The Turkish Counter Proposal for a Lump Sum Settlement of American Claims Against Turkey11


The Turkish Delegation has carefully studied the list furnished by way of information by Mr. Shaw at the meeting of August 15, 1933.

This list of 96 claims, according to the American Delegates, comprises cases filed by native American citizens of the United States, or by persons naturalized as Americans, without ever having had Turkish nationality. Furthermore, these are claims supported by convincing proof and examined by the American Department of State.

A second list of 280 cases filed by claimants of the same category is to follow. These cases are at present being examined by the competent authorities of the Department of State, who are studying more [Page 904]closely the probative value of the evidence submitted by the interested parties.

Finally, a third list of 1504 petitions relates exclusively to the claims presented by naturalized Americans, formerly Turkish nationals.

The three above-mentioned lists comprise therefore 1880 cases representing, according to the claims of the interested parties, a grand total of 55 millions of dollars.

To cut short all discussion and to spare both parties the trouble of a detailed examination of individual claims which would be apt to take a considerable period of time, and having in mind the financial difficulties of Turkey, the American Delegation proposes to reach an understanding upon the basis of the payment by Turkey of a lump sum of five million dollars corresponding approximately to ten per cent of the total claimed by the interested parties.

The Turkish Delegation shares the view that it would be preferable to avoid the examination of individual cases and that the payment by Turkey of a lump sum in reasonable instalments could, in principle, constitute the basis of a satisfactory agreement.

While desiring to avoid the detailed study of each case, the Turkish Delegation thought it necessary to have an idea of the nature of the claims, as well as of the status of the claimants.

The American Delegation had affirmed that the 96 petitions in the first list all fulfilled two essential conditions, namely:

That they emanated from citizens of American origin, or from naturalized Americans who had never had Turkish nationality.
That they were supported by convincing proofs) based upon documentary evidence duly verified.

A summary examination of this first list has nevertheless enabled the Turkish Delegation to show that these two conditions were not always fulfilled, which fact gives rise to certain observations of which the principal may thus be summarized:

Certain claimants are Turkish nationals. For example, there can be cited the case of Mr. Basil C. Coumoulis (No. 9 of the list “forced abandonment”). This man has already personally presented to the Mixed Commission for the Exchange of Populations a request to be recognized as a beneficiary under Declaration 9 annexed to the Lausanne Treaty of Peace of July 24, 1923,13 by claiming the status of a Turkish national.
A great number of the claimants have themselves declared that they do not possess, or possess only in part, any documentary evidence. The cases under Nos. 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25 and 29 of the list “requisition and confiscation” furnish examples.
The claims are based upon one-sided estimates by the interested parties. These estimates are often far-fetched. For instance an ordinary mill and 400 tons of grain at Igdir, a small town situated [Page 905]in a poor region, are valued at $442,000 (case No. 4, list “miscellaneous”), and a house situated at Igdir at $58,500!
Likewise a convincing example is furnished by the case of Mr. Coumoulis who in his petition addressed to the Mixed Commission asked for only about $2,600 for the same properties as those mentioned in the list, while his present claim is for $26,100. The claim submitted by the aforesaid through the American Government is therefore at least ten times too high.

Leaving out of consideration the questions of principle relating to the personal status of the claimants and the nature of the claims, as well as all other questions of principle which remain subject to reservation, a simple summary examination of the first list makes it possible to establish that the claims communicated to the Commission are based upon one-sided ideas of the interested parties, and that the sums indicated are so exaggerated that even taking the ten percent of the total amount one would still be far above reality.

It seems evident that if a careful examination were made of the claims, keeping in mind the questions of principle for which reservation has been made, the total of the claims would unquestionably be reduced to a very low figure.

In view of the preceding and the present financial difficulties of Turkey, the conclusion is arrived at that it is necessary to reduce the amount to be paid to more just proportions.

It being in the interest of both parties and of the claimants themselves to find a solution of this question of claims without entering into discussions of principle and the examinations of individual cases, which would probably delay for a long time the awaited solution, the Turkish Delegation is of the opinion that the payment by Turkey of a lump sum of $500,000 spread over ten annual instalments would constitute a reasonable and acceptable solution for both parties.

  1. Transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Turkey in his despatch No. 70, December 15, 1933; received December 29.
  2. File translation revised by the editors.
  3. Great Britain, Treaty Series No. 16 (1923).