330 Quinn to Burton

Memorandum THE HAGUE, 30 March 1949


The following account of the Press Conference held in Batavia by the High Representative of the Crown, Dr. Louis Beel, on 1st March is derived from Dutch press sources. While no doubt Batavia will already have reported fully regarding this press conference, the 'angling' of Dr. Beel's remarks may provide a pointer to likely Dutch attitudes on certain questions in the event of Conference finally being held.

1. Invitation to Dr. Sukarno Dr Beel is reported to have said that Sukarno had been invited to attend the proposed Round Table Conference in The Hague as 'President of the Republic of Indonesia'. He said that at the request of the Republicans he could make no statement as yet regarding the talks between his chef de cabinet, Dr. Koets, and the Republican leaders on Bangka.

2. Release of Republican Leaders Dr. Beel said that immediately on his return to Batavia from Holland the existing restrictions had been withdrawn. The return of the Indonesian leaders to Jokjakarta was not yet possible because martial law still prevailed in the area including that city. The Republican leaders had the same rights as any other citizens in Indonesia and the Netherlands Government was responsible for their safety just as much as for anyone else. He stressed that their release was in no way dependent on their acceptance of the invitation to attend The Hague Conference.

3. Venue for Conference Dr. Beel said that the proposed conference concerned the transfer of Netherlands sovereignty and therefore the seat of the Netherlands Government was considered appropriate as a place to hold it. Furthermore the Netherlands had for a long period been sending missions to Indonesia and this time wished to be host. He added that the Netherlands Government was of the opinion that both for the Indonesian delegations and the Netherlands public, the contact would be of value and would be an opportunity for free, peaceful and safe public discussions.

4. Date of Conference Dr. Beel said that March 12th had been selected on the principle of 'the sooner the better'. It had not been possible to choose an earlier date because there was a Benelux [1] Conference at The Hague from 10th to 12th March. To the question whether postponement was possible, Dr. Beel replied 'preferably not-unless there are technical or very urgent reasons for a postponement'.

5. Representation at the Conference Dr. Beel did not think his presence at The Hague would be required and in any case he had duties to perform in Indonesia. Invitations had been sent to the Indonesian Federalist Convention (B.F.O.) the Republic of Indonesia, the Provisional Government and representatives of minority groups such as Chinese, Arabs etc. The number of representatives comprising delegations would be left to the delegations themselves. The so-called 'autonomous rulers' would be represented in the Provisional Federal Government by the Secretary for Autonomous Affairs, and there were also autonomous rulers in the Federal Convention. New Guinea, being still under the jurisdiction of the central Government, which had its own delegation, would not be represented separately.

6. Invitation to the United Nations Commission for Indonesia Dr. Beel said that he was surprised at the question whether the entire Commission had been invited or only some members. He said the entire Commission had been invited and the Netherlands Government would greatly appreciate it if the Commission would give its full assistance in obtaining a favourable result, and for its part the Government would co-operate fully at The Hague to enable the Commission to fulfil its task.

7. Procedure Asked whether the Conference would be public or closed, Dr Beel said this was a matter of procedure for the Conference to decide.

8. Sovereignty question Dr Beel said that the United States of Indonesia would be 'just as sovereign as the Netherlands' after the transfer of sovereignty.

He emphasised that he did not consider the proposed Netherlands- Indonesian Union as a 'super state' over and above the United States of Indonesia. He denied that it was irresponsible to transfer sovereignty at this stage because of the 'chaotic situation'. There was no chaos. Naturally the Republic of the United States of Indonesia would not be fully capable of immediate administration. The Netherlands and the United States of Indonesia would therefore have to come to an agreement on the strength, deployment and use of Dutch troops. Dr. Beel emphasised that Dutch troops could be made available only at the request of the United States of Indonesia which would be responsible for the maintenance of law and order from the moment that sovereignty was transferred.

In fixing a date for the transfer, account would have to be taken of measures to put an end to guerrilla fighting. Dutch administration officials would be transferred to the United States of Indonesia if they were required and if they themselves agreed.

9. Security Council Resolution [2]

Dr. Beel said that the Security Council resolution had not provided a solution, only the procedure. The Netherlands Government considered the present plans as 'definitely the best means of realising the Security Council resolution in a realistic, practical and responsible way'. Whether there was to be a Federal Interim Government now that sovereignty was to be transferred so much earlier, depended on decisions taken at the Round Table Conference.

10. Brussels Powers [3]

In reply to a question, Dr. Beel said that the Brussels powers had not been consulted in the drafting of the Dutch plan.

11. Sanctions against Dutch aircraft (with regard to India's ban on landing facilities for Dutch aircraft) Dr. Beel said 'I think India will revise its illegal decision;

otherwise we shall continue to fly via Mauritius'.

(The Mauritius route is now being flown with Constellations on a regular schedule for passengers and mails. The denial to K.L.M. of landing facilities on the Indian sub-continent has resulted in considerable inconvenience and financial loss.)

1 Belgium and Luxembourg had established a Customs Union with the Netherlands on 5 September 1944.

2 Document 168.

3 The United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg had signed a Treaty of Economic, Social and Cultural Collaboration and Collective Self-Defence in Brussels on 7 March 1948.

[AA : A1838, 403/3/1/1, xxi]