The Soviet Chargé ( Orekhov ) to the Acting Secretary of State 49
Sir: By direction of the Soviet Government I have the honor to communicate to you the following:
As is known, the Berlin Conference of the Three Powers on the question of the Montreux Convention adopted a resolution, whereby the three Governments declared that the said Convention should be revised, since it does not correspond to present conditions. At the same time the three Governments agreed that this question was to be the subject of direct negotiations between each of the three powers and the Turkish Government. In accordance with this, the Soviet Government on August 7 of this year addressed to the Turkish Government a note which is transcribed below:
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R. has the honor to inform the Turkish Government of the following:
“Events which occurred during the past war clearly indicated that the regime of the Black Sea Straits, established by the Straits Convention, signed in 1936 at Montreux, does not meet the interests of the safety of the Black Sea Powers and does not insure conditions under which the use of these Straits for purposes inimical to the Black Sea Powers would be prevented.
“It will suffice to mention a series of incidents during this war, when the Axis Powers directed their warships and auxiliary craft through the Straits into the Black Sea and out of the Black Sea, which in its turn gave rise to the corresponding steps and protests registered by the Soviet Government with the Turkish Government.[Page 828]
“On July 9, 1941 the German command sent the German patrol boat Seefalke through the Straits into the Black Sea, which was a gross violation of the Straits Convention and called forth a protest to the Turkish Government on the part of the Soviet Government.
“In August, 1941, Turkish authorities gave the Italian auxiliary war vessel Tarvizio permission to pass through the Straits into the Black Sea which likewise called forth a representation on the part of the Soviet Government, calling to the attention of the Turkish Government the fact that the passage of the Italian auxiliary vessel into the Black Sea would appear to be a violation of the Straits Convention.
“On November 4, 1942, the Soviet Government again called to the attention of the Turkish Government the fact that Germany planned to send to the Black Sea through the Straits auxiliary warships under the guise of merchant vessels with a total displacement of 140,000 tons. These vessels were intended for the transfer of military forces and war materials of the Axis countries into the Black Sea. In its representation, the Soviet Government emphasized the fact that ‘the admission of the aforementioned vessels through the Straits into the Black Sea would be an obvious violation of the Convention regarding the regime of the Straits concluded in Montreux, inasmuch as these vessels are left at the disposal of the German Government and are in reality auxiliary warships[’].
“In June, 1944, the Soviet Government registered a protest against the fact that toward the end of May and early in June of 1944 there took place a series of passages through the Straits from the Black Sea into the Aegean Sea of German worships and auxiliary warships of varying tonnage of the Ems (8 vessels) and Kriegstransport (5 vessels) types, which had taken part in the naval operations in the Black Sea.
“It is obvious from the aforementioned facts that at the time of the past war with Germany and her allies, the Straits Convention did not prevent the enemy powers from using the Straits for military purposes against the U.S.S.R. and other allied powers, with the Turkish Government not being able to escape the responsibility for this situation.
“In view of this, the Soviet Government suggested to the Berlin Conference of the Three Powers—Great Britain, the United States of America and the Soviet Union, which took place in July and August 1945, to discuss the question that the regime of the Straits, established by the Montreux Convention, does not conform to present conditions and that it is necessary to establish a new regime of the Straits. As is known, the Berlin Conference of the Three Powers adopted a resolution consisting of the following:
- The three Governments declared that the Convention regarding the Straits, concluded in Montreux, should be revised, as it does not meet the conditions of the present time;
- The three Governments agreed that as the proper course the said question would be the subject of direct negotiations between each of the three powers and the Turkish Government.
“The Soviet Government is also acquainted with the contents of the note of November 2, 1945 of the Government of the United States of [Page 829] America50 and with the note of the British Government of November 21, 194551 addressed to the Government of Turkey on this question.
“For its own part, the Soviet Government proposes to establish for the Straits a new regime, proceeding from the following principles:
- “1) The Straits should be always open to the passage of merchant ships of all countries.
- “2) The Straits should be always open to the passage of warships of the Black Sea Powers.
- “3) Passage through the Straits for warships not belonging to the Black Sea Powers shall not be permitted except in cases specially provided for.
- “4) The establishment of a regime of the Straits, as the sole sea passage, leading from the Black Sea and to the Black Sea, should come under the competence of Turkey and other Black Sea powers.
- “5) Turkey and the Soviet Union, as the powers most interested and capable of guaranteeing freedom to commercial navigation and security in the Straits, shall organize joint means of defense of the Straits for the prevention of the utilization of the Straits by other countries for aims hostile to the Black Sea Powers.
“The Soviet Government is informing the Governments of the United States of America and Great Britain regarding the present declaration.”
The Soviet Union has directed me to bring this to the knowledge of the Government of the United States of America.
- Handed to Acting Secretary Acheson by Soviet Chargé Orekhov August 7, 1946, 5:30 p.m. The text of this note was sent to the Secretary of State, who was in Paris attending the Paris Peace Conference, in Department’s telegram 3966, August 8, 8 p.m., repeated as 567 to Ankara, 5931 to London, and 1454 to Moscow. The note was summarized in telegram 987, August 9, 7 p.m., to Athens and repeated as 530 to Bucharest and 251 to Sofia. In telegram MA 50681, August 12, from Moscow to the War Department in response to Department’s telegram 1454, it was stated: “We do not believe that an attack on Turkey will be made at present, although the possibility of such action exists.” (Lot 58–D799, Box 5567, folder “Turkish Straits”)↩
- See telegram 1049, October 30, 1945, to Ankara, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. VIII, p. 1265.↩
- See aide-mémoire, November 22, 1945, from the British Embassy, ibid., p. 1281.↩