767.68119/8–2246: Telegram

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


912. Re Embtel 911.76 “To return to practical ends which Govt of Soviet Union would appear wish attain through note August 7, Govt of Republic takes it that it is question putting into application of [the] procedure for quinquennial revision provided for in article 29 of Montreux Convention. Choice of date for giving notice, as well as [Page 853] indication of actions of proposed amendments would seem militate in favor such interpretation. If such is indeed intention of Soviet Govt, request for revision formulated ought, in order be admissible, fulfill certain conditions provided for in above-mentioned article 29 of convention. Principally necessary that request be supported by one or two contracting parties depending upon what articles of convention [it] is [a] question of modifying. Then request, thus supported, must be notified to all contracting parties 3 months before expiration current 5 years. Govt of Republic, which had noted desire for revision expressed Soviet Govt and which moreover desires satisfy wish expressed by American public opinion concerning use of maritime passages, does not intend, insofar as it is concerned, create any difficulty as regards placing in application, with agreement of signatories Montreux Convention and USA and through international conference including above-mentioned powers, of every demand for revision provided for by convention and examination of proposed amendments in concert with said powers.

As regards basic part of question raised, Govt of Republic cognizant five principles constituting Soviet amendments. It observes that three first points take up in more or less identical terms suggestions presented Nov 2, 1945 by Govt USA for adaptation [readaptation] Montreux Convention to present conditions. In reply then made to American suggestions, Turk Govt stated inter alia ‘that it pertained to international conference of signatories provided for by structure itself of Montreux Convention to determine best way conciliate principle freedom of passage through Straits for merchant and war vessels with rights of sovereignty and security of Turkey.77

[‘]That once it had been informed of full viewpoints three powers represented at Potsdam regarding Straits question it would not fail proceed to thorough study of problem, study after which it would hasten convey its point of view to three above-mentioned powers; that it was nonetheless at moment permitted to say that Turk Govt received favorably American suggestions which, under certain conditions and reservations, were worthy being taken as basis for discussion, that as regards participation USA Govt in proposed conference, Turk Govt regarded it not only as realization warm desire but also as imperative international necessity.’

Same answer applies at present to 31st [three first] propositions contained in Soviet note.

It is not the same case with propositions contained in points 4 and 5 of said note which require more thorough consideration. As regards point 4 in particular, Soviet note seems foresee new Straits [Page 854] regime set up on new basis and in development of which only Turkey and powers bordering Black Sea would participate to exclusion of all others. Such concert [concept] seems in first place set aside remainder of duration of Montreux Convention which is scheduled exist at least until 1956 and procedure for revision which excludes by definition setting up of new regime general economy of which would depart from Montreux regime. It seems moreover desire ignore interests of other powers signatory to convention which have equal right participate negotiations and signature revised text [and] which make evident in most definite manner their desire to take part these negotiations.

As for 5th principle set forth in Soviet note, Govt of Republic states that this proposition aims at nothing less than organizing security of Straits against any aggression coming from Mediterranean by means of establishment combined Turk-Soviet defense.

From national point of view, Soviet proposition not compatible with inalienable rights sovereignty of Turkey nor with its security which brooks no restriction. Moreover, from international point of view same proposition raises as well gravest objection.

Acceptance of Soviet thesis would result suppression role of factor of equilibrium and liaison played by Turkey in Straits and to build so-called security of Black Sea powers upon annihilation security of Turkey. Turk Govt experiences many difficulties understand Soviet apprehensions which new security system set forth in August 7 note would remove. Govt of Republic considers that Turkey is herself interested defend by all her means the country against all aggression no matter whence it comes. History gives no example of war in which Turkey has been involved without Turk nation having accomplished its duty to country. Thus up to Turkey take all measures necessary insure security of country against every danger which may come from abroad. If Turkey had not been in position defend by its own means the sovereign rights which it exercises over Straits it would not have escaped during greatest war history has known, fate of its neighbors which were all attacked or occupied. Moreover, to desire further to strengthen form of defense having already been proven, at very moment when all nations of world are competing in order to bring their contribution to greater [create an] era of peace and security, would be to deny existence and aims of United Nations Charter and would show toward these same nations, of which ideal is to preserve future generations from scourge of war, a mistrust of which Turk Govt is unable to understand cause.

Surest guarantee for security Soviet Union in Black Sea resides, not in search for privileged strategic position in Straits, position incompatible [Page 855] with dignity of sovereign [rights of an independent country, but in the restoration of friendly and trusting relations with a strong Turkey, which, as far as it is concerned, is determined to dedicate itself with all its strength to the inauguration of this happy era, but whose efforts in this direction must be seconded by an equal good will coming from its northern neighbor. Moreover, beyond this important guarantee furnished by Turkey herself, the Turkish Government, as cosignatory with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of the San Francisco Charter, believes that it has the right to think that, in the new concept of] war, security of each country is under guarantee of international forces placed in service of UNO by UN of which Soviet Union as well as Turkey are members.

Consequently even in wholly improbable case where Soviet Union feared attack on its Black Sea positions as result of aggression coming from Mediterranean through Straits, Turk Govt considers that there would be reason for it to rely on efficacy of UNO to which Turkey as far as it is concerned remains firmly attached.

Copy of this note has been sent to signatories of Montreux Convention as well as to USA delegate [Government] which Turkey would be happy see participate international conference for revision Montreux Convention.”

Department repeat to Paris if desired.

  1. Not printed; it reported that the Turkish Foreign Office had given the American Embassy an official copy of the Turkish note of August 22 to the Soviet Union. (767.68119/8–2246) The note was 17 pages long, 10 of which refuted Soviet charges of violation of the Montreux Convention. Substantive questions were treated in the remainder, quoted in telegram 912. The note was handed to the Soviet Chargé on August 22 and published on August 24. Bracketed insertions and corrections in this telegram are based on the complete text of the note printed in The Problem of the Turkish Straits, p. 50.
  2. For Prime Minister Saraçoğlu’s statement at press conference, December 5, 1945, see telegram 1541, December 6, 1945, from Ankara, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. viii, p. 1282.