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Rumania Rejects Compromise on Citizenship Revision; to Ignore Petitions

May 10, 1938
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Rumanian Government, indicating it had the backing of the Little Entente on minorities questions, was understood today to have refused Great Britain’s request for modification of its decree for revision of Jewish citizenships.

Foreign Minister Nicolas Petrescu-Comnen, it was learned, has told Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax that the Rumanian Government considered the revision as an internal affair and was not ready to entertain a compromise on the question.

Before the opening of the League of Nations Council’s 101st meeting today, Lord Halifax held an hour-long conference with Petrescu-Comnen on the nationality revision and was understood to be seeking to obtain modification of the law to avoid the necessity of League intervention under the 1919 Minorities Treaty.

It was understood that the suggested compromise would have taken from the individual Jews the burden of proving that their citizenship was legally obtained and would have transferred to the Rumanian Government the task of proving that an individual’s nationality was illegally acquired. It was believed that such a compromise would have been acceptable to the Rumanian Jews and also to outside Jewish organizations which have petitioned the League.

The Rumanian Government has so far not submitted observations on the Jewish petition as requested by the Council’s Committee of Three on minorities last January. The Bucharest delegation indicated today that it does not intend to reply and will simply ignore the petitions and the League’s invitation to make observations.

The Committee of Three, it was learned, will take the question up with the Rumanian delegation officially on Wednesday. The committee, which was named at the last session to consider the Rumanian question, is headed by the Iran delegate and also includes Britain and France.

(Rumania sought support for her position at the Little Entente conference in Sinaia, Rumania, last week, when Petrescu-Comnen asked Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia to join Rumania in rejecting League “interference” on the Jewish problem. Rumania apparently won her point, since the Entente communique at the conclusion of the conference stressed “individual sovereignty over domestic problems.” Previously, Rumanian newspapers had published thinly veiled threats that Bucharest would bolt the League if the Jewish question was discussed at this Council session.)

Much interest was displayed in League circles on the question of the Austrian Jews, practically all Council members expressing themselves as favoring extension of the jurisdiction of the High Commission for Refugees from Germany to cover Austrian expatriates.

A special commission appointed at the last Council session to study and report on the future of the High Commission and the Nansen International Office for “stateless” refugees, whose terms expire at the end of the year, held its first meeting in private this afternoon.

Soviet Russia strongly opposed a suggestion that both bodies be merged into a united organization to care for refugees from all countries. The Nansen Office has concerned itself chiefly with Russian refugees.

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