Italy undertook to support our claims at the Conference for the restitution of Thrace and Smyrna
Last of all, Bekir Sami Bey had signed another agreement with Count Sforza, the Italian Foreign Minister, on the 12 th March, 1921. According to it, Italy undertook to support our claims at the Con ference for the restitution of Thrace and Smyrna, in exchange for which we were to cede to them a prior right for economic enterprises in the Sandjaks of Adalia, Burdur, Mugla, Sparta and in parts of the Sanjaks of Afium Kara Hissar, Kutayah, Aidin and Konia, which were to be specified at a later date. In this agreement it was agreed also to cede to Italian capitalists all those economic enterprises which would not be carried out by the Turkish Government or by Turkish capital, and to transfer the mines of Heraklea to a Turco-Italian company.
Naturally, this agreement could only have the fate of being re jected by our Government.
It is perfectly evident that the terms of these agreements which the Entente Powers had induced Bekir Sami Bey, the leader of the delegation which we had sent to Europe to conclude Peace, to sign, had no other aim than to cause our national Government to accept the Treaty which the same Powers had concluded among themselves, under the name of the “Tripartite Agreement” after the Sevres plan, and which divided Anatolia into three spheres of interest. The statesmen of the Entente had also succeeded in inducing Bekir Sami Bey to accept these plans. As you can see, Bekir Sami Bey was taken up in London more with these three individual agreements than with the discussions at the Conference. The contradiction between the principles of the National Government and the system followed by the personage who was Foreign Minister can unfortunately not be explained.
I must admit that when Bekir Sami Bey returned to Angora with these agreements I was very much astonished, and my attention was aroused. He expressed his conviction that the contents of the agree ments he had signed were in accord with the higher interests of the country and maintained that he was able to support this conviction and defend and prove it before the Assembly. But there is no doubt that his opinion was wrong and his ideas illogical. It was not only certain that they could not be approved of by the Assembly but also that he would be overthrown as Minister of Foreign Affairs. As however, under the conditions prevailing at this time, I did not be lieve it necessary to involve the Assembly in long discussions and dissertations on political questions, I pointed out his error to Bekir Sami Bey personally and proposed that he should resign his office as Foreign Minister. Bekir Sami Bey consented to my proposal and resigned.
Nevertheless, influenced by the impression which the different con versations he had had during his journey in Europe as leader of the delegation had made on him, Bekir Sami Bey was persistent in his conviction that it was possible to come to an understanding with the Entente Powers within the scope of our principles. He maintained that it would be a good thing to arrive at such an understanding. This induced me to write him the following private letter:
32* 19 th May, 1921. To Bekir Sami Bey, Deputy for Amasia.
You are aware of the principles which the Government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey have hitherto proclaimed to the world on different occasions and in different ways. The main lines of these principles can be comprised in the following short sentence:
“Security of the integrity of our country and of the absolute in dependence of our nation within the recognised national frontiers.”
It is conceivable that after the impressions you have gained and the relations you have had on the recent journey you have made as leader of our delegation, you have arrived at the conviction that the Entente Powers are inclined to come to an understanding with our country without injuring our principles. Up to the present moment, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey cannot perceive any serious and sincere acts and results which could confirm such an inclination on the part of the Entente. If you think that you can render the realisation of your supposition concerning this feasible, I assure you that the Grand National Assembly and its Government would willingly agree. Mustapha Kemal.
Subsequently Bekir Sami Bey made a second journey to Europe, but this also had no good result.
However, the Government considered it necessary after it had been discovered that the negotiations carried on with M. Franklin Bouillon at Angora had been complicated by certain steps that Bekir Sami Bey had taken in Paris, to make known through their agency that Bekir Sami Bey had not been entrusted with any official mission.
During his second visit to Europe Bekir Sami Bey had also sent me some communications, and after his return he sent a report to me. Certain considerations contained in these communications and his report were unfortunately not calculated to remove all doubt and hesitation on the question as to whether Bekir Sami Bey had completely grasped the ideal of the Turkish nation we were striving to reach and whether he had acted in the spirit of this ideal.
Bekir Sami Bey expressed his opinion in conformity with the in fluences and opinions that had affected him in Europe. After having criticised our policy, he said in a telegram in cipher on the 12 th August : “While the opportunity is still given to us, prudent policy might save the country from the abyss into which it has fallen. Studying events carefully, an attitude must be assumed that is necessitated by the anxiety for the salvation of our country. If this is not done, none of us will be able to withdraw from the responsibility imposed upon him before history and the nation. I beg you in the name of the prosperity of our nation and of the salvation of Islam to adopt a fitting attitude and to tell me immediately that you have done so.”
Bekir Sami Bey became an adherent of peace at any price
Bekir Sami Bey became an adherent of peace at any price.
In his report on the 24 th December, 1921, he explained his point of view on this question in these words:
“I firmly believe that the continuation of war will destroy and annihilate our country to such a degree that its existence as well as that of the nation will be jeopardised and that the sacrifices which have been borne will have been in vain.
“I am firmly convinced that by a continuation of war we are working for our internal and external enemies and thereby our selves pushing the nation into the misfortune and misery which we are dreading.
“The duty imposed upon Your Excellency is such a heavy burden as has scarcely ever been borne by any statesman. You have taken upon yourself a task of such magnitude as has seldom fallen upon a man in the course of the history of I will not say five or six but, perhaps, ten or fifteen centuries.
Your Excellency can win an im mortal name in history and become the reviver of Islam if, together with the future of the Turkish race, the future of the whole of the Mohamedan world will be secured without falling from one extreme to the other and without sacrificing the true interests of the future to the advantages of the present moment, and if the national and Mohamedan aim, which can be realised even to a greater extent than we desire at the price of a preliminary sacrifice, will be secured and strengthened. Otherwise, there is no doubt that the Turkish nation, and with it the entire Mohamedan world, will be condemned to slavery and humiliation. I consider that it is a sacred duty imposed upon me by my patriotism and adherence to Islam to beg Your Excellency not to allow the opportunity and the glory of leaving to all Mohamedan generations to come, until the last Jugdment Day, a memory and a name which only stand second to that of our Prophet,to pass by.”
In short it means this. In all his suggestions he advised us to put an end to the national fight so as to escape from slavery and humili ation on the lines of the agreements which he himself had concluded in London.
These considerations of Bekir Sami Bey s had made no actually positive impression on me. The ideas he developed and his manner of thinking had brought me to the conviction that there would be no advantage or object to be gained by discussing or arguing with him.