Coudenhove-Kalergi, the idealist, was disappointed with Briand’s memorandum for the following reasons: “It rejected a European customs union and scrupulously respected the sovereignty of all nations involved. It avoided intruding upon the authority of the League of Nations. It aimed at no European federation, but an effective League of Nations. It was a substitute, not the real thing.”2
In fact, Briand deliberately refrained from using the term “European Federation”. He instead talked about a federal link between the European states.
Briand believed that the collaboration of three great powers, France, Britain, and Germany, was fundamental for the formation of a new order in Europe.3 In other words, Briand thought that the union would be based on the initiative and the agreement of great powers, whereas Coudenhove-Kalergi argued that European federation lay “in the interest of the whole civilized world in preventing the hegemony of one European nation over all others.”4 He assumed that hegemony would not exist in a unified Europe.
When Coudenhove-Kalergi’s Paneuropa was first published in 1923, Turkey had just emerged as a sovereign state trying to build a nation and detach itself from the Ottoman past. Considering the magnitude of domestic and international challenges to the viability of the new Turkish state, Coundenhove-Kalergi’s decision to leave Turkey out of his Pan-Europe was probably one of the lesser, if not the least, concerns of Turkish leaders who could only stabilize both domestic and international situation by the end of the decade.
In contrast, the Briand proposal at first came as a blow to the Turkish pursuit of recognition as a European member of international society in the early 1930s, as Briand did not initially include Turkey among the twenty-six European countries, which were invited to discuss his memorandum on the European project.
Turkey was excluded from the project for two reasons. First, it was not a member of the League of Nations. Second, Turkey was not part of the geographical Europe as defined by Briand. Briand’s mindset reflected the realist approach of France concerning the European Union. By the same token, in Briand’s European federation, there was a place for Britain as the lynchpin of French security, but not for Turkey.
Although not officially invited to discuss the project, Ankara was more attentive to Briand’s initiative than London.5
2 Richard N. Coudenhove-Kalergi, Crusade for Pan-Europe: Autobiography of a Man and a Movement, (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1943), p. 135.
3 Maarten L. Pereboom, Democracies at the Turning Point, Britain, France and the End of the Postwar Order, 1928-1933 (NY: Peter Lang, 1995), p. 147.
4 Coudenhove-Kalergi, Crusade for Pan-Europe., p. 257.
5 The British opposed Briand’s European Union project as Coudenhove-Kalergi had predicted it. In general, British observers equated France with Poincaré rather than Briand who seemed a tragic figure, struggling against the atavistic forces to which Poincaré allegedly gave expression. Robert W. D. Boyce, “The Briand and the Crisis of British Liberalism”, in Le Plan Briand d’Union Fédérale Européenne, ed. by Antoine Fleury (Bern: Peter Lang, 1998), p. 132 (121-144).