711.672/60: Telegram

The Special Mission at Lausanne to the Secretary of State


374. Our telegram 358 of May 23.66 The Turkish expert’s confirmation of our memorandum giving our interview of May 23 as we understood it was incomplete. The following paragraph gives his modification of his remarks reported in the paragraph marked (2) in our telegram 357 of May 23:

The Turkish delegation takes the position that it cannot envisage the revision of the present treaties as they are capitulatory in character to some extent. The Turkish delegation contemplates building a new series of treaties based on international law.

During these last critical days we have purposely postponed a discussion, as obviously on the eve of a breakdown of the conference we would not wish to commit ourselves to negotiations. Indeed, I suggested as much to Ismet.

I authorized Dolbeare to see Cherif Bey this afternoon in view of the agreement67 which I reported in our telegram 372 of May 26.66 Dolbeare made an oral statement to the following effect:

The American Government is unable to accept the theory that a treaty can be abrogated by one party.
When we refer to a “revision of treaties” we contemplate negotiating a new treaty or treaties to replace that of 1830.68
Treaty relationships would not be interrupted.
We did not contemplate making the new treaty on the basis of the old one.

Cherif Bey said that no question had been raised as to the enduring character of treaties. By “revision” he had understood “modification”. It was the understanding of the Turkish delegation that the task contemplated was the negotiation of a new treaty not the modification of the present treaty.

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He proposed the following amendment to his first sentence as representing the view of the Turkish delegation: Cherif Bey stated that it was not the object of the meeting to discuss revising or changing the present treaties.

Our feeling is that the attitude of the American delegation has been clearly stated and accepted in principle and that in these unofficial preliminary discussions it is useless to have any further argument over words.

The Turks agree that the United States shall receive everything that the Allies receive. Our contention as to the enduring character of the present treaties is not disputed by the Turks. I hope that now we can proceed to draw up the necessary preliminary articles and have the whole problem disposed of in a short time.

The Turks did not wish to mention claims in the communiqué. On this subject Dolbeare made a written statement to the following effect:

I think it desirable that no room be left for doubt that your consent in principle is necessary on the question of claims which is one of the outstanding issues. A satisfactory method of dealing with this matter would be to refer to a mixed commission all pertinent questions of law and fact.

It has been difficult to agree on the wording of a communiqué. It has therefore been decided that each delegation will issue a separate communiqué Monday night. Our statement, which will follow closely the lines of that suggested in my telegram 357 of May 23, seventh paragraph, will read as follows:69

“Informal conversations have been proceeding between Mr. Grew and Ismet Pasha and the experts of the American and the Turkish delegations with a view to finding a suitable basis upon which formal negotiations for the revision of treaties between the United States and Turkey could be commenced with the prospect of a satisfactory result. Specifically it is the desire of the two delegations to replace the treaty of 1830 by new treaties.

“It is envisaged that the press reports [this procedure,] while preparing the way for the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries, would entail the conclusion of instruments regulating among other subjects the commerce between the two countries as well as the situation of the nationals of one country in the territory of the other.

“These informal conversations are progressing favorably and have furnished ground for the belief that formal negotiations can be commenced at an early date.”

Communiqué repeated to Constantinople.

  1. Not printed.
  2. i. e., agreement between the Greek and the Turkish delegates regarding reparations, over which an acute controversy had developed which threatened to break up the conference.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Malloy, Treaties, 1776–1909, vol. ii, p. 1318.
  5. Remainder of telegram not paraphrased.