335. Telegram From the Embassy in Turkey to the Department of State1
1180. Paris for Wallner and Knight. Rome for Maffitt. Admiral William Fechteler has given me synopsis his conversation yesterday with President Bayar. Conversation began at midday and lasted one hour and fifteen minutes. In addition President and Admiral, there were present on Turkish side Acting Chief of General Staff and Deputy Chief of General Staff with President’s private secretary, Chief of his Secretariat and an interpreter. Admiral Fechteler was accompanied by his Chief of Staff, Major General Frank P. Roberts. Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Defense Minister formed party for luncheon where members of American country team, Lt. General Riley of ICA, Maj. General Dewey Jammat and I were additional guests. Conversation at luncheon was general.
President thanked Admiral Fechteler for taking trouble to come Turkey at his invitation and said he considered it necessary talk about critical situation in Turkey and its implications before there is a catastrophe. President said he wished discuss political, military and economic aspects of Turkish situation in that order. According to Bayar, Russians have stepped up their campaign against Turks. Thousands of leaflets printed in Lebanon in Turkish are smuggled through Syria to Turkey and distributed in principal cities especially Izmir, where, as in Istanbul, there is floating population of marginal workers running into tens of thousands people. These leaflets attack [Page 667] Government of Turkey as accepting hazards from West and at same time undergoing economic privations, both result of mistaken policy by Turkish Government. Leaflets call for changes in Government and particularly removal of Prime Minister Menderes from office because of his attachment to West and his commitments beyond capacity of country to accomplish with resultant privations now experienced by Turkish people. At same time this campaign going on, which government attempting control largely through its intelligence agencies, Soviets both in Moscow and Ankara are offering Turks as neighbors in need, unlimited economic aid in goods as well as in loans to help them out of their present financial and economic straits. President had before him report of new Ambassador to Moscow, Mr. Kavur, in which President of Soviet Union at time Ambassador presented his credentials last week, made offers of economic aid to Turkey, “without any strings attached”. To these Russian overtures, threats and intrigues, President said, “Turkey is well alerted”. This country he told Admiral, is irrevocably committed to West and particularly to United States and has given ample proof whenever opportunity has been presented to demonstrate its loyalty, but he does not minimize danger of subversion particularly with large elements of urban population now living marginal existence as result of scarcities of necessities of life which, however, do not include food.
On military side, President said United States has been dragging its feet past two years in giving Turkey equipment necessary enable its defense forces meet their NATO commitments. Promises made Prime Minister when he visited United States June 1954 of military equipment not only have not been kept, but no explanation was offered Turks as to why they were not being met. However, added President, as result of recent visit to United States of Acting Chief of Turkish General Staff Tunyjoglu,2 and his conversations with responsible officers of Pentagon, it is believed by Turks that situation now in process of correction and that they can look forward with confidence to continuance of American military support that will enable Turkey to build and maintain its defense establishment up to standard required by its NATO responsibilities.
In economic field, however, situation now faced by Turkey is critical. Arguments that have been advanced by various American officials who have discussed Turkish economic situation are not, President’s opinion, sound. He cited as instance World Bank which has refused further minor credit to Turks and at same time is party to a four hundred million dollar commitment to build a dam in Egypt. He said that there were other instances of American generosity [Page 668] to countries whose political and military commitments to United States are in no sense comparable to that of Turkey and whose position in no sense is as important at this particular time as that of Turkey in Middle East. He said, as his conviction, the financial needs of Turkey arising out of Turkish determination to build economy able support their defense effort within the lifetime of present government, have not had fair hearings. In his opinion, Turkish needs have been gauged by “bookkeepers and small minded men who have kept from attention of President Eisenhower true state Turkish needs and Turkey’s importance to United States”. Feels situation is so critical that it is vital President be informed. Then went on to mention that communiqués will be issued simultaneously in United States and Turkey today that Clarence Randall, who made earlier visit Turkey April 1953,3 will be coming this country again end of this month to make personal investigation of Turkish economy. He hopes as result of Randall visit Government of United States will realize dangers being faced this country as well as its needs and that two Governments may come to understanding to their mutual benefit.
Admiral said President made no specific demands on him in any way of requested action. He has impression that Bayar hopes have passed along Bayar’s estimate of interlocking relations between two countries and the hope that United States may be disposed regard any exceptional aid that may be extended to Turks from political strategic point of view rather than financial and economic one.
Admiral Fechteler returning Naples today.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 782.00/1–1756. Secret. Repeated to Rome, Paris, and London.↩
- Presumably a reference to General Tunaboglu.↩
- In January 1956, the Turkish Government requested that Randall come to Turkey as an adviser on the economic situation. Randall had visited Turkey in August 1953 as the head of a private investment mission.↩