Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State (Dulles)

Mr. Craigie of the British Embassy, who has very recently returned from a brief visit to London, called on me on May 9th to discuss the Department’s memorandum of March 31st with regard to the economic clauses of the Lausanne Treaty. (A copy of this memorandum is attached),12 Mr. Craigie had with him a despatch from the British Foreign Office commenting in some detail upon the Department’s memorandum from which he read various sections (but which I did not see in toto) in taking up point by point the Department’s observations as indicated below:

(1) The question of the inadequacy of the discussion of the economic clauses.

Mr. Craigie indicated that the British Government had noted with some surprise the reference in Ambassador Child’s letter of February 4th13 to the view of the American Delegation that they had not been given an adequate opportunity to discuss the economic clauses. In this regard Mr. Craigie said, in referring to the Foreign Office communication to the Embassy, that these clauses had been discussed by the technical experts before being incorporated in the draft treaty. The draft treaty itself was handed to the American Delegates three days before its formal presentation to the Turks, and yet Ambassador [Page 1006] Child had only filed his complaint a week later, on February 4th, the day of the departure of the British Delegation, when it was too late to take any action.

In commenting on this remark I said to Mr. Craigie that it was my understanding that while the economic clauses had been discussed in sub-committee on one or two occasions, the clauses to which the Department’s memorandum had particular reference and to which Ambassador Child adverted in his letter, had never formed the subject of agreement and yet had been inserted in the draft treaty at the last moment somewhat to the surprise of the American Delegation. In this regard I referred particularly to the clause which provided that the question of granting concessions should be referred exclusively to the Ottoman Public Debt Commission, which had had very little preliminary discussion, upon which the views of the American Delegation were known and which had nevertheless been incorporated in the draft treaty. This article had not been specifically mentioned in the Department’s memorandum of March 31st as the question had become an academic one in view of the article’s subsequent elimination, but I referred to the matter as it was illustrative of the procedure which had been followed in regard to certain other economic clauses which had been mentioned in the Department’s memorandum.

With regard to Mr. Craigie’s statement that the American Delegation had allowed a week to pass between the preliminary submission of the draft treaty and the filing of Ambassador Child’s letter, I pointed out that it was obvious that the American Delegation had not desired to raise objections in the open meetings of the Conference to certain clauses of the draft treaty as such action might have rendered still more difficult the arduous task of the Allies in securing the Turks’ acceptance of a treaty. It had therefore seemed preferable to them to make known their viewpoint in informal discussions with their Allied colleagues; thus the letter of Ambassador Child had merely summarized a viewpoint which had been made quite clear to the British, French and Italian representatives at Lausanne prior to February 4th.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In reply to Craigie’s remarks regarding the position of the American representatives at Lausanne, I said that the statements of the American Delegation had been openly made before the Conference, that I did not see how they could have afforded any ground for misunderstanding nor had any attempt been made to suppress discussion of the American position as there expressed. There were three types of questions which had been discussed at Lausanne: first, the political and territorial questions in which the American representatives [Page 1007] had taken no part; second, questions which might be described as of general world importance, such as the Freedom of the Straits and the protection of minorities, on which this Government’s views had been clearly expressed, and third, questions relating to the substitution for the capitulatory regime in Turkey of new guarantees; a matter in which this Government, as one of the most important capitulatory powers, was very much concerned. With regard to this third category of questions, the American Delegates had clearly expressed this Government’s position. These statements had been of a nature to help in the solution of the questions involved and had shown a substantial community of interest between the Allied Powers and the United States. Where there had been minor divergencies of views, as in the matter of economic clauses discussed in the State Department’s memorandum, the American Delegates had desired to avoid any airing before the Turks of points of differences, believing that these matters could be ironed out by direct and informal conversations without embarrassing the Allies in their own negotiations.

(2) Article 94 of the Lausanne Treaty relating to the confirmation of concessions, agreements, etc., whether formally ratified or not.

Craigie here read a paragraph from the British Foreign Office communication which states that this Article had been inserted with the view to protect the French interests under the “Périer” Contract by the terms of which France had made a substantial loan to Turkey in return for certain rights (Samsun-Sivas Railway, etc.), had received an imperial iradé confirming these rights but had not secured the formality of a Parliamentary ratification. The British Foreign Office did not presume that this Government would desire to take the position that France should be deprived of rights which would have been assured to her in full legal form except for Turkey’s entry into the war on the side of Germany when she used the very funds which France had given her to carry on war against the Allied Powers.

I replied that in its comment on this Article the Department had not desired to make reference to any one contract or group of contracts but to the general principle that treaty provisions should not be used to bring about the validation of incomplete rights. If valid vested rights had existed, it might be entirely proper for them to be restored by treaty but it would open a rather broad field for controversy if preliminary negotiations were, through general treaty provision, to be made the equivalent of a final grant.

Apparently the British Foreign Office had fully realized that the Turkish Petroleum Company Concession as well as the French contract would be influenced by this Article, as Craigie proceeded to [Page 1008] read a further section from the Foreign Office communication to the general effect that before the war the negotiations of the Turkish Petroleum Company had reached a stage when the concession would have been promptly ratified if war had not intervened; that the British Foreign Office did not fully understand this Government’s position in attempting to contest this concession, as it had not advanced the claim that any superior prior rights existed.

I remarked that if the position were taken that rights almost acquired before the war should be confirmed, the Chester negotiations of 1910–1911 seemed to be on all fours with the Turkish Petroleum Company’s claim. Undoubtedly the former concession would have been granted in 1911 if the Italian War had not interrupted negotiations. Passing to the general principle involved, I said that in its correspondence in regard to Mesopotamia this Government was not supporting any one American interest or group of interests but the principle of the Open Door, that if the Turkish Petroleum Company’s incomplete grant were recognized the indirect affect would be to close the Door in Mesopotamia to any future interests. (I gathered from what Craigie said that the British Foreign Office had gained the idea that there was some secret American interest which the Department was endeavoring to protect in fighting the Turkish Petroleum Company’s grant. In fact he asked me the direct question and I answered him as directly that our interest was not particular but general for a principle not on behalf of any specific company.)

Reverting to the discussion of Article 94, I remarked that it was possible that our present discussion was somewhat academic in view of the present situation of the question as I understood that this Article was to be substantially modified in the event that a satisfactory agreement between the Allied concessionaires and the Turks could be reached.

(3) The question of the Civil List property.

With regard to the Civil List property, Craigie remarked that this was really the property of the Turkish Crown and as such naturally passed to the successor estates. To this I replied that I had understood that in addition to Crown property there were certain estates administered by the Civil List which were the property of private individuals and that it might be possible to so phrase the article of the treaty to protect any bona fide private interests so administered by the Civil List.

(4) Rights acquired in detached territories.

In commenting upon the Department’s statement that it could not admit the impairment of any rights acquired by American [Page 1009] nationals in good faith in these territories, Mr. Craigie read from his memorandum the statement that it was not the intention of the British Government to make use of this Article to deprive American nationals of any rights validly acquired in these territories. He added that the clause had been inserted in order to protect the mandated territories against the claims of adventurers who had secured, under very questionable circumstances, rights and concessions in these territories at a time when Allied nationals, being at war with Turkey, were unable to compete.

(5) Possible American interest in German, Austrian, Hungarian or Bulgarian concessions in Turkey.

Mr. Craigie remarked that the British Government did not know of any such American interest but that he would call attention to the fact that this Article in the Lausanne Treaty was identical with articles covering the same subject matter in the treaties with the Central Powers. He said, however, that the question of protecting American interests in such concessions might be a matter to be worked out through the drafting of this Article.

(6) Provision regarding the denunciation of treaties inconsistent with the Lausanne Treaty.

I pointed out that under Article 115 of the Lausanne Treaty the Turks might endeavor to claim that they were obligated to the Allies to denounce our Treaty of 1830 and protocol of 187414 and in this way make more difficult future American negotiations with Turkey for the revision of these treaties. Such negotiations would naturally be predicated upon the position that these treaties were still binding obligations of the Turkish Government.

In concluding the consideration of the memorandum I said to Mr. Craigie that many of the questions which he had raised were now the subject of the discussions at Lausanne, that our telegrams gave ground for the hope that the frank and cordial interchange of views which were there in progress would result in a satisfactory adjustment of many of the questions we had been discussing, at least as between the American and Allied representatives.

I attach a memorandum15 prepared by Mr. Dwight commenting on this conversation and giving the benefit of his direct acquaintance with the Lausanne negotiations.

A[llen] W. D[ulles]
  1. Ante, p. 972.
  2. See telegram no. 244, Feb. 7, from the Special Mission at Lausanne, p. 968.
  3. Malloy, Treaties, 1776–1909, vol. ii, pp. 1318 and 1344.
  4. Not printed.