761.74/63: Telegram

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

49. My 1720, December 13, 2 p.m.13 In the course of a conversation with the Turkish Ambassador14 last night, he told me that some time after Sobolov’s visit to Sofia15 he had called on Molotov16 and inquired of him as to the purpose of Sobolov’s visit. He said that Molotov had made the following statement:

“I sent Sobolov to Sofia because the Soviet Government had heard that Bulgaria considered itself menaced by Turkey and had asked Germany and Italy for a guarantee against Turkish aggression. My instructions to Sobolov were to offer the Bulgarian Government a mutual assistance pact. Sobolov reported to me that the Bulgarian Government did not consider itself menaced by Turkey and did not desire a mutual assistance pact with the Soviet Union.”

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The Ambassador continued that after Molotov had made the foregoing statement he had reminded him that under the Turkish-Soviet treaty of 1929,17 the Soviet Union could not properly enter into a mutual assistance pact with a country contiguous to Turkey without the latter’s consent. To this Molotov replied that Sobolov’s mission had been merely a sondage and that nothing had come of it. Molotov then said that it had come to his attention that conversations were being carried on between Turkey and Bulgaria and asked the Ambassador whether he was prepared to advise him as to the nature of these discussions. The Ambassador replied that he had been instructed by his Government to tell Molotov that the Turkish Government had advised the Bulgarian Government through its Minister in Sofia18 that Turkey had deemed it in its interest to associate itself “with the countries that control the oceans” whereas Bulgaria apparently deemed it in its interest to associate itself with the country “that constituted the greatest menace to it” but that as both countries were opposed to the entry of any new power into the Balkans there was no reason why they should not cooperate in an endeavor to maintain the status quo in the areas which concerned them both. The Ambassador then informed Molotov that while no results had been achieved up to the present time the conversations between the Turkish and Bulgarian Governments had continued along the above lines and that the Turkish Minister in Sofia had returned to Ankara for consultation.

In so far as concerns the present general situation in the Near East the Ambassador expressed the opinion to me that Turkey would not enter Thrace to protect Greece against German penetration but on the other hand would vigorously defend its own frontiers against a German attack without running the risk of weakening its own prepared defense lines and lend all possible assistance other than troops to Greece. He also expressed the opinion that in the event of a German penetration of Thrace the Soviet Union would not attack Turkey as long as there was a possibility that Britain might win the war but that at the first sign that Britain was losing the war the Soviets would “fall on” Turkey. The Ambassador concluded his observations with the statement that the firm and determined position which his Government had taken and maintained vis-à-vis the Soviet Union had resulted in a decided improvement in their relations.

  1. Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. i, p. 535.
  2. Ali Haydar Aktay.
  3. Arkady Alexandrovich Sobolev, Secretary General of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union, visited Sofia November 25, 1940.
  4. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  5. Treaty of neutrality and mutual nonaggression signed at Paris on December 17, 1925, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. clvii, p. 353; protocol enlarging and prolonging the validity of the treaty of December 17, 1925, signed at Ankara on December 17, 1929, ibid., p. 360; further prolonged by protocol signed at Ankara on October 30, 1931, ibid., p. 366; and prolonged until November 7, 1945, by protocol signed at Ankara on November 7, 1935, ibid., vol. clxxix, p. 127.
  6. Ali Sevki Berker.