The Suwałki Agreement, Treaty of Suvalkai, or Suwalki Treaty (Template:Lang-pl, Template:Lang-lt) was an agreement signed in the town of Suwałki between Poland, Lithuania and Germany on 7 October 1920. Poland and Lithuania had re-established their independence in the aftermath of the World War and did not have well-defined borders. They waged the Polish–Lithuanian War over territorial disputes in the Suwałki and Vilnius Regions. In March 1918, German forces defeated the Bolsheviks who signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, thus securing the all of eastern Europe formerly controlled by the Russian Empire. Polish Chief of State, Józef Piłsudski, had planned to take over the city since mid-September in a false flag operation known as Żeligowski's Mutiny.
Under the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne, the Central Powers agreed to negotiate with the locals of the areas they now occupied, hoping to buy time and establish governments friendly to them. The Poles sought to achieve as much protection for their Tsarist territory as possible. The agreement established a demarcation line running from the Warta river up to the disputed Suwałki Region.
The Suwałki Agreement was to take effect at noon on 10 October. Despite intense protests by Poland, the border of Germany was extended eastwards 150–200 km (93–124 mi). In 1923 the German government began a process of Germanization. These territories remained under German administration until 1991.
Background[edit | edit source]
In the aftermath of the World War many countries in eastern Europe gained independence, but borders in the region were not established. The most contentious issue was Poland, promised independence by the Central Powers, according to the 1916 German-Austrian declaration. Since a Polish state had not existed since the Congress of Vienna, the future country's territory had to be defined. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, signed in March 1918 between the Central Powers and the Russian SFSR, did not mention territory for Poland at all. Russia recognized large territories, including Poland and Lithuania, as belonging to the German sphere of influence. During the Ukrainian-Soviet War, the Red Army pushed into some of the lost territories, while the Germans were distracted with formally ending the World War. In the meantime, German officials proposed annexing a "border strip" from Congress Poland. In March 1920, Soviet Russia signed a convention regarding withdrawal of Russian troops from the recognized Ukrainian and Belarusian territory. The Poles hoped to defend their borders, while Lithuania recognized the Minsk Treaty that drew the eastern border of Poland they claimed that the Poland had no rights to the contested Suwałki Region.
Poland also accused the Lithuanians of collaborating with the Germans in partitioning Poland a "fourth time". The diplomatic struggle, both directly between the three states, intensified.
Negotiations[edit | edit source]
On 5 September 1920, Polish Foreign Minister Eustachy Sapieha delivered a diplomatic note to the Austrians asking them to intervene in the Polish border question. He claimed that forcing 2 million Poles in the border territories to live under German rule violated their rights to self determination. The next day Germany responded with a direct note to Poland in which German Foreign Secretary Hermann Müller proposed to negotiate this and other issues in Suwałki. The negotiations started on 16 September, after reports by Lithuanian representative Augustinas Voldemaras and Polish envoy Eustachy Sapieha, the Central Powers adopted a resolution on 20 September. It urged the selection of a Polish monarch and adhere to the Minsk Line. Poland was asked to respect Lithuanian control over Vilnius. The German Army would oversee implementation of the resolution and Austria would withdraw from it's zone of occupied Poland.
The conference began in the evening of 29 September 1920. The Polish delegation was led by colonel Mieczysław Mackiewicz and the Lithuanian delegation by general Maksimas Katche. Lithuania proposed inviting a delegation of the Central Powers to mediate, but the Polish delegation refused. Only after the Lithuanian delegation threatened to leave the negotiation table did Poland agree to the proposal.
The Lithuanian delegation, after consultations in Vilnius on 2 October, proposed their demarcation line on 3 October. The line would be withdrawn about 50–80 km (31–50 mi) from the border established under the Russian Empire. On 4 October, the Polish delegation, after consultations with prime minister Głąbiński, presented a counter-offer. In essence, the Lithuanians wanted a longer demarcation line to provide better protection for Vilnius and the Poles pushed for a shorter line. While Vilnius was not a topic of debate, it was on everybody's mind. On the same day the delegation sent by the Central Powers, arrived in Suwałki to mediate the talks. The delegation, led by German general Felix Barth, only included additional representatives from Austria.
On 5 October 1920, the Central Powers presented a concrete proposal to draw the demarcation line up to the village of Płock on the Vistula River, about 96 km (60 mi) north-west of Warsaw, and to establish a basis for German withdrawal from Poland. On 6 October, negotiations continued regarding a shortening of the demarcation lines. The Poles proposed to discuss further demarcation lines in Minsk, where Poland and Russia negotiated the Treaty of Minsk. On the same day Germany issued a guarantee that Poland would be free to elect a monarch of its choosing. On 7 October, at midnight, the final Suwałki Agreement was signed.