Treaty of Versailles/Part XV
Germany undertakes to recognise the full force of the Treaties of Peace and Additional Conventions which may be concluded by the Allied and Associated Powers with the Powers who fought on the side of Germany and to recognise whatever dispositions may be made concerning the territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, of the Kingdom of Bulgaria and of the Ottoman Empire, and to recognise the new States within their frontiers as there laid down.
The High Contracting Parties, while they recognise the guarantees stipulated by the Treaties of 1815, and especially by the Act of 20 November 1815, in favour of Switzerland, the said guarantees constituting international obligations for the maintenance of peace, declare nevertheless that the provisions of these treaties, conventions, declarations and other supplementary Acts concerning the neutralized zone of Savoy, as laid down in paragraph 1 of Article 92 of the Final Act of the Congress of Vienna and in paragraph 2 of Article 3 of the Treaty of Paris of 20 November 1815, are no longer consistent with present conditions. For this reason the High Contracting Parties take note of the agreement reached between the French Government and the Swiss Government for the abrogation of the stipulations relating to this zone which are and remain abrogated.
The High Contracting Parties also agree that the stipulations of the Treaties of 1815 and of the other supplementary Acts concerning the free zones of Upper Savoy and the Gex district are no longer consistent with present conditions, and that it is for France and Switzerland to come to an agreement together with a view to settling between themselves the status of these territories under such conditions as shall be considered suitable by both countries.
The Swiss Federal Council has informed the French Government on 5 May 1919 that after examining the provisions of Article 435 in a like spirit of sincere friendship it has happily reached the conclusion that it was possible to acquiesce in it under the following conditions and reservations:
1. The neutralised zone of Haute-Savoie:
(a) It will be understood that as long as the Federal Chambers have not ratified the agreement come to between the two Governments concerning the abrogation of the stipulations in respect of the neutralised zone of Savoy, nothing will be definitively settled, on one side or the other, in regard to this subject.
(b) The assent given by the Swiss Government to the abrogation of the above mentioned stipulations presupposes, in conformity with the text adopted, the recognition of the guarantees formulated in favour of Switzerland by the Treaties of 1815 and particularly by the Declaration of 20 November 1815.
(c) The agreement between the Governments of France and Switzerland for the abrogation of the above mentioned stipulations will only be considered as valid if the Treaty of Peace contains this Article in its present wording. In addition the Parties to the Treaty of Peace should endeavour to obtain the assent of the signatory Powers of the Treaties of 1815 and of the Declaration of 20 November 1815, which are not signatories of the present Treaty of Peace.
2. Free zone of Haute-Savoie and the district of Gex:
(a) The Federal Council makes the most express reservations to the interpretation to be given to the statement mentioned in the last paragraph of the above Article for insertion in the Treaty of Peace, which provides that "the stipulations of the Treaties of 1815 and other supplementary acts concerning the free zones of Haute-Savoie and the Gex district are no longer consistent with present conditions." The Federal Council would not wish that its acceptance of the above wording should lead to the conclusion that it would agree to the suppression of a system intended to give neighbouring territory the benefit of a special regime which is appropriate to the geographical and economical situation and which has been well tested.
In the opinion of the Federal Council the question is not the modification of the customs system of the zones as set up by the Treaties mentioned above, but only the regulation in a manner more appropriate to the economic conditions of the present day of the terms of the exchange of goods between the regions in question. The Federal Council has been led to make the preceding observations by the perusal of the draft Convention concerning the future constitution of the zones which was annexed to the note of 26 April from the French Government. While making the above reservations the Federal Council declares its readiness to examine in the most friendly spirit any proposals which the French Government may deem it convenient to make on the subject.
(b) It is conceded that the stipulations of the Treaties of 1815 and other supplementary acts relative to the free zones will remain in force until a new arrangement is come to between France and Switzerland to regulate matters in this territory.
The French Government have addressed to the Swiss Government, on 18 May 1919, the following note in reply to the communication set out in the preceding paragraph:
In a note dated 5 May the Swiss Legation in Paris was good enough to inform the Government of the French Republic that the Federal Government adhered to the proposed Article to be inserted in the Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Governments and Germany.
The French Government have taken note with much pleasure of the agreement thus reached, and, at their request, the proposed Article, which had been accepted by the Allied and Associated Governments, has been inserted under No. 435 in the Peace conditions presented to the German Plenipotentiaries.
The Swiss Government, in their note of May 5 on this subject, have expressed various views and reservations.
Concerning the observations relating to the free zones of Haute-Savoie and the Gex district, the French Government have the honour to observe that the provisions of the last paragraph of Article 435 are so clear that their purport cannot be misapprehended, especially where it implies that no other Power but France and Switzerland will in future be interested in that question.
The French Government, on their part, are anxious to protect the interests of the French territories concerned, and, with that object, having their special situation in view, they bear in mind the desirability of assuring them a suitable customs regime and determining, in a manner better suited to present conditions, the methods of exchanges between these territories and the adjacent Swiss territories, while taking into account the reciprocal interests of both regions.
It is understood that this must in no way prejudice the right of France to adjust her customs line in this region in conformity with her political frontier, as is done on the other portions of her territorial boundaries, and as was done by Switzerland long ago on her own boundaries in this region.
The French Government are pleased to note on this subject in what a friendly disposition the Swiss Government take this opportunity of declaring their willingness to consider any French proposal dealing with the system to be substituted for the present regime of the said free zones, which the French Government intend to formulate in the same friendly spirit.
Moreover, the French Government have no doubt that the provisional maintenance of the regime of 1815 as to the free zones referred to in the above mentioned paragraph of the note from the Swiss Legation of 5 May, whose object is to provide for the passage from the present regime to the conventional regime, will cause no delay whatsoever in the establishment of the new situation which has been found necessary by the two Governments. This remark applies also to the ratification by the Federal Chambers, dealt with in paragraph 1(a), of the Swiss note of 5 May, under the heading "Neutralised zone of Haute-Savoie."
The High Contracting Parties declare and place on record that they have taken note of the Treaty signed by the Government of the French Republic on 17 July 1918 with His Serene Highness the Prince of Monaco defining the relations between France and the Principality.
The High Contracting Parties agree that, in the absence of a subsequent agreement to the contrary, the Chairman of any Commission established by the present Treaty shall in the event of an equality of votes be entitled to a second vote.
The Allied and Associated Powers agree that where Christian religious missions were being maintained by German societies or persons in territory belonging to them, or of which the government is entrusted to them in accordance with the present Treaty, the property which these missions or missionary societies possessed, including that of trading societies whose profits were devoted to the support of missions, shall continue to be devoted to missionary purposes. In order to ensure the due execution of this undertaking the Allied and Associated Governments will hand over such property to boards of trustees appointed by or approved by the Governments and composed of persons holding the faith of the Mission whose property is involved.
The Allied and Associated Governments, while continuing to maintain full control as to the individuals by whom the Missions are conducted, will safeguard the interests of such Missions.
Germany, taking note of the above undertaking, agrees to accept all arrangements made or to be made by the Allied or Associated Government concerned for carrying on the work of the said missions or trading societies and waives all claims on their behalf.
Without prejudice to the provisions of the present Treaty, Germany undertakes not to put forward directly or indirectly against any Allied or Associated Power, signatory of the present Treaty, including those which without having declared war, have broken off diplomatic relations with the German Empire, any pecuniary claim based on events which occurred at any time before the coming into force of the present Treaty.
The present stipulation will bar completely and finally all claims of this nature, which will be thenceforward extinguished, whoever may be the parties in interest.
Germany accepts and recognises as valid and binding all decrees and orders concerning German ships and goods and all orders relating to the payment of costs made by any Prize Court of any of the Allied or Associated Powers, and undertakes not to put forward any claim arising out of such decrees or orders on behalf of any German national.
The Allied and Associated Powers reserve the right to examine in such manner as they may determine all decisions and orders of German Prize Courts, whether affecting the property rights of nationals of those Powers or of neutral Powers. Germany agrees to furnish copies of all the documents constituting the record of the cases, including the decisions and orders made, and to accept and give effect to the recommendations made after such examination of the cases.