Turkey: neutral or ally?



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The signing of the Treaty of Mutual Assistance on 19 October 1939 between the governments of Great Britain, France and Turkey was the culmination of a very complicated series of events and diplomatic negotiations. The founding of the Turkish Republic and the rapid development of a unique national culture, the rise of both Fascism and Communism and the development of a fierce rivalry between the European Powers, particularly Britain and Germany, all contributed to forming the context out of which the new Republic attempted to find her place in the sun. Turkey found herself the center of all these forces because of her position as guardian of the Straits, which afforded her the remarkable opportunity to pursue a unique diplomatic program. Because the nations of Europe wished for some say in the passage of shipping though the Dardanelles, Turkey used this as bait to play one power against another thereby preserving the economic and technical rewards which were offered by the powers as a means of gaining Turkish friendship. Although the Turkish leaders showed remarkable political and diplomatic acumen in their foreign policy a number of factors complicated the negotiations with the British and the French. Italy, because of her designs in the eastern Mediterranean became a serious threat to the Turkish Republic. The Soviet Union joined with Germany drastically altering the balance of power while certain Balkan states disapproved of the Turkish association with the British and French, and France prevented a rapid completion of a tripartite alliance because of difficulties which arose between herself and Turkey over her control over the Sanjak of Alexandretta. Of particular importance to the research of this thesis were the Documents on British Foreign Policy and the Documents on German Foreign policy. Diaries and personal memoirs rounded out the picture. Much of the information also came from the New York Times and a number of other newspapers and magazines. The study revealed a number of important features of both German and British foreign policy in the Middle East and Europe. It further reflected the political and diplomatic dexterity of the Turkish leaders who, under enormous pressures from all sides, were successful in pursuing their own policy despite the overwhelming resources of the Great Powers, thereby preserving the sovereignty and integrity of their nation. Turkey aligned formally with Britain and France but in reality continued to pursue a policy of neutrality which was the best means by which the Turkish desire for complete independence could be met.



Anglo-French-Turkish Mutual Assistance Pact--19 October, 1939, Diplomtic negotiations