The British Embassy to the Department of State

top secret
G93/ /47


In the course of his conversations with the Minister of Defence on October 15, 1946, Mr. Byrnes emphasized that the United States Government was as interested in developments in Turkey as in Greece, and stated that the United States Government was prepared to do everything possible to help Turkey economically, expressing the hope that His Majesty’s Government on their side would be able to provide the military equipment required to bring the Turkish forces into a sufficient state of readiness.

2. His Majesty’s Government subsequently undertook a fresh study of the Turkish military and economic situation, the latter being carried out jointly by the British and American Commercial Counsellors in Turkey, in accordance with arrangements made with the United States Government.

3. On the military side, the Chiefs of Staff have examined the strategic importance of Turkey, the state of the Turkish Armed Forces, and the assistance necessary to bring these forces into a reasonable state of preparedness. The conclusions of the British Chiefs of [Page 36] Staff, which are available at the British Joint Staff Mission in Washington, are briefly as follows:—

that it is of the greatest importance that Turkish independence should be maintained;
that the Turkish Armed Forces as they exist at present would not be able to offer effective resistance to aggression by a first-class power;
that in their present state of efficiency the mere provision of modern weapons would do little to increase the Turkish Armed Forces’ power of resistance. The first requirement is to strengthen Service requirement in Turkey with a view to advising the Turks how best to improve the organisation and raise the general standard of training of all three Services;
that when this has been done it would be possible to estimate more clearly what amount of material assistance would be required. As at present advised, the Chiefs of Staff consider that the Turkish Army will require a very large measure of re-equipment and they do not consider that this task could be undertaken by the United Kingdom owing to shortage of manpower and productive capacity. Consequently the task would have to be undertaken by the United States. His Majesty’s Government could probably look after the needs of the Navy and Air Force, provided satisfactory financial arrangements can be made.

4. The economic situation has been exhaustively discussed locally between the British and American Commercial Counsellors, and His Majesty’s Government understand that a very full report was sent to Washington by the United States Commercial Counsellor on December 23, 1946. His Majesty’s Government have no reason to dissent from the main conclusions of the American representative’s report, and the following appear to be the salient features of the Turkish economic situation:—

5. Turkey can finance her current foreign exchange requirements out of the proceeds of her exports; she can also maintain her existing industry without further foreign financial assistance. On the other hand, she would not be able to finance any extensive programme of industrial development, such as the Turkish Government have in mind, or meet any substantial foreign exchange demands for armaments without either drawing on her gold resources or borrowing from abroad. As regards foreign exchange, current income and liabilities roughly cancel out over a period of twelve months. On the other hand, the last available Central Bank statement shows gold reserves of approximately pounds sterling 59 million. It is understood that the Finance Minister insists that he must hold at least half of this amount as cover for the note issue if confidence in the currency is to be maintained. The balance could reasonably be used either for a programme of economic and industrial development, transport, ports, agricultural, [Page 37] coal-mining etc., or for the purchase of armaments. There is clearly not enough for both. If, therefore, Turkey is to be able to carry out any plan of extensive military reorganisation and also a plan of economic development, which in itself would be desirable in order to increase the military preparedness of the country, Turkey must look for financial assistance from abroad. In their existing financial situation His Majesty’s Government could not, as the United States Government will readily appreciate, contemplate themselves making any further credits available to Turkey. Consequently, Turkey would have to look either to the United States Government or to one of its lending agencies, such as the Import-Export Bank, or to the International Bank or the International Monetary Fund.

6. In view of the great interest shown by the United States Government in the situation in Turkey, His Majesty’s Government wish now to suggest that the strategic and military position of Turkey should be considered by the Combined Chiefs of Staff in the light of the conclusions reached by the British Chiefs of Staff in their recent studies, with a view to making recommendations to the United States Government and His Majesty’s Government regarding the measures which should be taken to bring the Turkish Armed Forces up to a reasonable state of preparedness. For their part, His Majesty’s Government would be ready, if the Combined Chiefs of Staff agree that this would be useful, to Send to Turkey additional Military, Naval and Air Advisers amounting to some 60 officers, for whom the Turkish Government asked some months ago.1 On the economic side, His Majesty’s Government would be glad to know whether the United States Government have any suggestions to make as to how a programme of military reorganisation that may be recommended by the Combined Chiefs of Staff should be financed.

  1. The British Embassy corrected this sentence in an aide-mémoire of March 6, which stated: “While His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom are prepared to provide sixty British officers in all, the reference in the aide-mémoire [of February 21] should have been to only thirty additional officers as thirty are already there.” (867.00/3–647)