811.20 Defense (M) Turkey/111: Telegram

The Chargé in Turkey ( Kelley ) to the Secretary of State

1044. During my conversation October 16 with Foreign Minister52 I took occasion to bring to his attention situation which appeared to me to be developing regarding availability of Turkish products for purchase by the United States. I pointed out as he was aware Germany and Axis Powers had made furnishing of supplies to Turkey conditional upon Turkey’s furnishing specific products desired by them while we and British furnished supplies to Turkey independently of Turkey’s making available to us Turkish products which we desired. If Turkey desired military or industrial equipment from Germany she had to deliver valuable Turkish products to Germany; if she wanted petroleum products from Rumania latter insisted upon [Page 725] receiving cotton and copper in return. On other hand when Turkey desired goods from the United States and Great Britain, neither ourselves nor the British made deliveries contingent upon the receipt of Turkish goods in exchange. In these circumstances it was not unnatural that the most important Turkish products were being reserved almost wholly for the Axis Powers. I realized of course that the Turkish Government was not seeking to bring about such a situation and it was possible even that the Turkish Government was not fully conscious of the trend of developments in this respect.

Numan said that he did not think that such a situation was developing. He stated that since the Clodius agreement had gone into force only 9 million Turkish pounds of goods had been exported to Germany. This amount was very much less than the quantity of exports to Great Britain during the same period. I observed that while the total amount of actual exports to Germany was small, large quantities of goods were reserved for future export to Germany. Such was case in respect to copper, a product which was greatly desired by my Government. I said, furthermore, that there were rumors that there would be a new large scale agreement concluded with Germany upon termination of Clodius agreement. If that were so the greater part of principal Turk products would inevitably be reserved for Germany. Numan said that if Clodius agreement were not entirely carried out which seemed likely to because it was probable that an arrangement might be made for exchange of goods which had not been exchanged under that agreement. We should look upon Clodius agreement as covering exchange of goods between Turkey and Germany for a much longer period than 18 months covered by agreement. He said that there was no question of the conclusion upon expiration of that agreement of a new agreement of same scope as old one.

Minister said that he could not agree that greater part of Turkey’s principal products was going or would go to Axis Powers. He stated that in not a few cases high prices of Turkish products were resulting in Germans refraining from purchasing Turkish products which they desired. Inasmuch as I had several times mentioned copper he wanted me to know that it was fault of British that greater part of Turkey’s copper output was going to Germany inasmuch as he himself had offered copper to British prior to conclusion of Clodius agreement and British had said that they were not interested in purchasing Turk copper. Unfortunately British often looked at things from a purely commercial point of view and situations developed which they afterwards regretted.

In course of discussion Numan observed that Turkey had to trade with Germany and this necessarily involved the furnishing of Turkish products to Germany. Turkey could not provoke Germany [Page 726] by refusing to trade with her. Turkey must adopt a friendly attitude towards Germany in this respect; not only Turkey’s geographical position but also her political situation demanded it. If notwithstanding Turkey’s non-provocatory policy towards Germany, Germany adopted an aggressive policy towards Turkey, then the whole country would be united in defense of Turkey’s independence. I said that as I saw it, it was not a question of Turkey’s breaking off trade relations with Germany but of Turkey’s increasing inability in consequence of the enlargement of her commitments to Germany, to furnish to the United States the Turkish products which we needed. He assured me that I need have no anxiety on that score because the Turkish Government would not permit such a situation to develop.

  1. Numan Menemencioğlu.