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Treaty of St. Germain

Treaty of St. Germain — treaty signed at the castle of St. Germain-en-Laye just outside of Paris on September 10, 1919, as part of the Paris Peace Conference following the conclusion of World War I. The Treaty of St. Germain was concluded between the Allied and Associated Powers (the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan) and the new state of Czechoslovakia. Five articles of the treaty dealt specifically with “the territory of the Rusyn people [peuple ruthene] south of the Carpathians.”

Czechoslovakia agreed to provide this territory with “the greatest degree of autonomy compatible with the unity of the Czecho-Slovak state” (Article 10). The autonomous territory was to have its own governor and an elected diet with legislative functions in specific areas (Article 11) and elected representatives in Czechoslovakia’s national parliament (Article 13); civic servants in the Rusyn territory were to be chosen as far as possible from the local population (Article 12). Czechoslovakia also agreed that all member states of the newly established international body, the League of Nations, would have the right to note any infraction of the above obligations and request that the League’s supreme council suggest measures to correct infractions on the rights granted to the Rusyns (Article 14). The specific boundaries of the Rusyn territory were not discussed at St. Germain, but were fixed in a subsequent treaty (June 1920) signed between the Allied and Associated Powers with Hungary (see Treaty of Trianon). The provisions of the Treaty of St. Germain regarding *autonomy for what came officially to be called *Subcarpathian Rus’ were spelled out in paragraph 3 of the Czechoslovak constitution of February 29, 1920.

The Treaty of St. Germain marked the first time that the Rusyns were recognized in international law as a distinct people with the right to their own autonomous territory. When, during the interwar years, the treaty’s provisions on autonomy were not fully implemented, Rusyn leaders in *Subcarpathian Rus’ and Rusyn immigrant activists in the United States protested to international organizations, including the League of Nations. Czechoslovakia’s sovereignty over Subcarpathian Rus’ was surrendered in the *Czechoslovak-Soviet Treaty of 1945, although some commentators active in the post-Communist Rusyn national movement in Subcarpathian Rus’/Transcarpathia argue that the 1945 accord is invalid. They argue further that Subcarpathia’s right to autonomy is justified by the international legal tradition established by the Treaty of St. Germain.

Paul Robert Magocsi

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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