867.602 Ot 81/402: Telegram

The High Commissioner at Constantinople ( Bristol ) to the Secretary of State


283. Below follows substance of telegram received yesterday from Barnes: [Page 1247]

The Turkish Minister of Public Works, Feizi Bey, has stated that the Ottoman-American Development Company had the support of Imbrie, who was instrumental in having the concession granted to that company.77a When Barnes expressed surprise, his informant said that he could obtain a statement to that effect from Feizi in writing. If work on the Samsoun-Sivas line is not begun by November 10, there is reason to believe that Feizi will resign on that date. Barnes states that should the contract for the concession become invalid on account of a monopoly [sic] the United States will lose more economic and political prestige than anyone has as yet realized. In that case Turkish officials and people will tend to use the “Chester yard stick” as a measure of our representations for the protection of life and property. In closing, Barnes says that if the Department considers the controlling factor in the situation to be the protection of American political and economic prestige, and if the Department is able to give material assistance to any American group in a serious effort to carry out the concession, it should give such aid even though it involves a substantial change in the policy which the Department has pursued regarding the Chester concession up to the present time.

I agree with Barnes in the views presented above, and these views are held generally by Americans here. The present situation in Turkey is a standing invitation to the commercial adventurer and repels the conservative American business man. I foresee not only the failure of the Chester concession but also a number of “Chester fiascoes” of one kind or another for some years to come, unless the Department feels it can change its present policy regarding American business enterprises abroad, to the extent at least of exercising some effective direction and control over the activities of Americans who seek Turkish concessions. The Turkish Government will be seriously weakened by the failure of the Chester project, which will lead to a renewal of intrigues by rival concession seekers. Consideration should be given in this connection to the fact that American concession seekers are seriously handicapped in competition with their British and French rivals, whose standing is given official backing after investigation and whose endeavors are directed and supplemented by the officials of their respective Governments.

I raise the question in respect to the Chester concession whether the Department cannot exercise pressure to put in order the present chaotic internal affairs of the Ottoman-American Development Company. As far as I can see there is no hope that the company can be reorganized by any power coming from inside the company or from those who are associated with it. Every day it looks more certain that the project will fail unless the Department intervenes. [Page 1248] It is my earnest hope that the Department can put into effect the point of view presented in this telegram.

  1. See despatch of Dec. 7, 1922, from Vice Consul Imbrie at Angora, Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. ii, p. 981, and instruction no. 294, Jan. 15, 1923, to the Acting High Commissioner at Constantinople, Post, p. 1198.