761.67/2–246: Telegram

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


161. I had long talk yesterday with Soviet Ambassador. Following points seem of interest:

He said he was not satisfied with attitude Turkish press and that while no further attacks on Soviet personalities have appeared, articles disagreeable to USSR are still being published. It is a fact that in past few days Moscow radio as well as Turkish press have again been saying unpleasant things. Erkin has also mentioned this to me, saying that Soviet radio “broke the truce” and that Turkish press responded in kind. He said Foreign Office has constantly been trying to tone Turkish press down and succeeded until Moscow radio turned loose again. He said they can keep the press here quiet if Moscow radio will behave.
Reviewing relations between Turkey and Russia, I ventured opinion that only question between two countries which is of real importance to USSR is test of Straits. Vinogradov disagreed saying [Page 814] question of Kars and Ardahan is very important to USSR and recalled that Molotov said to Sarper29 last June that, if Turkey desired treaty of alliance with USSR, this territorial question would have to be settled (Turks say they never asked treaty of alliance). I remarked it seemed to have been settled by treaty. Vinogradov replied treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed when Russia was weak. Said that treaty which settled this frontier between Turkey and Russia was treaty of Moscow of March 16, 1921. Vinogradov said this was only an extension of Brest-Litovsk treaty, repeated that Russia was weak at that time and that treaty should be redrawn in view changed conditions. He said USSR had made new treaty with Poland rectifying previously agreed frontier between two countries and there was no reason same thing should not be done regarding Turkey (this is at variance with statement made by Antonoff reported in my 144, February 1, but may have been made with view to ultimate bargaining position). I mentioned communication made by USSR (and British) to Turkish Govt on August 10, 194130 to effect that Soviet Govt was prepared scrupulously to observe territorial integrity of Turkish Republic. Ambassador replied this declaration had been made at time Soviet and British troops were entering Iran and was intended only as assurance that specific operation in Iran did not endanger Turkish territorial integrity. I stated that declaration was general in nature and nothing in it warranted restricted interpretation such as he mentioned. He insisted declaration should be read in context of events at that time and that in effect it no longer had application.
He then spoke of reports that purpose of visit Iraqi delegation under Nuri-al-Said (now due here February 7) is to negotiate “mutual assistance” pact with Turkey which would later be extended to include all countries of Arab League. He said that Nuri was known to be protagonist of this idea and has been working on it since his visit to Turkey with Iraqi Regent last September, and indicated his belief that British are behind this move and that it is aimed at USSR.

Sent Dept as 161; repeated London as 37, and Moscow as 16.

  1. Selim Sarper, Turkish Ambassador in the Soviet Union.
  2. See telegram 1489, August 13, 1941, from Moscow, Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. i, p. 324.