467.11/770: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Turkey (Skinner)

5. Your No. 13, March 11, noon, and Nielsen’s20 letter of March 2, 1934.21 The two Governments are apparently agreed upon the so-called “first phase of procedure”. However, with respect to the “second phase of procedure”, this Government is not prepared to agree to such a change of the Claims Agreement as embodied in the notes of December 24, 1923, and February 17, 1927, as is implied by the Turkish statement that “the Committee would pronounce only upon claims of American citizens whose nationality is not contested and who have suffered loss in Turkey”. In the first place, as suggested by Nielsen, there may be many questions of contested nationality not involving persons who were former Ottoman subjects, and, second, there is nothing in the above-mentioned agreement which limits the claims to be considered to those based upon losses sustained “in Turkey”. The Department suggests that either of two lines of procedure might be followed:

The American representatives could proceed with the discussions under the “first phase of procedure” until some question arises making it necessary for this Government to announce its position with respect to those claims not included in “claims of American citizens whose nationality is not contested and who have suffered loss in Turkey”, or
You could now address a note to the Foreign Office, and, referring to its note quoted in your No. 13 of March 11, noon, inquire (a) whether by the statement as to nationality the Turkish Government means to exclude only those cases of naturalized citizens of Ottoman origin, and (b) why it thinks consideration by the committee must be limited to losses suffered in Turkey, in view of the fact that the Claims Agreement makes no reference to such a geographical limitation upon the claims. The reply to these inquiries would probably suggest the next step to be taken regarding these questions.

The Department leaves to you and Nielsen decision as to which, if either, of these procedures should be followed, including the exact [Page 913]phraseology of the note, if one is sent, or whether some other method is preferable, but desires to be advised of the decision reached.

General considerations: The terms of the Claims Agreement make it obvious that the two Governments intended that all claims matters should be referred to the Committee for the determining of solutions. The Department is very desirous that the functions and responsibilities of the Committee in these respects should not be curtailed.

As regards the ex-Ottoman claims, it would seem that if the Turkish Government considers that it has a valid defense on the ground of nationality, it should be willing to have the matter passed upon by the Committee, as was done by the Mixed Arbitral Tribunals which are understood to have passed upon claims of naturalized former Ottoman nationals. See Embassy’s despatch No. 526 of August 19, 1933.22 It is difficult to understand why the Turkish Government should be unwilling to place equal confidence in the present Committee. The position of the Turkish Government in reality amounts to an ex-parte determination of a fundamental principle which by the Agreement is left to the Committee for consideration.

As regards the last paragraph of your No. 13 of March 11, noon, it will be obvious that any amount agreed upon as a lump sum settlement will be less or greater, depending upon whether claims of naturalized citizens of Ottoman origin are included in the calculations. If they are not so included, this should be definitely shown and the reasons stated, since otherwise difficulties will arise in connection with distribution.

The Department is relying upon you and Nielsen to safeguard this situation when the occasion arises.

The Department desires a definite statement from Nielsen as to the minimum clerical assistance needed, and a statement from you as to the extent to which such assistance may be supplied by the Embassy and the Consulate General, bearing in mind the desire to avoid the employment of outside personnel, if possible. Bills for an appropriation for expenses have been introduced in both Houses of Congress.

  1. Fred K. Nielsen was given his commission as American Commissioner on the Turkish-American Claims Commission with covering letter dated February 13, 1934 (467.11//755d).
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.