811.20 Defense (M) Turkey/107: Telegram

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

1029. My 1004, October 10. I had a lengthy discussion of the chrome situation with Foreign Minister this morning.

1. With regard to chrome produced up to January 8, Minister said entire output would belong to British. He said he had requested British to allow him to have 5,000 tons out of their stocks for delivery to the Swedes in connection with Turkish chartering of three Swedish vessels. He referred rather indignantly to British request for permission to send inspectors to mines to supervise chrome stocks. He [Page 759] said Turkish Government could not permit foreigners to travel about the country for purpose of checking up on Turkish Government. If British were allowed to do that in respect to chrome Turks would have to allow Germans to do same thing regarding products which they were buying. Explained to Minister purpose of British request pointing out that British had a chrome expert who visited ports and railway stations where British accepted chrome for purpose of sampling and grading ore and determining amount to be paid. I said that if British now accepted chrome at mines it would be necessary for this expert to examine stocks of ore at mines with a view to determining quality and quantity of chrome. His visit to mines would not be for purpose of checking up on Turkish Government as Minister seemed to think. He then said that he would discuss matter further with British and he thought that some arrangement could be worked out which would satisfy both parties.

2. With regard to deliveries of chrome to Germans under Clodius agreement Numan said that Turkey was obligated to deliver 45,000 tons of chrome to Germany under that agreement prior to March 31, 1943 if Germans supplied 55,000,000 Turk pounds of goods specified in Schedule I. If Germans delivered only a part of the goods, Turkey was obligated to furnish Germany a corresponding proportion of the Turkish goods specified, including an appropriate proportion of chrome. Numan refused to accept the contention that there should be no chrome deliveries until the entire 18,000,000 Turkish pounds of war material had been furnished.

I said that my Government earnestly hoped that Turkey would not agree to any modification of the German obligations under the Clodius agreement to the advantage of the Germans. He replied that you need have no anxiety on that score because he intended to hold the Germans strictly to their obligations. He declared “I will make no concessions to the Germans”. However, he went on to say that difficulties had arisen in connection with the execution of the agreement, in respect to prices, kinds of goods, et cetera and that some of the difficulties had been due to the fault of the Turks. Consequently, when the time came to make the adjustments which would be necessary he would be prepared to agree to adjustments in favor of the Germans which a neutral arbitrator would hold that they were entitled to. Outside of this he would not make any concessions to Germans but would hold them to strict fulfillment of Clodius agreement.

3. With regard to delivery of remaining 135,000 tons of chrome to Germany, Numan said that Turkey was obligated under Clodius agreement to conclude before March 31, 1943 a new agreement with Germany for supply of war materials if Germany were willing to supply war materials desired by Turkey. Germans had already declared that they were prepared to do so. He said that British had urged him to decline [Page 760] to conclude a new agreement with Germany for supply of war materials. Such action would involve Turkey’s repudiating its obligations under Clodius agreement and he had informed British that Turkey could not violate its commitments to Germany. Numan would not agree to contention that new agreement should be delayed until Germans had delivered 18,000,000 Turkish pounds of war materials specified in Clodius agreement. He pointed out, however, that Germans in order to obtain remaining 135,000 tons of chrome would have to furnish not only war materials to be specified in new agreement but also all war equipment stipulated in Schedule Ia of the Clodius agreement.

Numan assured me that the Turkish Government had never contemplated and would not consider furnishing additional chrome to Germany beyond the maximum figure of 90,000 tons in each of the years 1943 and 1944.

4. Numan said that the British had proposed pari passu treatment from January 8, 1943. He declared that such treatment was impossible from January 8 in view of Turkey’s obligation to deliver 45,000 tons of chrome to Germany between January 15 and March 31, 1943. He said that he was quite prepared and desired to give the British equal treatment after March 31 but that he could not do it on the basis proposed by the British, namely, that for each ton of chrome furnished to Germany, a ton of chrome should be supplied to Great Britain. This basis was impossible because if the total production in the period from March 31 to December 31, 1943 were only 50,000 tons, the Germans would receive under that formula only 25,000 tons whereas under Clodius agreement Turkey might be obligated to furnish Germany 45,000 tons during that period. In response to questions, Numan made it clear British could receive actual equal treatment with Germans from March to December 31, 1943, only if Turk chrome production during that period equalled twice amount which Turks would be obligated to furnish Germans.

I said that from his remarks it seemed the United States would receive almost no chrome produced in ’43. I pointed out as Minister knew we have been using all the chrome Turkey sold to Britain, the United States had tremendous need of chrome at present and need was constantly increasing. Now we were confronted with a situation wherein chrome, in which we stood badly in need, would no longer be available to us but would go to our enemy. Such a situation could not but cause a great concern in Washington. In reply Numan referred to fact Turkey had produced 208,000 tons of chrome a few years ago and said that he hoped that Turk production in 1943 would be large enough to permit our receiving a substantial amount. I observed that so far as I could judge Turk production during first 9 months of present year did not attain 90,000 tons. Numan said that he [Page 761] did not know how much had been produced during current year but he expected to obtain shortly exact figures from Etibank.80a He went on to say that he was aware, of course, that Turk chrome output had decreased in recent years primarily as a result of deterioration of equipment. There was a lack not only of means of transportation but even of picks. He blamed British for decline in production since Turks had for a long time been requesting British to furnish equipment necessary to maintain production at a high level but had received nothing from them.

5. I am convinced from my discussion with Foreign Minister that while Turks do not propose to make concessions to Germans in respect to execution of Clodius agreement, they are firmly resolved to carry out loyally their obligations under the agreement. They will not default on their deliveries to Germany of chrome to which Germany shall be entitled, they will not adopt an obstructive attitude in matter of conclusion with Germany of supplementary war materials agreement provided for under Clodius agreement, and they will not conclude with Great Britain any new chrome agreement containing provisions which might involve their defaulting on their chrome deliveries to Germany. Numan indicated that reasons which prompted Turks to conclude Clodius agreement enjoined upon them loyal fulfillment of their obligations under that agreement. Turkey’s position required that she endeavor to maintain friendly relations with Germany and avoid any acts obviously calculated to provoke Nazi rulers.

British Ambassador and myself will continue to press Turks for pari passu treatment in 1943 and ’44 and will endeavor to have this formula applied in practice in a manner best calculated to hamper procurement of chrome by Germans and to facilitate our obtaining largest possible amount of chrome. However, I do not believe that Turks will agree to any arrangement which might prevent their furnishing 45,000 tons of chrome to Germany between March 31 and December 31, 1943 in the event that Germany should carry out her obligations to Turkey. In my opinion, the only way in which the British [and we can curtail actual?] deliveries of chrome to Germany is through the exertion of pressure on the Turks to persuade them to hold the Germans to the strict fulfillment of their obligations and to refuse to modify the agreement to the advantage of the Germans in the event of Germany’s inability to carry out her obligations. In this connection, it is to be noted that a default by Germany on deliveries to Turkey is quite probable and that the Turks have, to a certain extent, a free hand in regard to agreeing to German proposals designed to modify or effect adjustments in the Clodius agreement. I have suggested to my British colleague that in his further negotiations he [Page 762] endeavor to obtain precise assurances from the Turks that they will make no concessions to the Germans in connection with the execution of the Clodius agreement but will hold them to the strict fulfillment of their obligations.

Repeated to London.

  1. State Bank of Turkey; one of six state-controlled banks, the Etibank’s special activities related to the development of mines and the marketing of minerals.