867.512/210: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Turkey ( Steinhardt )

40. Your 1166, November 16, 6 p.m., and your 1318, December 19, 8 p.m.38 The Department understands that the Turkish Ambassador,39 having informed his Government of reports that the capital levy tax was being imposed so as to discriminate against non-Moslem Turks, has received a reply denying such discrimination. It seems clear from your telegrams and those of American firms and institutions in Turkey, however, that serious discrimination exists.

The Department is aware that the Turkish authorities will regard the capital levy tax as an internal matter. However, if the impression should become widespread in America that the Turkish Government is reverting to the persecution of minorities on religious grounds, considerable damage might be done to American-Turkish relations. The Greek Archbishop in America has informed the Department that his numerous co-religionists here are seriously disturbed over the difficulties which the Patriarchate faces as a result of the tax. Jewish leaders have for some time pressed for a more accommodating attitude by Turkey towards Jewish refugees, and evidence of a tax [Page 1079] discrimination against Turkish Jews and other Jews might give additional cause for latent anti-Turkish feeling. The missionary interests may be aroused by any indication of a renewal of discrimination against Armenians.

While the Department does not suggest your discussing the subject with the Turkish authorities at this time, it desires to be kept fully informed of developments. It will be of particular interest to learn the effect of the tax on Axis as well as other foreign interests in Turkey and of any representations which may be made to the Turkish Government on the subject by other powers.

For your information, the directors of Robert College seem disposed to refuse payment of the tax on the College and to take the occasion to test the attitude of Turkey toward the institution.40 The Turkish Ambassador here is expected to recommend a Turkish Government subsidy to the College equivalent to the amount of the tax.

  1. Latter not printed.
  2. Mehmet Münir Ertegün.
  3. For correspondence concerning earlier representations by the United States regarding taxation of American colleges in Turkey, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. iv, pp. 834835.