711.674/36: Telegram

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


340. Now that the claims issue is out of the way49 I offer the following comments and recommendations regarding naturalization negotiations.50

I recommend the postponement of these negotiations. In order that they be successful there must be careful preliminary explorations. Moreover, the initiation and pendency of the naturalization negotiations might create further difficulties and delays in the resumption of diplomatic relations and in the ratification of the treaties.
The best course in my opinion is to begin at once with the greatest caution to develop as far as possible the attitude of the existing government of Turkey regarding the treatment of naturalized Americans of Ottoman origin in Turkey, paying special attention to existing legislation and that which may be passed. We should learn more definitely by such exploration why the Turks object to having naturalized Americans of Ottoman origin return to Turkey and also what the attitude of the Turks is with respect to negotiating a naturalization treaty …
Since the collapse of the Greek forces at Smyrna, we have handled questions regarding naturalized Americans of Ottoman origin as they have arisen, but under constantly changing conditions and with varying degrees of success. The difficulty of solving these problems has steadily increased. It was thought best during the process of the claims negotiations not to press questions regarding naturalization except when it was absolutely necessary. It would be my idea in making the suggested exploration to take up individual cases with a view to reaching a satisfactory adjustment in each case without bringing the matter to an issue. At the same time we would obtain all the information possible on the subject of naturalization.
In the present stage of the development of the Turkish Government there is no doubt that it would be impossible to negotiate [Page 1197] a satisfactory treaty on naturalization without patience and persistency, and it would take considerable time. It took two and a half months to reach an agreement on claims although negotiations were expedited as much as possible and the Turkish delegates showed the greatest good will in finding a mutually satisfactory solution. Yet this matter was simple compared to that of negotiating a treaty on naturalization.
If a convention on naturalization was being negotiated while the treaty of August 6 was under consideration in the Senate, there is no doubt that questions which would come up with respect to naturalized citizens might readily be deemed reason for a delay in consenting to the treaty, until the completion of the convention on naturalization. Any objections raised in the Senate regarding the treatment of naturalized Americans can be met … by referring to the statement which Ismet Pasha made at Lausanne as to the desire to negotiate a treaty on naturalization at some future time and to the success which we have had in handling cases and which I hope to achieve in the future.
In the procedure which I propose it is possible that the good will of the Turkish Government might be developed, so that it would give due consideration to the question of naturalization and to the negotiation of a treaty on the subject. The Turks seem at present unreasonably hostile toward all questions concerning naturalized citizens of Ottoman origin. There were certain objections on the part of the Government of the former Ottoman Empire to recognizing naturalized Americans living under Turkish authority which should not and do not exist with the form of government which Turkey now has. This refers especially to the rights which citizens had under the regime of capitulations.… Another thing which makes the Turks just now unreasonably hostile to these former Armenian and Greek subjects of Turkey is their propaganda in America. Furthermore the Turks are afraid that the business of the country might again be monopolized by these returning Armenians and Greeks to the exclusion of the Turks.
The energies of the present Turkish Government, or any other government which may replace it, are going to be absorbed by domestic matters. Its leaders will doubtless limit their commitments and activities in foreign affairs to the minimum which they consider necessary, in order to regularize their relations with foreign countries and assure their freedom from any outside interference. Evidently they wish for the friendship of all nations, especially of the United States; but, in my opinion, they are not prepared to make serious sacrifices for the purpose of gaining such friendship. They [Page 1198] are so far from considering the consent of foreign countries to the abolition of capitulations as a concession, that they would look upon the denial of such consent as distinctly a grievance. I do not now see any argument which would be effective in influencing the Turks to negotiate a convention on naturalization. I hope, however, while exploring the question, that I will be able to deal with individual cases satisfactorily as they arise, and even to effect a modus vivendi, pending the negotiation of a regular convention.
  1. For notes regarding the settlement of claims, exchanged at Constantinople Dec. 24, 1923, See pp. 11901191.
  2. On Oct. 24, 1923, the High Commissioner had been granted full powers to negotiate a naturalization convention with Turkey; see telegram no. 200, Oct. 27, p. 1179.