740.0011 European War 1939/6280: Telegram

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

179. 1. At an early hour this morning, the Turkish Ministry for Foreign Affairs was notified by the Greek Ambassador of the Italian ultimatum and its rejection by the Greek Government. It is understood that a meeting of the Cabinet is being held this afternoon.

2. In conversation this afternoon, my Greek colleague recalled that Turkey is under no direct obligation to give military support to Greece except in the event of an attack by Bulgaria. Her obligations to Great Britain (under articles II and III of the treaty of October 19, 1939)35 would apply upon Great Britain’s acting in fulfillment of the guarantee to which Greece has already appealed; but the nature of the assistance to be given would be determined upon consultation in the light of the existing situation. He intimated, as his personal opinion, that it might be more advantageous, at any rate for the time being, if Turkey were to remain neutral and on guard against possible Bulgarian attack in Thrace.

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3. The first impression of popular reaction here seems to be a rather fatalistic acceptance of the belief that Turkey must soon fight for her existence.

  1. League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cc, p. 167.