Lász­ló Gu­lyás: The Issue of the Hungarian-Slovak Border at the Ver­sailles Peace Conference (1. part)

Before 1918 within the frameworks of historical Hun­ga­ry the official definition of the Slovak-Hungarian ethnical border and territories lived by Slovaks did not take place, thus the definition of the first historical Slovak-Hungarian border took place at the Ver­sailles Peace Conference that ended the First World War. In our study we try to introduce this process.

The ceremonial opening of the Ver­sailles Peace Conference took place on 18th January 1919. Although, the participants did not make clear if the conference in Pa­ris is a preliminary conference of the winners that intends to harmonize different viewpoints and that is later followed by a congress that invites the neutrals and loosers or if it is the peace conference itself, of which decisions are final and irrevocable. The cnference in Pa­ris began as the earlier, and gradually transformed to the lat­est. Thus, the representatives of the defeated countries could not take part in the conference and the loosers could be present only after decisions were made.
There were mo­re committees that dealt with the border issues. The supreme body of these commitees was the „Commitee of Territorial Issues” having number IX. Czechoslovakia, as the winning military party, had the right to submit its claims at the Peace Conference. Preparations for the Peace Conference were directed by Beneš, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
At the preparation for and during the conference, Beneš had to face two serious conflicts. At the beginning of 1919 the Beneš-Štefánik conflict arose. Its ma­in reason was that while Beneš wanted to build Czechoslovakia’s foreign policy on France, Štefánik preferred the Ita­li­an orientation. Mo­re precisely, he stressed that at the formation of Czechoslovakia’s foreign policy they should pay attention to France and Italy equally. Paralelly with the Beneš-Štefánik conflict, the Beneš-Kramáø conflict arose. At the Peace Conference the Czecho­slovak delegation was offically led by Kramáø, as the country’s Prime Minister, but actually Beneš, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, reserved his right to decide in all important issues.
At the Peace Conference, the Czechoslovak delegation directed by Beneš submitted 11 written memoranda. The Peace Conference decided that except of the submitted requirements gives an opportunity for the smaller allied parties to declare them in words at the highest level. Thus, Beneš on 5th February at the Supreme Council introduced the Czechoslovak requirements. Beneš’s speech lasted for 3,5 hours and was about the situation of his country and about territorial requirements.
By analysing the text of the speech, the author states that Beneš during his speech on 5th February repeated the ma­in statement of the 11 submitted memoranda. Beneš by supporting the Czechoslovak requirements, introduced a wide spectrum of arguments before the Supreme Committee, in his speech beside the historical, strategical and economic arguments well known from memoranda, we can find geological (see unity of Teschen coal fields) and linguistic (common dialect of Ruthenians and Slovaks) arguments. His speech can be qualified remarkably inventive, because he finds argument even to why would be it good for the Germans to be in Czechoslovakia.
After he finished his lecture, the Supereme Council decided to send a committee for examining the Czechoslovak claims. This way was created „The committee for examining the Czechoslovak territorial requirements”.