882.181/1–1551: Despatch

The First Secretary of the Embassy in Turkey (Baxter) to the Department of State

No. 377

Ref: Department’s A–114, December 27, 19502

Subject: Turkish-Bulgarian Agreement on Resumption of Immigration

In the Grand National Assembly on January 5, 1951, Foreign Minister Köprülü, in reply to an interpellation, gave information which answers the questions in the Department’s airgram No. A–114.

The Foreign Minister stated that, after the closing of the frontier on October 8, the Turkish Government informed the Bulgarian Government of its willingness to reopen the frontier and to accept all properly documented immigrants then waiting at the border on the following conditions:

Bulgaria would issue exit visas only to those who were already provided with Turkish entry visas;
Bulgaria would immediately accept those persons detained by Turkish frontier authorities because they had attempted to enter Turkey without Turkish entry visas.

After Sofia had accepted these conditions, the Turkish Chargé in Sofia informed the Bulgarian Foreign Office on November 29 that the Turkish Government was prepared to open the frontier to normal traffic on December 2. On the same day the terms of the agreement were made public.

“This agreement was not reached by an exchange of signed notes between the two countries,” the Foreign Minister continued, “but following the delivery by our Chargé d’Affaires to the Bulgarian authorities, in response to the demand presented by Sofia for the opening of the frontier, of a text containing the terms previously published in the communiqué released to the press, and of the interview held the same day in the course of which the Deputy Minister of [Page 1101] Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Mr. Ivkof, orally and in his official capacity informed the Turkish Chargé in Sofia that the text had been accepted. This kind of verbal agreement, which in diplomatic language is called a ‘gentlemen’s agreement,’ is as valid as a signed note.”

Mr. Köprülü further stated that the agreement with the Bulgarian Government contained no stipulations with regard to the number of immigrants to be accepted by Turkey, the Turkish Government having reserved its right to limit the number of immigrants to the material resources of the country. Between the reopening of the frontier in early December and January 1, 1951, a total of 18,847 immigrants have arrived in Turkey from Bulgaria.

Pointing out that no machinery had ever been set up to implement the article in the 1925 Turkish-Bulgarian Convention providing for the transfer of property of Bulgarians of Turkish origin and Turks of Bulgarian origin who wished to emigrate, the Foreign Minister declared that the Turkish Government in all its recent communications to Sofia had repeated its desire to reach an agreement on this subject, and had, in addition, informed the Bulgarian Legation in Ankara of its readiness to enter into negotiations. The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria has now informed the Turkish Chargé d’Affaires in Sofia that technical preparations for the opening of such negotiations have been undertaken and that a definite reply to this question will shortly be given.

William O. Baxter
  1. Not printed.