811.20 Defense (M) Turkey/131: Telegram

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

1097. My 1086, October 29. British Ambassador called on Minister of Foreign Affairs shortly after my visit for the purpose of conveying to him London’s reaction to Turkish reply to British aide-mémoire. A large part of the discussion revolved around the passages in the Turkish reply which particularly displeased London. Numan went into a long explanation with a view to assuring Hugessen that no discussions regarding chrome had taken place during Berlin negotiations and that the 100 million mark agreement was entirely distinct from chrome. Numan indicated, however, that the Turkish Government was thinking, in the event that the further agreement for 135,000 tons of chrome were concluded, of arranging to have chrome deliveries during 1943 and 1944 count towards the service of 100 million mark agreement, thereby avoiding the necessity of providing additional goods for that purpose. When Hugessen pointed out that British Government did not regard chrome as a matter of “secondary importance”, a phrase used in Turkish reply in referring to chrome, Numan retorted that a matter of primary importance would be a demand for the passage of German troops through Turkey.

Numan declared that British could rely on him to take advantage of any loopholes that might become apparent in Clodius agreement. However, he could not honorably depart from obligations undertaken, and he pointed out in this connection that in 1940–41 when British position was extremely precarious, and the danger to Turkey all the greater, he had not departed from alliance with British. He had refused pressing German demands during Clodius negotiations last year. It would be dishonorable for him now to take advantage of German weakness in order to break his obligations.

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Numan declared that no negotiations whatsoever existed at present in regard to further agreement for 135,000 tons of chrome. With regard to negotiations for 100 million mark agreement, Numan said that the details were still under discussion but that, unless some unexpected difficulty arose, the agreement might be signed by middle of November. With regard to question of German delivery of the 55 million Turk pounds worth of material in Schedule I–a, Numan said that he proposed to let matters take their course and see whether Germans actually delivered the total. In response to Hugessen’s inquiry whether, in the event of failure of Germany to supply entire amount and of consequent delivery to them of only part of the 45,000 tons of chrome, the remainder of the 45,000 tons would go to the British, Numan said that it certainly would. (While this statement appears to be in conflict with Numan’s statements to me, reported in second paragraph of my 1086, it is possible that Numan meant merely that any chrome left over at that time would go to British and not that Germans would not get remainder of the 45,000 tons later, upon effecting necessary deliveries. Hugessen proposes to discuss this point in his next conversation.)

During discussion Numan mentioned possibility of a German threat and Hugessen asked him whether he seriously thought that in present circumstances such a danger was real. His reply indicated that he did not think the danger serious but was unwilling altogether to discount it.

In connection with a statement by Hugessen that British were somewhat distrustful at Turkish attitude, Numan, after declaring that this distrust was unfair and unjustified, went on to say that although he had never mentioned it previously, he thought he ought to let Hugessen know that not only himself but also “higher quarters” had for some time felt that real policy of the British in regard to supply of war material to Turkey was to keep Turkey weak. He alluded to shortcomings in deliveries in Orbay list83 and in subsequent undertakings in regard to war material. He referred to British reluctance to supply Turkey with more than her current consumption of gasoline for fear that if stocks were accumulated, it might be an inducement to Germany to invade country. Numan said that he had heard from countrymen of Hugessen that British Government was anxious not to strengthen Turkey too much as she might become a threat to Russia. He could assure Hugessen that Turkish Government had no intention whatever of undertaking any form of aggression against Russia but, on the other hand, it felt justified in taking all necessary precautions against a possible threat from Russia later on. He had an impression that conversations had taken place between Soviet and British Governments in which Soviet Government had expressed objections to supply [Page 772] of war material to Turkey, and that British were going slow in regards to these supplies in order to satisfy Soviet Government. In discussion which followed, Hugessen declared that Numan’s idea that British wished to keep Turkey weak was absolutely false, and that he had never heard at any time of the conversations with Soviet Government referred to by Numan.

Hugessen explained the reasons why British were not always able to fulfill their undertakings; Britain was at war and hampered by war conditions; priority must be given to her Allies who were actually at war; et cetera. While Numan was willing to admit some of Hugessen’s arguments, he was not prepared to depart entirely from the point of view he had expressed. He said everything would depend on delivery of the material recently promised by British Prime Minister.84

In concluding the conversation, it was agreed to have after the holidays a further joint discussion of the matter before the Turks replied to Hugessen’s letter of October 5 to Prime Minister.

  1. See footnote 17a, p. 684.
  2. Winston S. Churchill.