The Ambassador in Turkey
(Wilson) to the Acting Secretary of State
817. The Acting FonMin1 informed me this morning as follows: The Turk Amb at Moscow2 called on Molotov at the latter’s [former’s] request on June 7. At the outset of the conversation Molotov said that before it would be possible to conclude a new treaty with Turkey it would be necessary to settle all outstanding questions between the two countries. Embs 786, June 12.3 Molotov then raised three specific questions:
- The situation which he said was created for Russia by the treaty of 1921 which had ceded certain territories in the east to Turkey. Molotov said that the Soviet Union desired to have these territories returned. The Turk Amb said he must refuse to discuss any question affecting Turkey’s territorial integrity. Molotov then said that they would lay the question aside for the time being but the Ambassador should understand that it remained unsettled.
- The question of the Straits. Molotov said the Soviet Govt recognized the Turks had acted with goodwill during this war and had conducted themselves satisfactorily as regards the defense of the Straits. However Turk goodwill was not enough to guarantee the security of the Soviet Union. A people of 200,000,000 inhabitants could not depend solely on the goodwill of Turkey in this matter but must also consider what are Turkey’s possibilities of defending the [Page 1021] Straits. The Turk Amb asked what this meant: Did it mean bluntly that Russia wished bases in Turk territory? Molotov replied affirmatively. The Ambassador said he regretted he could not discuss such a demand. There was then a long and inconclusive discussion on the question of what effective guarantees Turks could give the Soviet Union re the defense of the Straits.
- The Montreux Convention. Molotov said he wanted an agreement in principle between Russia and Turkey as to changes to be made in the Montreux Convention. In other words according to the Ambassador Molotov wanted a prior agreement between Russia and Turkey that at any future international conference for the revision of the Montreux Convention the two countries would stand together regardless of the views of other parties. The Turk Amb reported he had stated to Molotov that in his opinion this approach to the problem would not be helpful since there were other parties to the Montreux Convention and the interests of such countries should be taken into consideration. Furthermore he felt any such prior agreement could only give rise to mistrust on the part of other govts. Molotov replied that Russia and Turkey were independent countries and it was not necessary for them to ask the views of other powers on this matter. The Amb added that in the discussion of this question he felt that Molotov was trying to convey the impression that if Turkey would break away from her alliance with Britain then the Soviet Govt would not feel it necessary to insist on the three points which Molotov had raised.
The Acting FonMin said that immediately on receipt of the foregoing report from Moscow the Cabinet had met with the President4 and that same day, June 12, he had sent a telegram to the Turk Amb stating that [he approved?]5 the attitude he had taken in his conversation with Molotov and instructing him that the Turk Govt could not discuss questions of ceding Turk territories as bases nor could it agree to the proposal that it make a private agreement with Russia re the Straits prior to holding an international conference. The Amb had been informed the Turk Govt was always ready to talk with Russia on the basis which had been put forward by Russia at the time of the latter’s denunciation of the treaty of friendship, namely an effort to modify and improve the treaty.
The Acting Min said he had informed the Brit Amb6 of the foregoing (he went to Istanbul for that purpose) and the latter had requested the views of his Govt.
The Acting FonMin asked me to report what he had told me to my Govt and to say the Turk Govt would greatly appreciate receiving the views of the US Govt re this matter which the Turk Govt regards as very grave. He repeated his request for the views of the US Govt.[Page 1022]
He then asked for my personal opinion. I said I could well understand Turkey would not be prepared to discuss matters affecting Turkey’s sovereignty and independence. He remarked that recently there had been some encouraging developments as regards relations between Russia and other countries in such questions as the voting formula at San Fran[cisco] and the consultations with Polish leaders. The Soviet Union had finally made concessions and adopted an attitude which facilitated agreement. I said I believed the Soviet Union felt the need of cooperation and goodwill on the part of other countri[es] and having this in mind I was hopeful that with careful handling of what was undoubtedly a delicate and serious problem this question of Turkey’s relations with Russia could be worked out satisfactorily.
The Acting Min said that what troubled him was that Russia was taking this attitude towards Turkey during the closing days of the conference,7 an attitude which was utterly irreconcilable with the principles governing world organization as discussed and agreed at San Fran. He said he thought it likely that when Molotov is informed of the position of the Turk Govt, Russia may provoke a break in relations or at least there will again be a new and violent Soviet radio and press campaign against Turkey. He said however that Turkey was ready to take all the consequences and there was no other way open to her than to stand firm on the position she had taken.
Sent to Dept rptd to Moscow as 40.
- Nurullah Esat Sumer.↩
- Selim Sarper.↩
- Not printed.↩
- Ismot Inönü.↩
- The words in brackets appear on the file copy as a possible substitution for a garble in the text as received.↩
- Sir Maurice Drummond Peterson.↩
- i. e., the United Nations Conference on International Organization, then meeting at San Francisco.↩