Am decis ca acest articol sa il public si in limba engleza cu gandul ca se refera la o perioada mai putin cunoscuta de catre europeni din istoria lunga si plina in evenimente a Turciei.
The abolition of the Ottoman Empire was confirmed on the 10th of August 1920 through the Treaty of Sevres. At the same time, the territories that formed the Empire had to be divided again. Thus, Greece took the region of the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Thrace, the English and the French divided among themselves Iraq, Arabia and Syria. The Italians and the French obtained the South and the South-East of Anatolia. They also took the Straits which were the most important regions wanted by the European forces.
The tension that followed due to these divisions concretized through a strong opposition against this situation, encouraged by one of the main leaders, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The conflict between the followers of the Sultan and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s supporters, who were against the empire, was eventually in favor of those who, gradually, on the 29th of October 1923, set the basis of the Turkish Republic.
The transition from a government form to another one was not easy at all, especially because the Sultan had become a real life figure; he was considered Allah’s chosen servant and he was responsible to lead the people both from the religious and administrative point of view. The change was benefic for the Turkish society although, at the beginning, people were suspicious about Ataturk’s reforms. The main concern of the Turkish state leader was to win the state’s autonomy and this was recognized through the Treaty of Lausanne, on the 24th of July 1923, when the foreign troops that had invaded their territory finally withdraw. The main goal of the new state’s external policy was to establish an alliance policy, trying to sign treaties in order to maintain their political steadiness and their territorial integrity.
1. Turkish Economy during the interwar period
The economic factor was one of the most important aspects of this period. The Kemalists considered that Turkey will be able to settle down from the economic point of view without depending upon foreign funds. They manifested a skeptical attitude because they were afraid of not being able to maintain the stability of the public expenses. Thus, they refused to think that the international loan would be the solution to their problems. Turkey was also affected by the worldwide economic crisis and thus, during 1929-1930 they had to confront with the decreasing of the Turkish lira. The Turkish government decided to make a loan to the National City Bank of New York and also to accept the help of the Soviet Union. Ankara signed treaties with Germany (1933, 1939), Soviet Union (1934) and Great Britain (1936, 1938) in order to enhance the ware’s process. Due to these agreements, the Turkish govern decided to check the economic transfers of the country. After the 23rd of November 1937 these decisions were strengthened by law.
For a long period of time Turkey managed to obtain loans from countries which were against their independency during their fight for freedom. In 1939 Turkey obtained as loan for 10 years the amount of 150 millions marks from Germany and also from France they received materials and war tools that valued around 14 tones of gold and 533 millions francs.
After all that happened, the government had to apply a nationalizing politic. Eventually, they had to concentrate upon establishing a national well-balanced budged within the mixed economic system and also there were taken strict measures to prevent the inflation. They tried to reduce the foreign trade deficit. Despite the resistance policy against the foreign capital, the Turkish government had to accept the loans provided that the state’s independence won’t be threatened.
Being aware of the geostrategical position of Turkey, Ataturk said that “in politics, we strive for maintaining the order, internal security, collaboration and for keeping the external agreements. Regarding the state’s security, he said: “first of all we trust our own forces, and then we rely upon our alliances. Our geographic position makes un believe that we’ll play an important role in Europe and in the Near East. This role is put aside by every foreign ideological suggestions; yet, away from us the desire to fight against these ideas, we’re only looking for our peace.” As he was a skilful politician, Ataturk foresaw the conflict that was to come: “A world conflict will break out very soon. Adventurers like Hitler and Mussolini will drown the world in blood. The balance of the forces will turn round. Turkey must commit no mistake during this conflict.”
2. The death of the “Turkey’s father”. Turkish perspectives over the Balkan Alliance
The disappearance of the Turkish leader marked an important step for the development of the Turkish foreign relationships. The official leaders of that time worried about the changes of Turkey’s external policy that occurred due to the new president of the republic.
The new president had to be elected from among the closest followers of Ataturk. The prime-minister Celal Bayar nominated Marshal Fevzi Cakmak for the state’s commander position. Cakmak was also sustained by Kilic Ali, Recep Peker and Sukru Haya. But the marshal refused to give up the army. During the National Meeting on the 11th of November 1938 Ismet Inonu, one of the Ataturk’s collaborators, is elected with full votes as the 2nd president of Turkey. Ismet Inonu charged Celal Bayar to establish the new government constitution which suffered only two changes: Sukru Saracioglu replaced T.R. Aras and Sukru Kaya replaced Refik Saydam. The sentimental dimension of this situation was deep enough, as many leaders wanted to change the capital’s name from Ankara to Ataturk.
On the 26th of December the parliament allotted Ataturk the title of “the eternal leader” and the new president received the title of the “national leader”. Beside the responsibilities of a president of the Republic, Ismet Innu also became the Party’s President, CHP.
The kemalists’ activity from 1938 reveals the fact that the political power of that time was in disagreement with the democratic principles. The progress made between 1923 and 1938 was assigned to Ataturk. Starting from 1938 the population manifested a distrustful attitude towards the abilities of some kemalist leaders.
Inonu, the new president of Turkey, together with the new government established by Celal Bayer, followed faithfully Ataturk’s foreign policy, especially the Balkan Alliance policy. The Turkish press often wrote about the Balkan Alliance, as the journalists were impressed by the large number of persons involved in the Alliance’s army. The well-known Turkish journalist, Iunus Nadi, published on the 17th of December 1938 in “La Republique” French newspaper, an article in which he stated that The Balkan Alliance could become a great power, with a well-trained 5 millions soldiers army “ready to fight against the enemies with great fierceness and strength, no matter from where they might come.”
On the international relationships scene, the states tried to attract Turkey on the side of the two alliances that were shaping at that time. Germany made efforts to take Turkey on their side due to its great geographical position, but also for the good relationships they had in the past. This was a sensitive problem because Turkey was a member of the Balkan Alliance and together with Romania, Turkey tried to convince Bulgaria to give up to its alliance with Germany and adhere to the Balkan Alliance. Moreover, before his death, Ataturk stated that the “adventurer Hitler” only wants to develop his revisionist plans that will eventually lead to war. Turkey finally refused Germany’s offer, as it had already chosen to have a defensive policy for maintaining its borders and good relationships based on equality with the states belonging to the Balkan Alliance. On the other side, Great Britain and France urged the countries from the Balkan region to cooperate for peace.
3. The Turkish-Romanian relationships in Balkan region
In the international context of the year 1938, the Great Powers of Europe had begun to discuss among themselves about the fate of the Central and South-East Europe states. Both Romania and Turkey, belonging to these geographical regions, were equally interested about the Great Powers’ opinions.
France and Great Britain supported the small states from Central and South-East of Europe in their attempt to associate. Thus, Winston Churchill declares that there must be founded a defensive alliance that will gather all those states that would fight for their independency: Romania, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Poland.
In the first phase of this action, the one who actively responded to the Churchill’s idea was Romania and it was followed by its Balkan allies, Yugoslavia, Turkey and Greece. On the other side, these states tried to identify efficient ways to attract Bulgaria into the Balkan Alliance. The leaders of the Balkan Alliance Foreign Affairs decided in unanimity that they should try again to get closer to Bulgaria.
Yet, in 1938 Bulgaria attained several loans from Germany, proving that the relationships with Germany improved. The neutral analysts stated that Bulgaria was attached by Germany by economic loans provided the fact that the stat would accept the same foreign policy. On the other side, Germany’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stated that: this new loans will be useful for the German expansion in Balkans, will increase the Bulgarian army supplies with armament and will stop the claim for money of other Western Powers.
Relying upon the principle of collaboration, the Balkan Alliance offered Turkey territorial safety, especially from the Italian menace. In the case of a common organized resistance, Romania and Turkey would try to obtain the needed military support in order to maintain their territorial integrity with the help of their military allies.
Turkey’s intentions with these alliances were in fact to maintain the territorial security of its borders. Its objectives in the field of the foreign affairs was to exert good relations with the states that bore a policy of peace and also to conserve their status of a neutral state. Through the British ambassador to Ankara, Sir Percy Horraine, Great Britain assured Turkey that the policy of the region won’t be affected.
Romania also tried to discover opportunities to defend its sovereignty, national independency and territorial integrity. Romania’s foreign affairs policy depended upon the traditional relations with France and Great Britain, on the Balkan Pact and the Little Entente, the two regional security organizations Romania was a member of, and also upon the alliance with Poland.
Romania had a dynamic policy and actively involved in the research of new possibilities for a middle country as it was. While the French and English governments hold a reconciliation policy with Germany, Romanian authorities looked to create an appropriate environment that would facilitate the achievement of their purpose.
As it was favorable for the Balkan States to maintain close relationships with England and friendly relations with Italy and the rest of Great European Powers, T.R. Aras, the secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, declared that the Balkan Alliance was interested to avoid every action that would keep Germany or Russia away. Due to their force and geographical position, both powers constitute an equilibrium factor that should be noticed. Another strategy could lead to a partnership between Germany and Russia, and that would be an inconvenience for the South-Eastern European countries. Turkey did not fight against the German powers, but also it did not become an instrument for the German interests. Authorities from Ankara sustained that the Balkan allies could be sure that no offensive of Germany could ever separate Turkey from the Balkan Pact. The idea that Germany could constrain the other Balkan states, starting with Turkey, should to be left out. Consequently, Romania and the other allies shouldn’t worry at all. By being unified, this organization represented a force that had to be respected by Germany, for fear of not having it as an enemy and also loosing Italy as an ally.
Romania made considerable efforts to create a strong bond between the states from the Central and South-East of Europe, in order to resist to Germany’s expansion.
The German statesman, Fabricius, thought that The Balkan Entente and the Little Entente would pretty soon decline because Romania is afraid of Russia, Yugoslavia fears Italy and Czechoslovakia if frightened by Germany.
The Greco-Turkish relations and the special situation of the treaty between these two countries continued to improve and in April 1938 they signed a new treaty. The latest treaty represents a prolongation of the old friendship treaties and cordial understanding signed in 1930 and 1933. Moreover, the essence of the new treaty corresponds with the ample structure of the Balkan Pact, and in the same time there was collaboration between Turkey and Greece on the other side of the Balkan region, next to the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean Sea, despite their common interests in this particular region. Regarding the treaty’s importance, it is against nobody and also it cannot be seen by Italy because both countries had amiable treaties with it.
The Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr T. rusty Aras declares: “Turkey and Greece are satisfied by the Anglo – Italian agreement because it brings harmony and relief in the Eastern Mediterranean region.” It would be also ideal to constitute a Franco- Italian agreement, but due to the Franco-Russian and German-Italian relations, it would be difficult to realize it in these conditions.
The content of the treaty was defined as follows: “The organization offers reciprocal guarantees to all territorial and maritime borders. For the common territorial assurance are valid the same obligations of autonomy assistance of the Balkan Alliance. For the other problems, they chose the method of the army’s neutrality and obligatory guidance. This convention establishes the minimal mutual insurance but does not restrain the maximum and does not exclude the help of the army; it only avoids the idea of automatism. The treaty also does not imply the signing of an immediate military convention, but it requires communication, information and specific coordination between the Great Military Majority States.
T.R. Aras mentioned that, more than the Balkan Pact, this treaty imposes clearly to the Greece and Turkey to consult each other for every action before signing treaties with other states.
After Greece, Celala Bayer, the president of the Ministers Board, together with T.R. Aras, the Minister of the Foreign Affairs, announced their visit to Belgrade. On the occasion of this diplomatic sojourn, Milan Stoiadinovici, the President f the Ministers Board, stated: “your pay us a visit that is not only a proof of the cordial relations between our countries, but it is also an opportunity for sharing our views upon things that interests us, a new manifestation of the constructive and pacifist spirit of the Balkan Alliance, this precious international organization that bounds our two countries with our friendly neighbors, Romania and Greece. Referring to the security within the Balkan Alliance, he underlined that the god relations with all our neighbors sustain the guarantees given by the international treaties and they also ensures the order in this part of Europe. Celal Bayar concluded that their countries, which fought to maintain a common peace and welfare, together with the other members of the Balkan Alliance, represented the assurance of a growing solidarity among his members and this situation also allowed them to develop good relations with other European powers. Before he started his tour in Balkan, Mustafa Kemal, the president of Turkey, declared: “The Balkan Union expresses an ideal that have always attracted us. I am happy to see that this ideal broadens day by day, the foundation on which it is being built.”
4. The fluctuations in the Central- South Eastern regions
Edvard Benes, the Czechoslovak president, as a member of the Central-East European space, militated for keeping the territorial integrity and finding a solution for the disagreement between Germany and Czechoslovakia.
From a military point of view, the German army, which represented the main menace cast upon the Balkan security, was getting stronger day by day. This situation was perceived also by Winston Churchill who declared that the German army was, at that moment, at least twice as powerful as the English one. Along with the coming of von Papen as ambassador to Ankara, it was obvious that Germany had been looking after hegemony in Central Europe and in the Orient.
The Romanian army was deficiently equipped to face the tool war’s demands which had been prefiguring, lacking the overseen line mob, adequate tanks, auto cannons and air forces. The efforts made between ’38 – ’39 couldn’t eliminate the armament and war’s techniques deficiency, especially because France and Great Britain had tried long ago to credit Romania for the army’s provision, in spite of it’s insistent actions.
Considering Romania, on the 19th of April 1938, the Superior Council of the Romanian Army analyzed the country’s condition from the military point of view and concluded: “the imminently danger comes from the west where Hungary and especially Germany might determine us to bear a war in extremely hard circumstances, without any help from Czechoslovakia, which might be regenerated by Germany even without Yugoslav support”.
The Great state of Turkey thought that after the events that took place in Central Europe starting from March till present, it is necessary that Balkan Alliance’s states should be unified not only from the politic and economic point of view, but also from the military point of view, so that their declarations would have a greater importance in the South-Eastern Europe’s policy.
The prime minister’s Neville Chamberlain declaration was relevant as he stated that Great Britain cannot offer any special guarantee to Czechoslovakia due to the fact that this region did not represent an interest as vital as France or Belgium. From the judicial point of view, Great Britain’s duties toward Czechoslovakia are only those that result from the National Society Agreement and also those which indirectly derive from the country’s duties towards France and Belgium established through the Treaty f Locano, a mutual agreement signed between France and Czechoslovakia.
Concerning the agreement between Italy and Great Britain at Rome on the 16th of April 1938, Nicolae Petrescu Comnen, the new Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, declared that Romania, who is involved in two organizations- the Little Entente and the Balkan Pact- wanted to express its feelings for this situation together with the other members of these organizations, through telegrams that the Balkan Pact’s president of that time, I. Metaxas, addressed in a large number in the name of all members of the association, to the English and Italian governors.
After the visit of the Balkans, Celal Bayer, the president of the Turkish Ministers’ Board, pictured in front of the Turkish Parliament the conclusions of the discussion with Regent Prince Paul and his homologue, Stoiadinovici, mentioning the Balkan’s solidarity and the friendship between Turkey and Yugoslavia. About the visit made in the Bulgarian capital, the same one remarked the pleasant welcome and Bulgaria’s desire to collaborate with the Balkan Alliance.
On the 28th of May, Ioannis Metaxas, the president of the Balkan Alliance was empowered to start the negotiations with Bulgaria in order to attract it on the Balkan Alliance. Consequently, on the 31st of July 1938, the Salonic Agreement was signed by the Balkan Alliance, represented by Ioannis Metaxas, and the Bulgarian prime minister, Mr. Ghiorghi Kiosseiovanov. The involved parts obliged themselves to give up at the exertion of the naval, military, air causes, and also the causes referring to the delimitation of the Turkish-Bulgarian borders, to the peace Treaty of Neuilly signed with Bulgaria and also those confirmed in the Lausane Convention. Bulgaria expressed its desire to maintain the peace in Balkans, good relations with the neighbors, trust and co-operation with the Balkan states. Great Britain, France and URSS were opened to this perspective regarding the Balkan. France and Great Britain tried to keep Bulgaria away of the Axis through some economic agreements. But due to the Bulgarian foreign policy revisionism that was supported by Germany because the powers’ overthrow in Europe, its policy remains the same. The Agreement certified that Bulgaria was military attaché to the peace consolidation policy in Balkan, and the powers of the Balkan Alliance were inspired by the peaceful aspirations and the desire for collaboration manifested towards Bulgaria.
By signing this treaty, the members committed themselves to restrain from any force attack according to the lack of aggression assumed in this agreement. In June 1938, Carol the 2nd went to Istanbul to meet the Turkish officials and on the 19th of June he met Mustafa Kemel Ataturk on the board of Savarona , his new ship, the largest in the world at that time, which weighted 6200 tones.
During his meeting with the Turkish State leader , Carol tried to reach Russia by the help of Turkey. After signing the treaty with England, Turkey denounced his economic agreement with Germany and tried to sign a more favorable one.
As we will see, these treaties had a peaceful character from the moral point of view, because in fact the Balkan powers were not strong enough to face the German provisions for a war. This fate was clearly realized after 23rd of August 1939.
Articol publicat in Analele Facultatii de Istorie Spiru Haret nr. 9/2008