PRESIDENT’S SECRETARY INFORMS ME OUR REFUSAL TO GRANT HIS REQUEST REGARDING CHEESE IS INTERPRETED AS A FRESH DISPLAY OF LACK OF CONSIDERATION TOWARD HIMSELF AND MAY WEAKEN HIS ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF MAINTENANCE OF RELATIONS BETWEEN URUGUAY AND U. S. S. R.

Hilarity among League statesmen by this time was such that the grave rebuttal of Dr. Guani, who cited dry instances of revolutionary activity abroad by the organizations Joseph Stalin dominates, went unheeded. At one document cited by Dr. Guani, M. Litvinoff shouted “Forged!”

Finally the League Council dropped the whole matter with a resolution piously hoping that Uruguay and Russia will resume their relations. Smartest Litvinoff crack:

“In the past 50 years there have been 15 uprisings in Brazil and twelve in Uruguay, and today each has a President who gained power by a coup d’etat. Does the history of these countries really lead us to believe they can be in need of guidance from outsiders in the art of uprisings?”

Eden First. Appearing at Geneva for the first time as British Foreign Secretary, handsome young Anthony Eden brought the Empire’s vast influence to bear squarely upon Danzig. In an abject climb-down, Senate President Arthur Greiser of this minute State agreed that its Government of native Danzig Nazis will abolish flagrant undemocratic abuses at the demand of Mr. Eden. The League’s High Commissioner for Danzig is Irish Sean Lester, and Geneva found it piquant that Mr. Eden strongly backed him up last week, for the Irish Free State was this week the only part of King Edward VIII’s realm in which his accession to the Throne had not yet been proclaimed.*

Jews. As president last week of the League Council, ruddy-cheeked Australian Stanley Melbourne Bruce was empowered to choose a new League High Commissioner for German Refugees, who will have at his disposal $16,000. The exodus of Jews from Germany was deplored by Geneva representatives of several states. “My country must serve notice,” declared Rumanian Foreign Minister Nicholas Titulescu sharply, “that it is unable to receive one single stranger more within its territory.”

Laughing Italian. A tedious and complex but potentially dangerous dispute was opened as to whether the steps taken to menace and surround Italy with war boats by Britain have been derived from the League and its Covenant, as is contended by London, or whether they have been, as Rome contends, “hostile acts” by Britain. This abstruse question was the subject of a 1,000-word memorandum by Premier Mussolini to the League last week, and Captain Eden was understood to be preparing a reply of equal length. Across the Council’s green table he and Fascist Chief Delegate Baron Aloisi were mutually affable and smiling. Over Mr. Eden’s vehement protest, M. Alexis Leger of France secured adoption of a proviso that further decisions by the League Sanctions Committee of Eighteen are not in themselves operative but “subject to the political decision of the governments.” For the first time since Sanctions were adopted, Baron Aloisi was heard to laugh. The conditional assurances of France, Turkey, Yugoslavia and Greece of aid to Britain in certain circumstances, if the Empire is menaced by Italy and asks for help, were read by Mr. Eden into the League record.

*A letter of condolence on George V’s death was sent by President Eamon de Valera to Queen Mary but in Dublin, on the advice of Irish jurists, the President found it “unnecessary” to proclaim Edward VIII King of the Free State Irish. In Belfast he was duly proclaimed King of the Northern Irish.

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