Turkish- Soviet Collaboration, the Strategi of the Turkish General Staff, and the Turkish Relationship to Romania in the Sovietic-War Period

             The Turkish-Sovietic relations, as well as those between Romania and Turkey need many further studies accomplished, by using different theoretical approches. All of theme should be  based on meticulous analysis  and scientifics  interpretations of the original documents. Since, at present, there is not a comprehensive bibliography in Romanian, I have used some novelty archive  documents in order to make known how the Turkish-Sovietic relations had a series of important repercussions on the diplomatic  and especially the military contacts between Turkey and Romania, in the 1930’s.

              I sheare the opinion of  Jolix  Boylis, Steve  Smuth and Patricia Oriens that in order to understand world politics;  in needs a theory in what concerne the  theoretical perspectives „…theory is not an opinion” [1].

             Each of us has inheritated  a view of the world, from family or from the media groups. But such views were unexplained rather than express. Nowadays we prefer to be as explicit as possible when it comes to think about world politics, and this can be done only if we have a variety of conceptual „lenses” throught which we can look at the facts that occur in our global village.  Therefore, it is proper to say that a theory is a kind of simplifying device how allows us to decide which facts matter and which do not.

             A good analogy is according to the above-mentioned learned persons – with sunglasses with different coloured lenses: „… put the red pair and world looks red, put the yellow pair and it will looks different”[2].

              To award seeing the world „tempting”, I  have chosen to present first the „fact”, in conformity with  the documents in event. In this way I could to supply the needed explanations concerning the circumstances under which it head occured and then to comment on it, pointing the criteria. Which of the four main theories of world politics – Realism, Liberalism, Narcism and Constructivism – helps us more in a better understanding of the events, because „at first right each seems to be particularly good at explaining some aspects of world politics”[3]

             From a telegram sent by Filotti; the Romanian Minister to Turkey, we learn that in November 7, 1935 ( the day when was the anniversary of the Russian October Revolution), Tevfik Rustu ARAS, the Turkish Minister of Foreingn Affaires, and Jeon Karaken, the Ambassador of USSR to Turkey, signed a protocol by means of which the validity of the following official documents was prolonged for an extra ten-years period: The Traty of Amity and Neutrality signed at Paris, in October 17, 1925, the additional Protocol signed at Ankara, on December 17, 1922 and the Naval Accord of March, 1931.

              The initiative of expending the period during which these documents were to be in force had been taken by the Turkish party. The reason was explained by Minister Aras who declared: „…why would we resort to short – termed and consecutive prolongation when there can not be any doubt for any of two states about the permanance of their mutual friendship and about their interest to keep in  force the agreements at issue.”[4] On behalp of the Russian party, Ambassador Karakan stated for the Cumhuriyet Daily: „…the fact that we signed the protocol to prolong the validity period of these accords should not surprise anybody because it is the natural result of the closer relation that have existed between our countries since the fondation of the USSR  and the New Turkey. It is the affirmation of friendship built in a lasting base. This is the significance of the protocol we have signed.”[5].

                For Romania, the signing of that protocol rised several questions marks because, beside the context of the respective documents, it also meant that there was a will of Turkey, to adept a foreign policy nearer to that of the Soviets. It is worth mentioning here that the only collective  accords to which Turkey and the Soviet Union were signatory parties at this time:

               The litiniov Party, The Briand Kellog Pact and the Accord of London on the Agression Definition. Putting it on other waris, these were the only political instrument that showed  publicly and openly the mutual political obligations assured by Turkey and the USSR.[6] But to be clear, why the state of things  was like that, we would rather look at past event, recorded by the history of the relations between Turkey and the USSR.

A Soviet-Turkish joined revolutionary past


              On March 16, 1921, Yusuf Kemal, the delegate of Government from Ankara, signed at Moscov, a Treaty between the Soviet Government and the Turkish Revolutionary Governament. It was the Treaty that placed on a very solid generation the relations between the new states, i:e the Soviet state and the Kemalist State.

               The Treaty was concluded at a time when the Soviets were in conflict with the Western Big Powers where the Turkish nationalists were fighting against Great Britain and it’s Allies to secure its independence.

                It is known that „ in the aftermath of the First World War, Britain was juggling a series of complex and weight problems over the territory in several different contexts. The size and shape of postwar Turkey had to be reserved, as well as the of borders of the post – Ottoman states in Palestin, Syria and Iraq…

                 The British were concerned to constrain, or if possible overturn, the new communist regime in Russia.[7] It means that practically the treaty signed by the two countries in 1921, having  in view the past of war between the two former empires, Russion and Ottomans, set up a psycological base for the later collaboration and friendship.

                  At that historycal moment, in the two neighbord  countries these were two revolutionary regimes that were not recognised abroad being forghit against by all means and they decided to hold out a helping hend to each other and to declare that they would respect mutually their rights and interests, everything secure for them selves. The Turkey’s support and collaboration during the international taken on the Straits regime and them to prevent the fall of the Straits under the influence of others foreings powers. The aime of Turkey was to secure its norther flank (borders), that facing Russia.[8]

                 But this trait drew special attention upon it due to the fact that it was not concluded for a given period of time during which it was to be in force. (Its valability was to be for ever).

Having not stipulated a time limit up to which it wasn’tsubject of any future prolongatives talks. It also means that by signing the Treat, they were considered that between the tow states peace was formally recast. They affirmed in the same time that their mutually friendship and fraternity.

                 By the same Treaty, each signatory party pledged not only  to recognise only political Treat, that normal was supposed in the other party by force. It was stipulated that the states considerated the Turkish-Sovietic borders, beeing fixed for good. Also, they stipulated that they will not tolerate on theirs teritories the carrying on, of any hostil action against the territory of the government on the other side.

It is interesting to notice that Russia renonced to Capitalism and declared all the previos Turkish-Russion conventions null and void.[9]


The Straits Issue

                  Regarding the Straits, the Treaty stipulated: „In order to ensure the free passage through the Straits, which shall be open for all commercial transactions of each. Turkey and Russia agree on entrusting the drafting out of the Black See and the Straits regime/ status to a conference  consisting of the delegates of the reparian states. That was to be hold on a later date, but the decisions they might reach shall not violate in any way the absolute sovereignty of Turkey as well as the security and Turkey and of Constantinopole.[10]

                  From the text above we can infer the Russian hypotheses, i.e their interest to brok the Straits and to ensure their control over the Black See.

                 The Russian diplomats stated on many occasions that the Straits had to be closed for warship of foreing states and their guard and defence should be entrusted to Turkey.

                 This thesis was also put forth and sustained at Lousanne but, because it was not acceptaed and included in the text of the Convention and the Straits the USSR did not safely it. But, on the other hand, Turkey was forced to accept the Straits regime that was established at Joussane. In 1935, it seemed to favour the aspirations that had been provided by the Treaty and this especially due to some positive signals on this issue comming from Kremlin.[11]

                  The Treaty, concluded from an interminanted period of time, reveals firstly the relevation of rapprochement and collaboretion between the two regims. The Treaty wich was concluded in March 16, 1921 had consequences upon the states of the Near and Middle East as well.

                 The Artical 4 form the Treaty stipulate that: „The two contracting parts, seeing the continuance that exists between the national and freedom muvements in the Orient and the struggle of workers in russia for a new social order, declare formally the right of those peoples to freedom and independance as well the right of these people to governe themselves by means of governments in concordance with their owns wish.[12]

To many postwar intellectuals, Jenin, Atallsk, and Mussolini, were modern heroes who accomplished similar goals: national, independance, a a streng military and modernized state, forced and massive capital accumulation and rapid industialism.[13]

                   In what concerne Turkey reality cand say that, at least: „Kemalism was based on six princips: nationalism, republicanism, secularism, populism and revolutionalism.[14]

                   I think that realist perspective in the one which may explain to a certain point why the events developed in the way they did. In this case, the two actors of the warld stage are states, which were legally sovereignty actors. Sovereignty means that these  is an actor above the state.  Realists see  human nature like beeing fixed and selfish.

                  As a result, world politics  represents a struggle for pwer between states. Each one trying to maximaze their national interests. The  world order in the result of the workings of a mechanism known as a balance of power. This international politics are all about alliances, with diplomacy.

                  Since there is no sovereign body above the states, the letter must realy on their military resurces to achive. This events can be achived through cooperation. From this perspective we have a positive explanation of the collaboration between the countries.

                  In spite of this, Russia and Turkey were supporters of different political, national movements which were raging in the Near and Middle East in the 1920’s.

                  Those centuries in Kemal Ataturk set a good exemple. So, afler a succesful military carrer, Ataturk estblished himself as the supreme authority in Turkey. He had secular and nationalist principles, beeing tacked by a strong army. With great determination, he set above a plan for state industrialisation and economic developpement. As other modernisations in the Muslim World, the Kemalists argue that Islam was the cause of the backwordness and decline and that modernization required the suitalim of Westarn forms of culture and organization.

                  In Kemal’s Turkey, the Ottoman Caliphate was abolished in 1924 and Western forms of law, script and dress were enforced.

                  In the same time, it was obvious that the USSR avoilled itself of such an occasion to affirm its solidarity with certain social classes and categories. In this case, the Marxist perspective sems to be of help to explain to us why the working of Treaty continued such provision, to the Marxist theory, which is now also known as structuralisation of world system theory. In this type of world economy the must important actors are not states but classes.States and international organisations represent the downset class interests, a thesis that came across in one of the treates concluded  between Turkey and Russia.

                 Marxist theory conceive world politics as the setting in which class conflicts are played criteria. As for order in world ploitics, Marxist theorists think of it in economic rather than military terms.All the accords which I’ll mantione below, were concluded in order to consolide the cooperation between the communist regime of the USSR and the Kemalist regime of Turkey and all observed the principles stipulated by the Treaty of March 16, 1921.

                 From the various accords concluded between the two countries I would like to mention:

  1. 1.      The Treaty of Amity and Neutrality signed by Cicerin and Rustu Aras in December 17, 1925. The Turkey was concluded for a period of three years on its conclusions. All of his occured at a time when the Turkish-Russian relations had become colder because the fact that Turkey had signed the Treaty of Lousanne  and while Turkey was deeply engaged in a dispute with Great Britain over the borders of Iraq.  The Treaty had also two anexes providing that the  Contractive parties had the right to engage the freedom of accept in relations with other countries but not to take part in political accords and not to conclude economic and financial conventions with other countries. Russia’s intention was to prevent Turkey by means of this Treaty to join the league of Nations. ( at that time the Soviet Union considered the Jeague of Nations as beeing an organisation set up against it). This Treaty was abrogated by force in July 1, 1926.[15]
  1. 2.      The Protocol of December 17, 1929 signed by Teyfik Ruster Aras the Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affaires, and Karahan, the Russian Ambassaor to Turkey. The Treaty of 1929 waS prologed for a period of two years. It was also concluded the fact that the Treaty should be extended automaticaly for another year.  The novelty brought out by this accord was that: „ between either of them and neigher states of the other contracting party there shall be not other arrangements except those that had already been officially published. They pledged not to  enter into negotiations and not to sign political accords with such state what the consent of the other party.”[16]

          Again, there was an explenation; normaly, the accords which refered to the carrying on of normal relations with the neghbourd countries, and there accord had to be public. This sentence was insered in the Protocol by the Soviets who had a very well defined purpose in doing it, normaly to prevet Turkey to conclude any political accord with Poland or Romania. In according with this, turkey could negociate and conclude its Treaty of Friendship with Romania and to join the Balkan Pact only after it informed the Soviet Government and was given the consent.  It is obvious that this reality is more in concordance with liberal views of world politics than with others theories. Liberals say that order in world politics amerges not from a balance of power but from interraction between many loyers of goverming arrangements. They don’t think that sovereignity is as important in practice as Realists think it to be. States may be legally revereign, but in practice they have to negotiet with all sorts of other actror; in our case another state, more powerful and more agressive with the result that their freedom to act as they wish  is seriously curtailed.  Interdependance between the states is critically important feature of world politics.

From this point of view a very delicate issue between the Turkish gouvernment and Soviets one, concerne the Turkey’s wishes; to become a member of the Balkan Alliance but in order to attempt this goal, it needed to inform its Soviet partner and to get its consens before  taking any step in this respect.

Filloti, the Romanian Ambassador to Turkey communicated to the Romanian Government, by a telegram, that during the conversation with the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affaires, he sow the text of the confidancial letters exchanged with the Karatha the Russian Ambassador to Ankara. From the respectiv text resulted that Turkey had communicated officially to the USSR above the existance of the bilatery Convention between Turkey and Romania. According to the Filloti, Rustun Aras, wanted to learn what was the Soviet attitude to the Turkish – Romanian alliance.

The fact that Ambassador Karakhov hastened to agree on it without saying any objection, fully satisfied the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affaires and it was a proof for him that the Soviet placed their relation with Romania on the same level with the relation with Turkey.16

On October 30, 1931, the Treaty of Armity and Nuetrality and the Protocol of 1921, were prolonged for a period of five years beginning from the date of tehir expiration.

The Protocol of November 1935, provided for the prolongation of the three accords for a period of ten year. It begane with the date when the Protocol was signed.

  1. 3.      The National Accord of March 7, 1931 was signed by Rustu Aras, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affaires and the Soviet ambassador, at Ankara. This Accord stipulated that each of the signatory parts, had the obligation not to increes their Black Sea fleets as well as those hardboured in the neighbouring seas. They coreld to do it only of they had informed the other part above their intention, al least six mounths before the event.[17]


Titulescu-Menemencioglu / agreement and the reaction of the Turkish General Staff


According to Lieutenant Colonel Gheorghe Ion: „ their interest ( of the Turks) is to bring maximum of armed forces to Thracia, the holding of this province geing of vital importance for the Straits security. But, more then they were be abel to do event if their own interests dictate them otherwise, they would not be able to do.[18]

The agreement on the Turkish Note of April 1936 between Titulescu and Numan Menemencioglu conclued at Bucharest and approved verbally by Teofik Rustu Aras, was devied by the Turkish General Staff.

The Turkish General staff, denied the agreement between the turkish Ministary of Foreign Affaires and Titulescu; in acommunicate: „The Turkish General Staff it’s not a oware of any pledge taken by Numan at Bucharest and Tevfik at Belgrad on the issue of the reservs mentionated in the Militarry Convention”.[19]


As result:

From the report of Colonel Razin, the Romanian military attache to Ankara, the Turkish general Staff consulted the Turkish Minister  about this issu in order to know if those pledges had been taken with the consent of the government.

The Turkish Prime-Minister stated that he was not aware of such an accord. Consequently, the Turkish General Staff conclude: „ TGS can not give up the rewpoint that had been presented at Belgrad.”[20]

Again, Liberals seem to be right when they say that in the issue-areas in which the state acts, the state is not unitary actor. Therefore, there can be not such thing as a national interest since it nerely represent the result of whatever  bureaucratic organisation dominate the domestic decisions.

After the presentation of Romanian’s answer to the Turkish Government, the Staits  remilitarization, Soviet Union loged a protest with the Turkish Government at Ankara: „ the Soviet Ambassador protested to the Turkish Government about the pledges it had assumed by notifiying that the answer of the Romanian Government had been received.”[21]

In the text of the Romanian Government’s answer it was cleary specified: „ Turkey has never and will never moot the present day borders of Romania.”[22]

Nicolae Titulescu, the Romanian Minister of Foreign Affaires toled to the Romanian Military Attache to Turkey, colonel Rezin, not to engage any talks with the Turkish General Staff. Till Rustu Aras  came back to Ankara.[23]


Jack of Consence between Turkish diplomats and the Turkish military’s statemets

               There were manuy suspicions about the state in which the politico-military  accords between Turkey and Romania were. As was  showed above, the
Ministery of Foreign Affairs and the Secretary General of the Turkish Ministary of Foreign Affaires and in the request of the Romanian Ministery of Foreign Affaires.

Concluding the last Note the Romanian Ambassador to Turkey wrote that the Romanian teriotory sttache left Ankara  only after he had presented all the arguments of a military rather in favour of our thesis and only after the Turkish General Staff and the Prime Minister stated that they did not recognise Rustu Aras’s commiments.”[24]

Turkey, the preserving of the Staits and the „Bulgarian Issue”

 One of the reason aims of the Turkish internal policy and which could not be solved wuth  foreign support was to preserve the Stait. Taking note account regional alliances, the must dangerous enemy for Turkey was Bulgaria: „ An Italian operation against the Dardanelles can not lead to any succes except the case in which it is n conjunction with Bulgaria.”[25]

             The bulgarian issue had become the must important pillar in the following hypothesis as well: „ Therefore even if Turkey were afraid of Italy, again, Bulgaria would be the one , du to its immediate neighbord to the Staits, which wareld be the decisive factor on Thracia and the Straits regim. Not even the kilometers towards South-est shall be surrendered to them.”[26]

             On the other hand, representativs of the Romanian General Staff and of the Turkish General staff signed a military convention  in which it was presented  the turkey’s strategy it were attached by Italy and Bulgaria. According to the Turkish  Government Staff, the must important military operation, were Thracia and the Straits because their lass meant for the Turks „ to do  thrown away” in the desert of Anatolia and  implicitly, their removal from the European that were so dear to Turkey.[27]

             Referring to Italy, the officials of the Defence Ministery state that an Italian penetration in Western or Sowth-Western Anatolia could not lead t a so important result as a consequence of turkey, and implicity  of the Straits. All of these because,, they considered such  an Italian operation, numerows forces and it would have lasted a long period of time.

             The hypothesis of the cooperation between Italy and Bulgaria against Turkey would create serious problems for Turkey.

According to this hypothesis the Turkish General staff had to consider Thracia and the Straits as beeing for theme the most important theatre of military operations.[28]

The  Romanian General Staff considered that Turkey needed, til the main body of the Bulgarian Armed Forces would have been destroyed by the Romanian-Yugoslav Forces was 120 battalians and artillary batteries. The RGS took into account the fact the main body of the Bulgarian armed forces consisted of about  10 to 15 infontry divisions plus 1 to 2 cavalry divisions and the narrow space that separated the Turkish border from the straits (110 to 150 km)

–          According to military specialists of Ankara, on Italian attack against Anatolia would have losted long because disembalkatini of troops, their provisioning on sea, the montainous terrain and lacking communicative were obstacles that could not be overcame easily.

–          The xers Gulf and the Gallipolli penunsula

              The relations between Turkey and Italy and Bulgaria , as well as the allegiance of the letter to the Germany, the Turkish General Staff was right to be warried anout the reunification of two countries.[29]


Concluding this paper

I may say that the Turkish – Russian relationships proved to be profitabel during the whole inter-war period.The trates signed by this two countries gave a significant degree of security.

The Turkish- Romanians relations developped gradualy on the same period.

Today, Turkey is planning to build a canal to link the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea; or in another words, a new Strait.

The theoretical perspectives , Realism, Liberalism and Marsism, to have used to better understanding the deruments of the materials that I have studied.

I share the opinion that actualy „ the four theories are not so much different  rews of the same world, but, are rems of different worlds.”[30]

I do not think that any  of these theories has the  answers when it comes to explain world politics but, each of them affers to a better accord  than any personal, subyectiv raw does.

[1]. Baylis J Smits Smith.S , Owens P-*(The globalization of world politics).OUP, 2008, p4

[2] .Ibidem


[3] . Ibidem

[4] . Romanian Military Archives (RMA), Fund no 5418, dessier no 1151, p.29

[5] . Ibidem

[6] . Ibidem,  p30

[7] . Michael Axworthy*(Empire of the Mind.A history of Iran , basic books, Philadelphia, USA, p215

[8] . RMA,  Ibidem, p30

[9] Ibidem

[10] Ibidem

[11] Ibidem p31

[12] Ibidem

[13] Ibidem

[14] Ibidem p32

[15] Ibidem p33

[16] RMA, F, No 15418, telegram no 64969 of November 19, 1935, pp35-37


[17] Ibidem

[18] RMA, Fno.5418, Note of Military Attache to Turkey, Telegram no 4335 bis of  bag 21, 1936, p43

[19] RMA, F.no 5418, Telegram no. 4401, bag 21, 1936, p.43

[20] Ibidem

[21] RMA, F.no 5418, Telegram no.4419, bay 27, 1936, p57

[22] İbidem

[23] İbidem

[24] İbidem,  p59

[25] İbidem, p60

[26] RMA,F no 5418, RAS, the third Section, p76

[27] İbidem

[28] İbidem p77

[29] RMA,F no 5418, RAS, the third Section, p166

[30] Baylis J Smits , S.Smith, Owens Patricia, op.at.pp408