740.00112 European War 1939/10464: Telegram

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

280. 1. British Embassy here has informed the Department London has been reconsidering the question of economic policy toward Turkey particularly in relation to the facts that a) Turkish trade with Axis has been condoned in the past on grounds that Turkey obtained thereby from Germany goods which the United Nations were not in a [Page 821] position to supply, and b) the expiration on April 30 of the Clodius Agreement.13

2. Department’s and FEA’s agreement is sought to the proposal that you and your British colleague should jointly present to Turkish authorities in immediate future following statement:

[Here follows text similar to text of note quoted in telegram 689, April 15, 12 p.m., from Ankara, printed on page 827.]

3. In presenting the foregoing British Embassy indicated that this would lay a moral platform which would permit the adoption in future of a “tough” blockade policy toward Turkey.

4. British proposal is now under consideration by FEA and Department and may be referred to Policy Committee. However, preliminary Departmental and FEA thinking regarding proposal is as follows:

Proposal condones fulfillment of existing commitments including chrome.

Having cut off military supplies, our arsenal for further economic reprisals is pitifully bare. It is doubted that Turkey’s standard of living is such that it is economically vulnerable to blockade action. Even oil presumably can be obtained from Rumania.

It is doubted that suggested approach should be made without Russian participation or concurrence because Turks would interpret this as a wedge between the Allies.

5. Considering what Turks might expect from the Axis under similar circumstances, they may regard proposed approach not as a hardening of our joint policy but as a relatively friendly gesture.

6. By reason of our formal recognition of Turkey’s right to continue to trade with the Axis, direct action against rail communications might be precluded.

7. Tentative Departmental and FEA counter proposals are as follows:

Immediate execution special project (your 536, March 2714). This might obviate necessity for (b), (c) and (d) below.
Delivery of the President’s letter15 with British approval on grounds that this will constitute one last friendly appeal to Turks. [Page 822] If no result is obtained within reasonable interval, a firm line should be adopted.
Seek from Combined Chiefs of Staff information as to whether strategic considerations remove necessity of regarding Turks in light of potential and valuable allies thereby giving a free hand regarding the imposition of economic sanctions without regard to Turkish reaction.
If (c) above permits, inform Turks flatly, in association with British and Russians, that Turkey’s right to prolong the war by continuing to supply Axis with strategic materials is no longer recognized.

8. Your comments and recommendations are requested urgently.16

  1. Carl Clodius was head of the German trade delegation to Turkey in 1941 which negotiated the Turkish-German commercial understanding of October 9, 1941. For summary of provisions of the agreement, see telegram 388, October 17, 1941, 7 p.m., from Ankara, Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. iii, p. 964.
  2. Not printed; it was an FEA message concerning a proposed “New Plan” for supplies for Turkey.
  3. Under instruction 361, March 16, the Secretary of State had forwarded to the Ambassador in Turkey a letter dated March 10 from President Roosevelt to the Turkish President, the contents of which President Roosevelt had communicated to British Prime Minister Churchill and Soviet Premier Stalin, and which was to be transmitted to President Inönü only when the Department specifically instructed (811.20 Defense (M) Turkey/949b); the Ambassador, however, on President Roosevelt’s decision, was never authorized to deliver the letter (811.20 Defense (M) Turkey/951a, 955, 963).
  4. In telegram 291, April 3, 7 p.m., the Ambassador was requested again “urgently” to reply (740.00112 European War 1939/10464).