867.602 Ot 81/334: Telegram

The Special Mission at Lausanne to the Secretary of State


380. I received a call today from Pellé who discussed with me the Chester concession. He told me that he wished to keep me advised beforehand of any action he may plan to take regarding it. He explained that at three points the Chester concession touches French interests: (1) Article 12 of the Chester’s supplementary article of agreement, which conflicts with article 10 of the Franklin–Bouillon agreement; (2) the Samsun–Sivas Railway; (3) development of the port of Samsun.

Pellé defended the French position by outlining the history of the French concessions and emphasized the following: In 1914, agreements were reached in Constantinople and Paris. It was arranged that Turkey was to receive a French loan of 800,000,000 francs and was to grant in return the concessions mentioned above and also some special privileges for French schools and other enterprises in Turkey. By an imperial irade of April 8, 1914, these agreements were confirmed. In June, at the opening of the Turkish Parliament, the speech from the throne and the parliamentary reply made favorable mention of the French agreement. On July 14, 1914, a law was passed by the Turkish Parliament sanctioning the loan. Whereupon France made an advance of 500,000,000 francs, and work on the railway was actually begun. But the work was interrupted less than a month later owing to the outbreak of war. General Pellé himself [Page 1213] was assured in February, 1922, by Hamid Bey, who was the representative in Constantinople of the Angora Assembly, that Turkey would respect the French concessions made before the war.

Pellé has declared his readiness to have copies of all the relevant documents sent to me.

He stated that while there was no wish on the part of the French Government to thwart the Chester concession, nevertheless it would present to the Turkish Government the following demands: (1) That pre-war concessions shall be respected in principle; (2) that in case such concessions have been transferred to others, compensation shall be given. The implication of this is that the French Government does not demand the recovery of the Samsun–Sivas line and other concessions, but is prepared to accept something else as equivalent. This is a relatively unimportant matter in any case as compared to the maintenance of the prestige of France in Turkey, which would be considerably diminished if the Turkish Government should not accept the principle mentioned above.

Pellé also told me that on Thursday he intends to discuss the two French demands with Ismet. He would be obliged to lay the matter before the conference if he failed in his private negotiations, but he promised to inform me in advance regarding his intentions. The treaty must in any case include some general clause by which the rights of the concessionaires now negotiating at Angora will be confirmed.

I solicit the Department’s instructions on the following:

(1) Should an occasion arise in the conference for making a formal statement defining the position of the United States, does the Department desire that the three points contained in its 22 of April 13 to Berne65 be followed closely in the statement?

In considering the third point mentioned above, I am reminded that in the Department’s telegram of April 20, 3 p.m., to Paris there is some advice from Admiral Bristol against volunteering arbitration.66 It is also my own opinion that an unfortunate impression might be created in Turkey if we put forward such a suggestion. I should be glad if the text of an appropriate statement could be drafted and telegraphed to me by the Department, together with authorization to make use of only such parts of it as circumstances should require.

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(2) I have received from Pellé an offer to embody in a note to me the legal aspects of the French case. I have suggested, however, that I would consult him again if any of the points in the statement he made to me today needs to be clarified. Does the Department desire to have such a statement in writing, or shall I decline Pellé’s offer?

  1. See footnote 56, p. 1201.
  2. Not printed; see telegram no. 111, Apr. 16, from the High Commissioner at Constantinople, p. 1202.