740.5/4–2451: Telegram

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


674. During past weeks Turk public and press have grown increasingly preoccupied with urgent need for firm security arrangement that would, on contractual basis, link Turkey to Atlantic Pact Powers or directly with US. This vital question has colored Turk reaction to recent international developments, such as disorders in Iran, trouble [Page 516]between Israel and Syria,1 and MacArthur’s recall,2 all of which, in Turk opinion, bear out thesis that Turkey cannot be left without security guarantees in face of deteriorating world conditions.

Turks claim, with considerable justification, that their request for NATO membership is a lead from strength rather than from weakness. They profess, with evident sincerity, inability to comprehend reluctance certain NATO Powers to accept offer of “strongest army in Europe” and of only nation in Middle East with mil power capable of resisting aggression and which with Greece, cld constitute “Eisenhower’s strong right flank”.

Concurrent resolution US Congress specifically naming Greece and Turkey,3 as well as semiofficial statements that France not “unsympathetic” to Turk aspirations re security guarantee, have raised public hopes. Furthermore, press speculation almost universal that “informal conference” in Ankara of Turk Ambassadors from London, Paris and Rome, culminating in 3½ hour mtg Apr 23 with Pres Bayar and high govt officials, has been mainly concerned with formulation new approach re NATO membership to be presented to appropriate officials certain European powers by FonMin Koprulu on occasion forthcoming mtg FonMins of Council of Europe.4

Local feeling now quite different from what it was at time Turk request for NATO membership presented to FonMins in New York last Sept, when it was apparent Turk Govt hardly dared hope for affirmative reply. General optimism at this time based on Turk performance in Korea,5 widespread recognition that Turk armed forces represents firm bastion in shaky Middle East, and growing realization of non-Communist world that all elements of strength, regardless of their geographical location, must be brought into unified security arrangements to resist Sov imperialistic intentions.

No significance attached to actual form which security guarantee might take. Nihat Erim in April 24 Hurses editorial states: “Turkey’s latest approach (i.e., by Erkin to Dept last Jan) has left every form open for America—whether it is acceptance into Atlantic Pact, America’s participation in British-French-Turk alliance, a separate regional agreement for the Mediterranean, or even any other form that America may establish, as long as Ankara and Wash unite under a written guarantee”.

There is too, in press and official circles, undercurrent of apprehension [Page 517]lest present high national morale may weaken if early conclusion some such arrangement with West not achieved.6

Foregoing is pertinent to consideration penultimate para Embtel 663, April 19.7

  1. For documentation on the disorders in Iran and tensions between Israel and Syria, see volume v .
  2. For documentation on the relief of General MacArthur as Commander in Chief. United Nations Command in Korea, see volume vii .
  3. See editorial note, p. 524.
  4. For documentation on U.S. encouragement of efforts toward the economic and political integration of Western Europe, see volume iv .
  5. For documentation on Turkish participation in the Korean War see volume v .
  6. On April 30, Turkish Ambassador Erkin “expressed disappointment” to McGhee over the fact that he had nothing “concrete to take back to Turkey” regarding an early American security commitment to Turkey. For more than 2 years, Erkin continued, he had been reporting to Ankara that the U.S. Government was considering the matter and yet nothing of consequence had been forthcoming. Turkey might be forced to take security measures of its own if the United States did not move soon, the Ambassador said, adding that this did not mean that Turkey “would ‘shake hands with Russia.’” McGhee hastened to assure Ambassador Erkin that the United States was giving “thorough and active study” to the problem and he urged the Ambassador to impress upon his Government that it “not ‘rock the boat’ by taking some new line or new measure that might upset the good progress that is being made in reaching a solution to this problem.” When queried as to whether the United States had discussed the question with other NATO countries, McGhee “replied that he felt he could say that we had had continuing discussions since last September with the principal NATO countries on the general subject, but he did not elaborate further.” (Memorandum of conversation, by C. Robert Moore of the Office of Greek-Turkish-Iranian Affairs, April 30, 740.5/4–3051)
  7. Telegram 663 of April 19, from Ankara reported Ambassador Wadsworth’s concern that anticipated cuts in projected economic and military aid would create a “very difficult public relations problem” with the Turks and would strain further their ties with the West (782.58/4–1951).