740.0011 European War 1939/3810: Telegram

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

86. For the Secretary and Under Secretary. Amplifying my next previous telegram.32

It appears that although the British and French Ambassadors had been led to expect that the Turkish Government would promptly give its undertaking to adopt the measures (short of a declaration of war) indicated in my telegram of 2 days ago33 they were informed yesterday by the Minister for Foreign Affairs that this Government had under the circumstances decided provisionally not to take any action upon the requests of the Allies. The reason stated was that his Government had reason to believe that such action would involve it in hostilities with the Soviet Union and that the obligation under article II of the Tripartite Treaty of October 19 was therefore nullified by the second protocol thereto.
The Minister said in explanation that upon Italy’s declaration of war the Turkish Ambassador in Moscow had mentioned to the Minister for Foreign Affairs that his Government contemplated mobilization whereupon the latter appeared displeased but made no comment. After the Allied démarche the Ambassador under instructions advised the Soviet Foreign Minister thereof in accordance with the Russo-Turkish Protocol of 1929 and on that occasion Molotov took a very menacing tone. There were no formal representations, however, and the question was not raised by the Soviet Embassy here.
The only concession which the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs would make to the importunities of the Allied Ambassadors was that by way of allaying the impression of Turkish indifference to the situation he would make public reference to the fact that the Turkish Army is calling up several classes of reserves. The Minister presented for the approval of the Ambassadors the draft of a proposed public statement to the effect that in full agreement with its Allies the Government had decided not to act at this time under the [Page 477] Tripartite Treaty; but they refused to permit such an assertion and the question of the nature of the statement to be made is now under consideration.
When taxed with resorting to the protocol as a mere subterfuge to evade the obligations of the alliance and reminded that he had all along insisted that the Soviet Government was neither able nor willing to undertake any serious military involvement, the Minister maintained that since the Finnish campaign the Red Army had considerably increased its fighting capacity and that the Kremlin had become much bolder in its policy towards the war. But he appears to have admitted that in any case this Government did not feel able to commit itself in the present military and political situation in Europe to action which would almost necessarily draw it into the war.

Repeated to Moscow, Rome.

  1. Telegram No. 85, June 14, 1 p.m.; not printed.
  2. Telegram No. 77, June 12, 1 p.m.; not printed.