- The prime ministers of France and Great Britain (Pierre Etienne Flandin and Ramsay MacDonald) met Benito Mussolini at Stresa in Piedmont on 11–14 April 1935, to reaffirm the validity of the Locarno Pactand to show their unity in the face of the rising power of Hitlerite Germany, which had unilaterally renounced the disarmament clauses of the Versailles Treaty only two weeks before. Looming over the talks, which ended with a worthy communique expressing their mutual desire for peace, rejection of unilateral actions, and commitment to the League of Nations, was the question of Ethiopia, which the Fascist regime was determined to acquire. The Ethiopian government had denounced the regime before the League of Nations in January, and the Fascist press was conducting a heated propaganda campaign against the African state. The British subsequently proposed that Italy should gain a tract of the Ogaden desert in exchange for territorial concessions to Ethiopia in British Somaliland. Mussolini responded angrily to this meager offer, threatening a war that would mean the “cancellation of Ethiopia from the map.” According to Mussolini’s Australian biographer, R. J. B. Bosworth, the British minister responsible for the talks, Sir Anthony Eden, came away from Rome with the impression that Mussolini was a “complete gangster” and “the anti-Christ.”See also Hoare-Laval Pact.
Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. Mark F. Gilbert & K. Robert Nilsson. 2007.
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