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Link: http://www.armenocide.net/armenocide/armgende.nsf/$$AllDocs/1918-07-30-DE-001
Source: DE/PA-AA/R14103
Publication: DuA Dok. 418 (re. gk.)
Central register: 1918-A-32288
Edition: Caucasus Campaign
Departure of telegram: 07/30/1918
Arrival of telegram: 07/31/1918 07:55 AM
Date of entry in central register: 05/31/1918 p.m.
Embassy/consular serial number: Nr. 1223
Translated by: Vera Draack (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 04/15/2012

From the Ambassador in Constantinople (Bernstorff) to the Foreign Office

Telegraphic Report

No. 1223
Constantinople, 30 July 1918

The Grand Vizier and Nessimi Bey have now finally decided to take up a definite position in the Caucasus matter after it had been discussed several times by the government. Nessimi first repeatedly wanted to return to the past and explain the conflict of Batum, etc. I repeatedly said that nothing could be changed there and that we had to try to find a basis for the future on which the unity of the allies could be re-established.

The Turkish government gave in completely on one of the main issues. It is prepared to show every consideration for Russia and to abstain from voicing recognition of the newly founded republics in the upcoming conference resp. in the treaties to be concluded.

With regard to the Armenian refugees, the Turkish government plans to begin bringing them back to their homes immediately. The Grand Vizier and Nessimi stated that it was only with great difficulty that they had managed to overcome Enver’s resistance, and that he had put forward military reasons as a pretext. The latter had also resolutely demanded that an exception be made for the district of Alhilkelek until the end of the conference. Only newly formed, weak Turkish troops were stationed there whose discipline was not to be depended upon. Since the Armenians there had committed atrocities before retreating, it would be reasonable to assume that the Turks would revenge themselves.

The Turkish government remained completely intransigent on the issue of border regulations. We should remember that this is the Turkish border; thus, of the allies it alone represents vital interests in the Caucasus, and that Turkey’s prestige would be irretrievably lost if it had to retreat from the Caucasus nations supported by us.

To repeat briefly, the Turkish government takes the view today that it would like to begin the conference as soon as possible and it will give way to us with regard to any other issue if we allow it to handle border regulations.

For our part, we must now reach a decision. Our position is not an easy one since we know that Enver Pasha has been granted the border regulations once before. Furthermore, I have gathered from the remarks made to me by Count Burian and the local Bulgarian legate that Vienna and Sofia wish to grant regulation of the border to the Turks once they have finally eliminated their disagreement with Bulgaria. This is also the personal opinion of the local Austrian-Hungarian chargé d’affaires. Your Excellency is aware that I have held this view from the very beginning. I still do so today, for the following reasons: in my opinion, the Turks will never give in on the issue of border regulations. However, following Turkish custom they are probably prepared to turn this into a subject of trading. Turks know no other methods of negotiation. On the other hand, in my opinion we have no means of forcing the Turks to give in. Every type of reprisal has supposedly already been threatened. If we truly carry out such reprisals, we will be of use to our enemies by hindering both Turkish and our own warfare; in addition, we will, in the end, drive the Turks into the arms of our enemies. I now consider the latter situation to be possible as the entente has almost reached a ... [Group is missing]. with the present Russia and, thus, less stress need be placed on the latter ...1 on the hope of breaking up the alliance of the Central Powers.

Finally, it must be taken into consideration that, according to information from all the experts who have been in the Caucasus, no great economical advantages can be achieved there, as had first been believed. Azerbaijan is the richest part of the Caucasian area and we will not be able to oust the Turks from there, if only because of public opinion. Georgia is too poor to be of any interest to us and does not even seem to welcome us, while the Armenians will never forgive us for being allies with the Turks. Finally, with regard to the petroleum: the border regulations have nothing to do with this. As things now stand, we would only be able to bring Baku’s question to a more favourable end through friendly negotiations with the Russians, the Turks and the inhabitants of Azerbaijan.

Should Your Excellency consider an agreement with Turkey on the basis given above to be out of the question, the only thing left to do in my opinion would be to send more troops to Armenia and Georgia. Should we not wish to reach an agreement with the Turks, we would have to carry out power politics in the Caucasus and, at present, it is the Turks who are in power there and not us. In my opinion, however, such a method would lead in the long run to the break-up of our local alliance and our traditional policy in the Middle East.


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