Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/69


Secretary’s Notes of a Meeting of the Supreme Council of the Allied and Associated Powers Held in the Salle de l’Horloge, Quai d’Orsay, on Tuesday, June 17, 1919, at 11 a.m.

Present Also Present
America, United States of Secretaries
President Wilson America, United States of
Hon. R. Lansing Mr. L. Harrison
Secretary-General British Empire
Mr. J. C. Grew Mr. H. Norman
British Empire Mr. E. Phipps
The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George Sir P. Loraine, Bt.
The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour Mr. P. Kerr
Secretary-General France
Sir M. P. A. Hankey. M. Berthelot
France M. Gautier
M. Clemenceau M. Arnavon
M. Pichon M. de St. Quentin
Secretary-General Peace Conference M. de Bearn
M. Dutasta Italy
Italy M. Bertele
Baron Sonnino M. Trombetti
Marquis Imperiali Japan
Japan M. Saburi
Baron Makino
Viscount Chinda
S. A. Damad Ferid Pacha
S. E. Riza Tewfik Bey
S. E. Tewfik Bey

Joint Secretariat

America, United States of Colonel U. S. Grant.
British Empire { Major A. M. Caccia.
Captain E. Abraham.
France Captain A. Portier.
Italy Lieut. Zanchi.
Interpreter:—M. Mantoux.
[Page 509]

Audience of the Delegates of the Ottoman Empire M. Clemenceau, addressing the Delegates of the Government of the Ottoman Empire, said that they had been good enough to request leave to submit their views in regard to the questions before the Peace Conference in regard to the Turkish Empire. The Allied Representatives hastened to reply to their request in the sense that they were at the disposal of the Ottoman Delegates. The latter had been good enough to undertake the journey, and it was hoped that it might be a useful one for all the parties concerned. The Ottoman Delegates were requested to be so good as to state their views.

His Highness Damad Ferid Pacha then read out the following statement:—

“Gentlemen, I should not be bold enough to come before this high Assembly if I thought that the Ottoman people had incurred any share of responsibility in the war which has ravaged Europe and Asia with fire and sword.

“I apologise in advance for the development which I must give to my statement, for I am in point of fact defending to-day before the public opinion of the whole world and before history a most complicated and ill-understood case.

“In the course of the war, nearly the whole civilised world was shocked by the recital of the crimes alleged to have been committed by the Turks. It is far from my thought to cast a veil over these misdeeds which are such as to make the conscience of mankind shudder with horror for ever; still less will I endeavour to minimise the degree of guilt of the actors in the great drama. The aim which I have set myself is that of showing to the world, with proofs in my hand, who are the truly responsible authors of these terrible crimes.

“We are under no illusions in regard to the extent of the dissatisfaction which surrounds us; we are absolutely convinced that a mass of unfortunate events has made Turkey appear in an unfavourable light; however, when the truth has once been brought to light, it will warn civilised nations and posterity against passing an unjust judgment on us. The responsibility for the war in the East—assumed, without the knowledge of the Sovereign or of the people, in the Black Sea, by a German ship commanded by a German Admiral—rests entirely with the signatories of the secret Treaties, which were unknown alike to the Ottoman people and to the European Chanceries. These agreements were concluded between the Government of the Kaiser and the heads of the revolutionary Committee, who at the beginning of 1913, had placed themselves in power by means of a coup d’état. I call to witness the official despatches exchanged between the representatives of France and Great Britain and their respective Governments during the three months which preceded the [Page 510] outbreak of hostilities between Turkey and the Empire of the Czars. When war had once been declared, the eternal covetousness of Russia as regards Constantinople was skilfully represented to the people as an imminent danger, and anxiety for the preservation of national existence thereupon rendered the struggle a desperate one. Our archives are moreover, thrown entirely open to an enquiry which would enable the statements which I have the honour to make to this high Assembly to be amply confirmed.

“In regard to the other tragic events I beg leave to repeat here the declarations which I have repeatedly made to the Ottoman Senate. Turkey deplores the murder of a great number of her Christian co-nationals, as much as she does that of Moslems, properly speaking. In point of fact, the Committee of Union and Progress, not content with the crimes perpetrated against Christians, condemned to death by every means three million Moslems. Several hundreds of thousands of these unfortunate beings, hunted from their homes, are still wandering about today in the middle of Asia Minor without shelter and without any relief for their very existence; and even if they returned to their provinces they would find themselves just as destitute, for a large number of towns and villages, both Moslem and Christian, have been completely destroyed. Asia Minor is today nothing but a vast heap of ruins. The new Government notwithstanding its vigilant care, has been as yet unable to mitigate the disastrous effects of the cataclysm. It will always be easily possible to confirm my assertions by an enquiry undertaken on the spot. It is necessary, however, to dismiss any theory of racial conflict or of any explosion of religious fanaticism. Moreover, the Turkish people, at a time when violence could strive successfully against right, showed itself able to respect the lives, the honour and the sacred feelings of the Christian nation[al]s subject to its laws. It would be fairer to judge the Ottoman nation by its long history as a whole rather than by a single period which shows it in the most disadvantageous light.

“Whatever be the names by which they are called, the principles and the methods of both the Russian and Turkish revolutionaries are the same, namely to destroy society in order to seize its ruins by putting its members out of the way and taking possession of their property. Europe and America are endeavouring at the cost of immense sacrifice to deliver the Slav people, whose ostensible attitude towards the Entente is scarcely different at the present time from that of the Turks, for both have been reduced to silence and both paralysed by an unheard of tyranny. The Turks, who thus find themselves, under the domination of the Committee, in the same situation as that of the Russians under the Terrorists, deserve the same sympathy and the same humanitarian and kindly assistance at the hands of the rulers of the Great nations which hold the destinies of the world in their hands.

[Page 511]

“Latterly the truth has begun to filter through into European public opinion. The great trial of the Unionists at Constantinople has proved the responsibility of the leaders of the Committee—who all of them occupy high positions in the State—for the war and the other tragic events; that is the rehabilitation of the Ottoman nation.

“Thus rehabilitated in the eyes of the civilised world, our mission will henceforward be that of devoting ourselves to an intensive economic and intellectual culture in order thus to become an useful factor in the League of Nations. The Ottoman People hope that the chaos in the East, fostered as it is by this abnormal state of affairs which is neither war nor peace, may at last be replaced by order, and it likewise desires to see the end of the continued occupation of its territories in spite of the Armistice. This occupation has in fact resulted at Smyrna in the most deplorable excesses which have been committed to the hurt of the defenceless Moslem population.

“It desires with equal earnestness the maintenance, on the basis of the status quo ante bellum, of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, which, during the last 40 years, has been reduced to the least possible limits. It lastly wishes to be granted in Thrace, to the North and West of Adrianople where the Mohammedan population is in an overwhelming majority, a frontier line which will render possible the defence of Adrianople and Constantinople.

“What we ask for thus is, moreover, completely in conformity with President Wilson’s principles, which we invoked when requesting an Armistice, being convinced that they would be evenly applied in the interests of the peace of the world. On the other hand a fresh parcelling out of the Ottoman Empire would entirely upset the balance in the East.

“The ranges of the Taurus are moreover nothing more than a geological line of demarcation. The regions situated beyond those mountains, from the Mediterranean up to the Arabian Sea, are, although a language different from the Turkish language is spoken there, indissolubly linked with Constantinople by feelings which are deeper than the principle of nationality; on either side of the Taurus the same ideals, the same thoughts, the same moral and material interests bind the inhabitants. These form a compact block and its disintegration would be detrimental to the peace and tranquillity of the East. Even a plebiscite would not solve the question, for the supreme interests of more than three hundred million Moslems are involved, and they form an important fraction of the whole of the human race.

The conscience of the world could only approve conditions of peace which are compatible with right, with the aspirations of peoples and with immanent justice.[”]

M. Clemenceau, after thanking the Turkish Grand Vizier for his [Page 512] communication, proposed with his leave to adjourn the meeting for a few moments in order to deliberate, and undertook to make to him a quarter of an hour later whatever communication was decided on.

(The meeting was adjourned at 11.30 a.m. and resumed at 11.55 a.m.)

M. Clemenceau, addressing the Ottoman Delegates, said that he had been requested by the Heads of Governments and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Allied and Associated Powers to inform them that the statement made by the Grand Vizier had been listened to with the utmost attention, that it was intended to subject that statement to detailed examination and to make a reply as soon as one was ready. He added that the Heads of Governments and Ministers for Foreign Affairs, in view of the occupations which then absorbed their time, would be unable to make their reply before Saturday; and that one of the Heads of Government was leaving Paris that evening and would only return on Friday. He therefore proposed that a meeting should be held on the following Saturday at 11 a.m. for the presentation of the Allied reply. He further stated that if the Ottoman Delegates had any comments to offer or requests to make or anything to say in regard to the programme which he had just outlined the Allied representatives would be glad to hear them.

His Highness Damad Ferid Pasha said that the Ottoman Delegation was preparing a memorandum which would be forwarded as soon as it was ready.

M. Clemenceau enquired on what day it would be sent.

His Highness Damad Ferid Pasha said that it would be sent on Friday evening.

M. Clemenceau said that the Allied representatives would defer their reply until after the receipt of the Turkish memorandum, and would then fix a date for the next meeting.

His Highness Damad Ferid Pasha expressed his agreement.

(The meeting was adjourned at noon.)

Paris, June 17th, 1919.