323. Telegram From the Embassy in Turkey to the Department of State1
1289. I took leave last night of Prime Minister Menderes, in one of grimmest interviews in my career. I felt it desirable to reiterate Department’s cautions on prospects any increased aid or loans, and [Page 631] mentioned we entertained some serious misgivings as to some of Turk’s assumptions and estimates, and as to economic policies involving danger of uncontrolled inflation. This led to outburst which, while in general tone “more in sorrow than in anger,” was characterized by bitterness and by an intensity of conviction and determination beyond description. Following are highlights, which I shall try to fill in on my return:2
- Common interests and attitudes of Turkey and United States and resultant friendship must and would go on “forever,” and would survive even refusal of aid.
- Military aid was not in question.3 This is invaluable. Even if Turkey had money, she could not procure indispensable material being provided. For this, he could only say profound thanks. At same time, he trusted Turkish armament served common purpose.
- However, in economic field, United States was alone in being unwilling to extend credit to Turkey. Even “poor” Yugoslavia, Austria and Greece were doing so, in addition to stronger powers like England, Germany and France.
- He had heard nothing but criticism and cries of inflation from Americans since he had been in office. In 1952 when Turkey had sought some special help in insignificant sum of $12 million, Draper, afraid to come himself, had sent Paul Porter to give him disaster line. Porter had predicted financial collapse within a year and no help had been forthcoming.
- There is, in fact, Menderes said, no significant inflation in Turkey and no danger of any. Indeed, if Turkey had had bumper crop last year instead of failure, he would not be seeking help now and be in present position listening to our doubts.
- What did we want him to do? What did we want him to change? Did we want him to stop productive projects, already 98 percent paid for, for lack of the remaining 2 percent? He could not do so. He would find the 2 percent somewhere. Did we expect him to turn down foreign offers of investment which would improve the productive capacity of the country and the standard of living of the people? He was not prepared to do so. Why should he take two [Page 632] years to do things terribly needed in Turkey, which could and should be done in one?
- The logical conclusion of our approach would be that since we cannot change his policy, we would have to change the government. Did we want Turkey to become another Syria? He feared we had no realization of the importance of Turkey vis-à-vis the Soviet Union of the essentiality of continued political stability in this critical spot.
- He was beginning to feel that it would be better just to drop the whole matter. Turkey could get along and would confound our predictions. He was sure our refusal to help Turkey in her time of need would long remain to trouble our conscience.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 882.00/4–2155. Secret. Repeated to Paris Topol.↩
- Warren was returning to the Department for consultation.↩
On April 21, at the 245th meeting of the NSC, Robert Anderson raised the question of Turkey during a discussion of military assistance programs:
“With respect to Turkey, Secretary Anderson indicated that the Department of Defense was in a position to make available $180 million worth of military assistance to Turkey for FY 1955 to meet our commitment to that country. On the other hand, he believed that these funds should not actually be made available to the Turks until receipt of the views of the high-level mission to Turkey, which would attempt to reach conclusions as to the capacity of the Turkish economy to absorb this amount of US assistance without disastrous repercussions.” (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)↩