The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State

No. 1544

Sir: I have the honor to enclose in translation the answer of the Soviet Government19 to the Turkish note asking for a revision of the Straits Convention. This note was published in the Moscow Izvestiya No. 92 (5949) of April 18, 1936.

As was to be expected, the Soviet reply expressed complete approval of the action of the Turkish Government, sympathy with the motives which impelled it, and readiness to participate in any negotiations intended “to bring the regime of the Straits into accord with the interests of the security of Turkey and of peace and quiet in that area”.

The Soviet Government has always advocated the fortification of the Straits by Turkey. At the time of the Lausanne Conference, the Soviet Government took a stand on this question even more intransigent than that of Turkey herself.20 The Soviet Government has subsequently let it be understood that its failure to ratify the Lausanne Convention was the result of its disapproval of the clauses forbidding the fortification of the Straits.

The enclosed note was backed by editorials* in the two leading Moscow newspapers, giving unqualified support to the Turkish position. Inasmuch as official Moscow circles are unable to discuss any topic of foreign affairs without reference to Germany, much was said in these editorials about the danger of war and the aggressive plans of certain nations, but little was said which sheds any new light on the policies of the Soviet Union toward Turkey and the question of the Straits.

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Rumors have been current in Moscow to the effect that the relations between Moscow and Turkey are not now so intimate as they have been. There is a feeling that increasing antagonism between England and Italy will lead England to seek close friendship with Turkey, and that Turkey will become less dependent on the Soviet Union.

The Russian-Turkish friendship has been a mariage de convenance and there is no reason to suppose that it will long outlive the practical advantages which have given rise to it. It is still, however, mutually advantageous.

Respectfully yours,

William C. Bullitt
  1. Not reprinted.
  2. See British Cmd. 1814, Turkey No. 1 (1923): Lausanne Conference on Near Eastern Affairs, 1922–1923, Records of Proceedings and Draft Terms of Peace, pp. 129, 160, 236–240, 252.
  3. Moscow Pravda No. 104, April 14, 1936, and Moscow Izvestiya No. 88 of April 14, 1936. [Footnote in the original.]