The Secretary of State to Senator William E. Borah
My Dear Senator: I have noted in the Congressional Record of December 2218 a resolution submitted by Senator King (S. Res. 306) and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. This resolution is in certain respects similar to the resolution introduced by Senator King on June 3, 1924 (Congressional Record of June 3, 1924, pages 10292 ff)19 concerning which my predecessor addressed a letter to Senator Lodge under date of June 7, 1924. I enclose a copy of this letter for your convenient reference.20 At the risk of some repetition, however, I venture to set forth as of possible use to the Committee on Foreign Relations brief comments on each of the questions raised by Senator King in his latest resolution:
(A) What reasons led to the abandonment of the conditions laid down by the Secretary of State, October 30, 1922, as conditions precedent to the negotiation of a treaty with Turkey and to the disregard of the assurances contained in the statement of President Harding under date of November 8, 1922.
I enclose herewith a copy of a press statement of October 31, 1922 containing the Aide Memoire communicated to the British, French and Italian Governments under date of October 30, 1922.21 This Aide Memoire was intended as a notice to the Governments to which it was addressed that the United States, while neither at war with Turkey nor a party to the Armistice of 1918 with Turkey, was nevertheless interested in the peace settlement about to be negotiated at Lausanne. The Aide Memoire specifically defined the scope of this American interest under seven points. These points were not considered as conditions precedent to the negotiation of a Treaty between the United States and Turkey since informal conversations between the American and Turkish Delegations to ascertain whether the bases upon which to conclude a treaty could be found did not begin until May 16, 192322 and full powers to conclude such a treaty were not given by the United States until May 29, 1923.23 As a matter of fact, however, substantial guarantees were obtained from the Turkish Government with respect to these seven points as will be disclosed by a careful study of the American-Turkish Treaty of August 6, 1923 and the Allied-Turkish Treaty of July 24, 1923.[Page 987]
I am also enclosing a copy of the complete text of a letter of the President’s Secretary to Mr. James W. Gerard under date of November 10, 1922. The concluding sentence of this letter is quoted by Senator King in the third paragraph of the preamble of his resolution and it is apparently referred to in the body of the resolution as “the statement of President Harding” and again as “the position taken by President Harding”. The position taken by the American Delegation at Lausanne with respect to the Armenian question is accurately set forth in the letter of the President’s Secretary if the full text of this letter is taken into consideration.
(B) What, if any, action was taken by the State Department in procuring, preserving, or protecting the Chester oil concessions.
No action was taken by the Department of State to procure, protect or preserve the Chester Concession granted on April 9, 1923.24
The negotiations for the Chester Concession were carried on with the appropriate Turkish authorities at Angora by Major K. E. Clayton-Kennedy, a Canadian, and by Mr. A. T. Chester. These negotiations began about the middle of September, 1922. On April 9, 1923 the Concession was voted by the Grand National Assembly. It is the understanding of the Department that on December 18, 1923 the Chester Concession was annulled by the Turkish Ministry of Public Works for failure on the part of the Ottoman-American Development Company to carry out its provisions.
(C) What agreement, connection, or understanding existed or exists between said Chester group and the Standard Oil Co. or any of its subsidiaries, and what agreement or understanding, if any, existed or exists between the State Department and the Standard Oil Co., and what correspondence passed between them which in any manner related to the Lausanne treaty or Turkey, or oil lands or oil concessions in Mosul or Armenia or any territory claimed by Turkey.
The Department of State is not aware that any agreement, connection, or understanding existed or exists between the Chester group and the Standard Oil Company or any of its subsidiaries. No agreement or understanding existed or exists between the Department of State and the Standard Oil Company or any of its subsidiaries with respect to the Chester Concession.
It may be added, as of possible interest in this connection, that, in the course of the protracted exchange of views with respect to economic rights in mandated territories which took place between the American and British Governments in 1920–23, the question of the alleged prior rights of the Turkish Petroleum Company (a British limited liability company established in 1912) received specific treatment. [Page 988] The Department of State maintained the view that no such rights existed and that the principle of the Open Door should be applied, i. e., in this connection, that there should be equality of opportunity in the matter of the granting of concessions for the development and exploitation of the natural resources of mandated territories. The correspondence exchanged on this subject between the two Governments has already been published, i. e. in a “White Paper” issued by the British Government (Cmd. 1226, miscellaneous No. 10, 1921) and in Senate Document No. 97, 68th Congress (First Session), pages 47–57. Appropriate reference to the views expressed in this correspondence was made by the American Delegation during the Lausanne Conference.
(D) What action, if any, was taken by the State Department in organizing or reorganizing the Ottoman Development Co. or any other company to take over and hold any rights obtained under any concession or otherwise, or what action was taken by said department in the control of the stock or the selection of any officers of said company.
No action was taken by the Department in organizing or reorganizing the Ottoman-American Development Company or any subsidiary or successor of that company, or in selecting the officers of the company or in deciding as to the control of the stock.
(E) What instructions, if any, were given by the State Department to the representatives of the United States at the Lausanne conference in connection with said Chester oil concessions or said Ottoman Development Co., and what correspondence was had between the State Department and said representatives concerning said oil concessions.
During the first part of the Lausanne Conference no communications passed between the Department of State and the American Delegation concerning the Chester Concession.
During the second part of the Conference, some five or six telegrams were exchanged between Washington and Lausanne solely to give information concerning the confusion in the Company’s affairs which was becoming evident at the time. The Delegation reported four informal conversations with the French plenipotentiary concerning the French claim to prior rights to a concession for the construction of the Samsoun-Sivas railroad and of the port of Samsoun which formed part of the Chester Concession. These conversations were of an inconclusive character.
(F) Whether it is a fact that the American representatives at the Lausanne Conference supported the Allies in the Lausanne conference prior to the ratification of the Chester concession, April 10, 1923, or thereafter supported the position of the Turkish representatives as against the Allies in favor of the abrogation of capitulations and the abandonment of the conditions announced by the Secretary of State as essential terms of any treaty with Turkey.
The Allies had agreed in principle to the abrogation of the Capitulations during the first part of the Lausanne Conference (November 20, 1922–February 4, 1923). An article to this effect is to be found in the Allied draft of the Treaty dated January 31, 1923 at least two months prior to the granting of the Chester concession.
The attitude of the American Delegation towards the Allies and the Turks underwent no change throughout the entire conference. This attitude was the same between April 23, 1923 and August 6, 1923 as between November 20, 1922 and February 4, 1923.
(G) Whether it is a fact that a number of the members of the American delegation were formerly connected with certain oil interests, or were appointed on the American delegation at the instance of certain oil interests, and who since have resumed their connections with said interests, and also whether some of the members of the American delegation at Lausanne were the representatives of certain oil and tobacco interests.
No member of the American Delegation at Lausanne was connected directly or indirectly as a representative or otherwise with any oil or tobacco interest before the Conference, during the Conference or subsequent to the Conference. Of the fourteen persons who participated in the work of the American Delegation during both parts of the Conference ten are still in the employ of the United States Government, three of the remaining four have since left Government employ and are engaged in literary or journalistic work. The fourth had been in the Government service, as interpreter and Consul, and was employed temporarily by the Department of State during the first part of the Conference. At present he is the representative in Turkey of an American exporting and importing concern.
(H) What causes led to the abandonment by American representatives at the Lausanne conference of the position theretofore taken by the State Department and by President Harding, and what reasons led to the signing by the American representatives of the Lausanne treaty.
I have already dealt with Senator King’s interpretation of the Aide Memoire of October 30, 1922 and of the letter of the President’s Secretary to Mr. Gerard of November 10, 1922.
The United States negotiated and signed a Treaty with Turkey at Lausanne on August 6, 1923 in order that American activities in Turkey might not be placed in a less advantageous position than the activities of the nationals of the countries which had concluded a Treaty with Turkey on July 24, 1923.
(I) What discussions ensued at the Lausanne conference concerning the Chester concessions or the Ottoman Development Co., and what notes or other communications were exchanged between the State Department [Page 990] and the representatives of the United States at said conference or between the representatives of the United States and the representatives of the Turkish Government concerning said concession; also what conversations occurred between the representatives of the Turkish Government and the United States respecting said treaty, and particularly with reference to said Chester concessions or any other concessions with respect to oil or railroads within Turkish territory.
No communications, oral or written, passed between the American and Turkish Delegations at Lausanne concerning the Chester Concession.
During the second part of the conference there were on four occasions, as previously stated, informal conversations between the American and French Delegations as to the French claim of prior rights to a part of the Chester Concession.
The principle of the Open Door and the point of view of the United States with respect to the alleged concession of the Turkish Petroleum Company were brought to the attention of both the British and Turkish Delegations.
(J) Whether it is a fact that the principal proponent and advocate of the Lausanne treaty is the Standard Oil Co., and whether it has sought or seeks concessions from Turkey for the exploitation of oil in the Provinces allotted to Armenia by the arbitration of the President of the United States.
The Standard Oil Company is no more entitled to be considered the principal advocate of the American-Turkish Treaty than is the American Board of Commissioners for the Foreign Missions or the Near East Colleges or any other American or group of Americans engaged in activity of one sort or another in Turkey.
The Department of State has no knowledge of any attempt on the part of the Standard Oil Company to secure from the Turkish Government a concession for the exploitation of oil in any territory under Turkish control.
(K) Whether it is a fact that Kemal Pasha has recently directed that all the residents of Turkey and those having business or other connections with Turkey shall urge the Senate of the United States to ratify the Lausanne treaty.
The Department of State knows of no effort on the part of the President of the Turkish Republic to influence the Senate of the United States directly or indirectly concerning the American-Turkish Treaty.
If there is any additional information desired by you or by the Committee on Foreign Relations, I shall be happy to endeavor to meet your wishes.
I am [etc.]
- Vol. lxviii, pt. 1, p. 910 (bound edition).↩
- Vol. lxv, pt. 10, p. 10292 (bound edition).↩
- Foreign Relations, 1924, vol. ii, p. 721.↩
- Press statement not printed; but see telegram No. 344, Oct. 27, 1922, to the Ambassador in France, ibid., 1923, vol. ii, p. 884.↩
- See telegram No. 340, May 17, 1923, from the Special Mission at Lausanne, ibid., p. 1061.↩
- See telegram No. 155, May 31, 1923, to the Special Mission at Lausanne. ibid., p. 1072.↩
- See ibid., 1922, vol. ii, pp. 966 ff.; and ibid., 1923, vol. ii, pp. 1198 ff.↩