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1922 in France

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Events from the year 1922 in France.

The year 1922 was signalized at its opening by the conference of Cannes, between France, the United Kingdom, and Belgium, which met to consider the situation created by Germany's declaration of her inability to pay what was demanded of her for 1922. The chief result of this conference was a decision to hold a general European conference at Genoa, and Aristide Briand, the French premier, signed with the British prime minister, David Lloyd George, a draft pact of guarantee which stated that "guarantees for the security of France against a future invasion by Germany are indispensable to the restoration of stability in Europe, to the security of Great Britain, and the peace of the world."

At Paris, however, the political atmosphere had become hostile to Briand, who, finding that he had not the support of Parliament, resigned from the premiership at a memorable sitting on 12 January. After a very brief crisis Raymond Poincaré presented himself before Parliament with a new cabinet containing several members of the previous one.

In his ministerial address, Poincaré said bluntly that France would defend her interests as her Allies defended theirs, and he criticized adversely the conferences of the Supreme Council. His tone was aggressive, but at the same time perfectly courteous.

The old cabinet was not allowed to disappear in peace. Briand, its head, was specially marked out for attack. A report of his ineptitude while at Washington was made the most of in order to discredit him. But his unpopularity reached its height when it leaked out that at Cannes Briand, against the advice of the War Ministry, had given instructions for French war material to be handed over to the Kemalists.

The advent to power of Poincaré caused a distinct change in Franco-British relations. Poincaré did not like conferences. He preferred the old diplomatic method by which the heads of governments did not meet until everything had been discussed and put in order by the ambassadors.

In spite, however, of his avowed objections, Poincaré could not avoid the participation of France in the conference of Genoa, which had been fixed for early in March. In a memorandum sent to the British government on 6 February, Poincaré criticized severely the programme laid down at Cannes for the conference of Genoa. This document emphasized two points: first, that the treaties drawn up by the peace conference were not to be modified in any particular; secondly, that the power and the authority of the League of Nations should not be derogated from in any way, and that its place should not be usurped by the conference of Genoa in dealing with any of the questions which came within its competence. About a fortnight after the publication of this memorandum, Lloyd George and Poincaré met at Boulogne (25 February) and agreed that at Genoa no discussion should be admitted either of the Treaty of Versailles and its annexes or of reparations. Briand had already obtained a similar assurance at Cannes.