767.68119 F/18: Telegram

The Special Mission at Lausanne to the Secretary of State

373. My 372, May 26, 7 p.m.16 The private meeting of May 25 [26] was restricted to the chiefs of the six Allied delegations and Ismet, Venizelos and myself.

Pellé presiding reviewed the situation, and designs of [described] the Karagatch proposal17 as a personal and unofficial suggestion. Rumbold expressed his opinion that the Lausanne representatives of Greece and Turkey would reach an agreement if their respective Governments allowed them. He urged the Turks to accept the solution suggested since a delay endangered peace. Montagna pointed out the unimportance of the dispute as compared to the issue of peace or war. He urged Ismet to accept promptly and besought Venizelos to give the time necessary. Pellé turned to me and I made the following statement: [Page 1011]

“As the representative of a government not directly involved in the problem for which you are seeking a solution, I can appropriately restrict my remarks to certain larger and more fundamental aspects of the present situation in the Near East which, in the stress of crisis, may not always receive adequate consideration.

The states most directly concerned in this afternoon’s deliberations have at least one characteristic in common. Both have undergone a prolonged period of struggle; both are at the threshold of eras of reconstruction; both are faced by problems of internal organization which demand the undivided services of a thoughtful and self-controlled statesmanship fully alive to its responsibilities and to its privileges. I cannot conceive that Turkey, determined apparently to reorganize its Government and the fabric of its society along modern and democratic lines, should put this task aside, certainly for many years perhaps indefinitely, in order to concentrate its energies on war. I cannot conceive that Greece, seeking to reconstitute its national life and faced by a refugee problem involving horror stricken [hundreds of] thousands, should deliberately abandon these primary duties to embark upon the uncertainties of a military campaign. In urging therefore that no effort be spared to find a peaceful solution of the present problem in earnestly recommending above all that no hasty and ill-considered move be made, I am appealing to nothing less than the patriotism of both Turks and Greeks. I appeal to you in the name of the future history of the states which you represent.”

The Japanese delegate refrained from detailed suggestions but urged prompt action to ensure an early peace.

The Serbian delegate defended the Greek thesis and entered a reserve in the name of his Government against the Karagatch proposal on the ground that the presence of the Turks on the European side of the Maritza would arouse suspicion and restlessness in the Balkans.

The Roumanians urged the Turks to accept something tangible like Karagatch rather than chase a shadow. He asked for a prompt decision in view of the anxiety in the Balkans and urged Venizelos not to act precipitately.

Ismet replied at length but vaguely indicating that he attached several conditions to the acceptance of the proposal. This he said was not the only question endangering peace. The Allies insisted on restricting the discussion to the present question and at length demanded a categorical reply. Ismet then admitted that he had a reply from Angora and that he accepted the following formula:

Greece recognizes its obligation to pay reparations and Turkey renounces the payment.
A rectification of the frontier to allot Karagatch and its environs to Turkey shall be made.

[Page 1012]

Venizelos recognized warmly the conciliatory attitude of Ismet and asked the Serbian delegate to withdraw his reserve. The Serbian representative replied that the objection offered by his Government would not be carried to a point which peace would be endangered, but he desired that his objection be made a matter of record. Venizelos agreed promptly to following minor demands:

Greece will discuss with the Allies any damages owed to Allied shareholders in Ottoman companies which suffered losses from “the acts of Greek troops and Turkey is discharged.
Reciprocal restitution of [by] Greece and Turkey of ships seized after Mudros armistice.

Before the meeting broke up both Ismet and Venizelos thanked General Pellé for his good offices and extended their thanks to all the Allied representatives and to myself.

I may add that the suspense in this meeting endured two hours and that, when the solution was finally reached, the relief felt by everyone manifested itself by a cordiality and warmth of expression that was highly dramatic.

We have been generally congratulated on the part we were able to play in aiding this settlement, and I am likewise making a point of congratulating my Allied colleagues on the happy result of their efforts.

Repeated to Constantinople and Athens.

  1. Not printed.
  2. That Turks agree to accept Karagatch from the Greeks in Lieu of indemnities.