The Ambassador in Turkey ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 2—12:31 a.m.]
144. A further development has taken place concerning matter reported in my 91, January 22. Bulgarian Minister Antonoff called on Acting FonMin Sümer a few days ago and said he had informed Soviet Ambassador of Sümer’s remark that Soviet aims regarding Turkey went far beyond any change in Turkish Government and that what Soviets desired was that Turkey break its alliance with British. Vinogradov stated this was untrue and USSR did not desire Turkey to break British alliance. Antonoff went on to say, ostensibly expressing his own opinion, that recent abatement Soviet press and radio attacks on Turkey with its counterpart in calmer tone Turkish press towards USSR had created “serene” atmosphere in which it should be possible to reach a settlement of difficulties between two countries and he urged initiative be taken in this direction. Sümer replied that Turkey asks nothing better than to settle existing difficulties with Russia but that any settlement would have to be on basis of full equality of two states, requiring abandonment by USSR of claims of last June for eastern territories and bases on Straits. Antonoff said “you can forget about Kars and Ardahan” but what was important from Soviet point of view was “agreement with Turkey regarding Straits”. He evaded question whether this meant bases. Antonoff remarked that [Page 813] Soviet Ambassador Vinogradov was, of course, authorized discuss this matter with Turkish Government and he expressed hope Turks would have discussions with Ambassador. Sümer replied he would be glad to see Vinogradov whenever latter wishes.
Erkin, who recounted foregoing to me, said Turkish Government while skeptical attaches importance to this development and it will be interesting to see whether Vinogradov follows it up. Erkin’s interpretation is that Soviets recognize their campaign to soften up Turkey, undertaken on erroneous advice from Soviet agents, has failed and that they must try new tack. What Soviets want is direct arrangement with Turkey concerning Straits which would in effect give USSR control of Straits. Line of thought of Turkish Government is as follows: Straits question is an international one; at Potsdam Three Great Powers agreed upon procedure whereby each would approach Turkish Government separately with proposals for revision of Montreux Convention; US and UK have followed this procedure but USSR has not yet done so; if USSR now wishes to submit proposals to Turkish Government, latter will consider them and if they appear to offer hope of satisfactory settlement will suggest Russia initiate procedure in accordance with Montreux Convention for holding international conference to which US would be invited for revision of Convention.
Sent Department 144, repeated Moscow 13, London 36, and Sofia 4.