British Government’s Interest in Minorities Treaties Can Only Arise from Desire to Secure Their Obse

The interest of His Majesty’s Government in this matter, Lord Hailsham, the Minister for War, said in replying on behalf of the Government to a discussion on the Protection of National Minorities initiated in the House of Lords by Lord Noel-Buxton, in which Lord Cecil of Chelwood and Lord Dickinson took part, can only be an interest arising from the desire to secure the observance of Treaties, some of which they themselves had a considerable share in framing, and all of which have a direct bearing upon the peace and goodwill prevailing in Europe. I think it is satisfactory that Lord Noel-Buxton himself considers, if I understood him correctly, that the Treaties, if properly carried out in the spirit of those concerned in their framing, would get rid of the existing difficulties, and that it is not so much in the obligations which have been imposed, but in the spirit in which they have been carried out, that difficulty is created.

We are grateful for any suggestions which can be made that would help us to bring about a more satisfactory fulfilment of the obligations undertaken by the Minority Treaties. But we are conscious also, Lord Hailsham went on, that the question of enforcing the performance of such obligations is of necessity a very delicate one. The whole question of any kind of enforcement obviously bristles with difficulties, and an unsuccessful attempt to enforce the observance of such Treaties, or an unsuccessful attempt to champion the cause of a minority, might easily do more harm to the cause of the minority itself than the quieter and less spectacular method of using influence with the Governments concerned.

With every desire to see these Treaties fully observed in the letter and in the spirit, His Majesty’s Government are fain to confess that as things stand at present they do not see that they could themselves do more than they have been trying to do in the past. The suggestions which have been made will be carefully considered, but I cannot give any more direct promise than the one which I have already offered.

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