Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray)

The Turkish Ambassador11 called on me by appointment yesterday and left the attached official text,12 in French translation, of the lately negotiated Turco-Bulgarian nonaggression agreement. The Ambassador confirmed my understanding that the present agreement is in fact a reaffirmation of the substance of an earlier one negotiated as long ago as 1925.13 He added that he had in fact been instrumental in the negotiation of the earlier agreement.

Mr. Ertegün said he was somewhat disturbed by American press reaction to this agreement since it seemed to impute rather sinister designs to Turkey which he felt sure were not justified. He added that while he was not officially informed as to the circumstances surrounding the present agreement, he was confident there were compelling reasons which motivated the agreement at this time. Mr. Ertegün went on to say that a critical situation has existed for some time along the Turco-Bulgarian frontier where there had been large concentrations of troops on each side. The present agreement would undoubtedly result in the withdrawal of the troops on both sides, and Turkey was now assured that even if she should be attacked by Germany, Bulgaria would not participate in the attack.

Mr. Ertegün went on to say that Turkey was not prepared to launch an offensive-defensive action in order to prevent the entry of German troops into Bulgaria. If she had endeavored to take such action she would have inevitably come into immediate conflict with Germany outside Turkish territory and would have run the risk of being attacked simultaneously by Soviet Russia. Such a development could [Page 820] not possibly have been in the best interest of Great Britain, who is certainly not in a position to assist Turkey adequately in any such crisis. Turkey is prepared and determined to stand fast at the Dardanelles in order to block Germany’s passage into Asia. If Turkey meanwhile runs the risk of defeat in endeavoring to block German passage into Bulgaria, the chief bastion of British defense in that area might collapse and the whole of the Near East and Asia would be at Germany’s feet.

As far as Bulgaria is concerned, the Ambassador said he had great sympathy for her in her present dilemma and added that if he were a Bulgarian he would pursue no other course. Bulgaria had been defeated, mutilated and disarmed in the first World War and had never been allowed to equip herself properly for defense even against countries far less powerful than Germany. It was a great misfortune, in his opinion, that the various Balkan countries which had seized Bulgarian territory after the World War had consistently refused to compensate Bulgaria sufficiently in order to induce her to join the Balkan Entente. The Balkan Entente as it was finally set up without Bulgaria was in fact a sort of “gang-up” against that little country to prevent its regaining any of its lost territory. If Bulgaria could have been brought into the Entente, a fairly impressive bloc of Balkan countries determined to stand on their own feet and to exclude the pressure and intrigues of the Great Powers could have come into being and the present developments might have been avoided. But with Bulgaria left dissatisfied and receiving her first encouragement from the Germans when the Dobrudja was returned to Bulgaria by Rumania under German pressure, the present developments became inevitable.

The Ambassador closed his conversation with an expression of his earnest hope that this war could be terminated before it was too late to prevent a world disaster. With a smile, he said he realized such talk was regarded in this country as “Fifth Columnist”, but he was nevertheless persuaded that unless some early settlement could be reached all of Europe, including his own country, would sink into a chaos like that of the Dark Ages and that we would be unable to prevent the Bolshevization of the entire Continent of Europe. I may say that the Ambassador has on several occasions taken this line and he seems to be obsessed with the idea that the only hope for the world is for the United States to announce its views as to a just settlement and, if necessary, impose it. In reply to my observation that a peace settlement at this juncture would necessarily be a Hitler peace, he stated that in his opinion any settlement would have to take into account that some of England’s claims are “unjust” and some of Germany’s are “just.” The problem, said the Ambassador, was to do justice to all.

  1. Mehmet Münir Ertegün.
  2. Not attached to file copy of memorandum.
  3. Signed at Ankara, October 18, 1925, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. liv, p. 125.