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Volume 409: debated on Wednesday 11 April 1945

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Political Situation


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reports he has recently had from the Inter-Allied Control Commission on recent political developments in Rumania; and if he will make a statement.

As I informed the House on 14th March a new Government assumed office in Rumania on 6th March. The British representative on the Allied Control Commission has been closely watching the situation, but his reports show that the new Government's assumption of office has not so far been marked by any outstanding political developments.

In the answer on 14th March my right hon. Friend referred to a strict censorship; may I ask whether that censorship has been lifted?

No, Sir, I should think that is most unlikely, but perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend would put that question down.

Bessarabia And Northern Bucovina


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that a large number of Rumanians who have moved from Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina since 1940 into Rumania have recently been ordered to return; and whether he will arrange with the Governments of America and Russia that they be allowed to opt as to whether they wish to return or remain in Rumania.

While I have no responsibility for the agreement I Understand that the Soviet Government acquired Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina by an Agreement with the Rumanian Government of 28th June, 1940. The persons who are now being required to return are those who subsequently left these territories without the agreement of the Soviet authorities. I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT translations of a Soviet Decree of March, 1941, and of a recent Administrative Order by the Rumanian Government which appear to govern the position of the persons concerned.

In the interests of humanity, cannot something be done to allow these people to decide whether they wish to go back to Soviet territory or not?

Surely my hon. and gallant Friend will understand that these arrangements were made, with no responsibility on His Majesty's Government whatever, by the Agreement of 1940, which contains no provision for opting at all. I really do not see on what grounds His Majesty's Government have a locus standi in the matter.

Following are the translations:

Decree Of The Presidency Of The Superior Council Of The Ussr

By which the inhabitants of Bessarabia are restored in the rights of citizens of the U.S.S.R. those of Bucovina are receiving Soviet citizenship.

The official gazette of the Superior U.S.S.R. Council under No. 13 of the 23rd of March, 1941.

  • 1. All persons who on the 7th November. 1917, were citizens of the former Russian Empire and who on 28th June, 194o, were located on Bessarabian territory together with their children, whether or not they were Rumanian citizens before that date are restored in their rights as Soviet citizens as from 28th June, 1940.
  • 2. Persons among those permanently located in Bessarabia, who on the date of 7th November were of Russian citizenship, but who from 28th June, 1940, did not live on Bessarabian territory and who were temporarily beyond the U.S.S.R. frontiers must before 1st May, 1941, register at the Agencies and Consulates of the U.S.S.R. as Soviet citizens, reporting either personally or sending by post a special declaration together with their passport or papers in order to give proof of their identity and of the fact that they were inhabitants of Bessarabia.
  • 3. The present Decree does not apply to persons mentioned in Article 1 and 2 of the present Decree, who up to 28th June, 1940, had acquired any other citizenship, neither to persons who had lost Soviet citizenship by Decree of the Superior Central Executive Council of the Soviet Committee of the People for the Russian Federative Socialist Soviet Republic's Decree dated 15th December, 1921.
  • 4. All persons who on 28th June, 1940, were located on the territory of Northern Bucovina, with the exception of foreigners and of persons who have been evacuated to Rumania after 28th June, 1940, and also excepting the persons who have lost the Soviet citizenship by Decree of the Superior Central Executive Council and of the People Soviet Committee of the Soviet Federative Socialist Russian Republics of 15th December, 1921, are recognized as Russian citizens as from 28th June, 1940.
  • 5. Persons who have returned from Rumania to Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina after 28th June, 1940, according to the Agreement between Soviet and Rumania Authorities acquire the Soviet citizenship, as from the date of their return.
  • The President of the Superior Counsel of the U.S.S.R.


    The Secretary of the Superior Counsel of the U.S.S.R.

    (SS) A. GORCHIN.


    Moscow, Kremlin.

    8th March, 1941.

    Translation Of Rumanian Government Order Concerning The Identification Of Soviet Subjects In Rumania

    The Minister for Justice communicates the following:

    Supreme Presidents and Presidents of Courts of Appeal, Supreme Presidents and Presidents of Law Courts, County Public Prosecutors, Survey Inspectors and Prison Administrators are obliged on their own personal responsibility to communicate at once by telephone, telegraph or by written reports sent by special messengers, all the information necessary for the identification of Soviet subjects in the services they conduct.

    The following are considered as Soviet subjects:

  • (a) Subjects of the former Russian Empire on 17th November, 1917, and their children who, on 28th, June, 1940, lived in Bessarabia and who did not evacuate to Rumania before 22nd June, 1941.
  • (b) All persons living in Northern Bucovina on 28th June, 1940, with the exception of foreign subjects and of those who evacuated before 22nd June, 1941, to Rumania.
  • (c) All those who after 28th June, 1940, and up to 22nd June, 1941, were repatriated from Rumania to Bessarabia or Northern Bucovina.
  • (d) All inhabitants, regardless of origin, who after 22nd June, 1941, came to Rumania from Bessarabia, Northern Bucovina or any other province of the U.S.S.R.
  • The attention of heads of law-courts is drawn to the fact that in drawing up reports, they should examine, within the meaning of the above, the situation with regard to their entire staff, magistrates, clerks, servants, etc., regard- less as to whether they are officially appointed, delegated, or assigned in any other way, or non-budgetary.

    The Minister for Justice requires this information, by 9th March, 1945.

    Yugoslavia (Land Redistribution)


    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his report shows if land redistribution has yet begun in federated Yugoslavia; and what is being done to meet the objections of each of the federated units, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, etc., against admitting colonists from the others.

    According to my information, land redistribution has not yet begun in Yugoslavia, though plans for it are under consideration. I understand that the Central Government is making every effort to meet the wishes of each of the federal units by the imposition of a tempo, rary ban on the return of colonists from other federal units to their former domiciles, until the question of land redistribution is settled.

    Does it follow that His Majesty's Government recognise this federation of Yugoslavia, which has happened in advance of any kind of general election, or plebiscite, or other test of public opinion?

    I thought my hon. Friend asked me what was actually happening in Yugoslavia, to which I have given the answer. If he wants the further information, I shall be glad to answer a question on that point.

    Syria And Lebanon (Gendarmerie Equipment)


    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Syrian and Lebanese Governments have now been supplied, against repayment, with the automatic weapons and reconnaissance cars needed for the equipment of their gendarmeries.

    I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to my hon. and gallant Friend on 24th January.

    My right hon. Friend said on 24th January that it was desirable that the States should be equipped, can he say why they have not yet been allowed to purchase this equipment?

    What I said was that the matter was being discussed by the French and Syrian Governments and that we were in friendly touch with both. That situation still continues, with a definite improvement I think, because relations between the Syrian and French Governments have, fortunately, improved.

    Greece (Political Situation)


    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in Greece and on the events leading to the resignation of General Plastiras.

    There have for some time been criticisms of General Plastiras' Government on the ground that they were no longer acting as a non-party administration. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the bulk of these criticisms have come from E.A.M. who have made many allegations that the Varkiza Agreement was not being observed. More recently Right Wing extremists have tried to discredit General Plastiras by publishing a letter which he wrote to the Greek Minister in Vichy in 1941. The Regent in these circumstances decided that in view of the criticism of the Plastiras Government it would be better to form an entirely nonparty administration which could govern the country until the plebiscite and elections can be held. It is certainly the hope of His Majesty's Government that the new Greek Government will act with impartiality during this difficult period and that they will refuse to be influenced by extremists of either side. As has been frequently stated, it is the aim and object of His Majesty's Government to ensure by a fair and freely held plebiscite that the Greek people shall have full freedom to choose their own form of Government.

    Can my right hon. Friend say whether, in general, the new Government is more or less monarchist in sympathy than 'the old one?

    No, Sir, I certainly could not; I have no grounds on which to judge, but I understand the Prime Minister himself is not a man who has had any previous party affiliations. This Government will continue in office until such time as elections can be held with a plebiscite.

    Could the right hon. Gentleman say how soon it is expected they will be able to hold these elections and plebiscite, and so clear up the situation?

    My hon. Friend will understand that it is not for me to decide that and, obviously, there are a great many technical difficulties. We would hope as soon as it is technically possible, but I cannot think that will be within three or four months.

    Has the right hon. Gentleman observed that one of the first acts of the new Government has been an attempt to destroy the Federation of Greek Maritime Unions, inside and outside Greece, and to replace it with a purely scab union?

    That is the first I have heard of it; the hon. and learned Gentleman's telegraphic exchange must be very quick indeed.

    In view of the sustained interest in Greece of.His Majesty's Government, were they consulted about this change of Government?

    It is not for His Majesty's Government to be consulted about changes of Government in a friendly territory, but we take a friendly interest and we think, on the whole, a not unbenevolent interest in the events in Greece.

    In the interests of nonparty Government, could the right hon. Gentleman not send the Minister of Information out there?

    Is it not the case that the Royalists and pro-Fascists were responsible for getting rid of Plastiras, and that the new Admiral Prime Minister is a notorious monarchist and counter-revolutionary?

    I do not think it is fair to say that, though I did observe that the Communists, who previously had no words bad enough for Plastiras, now regard him as something of a hero of their own.

    Germany (Occupation Zones)


    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now give further particulars respecting the German zones apportioned to Great Britain, the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A.; whether an agreed common policy will be operative in each zone; and what co-ordination is proposed in respect of prospective zoning of Berlin and Vienna.

    As stated in the communiqué issued after the Conference in the Crimea, agreement was there reached on common policies and plans for enforcing the unconditional surrender terms which will be imposed on Germany. The adjustments to the zones in Germany and Berlin in order to provide for French participation are under discussion at the E.A.C. The arrangements in regard to Vienna are also under examination.

    Does that mean that in Berlin there will be three separate zones with possibly four different administrative policies being pursued?

    No different administrative policies. Originally, of course, the arrangement was reached for three zones. Now, owing to the French participation, certain adjustments are necessary and are being discussed, but it is under a common policy.