Hoare-Laval Pact

   Sir Samuel Hoare served as British foreign minister in 1935 in the government of Samuel Baldwin. His opposite number in France was Pierre Laval. At the beginning of December 1935, Hoare and Laval agreed to resolve the international crisis provoked by Benito Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopiain October by offering to cede to Ethiopia a port in British Somaliland if Emperor Haile Selassie would cede to Italy the Ogaden and Tigray. Furthermore, Britain and France would recognize Italian economic paramountcy in the rest of Ethiopia. In substance, the Ethiopian government was asked to surrender two-thirds of its territory and give Italy a de facto protectorate over what remained.
   This offer was not rejected out-of-hand by Mussolini, though he really wanted a formal Italian protectorate. Before negotiations could resume, the Hoare-Laval proposals were leaked to the French press. The result was a furor, especially in Britain. Baldwin dismissed Hoare (who was to resume a political role a few years later as British ambassador to Spain), blaming the initiative on Laval; British distrust of the French increased. Thus, not only was Mussolini in a position to conquer the territory, but the onus for the breakdown of negotiations could be put on the democracies. By May 1936, the Italian army had entered Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. In July, the League of Nations lifted sanctions against the aggressor. Mussolini was able to claim that Italy had stood up to 60 nations arrayed against it.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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