Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State


Subject: Conversation with Turkish Ambassador

Participants: Mr. Feridun C. Erkin—Ambassador of Turkey
Mr. Dean Acheson—Secretary
Mr. C. Robert MooreGTI

Ambassador Erkin stated that he had been called back to Turkey for consultation and that he wanted to discuss with me two problems of considerable importance to Turkey on which he would be questioned.

1. The status of Turkey’s request for a U.S. security commitment.

Ambassador Erkin pointed out that in view of developments in Iran1 and elsewhere the Turkish people are becoming increasingly disturbed and confused over the fact that Turkey’s proposals to the U.S. with respect to reciprocal security arrangements have received no definite reply. He stated that it would be most helpful, in clarifying the atmosphere, if such a reply could be given, even though it may be negative.

I assured the Ambassador that the Turkish position on this security problem has been ably and forcefully presented by him and by Ambassador Wadsworth and that we fully appreciate its importance to Turkey. We recognize that it is a problem to which we must find a solution and developments since 1947, when we initiated our program of military aid to Turkey,2 are helpful to us in our efforts to find this solution. We in this country have a much greater awareness now than in 1947 of the Soviet menace and of the efforts that are required of the free world to meet it. Turkey itself enjoys a much different position in the U.S. than it did in 1947. The decision of the Turkish Government to send troops to Korea and their fine performance there have greatly increased the favorable atmosphere in this country towards Turkey. Developments such as these are very useful in preparing Congress and the American people for new policy measures that it may be considered desirable to take.

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A decision to extend a security commitment to Turkey (and to Greece, as we assume that similar arrangements would be made for both countries) has many aspects, I continued. In addition to the Turkish aspect, there are the following:

  • 1) The attitude of our European allies.
  • 2) The problems that may be created with respect to Iran and Egypt who might desire similar arrangements.
  • 3) The problems that might be created with respect to a possible Conference of Foreign Ministers.
  • 4) The general problem of obtaining acceptance at home of a new policy decision. In this connection, I commented that I believed the furor created by General MacArthur’s return would die down and that we would soon be able to forge ahead in developing and carrying out our policies.

At this point the Ambassador asked if my reference to the Conference of Foreign Ministers meant that no decision on a security commitment to Turkey could be given until after such a Conference. My reply was that we want to think carefully before taking any action which might have some bearing on such a Conference, in the event that the USSR should really desire an “honest” conference. That does not mean, however, that our study of the security problem will not go forward or that a decision will not be reached until after the Conference has been held.

The Ambassador then asked if we have taken up the security commitment problem with any of the other members of the North Atlantic Council. I replied that I had not done so personally, although it was possible that some of my colleagues may have had informal conversations with representatives of other governments. I added, in reply to the Ambassador’s question, that I did not know the present attitude of the other governments towards the problem. I did feel, however, that Foreign Offices generally were aware that conditions had changed considerably since September 1950, when the question of Turkey’s inclusion in the North Atlantic Treaty was last discussed.3 At the present time, I continued, we are trying to clarify this problem in our own minds and to think through all of the various aspects. When this has been done we will undoubtedly consult with our allies before reaching any final decision. If the consultations reveal difficulties with respect to any one approach to the problem, we will have to consider the problem in the light of those difficulties and the alternatives that may be available.

To sum up, I said that we understand the problem and its importance to Turkey. We are sympathetic in our desire to find a solution to it and this is one of our major preoccupations at present. I stated [Page 1146] that, while no definite decision can be given now, I did not consider the situation unencouraging.

2. Financial Assistance to Turkey.

The Ambassador referred briefly to his several representations to the Department and to ECA regarding the Turkish Government’s request for additional financial aid. He stressed the serious financial problem facing Turkey because of its heavy defense expenditures and urged that an early and favorable reply be given.

I pointed out that informal discussions on the Foreign Assistance Bill for FY 1952 would soon be underway and that it was too early to indicate what aid Turkey might expect to receive in the coming fiscal year. I added that I did not know whether any decision had been reached on the question of additional aid for the present fiscal year but that I would be glad to inquire into the matter.

  1. Regarding events in Iran, see p. 544.
  2. For documentation regarding the initiation of U.S. economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v, pp. 1 ff.
  3. For documentation regarding Turkey’s request in 1950 for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iii, pp. 1 ff. and 1108 ff., and ibid., vol. v, pp. 1224 ff.