Turkey in the 1930’s and 1940’s

By | January 15, 2022

Confident of having consolidated its security and sovereignty with the Montreux Convention for the Straits (1936), established friendly and collaborative relations with neighboring states through the Balkan Pact (4 February 1934) and the Thessaloniki Agreement with Bulgaria (1938) and with the Eastern Pact or of Sa‛dābād (1937) – which, however, did not stand up to the difficult test of the war already imminent or at least had no principle of application – Turkey waited to resolve the question of the Alexandretta sangiaccato or Hatay – which ended with the annexation of the territory, ceded by France in 1939 – and to obtain guarantees in the Mediterranean. The new policy began with the Anglo-Turkish joint declaration of assistance in the Mediterranean on 12 May 1939 and was finalized with the Anglo-Franco-Turkish mutual assistance treaty of 19 October 1939. But Turkey had it included in the additional protocol a clause according to which the obligations assumed with that treaty would not have forced her to an action that had the effect or consequence of dragging her into a conflict with the USSR. In those same days, negotiations of several months with the Soviet Union, which proposed a kind of Black Sea and Straits pact to Turkey, had failed and the Turks had resisted the Russian proposals, considering them irreconcilable with international commitments and with their sovereignty. national.

According to microedu, Turkey managed to maintain neutrality even in the most difficult moments; when Germany, victorious in Greece, became its neighbor in Thrace, it concluded with it the treaty of friendship of June 18, 1941 containing the commitment to mutual respect for the intangibility and integrity of the two states. The beginning of the German offensive against the USSR (June 21, 1941) complicated the situation, since it led to the war in the Black Sea and the two warring parties could be tempted by the idea of ​​seizing the Via degli Stretti, as had happened in 1915 The distrust of some Turkish circles towards the USSR also threatened to give strength to those in Turkey who would have looked favorably on the collaboration with Germany. The Turkish government was able to juggle many dangers, maintaining the balance. D ‘ on the other hand, the allied occupation of Lebanon, Syria and Persia and the failure of the Iraqi insurrection in May-June 1941 gave solidity to the allied positions in the Near East and made it possible for the Allies to communicate with the USSR by the longest but safe of the Persian Gulf and Persia. On January 30-31, 1943, President Inönü met in Adana with Churchill and exchanged views with him on the situation and on the help that the Turks could have given to the Allies in case of need. Since then the collaboration between Turkey and the Allies became more active and Allied military missions arrived in Anatolia. At the end of November 1943, Inönü, Churchill, Roosevelt and the Russian ambassador in Ankara met in Cairo; new pressure was placed on Turkey to sever relations with Germany and intervene alongside the Allies. The Turkish intervention matured through various stages: suspension of supplies of chromium to Germany (20 April 1944), prohibition of German merchant ships from passing through the Straits (14 June 1944), rupture of diplomatic relations (2 August 1944) and, finally, declaration of war (February 23, 1945).

Turkey’s conduct was generally praised by the Allies with the recognition that on the whole it had been useful to their cause; instead it was criticized, since 1944, by the Soviet propaganda organs. Indeed, in mid-1945, Turkey was faced with explicit official requests from the USSR, for a revision of the Straits regime and for land transfers on the Caucasus border in the districts of Kars and Ardahān. The Turkish-Soviet treaty, which expired in December 1945, was not renewed.

Having entered the UN in 1945, Turkey maintains a prudent reserve in the face of Russian requests, adhering, for the question of the Straits, to the supportive action of the United States, Great Britain and France. On 12 July 1947 he concluded an agreement with the United States for the supply of aid. Relations with Arab states are carefully looked after; friendship treaties were concluded with ‛Irān (29 March 1946) and with Transjordan (11 January 1947). There is talk of a possible strengthening of these relations with the collaboration between the Arab League and Turkey.

Internal politics. – Atatürk died (10 November 1938), the new president Ismet Inönü enjoyed the trust and esteem of the nation and was re-elected twice: in 1942 and in 1946. The constitution of 1924 with the modifications of 1928 (secularism) and of the 1937 (insertion of the fundamental principles of the Republican People’s Party, Kemalist) did not undergo any other amendments; only the need was felt to adapt the text and diction to the linguistic reform, which was officially done in 1945.

The life of the parties has been almost non-existent for many years, under the system of the one party, the Kemalist, and leaving in the elections the possibility of a few independents to present themselves to the voters and bring their voice in the Grand National Assembly. Only at the end of 1945 was it possible to establish a democratic party which criticizes the acts of the government and the dominant party and asks for greater freedom of opinion and association and the rejection of any discrimination between citizens. The Democratic Party, chaired by Celâl Bayar, is on the same level in foreign policy as the Republican People’s Party currently in power and has joined with it in protesting the Soviet demands for a revision of the Straits and Eastern Borders regime. In 1946 the Democratic Party made a notable success in the elections (one sixth of the deputies); it subsequently influenced public opinion by provoking the mediating intervention of the president of the republic, who took upon himself the responsibility of gradually introducing the country to a democratic regime. Moreover, the emergence of decidedly progressive, socialist parties is not allowed; communism is outlawed.

The evolution of Turkish internal and foreign politics in recent years has removed all basis, except for a sporadic manifestation, from the Pan-Turkist or Panturanic movement, characteristic of the first Turkish nationalism; a measured nationalism prevails which, if it also hears the calls of the past and studies it with passion, does not look beyond the current frontiers of the republic.

Despite the burden of maintaining an exceptional number of soldiers in the army (around one million) over the past decade, Turkey has done a great deal to improve its economy.

Turkey in the 1930's