740.0011 European War 1939/25259: Telegram

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

1115. Your 563, October 31. I saw Minister for Foreign Affairs this morning and after informing him of facts in matter stated that it was clear that Germans wanted to send the vessels through Straits only for purpose of their taking part in or facilitating military operations in Black Sea area. The only use to which such vessels would be put under present circumstances would be directly connected with armed hostilities. Consequently it was opinion of my Government that the ships should be regarded not as merchant vessels but as auxiliary naval vessels which they were in fact and therefore denied passage through Straits in accordance with article 19 of Montreux Straits Convention.

Numan replied that the provisions of Montreux Convention with regard to the definition of auxiliary naval vessels were very precise and Turk Government would be precluded by these provisions from classifying merchant vessels which were to be used for military purposes as auxiliary naval vessels. He did not recall that article 6 of annex 2 classified as auxiliary naval vessels, merchant vessels which might be used in connection with a military purpose, therefore, did not see how Turk Government under Montreux Convention could deny these ships passage through Straits. He added however, that he would refer matter to legal adviser of Foreign Office with a view to seeing if there were any technicalities particularly ones which might become evident when vessels requested passage which would permit Turk Government to deny them passage.