761.67/2–1346: Telegram

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


195. Acting Foreign Minister Sümer has told me of long conversation he had with Soviet Ambassador on February 4 at reception British Embassy. Vinogradov led off by asking for “friendly help” in modulating tone Turkish press regarding USSR. He recalled Turkish Government used good offices this end only recently but Moscow radio “broke the truce”. He said Government would be glad to make new effort in this sense and hoped Soviet Government would do likewise. Two days later, Turkish Government sent Acting Director Press Bureau to Istanbul where he met with leading editors and requested them “lay off Russia.” Result is that for past week [Page 816] there has in fact been no disagreeable comment concerning USSR in Turkish press and Moscow radio has also refrained from anything unpleasant regarding Turkey. This is, as Sümer said, to be “a new truce”. Vinogradov then said, “Why don’t you make a little effort to improve our relations?” Sümer replied Turkish Government would make great effort but this would have to be on basis respect Turkish independence and sovereignty. He then inquired whether USSR maintains requests of last June for eastern provinces and bases in Straits. Vinogradov replied territorial question while important was not as important as that of Straits which was “vital”. Sümer asked exactly what Soviet requirements were concerning Straits. Vinogradov replied it is question of security for USSR which must have “adequate guarantee”. Sümer said there could be no better guarantee than a sovereign friendly Turkey at Straits. Ambassador replied Turkey was weak and could not defend Straits and Soviet security requires use of bases if necessity arises. Sümer said conception of Soviet bases in Straits is obviously incompatible with Turkish sovereignty. He then suggested that since territorial question was not of first importance, USSR might withdraw request for eastern provinces. Vingradov replied Soviet Government was obligated by constitution to defend interests of various Soviet Republics, that request for eastern provinces had been made on behalf of Armenian representative and Soviet Government, therefore, could not withdraw request. At close conversation Vinogradov remarked, “We waited long time regarding arrangement we wanted with Poland and finally got it; we can wait regarding Turkey”.

In other words, Sümer said to me, we are back where we were before Antonoff put out his feelers (Embtels 91, January 22, and 144, February 1); USSR stands pat on demands for territories and bases and believes time works in their favor.

Sent Dept as 195, repeated Moscow as 19 and London as 42.