811.20 Defense (M) Turkey/379: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Matthews) to the Secretary of State

1570. For Department, Board of Economic Warfare, and United States Commercial Corporation.

Embassy attended meeting held on February 24 at which Ministry of Economic Warfare, Treasury, Foreign Office and United Kingdom Commercial Corporation were represented, on subject of Turkish joint preemptive program.
It appears that original Clodius Agreement expires on March 31 and that, under the provisions of article 9, it can be extended. Information indicates that Clodius is now on way to Ankara to open negotiations for new agreement.
However, the situation in Turkey is further complicated by the negotiation of the recent Turco-German Armaments Agreement. Embassy is forwarding the text of this agreement by air pouch.16 In substance agreement provides for supply of armaments to Turkey by Germany, payment to be made in Turkish bonds, and the purchasing power derived from these bonds to be used by Germany for the purchase of Turkish commodities chosen by mutual agreement from those enumerated in Clodius Agreement list 1. It is understood that the Turkish products which are to be delivered each year in exchange for German armaments are to be fixed by the commissions established by the Clodius Agreement not later than October 1 of the previous year. Thus it is clear that even if a new Clodius agreement were not negotiated, Germany can, by supplying armaments, claim certain (as yet unspecified) quantities of Turkish commodities.
It is likely that a new Clodius agreement and the armaments agreement will both be utilized by Germany, the former to provide Germany with specified amounts of Turkish commodities in exchange for consumption goods, or, if such consumption goods cannot be delivered by Germany, the delivery of armaments will be used to claim an [Page 1119] equal or greater amount of the desired Turkish commodities. However, it is possible that purchases under the new armaments agreement may not be made for several months.
Our joint preemptive program in Turkey may be criticized on the following ground: Except in the case of chrome, it is not clear that by preemptive action we have been able to deny to Germany the minimum quantities she needs of important Turkish commodities. The amounts of products specified in Clodius Agreement have been reserved for Germany and the fact that Germany has only been able to take up the full quantity of two such products indicates that even in the absence of preemptive action on our part, Germany could probably not have taken up additional quantities. The fact that Germany has not been able to meet all her obligations under the Clodius Agreement could not of course be foreseen when the joint preemptive program was laid down, and, as the Department and Board of Economic Warfare have pointed out, the failure of German purchasing power may be only temporary. However, our preemptive purchases undoubtedly lowered the quality of mohair obtained by Germany, and our copper purchases probably reduced the enemy’s takings. Our purchases may also have had some effect in denying Turkish commodities to other Axis countries although Turkey has negotiated compensation agreements with Hungary and Rumania, as well as with Switzerland.
Ministry of Economic Warfare feels that transport difficulties and increasing shortages in Germany may make it difficult for Germany to deliver to the Turks this year sufficient quantities of consumption goods to purchase more than small amounts of Turkish commodities. As pointed out above, it would be rash, however, to assume that Germany cannot overcome the supply and transport difficulties at least to some extent, and she has the option to deliver armaments, which should be easier to provide than consumption and industrial goods.
In view of these facts the meeting felt that the Americans and British should approach the Turkish Government to the effect that Turkey’s help is desired. We want this help against the Axis not for the wheat, armaments, et cetera, we are supplying Turkey but because it is to the advantage of Turkey that the Axis should be defeated. The Turks can greatly aid us in refusing to tie their hands by fixing specific quantities of commodities in a new Clodius agreement and by allowing us to purchase the whole Turkish output of such major German deficiencies as copper, mohair, opium and skins, and in addition as much of commodities of second rate importance, e.g., valonia and valex, as our purchasing power will permit. We should also ask the Turks to maintain the present prohibition on the [Page 1120] export of olive oil and wool for the duration of war and the export of woolen rags and woolen manufactures.
The meeting felt it should be clearly understood that this program is in no way a slackening of our preemption effort in Turkey but rather an attempt to use any political advantages we may have recently gained in an attempt to secure from the Turks much larger allocation of those commodities which are important to Germany. It will be seen that if we are successful the expenditure necessary will be larger than that represented by the current joint program.
The British are sending a parallel telegram to the British Embassy, Washington, repeated to Ankara, with a request that you be consulted after the comments of the British Ambassador, Ankara, who has been asked to consult his American colleague, have been received.
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Turkey in his despatch No. 360, May 20, 1943; received June 4. No copy found in Department files from the Embassy in the United Kingdom.