Genoa Conference 1922
Genoa Conference (1922)
an international conference on economic and financial problems.
The Genoa Conference took place in Genoa, Italy, from April 10 through May 19. Representatives of 29 states participated—Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the RSFSR, Rumania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Five British dominions also sent representatives—Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa. The work of the delegation of the RSFSR was directed by V. I. Lenin, who was named its chairman. Exercising all the rights of a chairman in Genoa in the absence of Lenin, who remained in Russia, was the deputy chairman of the delegation, G. V. Chicherin. At the conference, the delegation of the RSFSR (which also included L. B. Krasin, M. M. Litvinov, V. V. Vorovskii, Ia. E. Rudzutak, A. A. Ioffe, Kh. G. Rakovskii, N. I. Narimanov, B. Mdivani, A. Bekzadian, and A. G. Shliapnikov) represented the interests not only of the RSFSR but of all the Union republics as well (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Byelorussia, Bukhara, Georgia, the Ukraine, and Khorezm) and of the Far East Republic.
The USA, which refused to take part in the work of the conference (Secretary of State C. Hughes’ note of Mar. 8, 1922), was represented there by an observer, the American ambassador to Italy, R. Child. Among representatives of capitalist states at the Genoa Conference, the most active role was taken by D. Lloyd George and G. N. Curzon (Great Britain), K. Wirth and W. Rathenau (Germany), L. Facta (Italy), and J. Barthou and C. Barreré (France). The decision to convene the conference was made on the initiative of Great Britain at the Jan. 6, 1922, meeting of the Supreme Council of the Allies in Cannes (France). The official goal of the Genoa Conference was to seek measures “for the economic restoration of Central and Eastern Europe.” But the most important question before the conference was essentially that of relations between the Soviet state and the capitalist world after the failure of attempts to overthrow Soviet power by means of military intervention.
The capitalist countries, especially Great Britain, which were seeking to overcome postwar economic difficulties, tried to attract Soviet Russia into the world market (in order to broadly exploit its resources, taking advantage of its temporary economic weakness). They were also trying to bring Germany and its former allies, defeated in World War I (1914-18), into the market. The Soviet government, interested in normalizing economic and political relations with the capitalist states, agreed to take part in the work of the conference (Jan. 8, 1922). At the conference, however, a leading role was taken by those capitalist countries that, rather than wanting to enter into a businesslike discussion of the real course toward the establishment of economic ties with the Soviet state, tried with the help of diplomatic pressure to gain the kind of economic and political concessions from the Soviet government that would have led to the restoration of capitalism in Russia. These countries intended to force the Soviet government to recognize all the debts of the tsarist and Provisional governments, return to foreign capitalists the enterprises nationalized by Soviet power or pay compensation for the cost of those enterprises, liquidate the foreign trade monopoly, and the like. On orders from V. I. Lenin, the Soviet delegation rejected these demands and in its turn introduced a countermotion to compensate the Soviet state for losses caused by the foreign intervention and blockade (if the prewar and war debts of Russia were 18.5 billion gold rubles, then the losses borne by the Soviet state as a result of foreign intervention and blockade were 39 billion gold rubles).
However, on Apr. 20, 1922, the Soviet delegation, wishing to find a ground for agreement and for establishment of economic ties with capitalist states, announced that the Soviet government was prepared to recognize prewar debts and the primary right of former property-owners to receive the property formerly belonging to them on concession or for lease, on the condition that the capitalist states recognize the Soviet state de jure, extend financial aid to it, and cancel war debts and interest owed them. The proposal for general disarmament, which the Soviet delegation made at the first plenary session of the conference (Apr. 10, 1922), was very significant. However, neither the question of disarmament nor the questions of regularizing mutual financial-economic claims were decided at the conference, and this failure was the fault of the capitalist states. The discussion of financial-economic questions was continued at the Hague Conference later that year. In the course of the Genoa Conference, Soviet diplomacy made use of contradictions within the imperialist camp to succeed in breaking the united front of the imperialist states, which were trying to isolate the Soviet state diplomatically. Soviet representatives concluded the Treaty of Rapallo with Germany during the course of the conference.
PUBLICATIONSGenuezskaia konferentsiia 1922: Materialy Genuezskoi konferentsii (Podgotovka, otchety zasedanii, raboty komissii, diplomaticheskaia perepiska i pr.). Moscow, 1922.
Documenty vneshnei politiki SSSR, vol. 5. Moscow, 1961.
REFERENCESLenin, V. I. “Proekt direktivy zamestiteliu predsedatelia i vsem chlenam genuezskoi delegatsii.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 44.
Lenin, V. I. “O mezhdunarodnom i vnutrennem polozhenii Sovetskoi Respubliki: Rech’ na zasedanii kommunisticheskoi fraktsii Vserossiiskogo s”ezda metallistov 6 marta 1922 g.” Ibid., vol. 45.
Lenin, V. I. “Politicheskii otchet TsK RKP(b) 27 marta [na XI s“ezde RKP(b) 27 marta-2 aprelia 1922].” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Proekt postanovleniia VTsIK po otchetu delegatsii na Genuezskoi konferentsii.” Ibid.
Liubimov, N. N., and Erlikh, A. N. Genuezskaia konferentsiia (Vospominaniia uchastnikov). Moscow, 1963.
Rubinshtein, N. L. Vneshniaia politika Sovetskogo gosudarstva v 1921-1925 gg. Moscow, 1953.
Istoriia diplomatii, 2nd ed., vol. 3. Moscow, 1965. Pages 249-304.
I. I. MINTS