Nicolae Titulescu

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Nicolae Titulescu

The Romanian statesman Nicolae Titulescu (1882-1941) was an outstanding diplomat and played a major role in the League of Nations.

Born on March 4, 1882, at Craiova, Nicolae Titulescu was the son of a lawyer. After finishing secondary school at Craiova in 1900, he studied law in Paris until 1904. On his return to Romania, he became a lecturer in common law at the University of laši and in 1909 at the University of Bucharest. In 1904 Titulescu published his first works. He subsequently published more than 30 papers in Romanian, French, English, German, and Italian on problems of common and international law as well as on economic, financial, social, political, and diplomatic issues.

In 1907 Titulescu joined the Democratic Conservative party; after the dissolution of this party in 1922 he never joined another party. He started his political career in 1912, when he was elected to the Romanian Parliament. He served as minister of finance in 1917-1918 and 1920-1921. In 1918 he became a member of the Romanian National Council in Paris. Two years later he was appointed head of the Romanian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference; in this capacity he signed the Trianon Treaty.

Titulescu was Romania's permanent delegate to the League of Nations between 1920 and 1936 and minister plenipotentiary in London (1922-1927 and 1928-1932). In 1927-1930 and in 1935 he was a member of the League of Nations Council, and he was twice elected president of the General Assembly of the League (1930 and 1931). In 1928 he served as minister for foreign affairs, and in 1932 he was again appointed to this post. In 1936 he was excluded from the government for political and international reasons. Shortly afterward Titulescu settled in France, and he died in Cannes on March 17, 1941.

His Policies

Both in domestic and foreign policy Titulescu was a theorist. He was a firm advocate of internal reform; he advocated land reform through the partial expropriation of estates and the allotment of land to the peasants. He drafted a financial reform bill which provided for progressive taxation, and he supported the election reform introducing universal suffrage in Romania. He had the gift of intuiting the course of political events in the world. A. F. Frangulis, the president of the International Diplomatic Academy in Paris, wrote that "Titulescu could foresee the future as Talleyrand could, " and the Soviet diplomat Maxim Litvinov declared that Titulescu was "the most talented and intelligent diplomat of presentday Europe."

Titulescu's conception of international relations was based on promoting agreement and cooperation among nations to achieve peaceful coexistence. He believed that every state, whether large or small, enjoyed the right to national independence and territorial integrity. Civilized relations among states implied, in Titulescu's opinion, the principle of international friendships rather than the division of states into hostile blocs. He held that opposed social doctrines and different religious beliefs did not prevent the peaceful coexistence of peoples and states. Rejecting the idea that wars are inevitable, he formulated and promoted the principle of the indivisibility of peace, which calls for the union of all peaceful states against any aggression.

In order to create a climate of understanding among peoples, Titulescu advocated means such as economic agreements, collective financial assistance, protection of national minorities, contacts among political leaders and scientists of various countries, and disarmament or reduction of arms accompanied by the strengthening of the defense power of the states menaced by aggression. He worked for a union of nations in a system of collective security based on bilateral and regional treaties of mutual assistance. He believed that such a system would secure peace against the revisionist tendencies of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Opposing every tendency of the Western powers to make concessions to the aggressors, Titulescu carried on a vast diplomatic activity against Nazism and Fascism. He denounced Nazi Germany's violation of the Treaty of Versailles and condemned the invasion of Abyssinia by Fascist Italian troops.

Animated by the desire to set up a system of collective security, Titulescu gave his support to any and all diplomatic initiatives aimed at concluding nonaggression pacts, especially the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and mutual assistance treaties, such as the French-Soviet and the Czech-Soviet Pacts of 1935. He took part in the Disarmament Conference in 1932, backing the disarmament plans of the United States, France, and England. After the failure of this conference, he supported the definition of aggression put forward by Litvinov and in July 1933 signed the London agreements on the definition of aggression. Titulescu made use of his international prestige to strengthen friendly relations between Romania and France and to create a climate of confidence and peace in the Balkans, thus greatly contributing to the establishment of the Little Balkan Entente (1934).

Further Reading

Works on Titulescu include Ion M. Oprea, Nicolae Titulescu (Bucharest, 1966), with summaries in English and French; Oprea's Nicolae Titulescu's Diplomatic Activity (Bucharest, 1968); and Vasile Netea, Nicolae Titulescu (Bucharest, 1969). He is discussed in Mircca Malita, Romanian Diplomacy: A Historical Survey (Bucharest, 1970). For general background on Romania between the wars see Henry L. Roberts, Rumania: Political Problems of an Agrarian State (1951), and for the diplomatic background, John A. Lukacs, The Great Powers and Eastern Europe (1953). Also consult Hamilton Fish Armstrong's memoirs, Peace and Counterpeace: From Wilson to Hitler (1971). □