711.679 Residence and Establishment/69: Telegram

The Ambassador in Turkey (Grew) to the Acting Secretary of State


24. Department’s No. 320, February 26.5 (1) On July 6 the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs informed me that he had succeeded finally in persuading his Cabinet colleagues to accept what he considered a mutually fair solution respecting the text of the letter which I am to address to him upon signature of the convention of establishment and residence between the United States and Turkey. He says this solution consists of leaving the points of controversy between the two countries in abeyance. Although not mentioned specifically in our conversation, these points obviously are the theoretical continuation in force of the 1830 treaty6 and the date for the abolition of the capitulations. The Foreign Minister pointed out that the inclusion of the words “since the establishment of the Republic” in the first sentence of the letter tended to prejudice the Turkish thesis adversely, since the phrase involved the implication of a definite date. Therefore, he proposed the phrase be omitted, so that the first sentence [Page 1039] would be as follows: “The Government of the United States of America is fully alive to the changes which have taken place in Turkey”.

This new phraseology, the Minister maintained, would leave the position of the two parties completely unprejudiced insofar as the dates were concerned; and he pointed out furthermore that in any case the letter is not legally binding but merely expresses the United States Government’s “disposition”. The other modifications proposed by him, including omitting the final sentence, do not seem to alter materially the sense of the original text. Tevfik Rüştu Bey averred that his present proposal represented a very material concession in departing from the original position taken by the Turkish delegation and he had only with difficulty and for the express purpose of facilitating the United States Senate’s ratification of the treaty obtained this concession from his colleagues.

(2) The modified text of the letter which the Foreign Minister proposed reads as follows:7

“The Government of the United States of America is fully alive to the changes which have taken place in Turkey. Its sole desire is that the development of the relations between the two countries should proceed upon basis of these changed conditions. It was with such considerations in mind that the Government of the United States of America negotiated the exchange of notes of February 17, 19278 and the treaty of Commerce and Navigation of October 1, 1929;9 it is on this same basis that it has negotiated the Treaty of Residence and Establishment which its representative is signing today and that it is always ready to negotiate treaties of arbitration and conciliation.”

(3) If the foregoing text of the letter should be acceptable to the Department, the Foreign Minister proposed initialing of the treaty text approved by the Department (“Annex A” to instruction No. 320, February 26, but using the preamble in “Annex B”10) and signature at the same time of an exchange of notes by which the treaty provisions would be given immediate effect in the form of a modus vivendi which would last 6 months, a year, or for so long as may be required to bridge the interval before ratification of the treaty. The actual signing of the treaty and of the letter, which then would become purely a pro forma act, could take place at the United States Government’s entire convenience. He assures me that the act of initialing will receive no publicity whatever.

(4) The Department stated in its 7, November 26, 1930, 6 p.m.,11 that it “would prefer” including in the letter the phrase “since the establishment [Page 1040] of the Republic”, since the Turks might otherwise assume the implication that among the changes to which the United States is “fully alive” in this connection is the abolition of the capitulations in 1914.12 I repeat that the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs stated definitely in our recent conversation that he interpreted the newly proposed phraseology to leave in abeyance the points of difference between the two countries. In other words, each party is free, according to the assurance given me by the Foreign Minister, to interpret the first sentence as it sees fit.

(5) The Foreign Minister’s proposed drawing up of a modus vivendi presumably would entail reproducing therein the entire treaty. I am unable to perceive either the necessity or the propriety of such an arrangement, in view of the language in the exchange of notes dated February 17, 1927, paragraph C, sub-paragraph 3.13 Possibly the Turks may, upon expiration of the Allied establishment convention of 1923,14 seek to invoke the concluding portion of paragraph B in the same notes as justification for claiming the impairment of the effectiveness of paragraph C, sub-paragraph 3, at least insofar as “the essential provisions of the Turkish-American treaty” signed August 6, 1923,15 are concerned. However, applying the concluding portion of paragraph B seems to be clearly contingent upon the ratification prior to June 1, 1928, of the Treaty of August 6, 1923.

(6) Since there are now only 3 months until the establishment treaty normally would be signed, and since its initialing presumably cannot take place for another month (a Turkish text having to be prepared and verified), would the Department be disposed, if the Turks are agreeable to this procedure, to authorize me to sign the establishment treaty within the next 6 weeks or 2 months? Please instruct.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Treaty of May 7, 1830, Miller, Treaties, vol. 3, p. 541.
  3. Quotation not paraphrased.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1927, vol. iii, pp. 765 ff.
  5. See ibid, 1929, vol. iii, pp. 803 ff.
  6. None printed.
  7. Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. iii, p. 872.
  8. See Foreign Relations, 1914, pp. 1090 ff.
  9. Apparently reference is to paragraph 3, instead of “paragraph C, sub-paragraph 3.” See ibid., 1927, vol. iii, p. 797.
  10. Signed at Lausanne, July 24, 1923; League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. xxviii, p. 151.
  11. General Treaty, Foreign Relations, 1923, vol. ii, p. 1153.