2 JUNE 1939, Page 1


THE speech of M. Molotov to. the Supreme Council of the U.S.S.R. is disappointing in so far as it seems to imply that further discussions will be necessary before an Anglo-Soviet Pact can be finally concluded, but it raises no serious obstacles to agreement. The Commissar for Foreign Affairs laid down three conditions as essential. First, the pact must be (unlike the Axis) purely defensive and com- pletely reciprocal. Second, guarantees must be given to all the European countries bordering on Russia ; at present Finland, Estonia and Latvia are not guaranteed by Britain and France. Third, there must be a specific agreement as to the form and extent of the mutual assistance to be given. The first and third of these conditions should create no difficulties. The second is not so simple, for the fixed desire of Finland (which is very anti-Russian), Estonia and Latvia is to maintain their neutrality and associate them- selves with neither European bloc. In such circumstances it is a little difficult to force an unsought guarantee on them against their will. It is that, not any reluctance in London or Paris, that makes the second condition difficult, but it is a difficulty which a little friendly discussion should easily surmount. M. Molotov's real attitude is probably marked by fewer reserves than his speech. Hardly a word has been said in the Soviet Press about the negotiations with Great Britain, and in this first public official reference to them it was obviously necessary to avoid any suggestion of enthu- siastic response to the advances of what are after all capitalist States. The speech is in no sense a set-back. * * *