Those members of the Assembly who had forgotten the victory on the Sakaria
Gentlemen, after the battle on the Sakaria the chief command and the administration of the General Staff were busy at Angora. I occupied myself at the same time with other duties. Scarcely three or four months had elapsed since those members of the Assembly who had forgotten the victory on the Sakaria and intended to persevere in their method of opposition had thrown off their masks. We had noticed that some of the persons who had formerly been interned in Malta and who were gradually returning before the battle on the Sakaria played the part of agitators in this question.
Allow me to tell you briefly, something else also.
Rauf Bey had arrived at Angora on the 15 th October, 1921. On the 17 th October we had chosen him to be Minister of Public Works, which post had become vacant. I had also had Kara Vassif Bey, who had arrived at Angora after Rauf Bey, elected member of the Exe cutive Committee of the Party for the Defence of the Rights of Ana tolia and Rumelia. I had actually considered it advisable to make use of the services of these two men by putting one of them into the Cabinet and the other into the party.
Shortly afterwards, I heard that during a sitting of the Cabinet Rauf Bey had asked for information on a certain question. But I had heard that Kara Vassif Bey had raised the same question at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the party. This question,
34* about which the two had apparently come to an understanding from the beginning, was this: “What policy has been followed from the military point of view?” What could such a question mean? What did these gentlemen want to find out? Our military and political views were already known to everybody, for they were that we should fight and conquer the enemy until we had attained our complete and absolute independence and that we would continue the war with the unshakable determination to win. In putting this question they inquired whether we were sure that we would achieve our aim by continuing the war unconditionally and whether, in prospect of the probability of a contrary result, it would not be advisable to put an end to this critical situation by adopting other steps, which they understood would be of a political nature.
Naturally, I did not allow such a question to be discussed either in the Council of Ministers or in the committee of the party.
Thereupon these two persons sent in their resignations to the Council of Ministers and the committee of the party. When Rauf Bey s resignation was read in the Assembly on the 13 th January, 1922, another letter of the same kind and date arrived, and this was also read. It had come from Refet Pasha, Minister of National Defence.
I would like to tell you shortly the reasons that induced Refet Pasha to resign.
On the 4 tb January, 1922, the secret sitting of the Assembly was taken up with the following question: The Chief Command and the Administration of the General Staff had taken up their quarters at Angora. This led to the conclusion that difficulties must have arisen in connection with the presidency of the Assembly and the chief command. It was -stated that on account of this fact military affairs were not progressing well and that the Assembly would have to appoint a War Council to study the military situation.
As the Chief of the General Staff was at the same time President of the Council of Ministers, it was also assumed that the affairs of the General Staff could not go on well. It was said: “Let Fewsi Pasha remain at the head of the Cabinet,” and it was added that the duties of the Chief of the General Staff and of the Minister of National Defence ought to be combined in one and the same person. Refet Pasha, Minister of the latter department, personally defended the proposal in question from the tribune.
In answer to these views, I said:
“The chief command and the administration of the General Staff have acted wisely in choosing Angora as their headquarters, “From here the occupants of these two posts can best fulfil then dual functions. It is for them to decide when and where they will have to go when the necessity arises.
There is a commander at the front who is engaged personally with the position. There is no sense in removing me from Angora without any reason. The administration of the General Staff and the Ministry of National Defence, who are under the orders of the Chief-in-Command, constitute his headquarters. They are not two different things. The requirements of the day necessitate that Fewsi Pasha, being at Angora, should also be the President of the Council of Ministers, because in his absence Refet Pasha has temporarily taken his place in the presidency of the Cabinet and this experiment has not proved successful.
“Anarchy had broken out in the Cabinet; it went so far that the Ministers no longer met.
“Fewsi Pasha s return had been due to complaints brought for ward by the Ministers themselves. I do not see what is wrong in the Assembly appointing a commission to control our actions in regard to the army, but I must be chairman of this commission.”
The commission was actually formed in the manner I had indicated. Djemal Pasha, the former Minister of War, was elected a member of it.
The opinion of Refet Pasha and those like him on other questions also had no effect. For this reason Refet Pasha, who had already been intending for a considerable time to resign, did so on the same day that Rauf Bey resigned.
* * *
I had the opportunity to tell you that the Party of the Defence of the Rights which we had formed in the Assembly, had consistently helped to secure the regular course of the debates in the Assembly and to prevent any interruption in the work of the Council of Ministers. On the other hand, those who fostered sentiments and ideas that were contrary to our own hampered the work of the party in proportion as they obtained new adherents. The origin of the idea of an opposition lay in the second paragraph of the fundamental article of the regu lations of the Party for the Defence of the Rights, namely, in the organisation of the State on the basis of the Constitution Act.
The last paragraph of the first article of the programme constituted a permanent obstacle to a complete reconciliation of the thoughts and feelings. The difference of opinion and the lack of discipline within the party itself was due to it. Many persons withdrew from it. Those who left made common cause with those who remained outside the party and were energetically trying to destroy it. But the steps taken hampered it. In the end another party was formed under the name of the “Second Party.”
The founders of it pretended to have maintained their connection with the Union for the Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia and to pursue the aims put forward originally at the Congress.
Outwardly Hussein Avni and Selaheddin Bey were the leaders of this “Second Party,” but it became evident that those who worked and agitated more than any others were Rauf Bey and Kara Vassif Bey.
Emin Bey, deputy for Samsoon, one of the most energetic and obstinate members of this party, had had an opportunity a little time before to come to Angora.
When he thoroughly understood the whole truth he began to curse the intriguers and promoters of this party.
He informed me of the following: Rauf Bey was said to have been active in inciting the party to proceed to extremes. Whereupon Emin Bey had said, “the affair in which you want to involve us might bring us to the gallows. Will you be on our side then?”
Then Rauf Bey was reported to have replied: “I would be a coward if I deserted you!”
You know that according to the law then in operation I had the privilege of proposing to the Assembly candidates for the posts of Ministers. The deputies voted either for or against it or abstained from voting.
The deputies of this “Second Party” were in the habit of rejecting my candidates and preferred to vote for members whom they put up on behalf of their own party, disregarding the letter of the law, and thereby interfering with the formation of the Government.
A movement hostile to the army had also been created in the Assembly. “Why,” they said, “does the army not attack after months have gone by since the battle on the Sakarina? The army must go over to the attack at all costs. An attack on one part of the front, at least, must be undertaken, so that we may get an idea of its offen sive strength.”
We shattered this movement. We could not consent to the idea of a partial attack. As our well-defined plan consisted in carrying out a general attack which would lead to decisive results and as this plan could only be fulfilled when all our preparations were complete, we could not approve of the idea of a partial attack; besides, this would be of no use. The conviction which had been formed in the ranks of the opposition could be comprised shortly to the effect that our army would not succeed in being strong enough to carry out an attack.
In this way the opposition impeded the movement which aimed at an attack and, changing their tactics, they advanced another theory. They said: “Our real enemy is neither Greece nor the Greek army. Even if we were to succeed in completely defeating them, our cause would not have been improved. We have yet to beat the Entente Powers especially England. For this purpose we must leave a screen in front of the Greek army, concentrate our main forces in Eastern Irak and attack the English. This is the only thing left for us to do if we uphold the theory of achieving the success of our cause by force of arms.”
These ideas, as senseless as they were illogical, were not favourably received. Then the leaders of the opposition began a new propaganda: ” Where are we going to?” they demanded. “Who is leading us and whither are we being led? Towards the unknown? Is it right to drive the whole nation recklessly towards dark and uncertain goals?” This propaganda emanated from the body of the Assembly itself and from Angora circles and penetrated into the ranks of the army.
Attempts to instil these malicious ideas into the army in all manner of ways were carried on. Rauf Bey very often said in confidence: “At least tell me about the actual position, How is the army going on? Will it really be in a position to attack?”
I had fixed my departure from Angora to inspect the front for the evening of the 4 tb – March, 1923. On this occasion I made certain statements on the same day and made several requests to the Assembly at a secret sitting. I explained that after the general action on the Sakaria it was not the whole army that had followed the enemy to the main line Eski-Shehr Sejid Gasi Afium Kara Hissar but only our cavalry and one division that had been pushed forward to act as a reserve to support the army.
The army is determined to attack, but we are still postponing the moment for it because we still require time
The army is determined to attack, but we are still postponing the moment for it because we still require time fully to complete our preparations. To depend upon half measures and only to be partially prepared for an attack is worse than not to attack at all.
It is not advisable to explain ouy waiting attitude by saying that we had abandoned our determination to attack or that we were doubtful whether we would be able to launch our attack.
After explaining this, I made the following remarks:
“The Ottomans, the Turks under the regime of former times, have seen themselves forced to retire after they had reached the gates of Vienna, because they did not understand how to show wisdom and precaution to the extent that the magnitude of their enterprises demanded, but allowed themselves to be led by their sentiments and their ambition. Consequently, they could not maintain their position in Buda Pesth. They retired further, were defeated at Bel- grad and were forced to retreat from there also.
They abandoned the Balkan. They were driven out of Rumelia. They left us this country invaded by the enemy as a heritage. Let us put aside our sentiments and passions, let us show ourselves to be at least cautious in defending what remains to be saved, of this our country s territory To safeguard our salvation and our independence there can, first and last, be only one single way, one single resolution, and that is to defeat the enemy and dedicate the entire strength of our souls to this object.
“No faith nor any importance should be attached to words or advice that could produce a destructive influence on our nervous system. The mental attitude which has developed under the govern mental system and under the policy of the Ottoman regime is deplor able. The independence of a country can never be secured by follow ing advice that is tendered by foreign countries with the intention of raising the belief that an enterprise such as ours cannot be crowned with success by the army, by war, or by pertinacity. History has not recorded a single instance of this kind. There is no doubt that those who allow themselves to be guided by contrary opinions will find themselves face to face with fatal consequences. In this way Turkey in each century, each day and each hour has declined and degenerated more and more, because there were men who permitted themselves to be misled by erroneous ideas of this description.
“If this decline had only been felt materially, it would have been of no importance. But, unfortunately, we can observe moral conse quences also. There is no doubt that this was the main factor that brought this great country and this great nation to their downfall.”
At the time of which I am speaking those members of the Assembly who were most troublesome and showed the greatest pessimism were exactly those, as you are aware, who had formerly held the opinion that the Turkish people could not obtain their independence by their own power.
These were the people who had insisted on demanding a mandate from this or that country. This is what moved me to continue my remarks as follows:
“Material and, particularly, moral failure began to take shape in fear and incapacity. “Weak and faint-hearted people are influencing the nation in a manner that draws them into pacivity in face of every catastrophe, and leaves them no energy for action. In their weakness and hesitation they go so far as to humiliate themselves by repeating to themselves,
We are no men; we cannot become men. There is no possibility of doing so with our own strength. Let us entrust our destiny unreser vedly and unconditionally to some foreigner 7 .
“Those who were at the head of the nation and chiefly of the army after the Balkan war were of the same mental calibre, although this evinced itself in another form.
“We must rescue Turkey from the hands of tfrose who lead her to her destruction and her downfall by chosing the wrong road. There is only one truth that can help this aim, a truth that has already been discovered and that consists in inspiring the thinking mind in Turkey with a new faith and impressing on them a more elevated moral.
“It only remains for me now to explain to you what are the military means we have to prepare or reinforce before we can carry out our final determination of attacking the enemy.
I want to see our preparations assured in three directions
“I want to see our preparations assured in three directions.
“The first of them, the principal and most important one, is the nation itself; it is the steadfastness of the endeavours firmly rooted in the spirit and soul of the nation for a free and independent existence. In proportion as the nation will express these endeavours by increased strength, they will also give proof of a stronger will and faith in their fulfilment, and I shall be convinced that I possess the means to deal with the enemy.
“The second consists in the will and the courage which the As sembly, the representative of the nation, show in the manifestation of their national efforts and the decisive execution of the measures resulting therefrom.
“We dispose of a superiority in means compared with the enemy, which becomes more apparent in the extent to which the Assembly will develop the national efforts in a pronounced spirit of decision and unity.
“The third is our army, comprising the armed sons of a nation confronting the enemy.
“We can imagine the front which these three causes present against the enemy in two ways. To make my thoughts easier for you to appreciate, I shall speak separately of the inward front and the outward front. The more essential one is the inward front. This is the front which is formed by the whole country and the entire nation. The outward front is the armed f rone of the army which opposes the enemy directly. This front may waver and undergo change; it may be broken through. But such a possibility can never result in the annihilation of a country or a nation. The factor which is of vital importance is the destruction of the inward front which leads to the crumbling of the country to its very foundations and which may reduce the nation to slavery. The enemies who know this truth better than we have been working for centuries and are still working for the purpose of destroying this front. So far they have been successful in this. It is, indeed, much easier to take a fortress by attacking it from the inside than to assault it from outside.
“We can assert that there are influences and factors of corruption that have been able to reach us personally for this purpose.
“It is barely possible or probable that our inward and outward front can be shaken so long as the mentality, the actions and attitude of the Assembly are not such as to encourage the enemy. We cannot be in any doubt about the fact that they will even seek means to utilise the pessimistic speeches which have been made by one or more members in the Assembly. Among the documents in the Fo reign Ministry there are many which give evidence of this. I emphati cally maintain that as long as any hope, even involuntarily, is given to the enemy the national cause will suffer delay thereby.”
After making these statements I specially requested the Assembly to avoid any public discussion which could produce discouragement in the army while I was at the front.
Then I listened to the statements of the deputies belonging to the opposition. One of them considered that my tone was too commanding. Another imagined that he felt some doubt in my words as to the integrity of the feelings of the Assembly. A third told me at last that: “The impossible is not realisable. You will push the army into disaster.”
I will not detain you too long with the speeches of the oppo sition, for they were nothing but an echo of the twaddle of misguided and ignorant brains. On the whole the Assembly had received my explanations favourably. I had been trying in vain for five or six days to find a way to reply to the observations of the commander on the eastern front.
However, I sent this reply before I went to the front, that is to say, on the 4 th March, 1922. To help you to understand this I will first read you the observations of the commander on the eastern front : Personal. i8 ttl February, 1922.
To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha, Commander- in-Chief.
I have only just heard of the debates on the organisation of our administrative affairs. I consider that the most important thing to be done now during the elections which will follow the restoration of peace is to prevent the Conservatives from replacing to any great extent the valuable men we have.
If the Assembly does not comprise prominent personages among its members, two great obstacles to the resuscitation of the country from its present ruin will result. Primarily, the thought of revival will not gain ground; and further the most important legislative pro jects will be rejected without discussion under the influence of some sentiment or other.
I believe that it would be well to counterbalance an Assembly composed in this way by a second Assembly consisting of specialists of great merit.
This second Assembly would have a kind of compensating influence over the first and lead it on the way to progress.
Resolutions of vital importance, whether declined or agreed to by the first Chamber of Deputies, would be balanced by the proposals of the second Chamber and the evil would thus be averted.
So as not to re-awaken memories of the Senate of the former regime the second Assembly might be called the “Council of the Great Specialists”, or any other suitable name.
Its members could be elected in the same way as the deputies but under certain conditions, such as, for instance, the attainment of the highest degree of knowledge in the profession concerned or the exer cise of a representative position in Turkey, such as that of a Vali or a military commander.
By studying the systems in other countries we shall be able to settle all the details of the question. As soon as the formation of the “Council of Specialists” is agreed upon, committees belonging to each Ministry, such as that of War, Public Works, etc., could be formed consisting of members appointed by this Council.
In order to put our programme on a firm basis approved of by both Chambers, not losing sight of the aim in view while this programme is being carried out, I consider that the formation of these committees is an absolute necessity. Otherwise, the programme, as well as the persons who are appointed to carry it out, will be changed each time there is a change oi Ministers. Besides, every resolution which does not emanate from the competent department of the Council of Specialists will give rise to criticism. The nation must take this question into serious consideration.
The Assembly has the right to accept or reject every motion that is laid before it, as well as to examine it in the name of the nation. However, this has nothing to do with what the Council of Specialists” will do nor with what they will decide upon.
These considerations and this uneasiness refer to the time when normal conditions will be restored to the country. I beg you to let me know what you think about this matter.
Kiasim Kara Bekir, Commander of the Eastern Front.
Personal. 4 th March, 1922.
To His Excellency Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha.
Reply to your telegram in cipher of the i8 ih February, 1922.
Your Excellency s opinion regarding the question of the incon venience resulting from the absence of a Council consisting of specia lists, whose duty it is to examine the resolutions of the Grand National Assembly, the only supreme power which has the general administra tion of the country in their hands, is in principle completely justified.
It would, however, be irreconcilable with the spirit of the principles followed by us in the general administration to subject the main resolutions of the Grand National Assembly, which has been or shall be elected by the nation as the guardian of their rights and authority, to the control of another body, although this might not be called a Senate.
In case this “Council of Specialists” were to be elected, as you suggest, in the same way as the deputies by the nation, we would have two supreme powers which would derive the same identical authority from the same source. The fact that both these powers would exert an influence on the general administration of the country simultaneously would produce a kind of dualism and lead to confusion in the legal as well as in the practical sphere, which would necessitate the appointment of a third power encroaching on the life and the rights of the nation and whose work would be to restore the equili brium in such circumstances. In my humble opinion, the only way to obviate the dissensions foreshadowed by you is to take care that the members of the Assembly shall be elected as far as possible from among distinguished men and experts and to watch that very special importance is put on the internal organisation of the Assembly for the election of members of commit tees on questions regarding their knowledge and experience.
Our present system of Government, which has been established under the influence of the consequences of our tragic hast, is best adapted for the administration of the nation and represents the most reasonable form from the point of view of constitutional rights.
If we strengthen this system of government and show ourselves watchful during the elections, we shall have created an administrative machine that will produce the happiest results in the sphere of national revival and development now and in the future.
President of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
Official and non-official relations with different Powers took place during the course of the year 1921. Turco-Russian relations developed very favourably.
In addition to the French, we came into touch with the Italians and the English. Let me mention a matter here which led to a misunderstanding in June, 1921. On the 3 rd June two officers, Major Henry and Major Sturton, who according to their assertion belonged to the suite of General Harrington, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied forces, arrived on board a motor-boat. They requested me on behalf of the General to go on board a torpedo-boat from Ineboli to General Harrington s Jali*) on the Bosphorus and come to an agreement with him about the foundation of peace. They said that England had recognised our complete independence and that the Greeks would be taken away from our territory, and added that it would be possible to discuss other questions as well.
I replied to these officers that I would not go to Constantinople and that it would be more appropriate if General Harrington came to Ineboli to have an interview with Refet Pasha, who was there at that moment.
On the i8 th June a telegram came from Hamid Bey in Constanti nople, It ran as follows:
*) Jali: a large Turkish House. “An Englishman who holds an official position here has appealed to me in the name of the highest English authority in Constantinople and has asked me to inform his Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha that the English are willing to enter into negotiations for a speedy peace, and that they are desirous with this aim in view to enter into communication with his Excellency, and that they were expecting an immediate reply.”
Hamid Bey answered that we were prepared to enter into nego tiations.
On the 5 th July an English torpedo-boat arrived at Songuldak bringing me a letter from General Harrington
On the 5 th July an English torpedo-boat arrived at Songuldak bringing me a letter from General Harrington. This letter, the trans lation of which was wired to me at Angora, was worded thus :
“According to Major Henry s communication, your Excellency desires to have an interview with me and to make certain statements to me in conversation as one soldier to another.
“That being so, I have been authorised by the English Govern ment to leave on board the English cruiser Ajax to meet your Ex cellency at Ineboli or Ismidt on a day that it will be convenient to you to arrange.
“If you desire it, I am perfectly ready to have a completely clear and frank exchange of views with you about the situation. I am authorised to listen to your considerations and lay them before the English Government for examination. But I have no official authority either to negotiate with you or to discuss matters in their name.
“The meeting will have to take place on board the English cruiser. Your Excellency will be received with the honours due to your rank and will enjoy complete freedom until you return to land.
“If you agree to this, will you please inform me of the date and hour which would suit you?”
Judging from the contents of this letter, it would appear that it was I who had expressed the desire of getting into touch with General Harrington and to speak to him. In reality, this was not at all the case. Consequently, I sent the following reply to General Harrington :
“I have received the translation to-day of the letter you sent to Songuldak.
“I feel obliged to call your attention to the following points to avoid our meeting being based on a misunderstanding.
“Major Henry and his friends who arrived at Ineboli on the 13 th June had declared that your Excellency is desirous of having a conversation with me about the principles laid before Refet Pasha by Major Henry. And this is actually confirmed by the letter to your Excellency from the Major, a copy of which signed by him has been placed at our disposal.
“This was the prelude to the direct correspondence which has been carried on between us.
“Your Excellency is cognisant of our national demands. I declare myself ready to enter into negotiations, provided that the deliverance of our national territory from the presence of its enemies and the recognition of our complete independence in political, financial, economic, military, legal and cultural respects will be agreed to.
Tor reasons explained by Major Henry we believe it appropriate that the negotiations should take place at Ineboli and on land, where the most agreeable reception will be prepared for your Excellency.
“I await your reply, which I hope will state whether we are in agreement on the opinions mentioned above.
“If your Excellency has no other purpose in view than to exchange opinions about the situation, I shall send my comrades for the inter view.”
No reply was sent to this letter. On the 7 t]1 July Mr. Rantigan, the English charge d affaires, told Hamid Bey, whom he had seen in Constantinople, that General Harrington had advised Major Henry, who had come to Anatolia as a merchant, to inquire about the health of the English prisoners and, if possible, to learn from me, Mustapha Kemal Pasha, whether the efforts in Constantinople would still continue, but that Major Henry had no authority to undertake any other steps.
Until August, 1922, we had no serious relations with the Western Powers in a concrete form
Until August, 1922, we had no serious relations with the Western Powers in a concrete form. We had the permanent and firm conviction that we could not flatter ourselves that there was any hope of success in a diplomatic way until we had driven the enemy out of our territory by force of arms and had given evidence of our national existence and our national strength by deeds.
It was natural to admit that this was the most reasonable con viction we could have at that time and subsequently.
It is for the individual just the same as for a nation a futile attempt to demand consideration before actual proof of power and capability has been afforded. Those who fail to furnish this proof will not meet with any consideration.
Only those who are possessed of these qualities can claim humane, just and generous treatment.
The world is an arena of trials. After so many centuries the Turkish nation finds itself again subject to trials, and this time they are of a specially hard description. Were we permitted to reckon on benevolent treatment without any hope of being successful? While preparing ourselves seriously for this kind of trial which we had to undergo before the whole world, we thought it well not to lose sight of the position and mentality of the spectators. We had, as you know, first sent Yussuf Kemal Bey, who was Foreign Minister at that time, for this purpose to Europe and later on Fethi Bey, Minister of the Interior.
We entrusted Yussuf Kemal Bey, who was to go to Europe via Constantinople, with some private affairs which he was to settle in that town.
One thing, for instance, was that he should have a conversation with Izzet Pasha and his colleagues, and with Wahideddin also if he considered that this was really necessary. He was to propose to the latter that he should recognise the National Assembly and impress upon Izzet Pasha and his colleagues the necessity of proceeding in a way that was indicated by the aim we had in view.
Yussuf Kemal Bey acted in Constantinople within the limits of his instructions, but, unfortunately, he was misled by Izzet Pasha and his colleagues, who took him to the Sovereign as a petitioner.
But not satisfied with this, the Cabinet, for the purpose of con fusing and rendering more difficult Yussuf Kemal Bey s work in Paris and London, sent Izzet Pasha before his own departure (Yussuf Kemal Bey s) to these cities, enabling him to travel through the territory occupied by the Greeks.
Izzet Pasha kept his journey a secret till the last moment.
Yussuf Kemal Bey s interviews in Paris and London were of no avail. It was only stated that the Foreign Ministers of the Entente would meet at a Conference in a short time and that they would make us peace proposals. Although the evacuation of Anatolia had been agreed to in principle, it was apparently necessary that we should conclude an armistice with the Greeks, because the steps for the conclusion of peace would be doomed to failure if war were resumed during the negotiations at the Conference. Yussuf Kemal Bey, who was informed of this by Lord Curzon, replied that a resolution of the Conference prescribing the evacuation of Anatolia beforehand, which would be communicated to both the interested parties, would be more effective than the armistice. But Lord Curzon insisted on the necessity of the armistice and asked Yussuf Kemal Bey to move the Government to this effect and to inform him of the answer that he would get. Before Yussuf Kemal Bey s return on the 22 nd March, 1922, the Conference of the Foreign Ministers of the Entente proposed an armi stice to the Turkish and Greek Governments.
At this time I was at the front. I was informed of this proposal by Djelal Bey, acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. The outlines of the proposed armistice were these: A demilitarised zone of ten kilometres was to be established between the forces of both sides. The troops were not to be reinforced by men or ammunition.
No alteration was to be made in the position of the troops. Warlike material also was not to be transported from one place to another. Our army and our military position was to be under the control and inspection of the Military Commissions of the Entente. We were loyally to accept the decisions of these Commissions.
Hostilities would be suspended for a period of three months. This period would automatically be extended for three months longer until the preliminaries of peace had been accepted by both parties. In the event of one of the belligerents desiring to recommence operations, it would have to give notice to the other party as well as the representatives of the Entente at least a fortnight before the expiration of the armistice.
The Greeks immediately accepted this armistice
The Greeks immediately accepted this armistice. The Greek army had been both materially and morally defeated on the Sakaria. It was difficult for this army to tempt fortune again and undertake an attack on a wide scale. It was surely easy for everybody to realise the fact that it was impossible to employ the Greek army in operations with the idea that they could lead to a decisive result. It was a very serious matter for us to agree that our army, to prepare which we had been working for nearly a year, should be placed in a state of inactivity and that the National Government should be left in a state of suspense after their hopes had been raised to such a pitch, and thereby run the risk that during the intervening time the National Government and our army night become demoralised.
Consequently, we studied the conditions of the armistice which the Entente Powers proposed for the evacuation of Anatolia and the solution of the Orient question with the greatest care.
The first thing we did was to put ourselves into direct communi cation at the telegraph instrument with the Council of Ministers at Angora for the purpose of exchanging views. The first reply which we considered it expedient to give to the representatives of the Entente through our representative in Constantinople in the name of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, was as follows:
Kemal Pasha 35 “I have received to-day, the 24 th March, at … o clock the^ Note containing the proposal of the armistice, which is in continuation of your telegram of the 23 rd March. I have communicated its contents concerning the position at the front to the Commander-in-Chief at the front and have requested him to inform us of his views before I lay it before the Council of Ministers or, if necessary, before the National Assembly.
“Will you inform the representatives of the Entente Powers of this, and tell them that in conformity with their wish I will send them the reply of the Government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey as soon as possible?”
On the 24 th March I informed the President of the Cabinet of my opinion by telegram, as follows:
In the first place it would be inadvisable to answer by a refusal or in a manner that betrays disinclination or distrust of the pro posed armistice which the Foreign Ministers have jointly suggested. On the contrary, we must favourably consider the proposal of an armistice. Consequently, our answer must be in the affirmative^ and not in the negative. If the Entente Powers have no good intentions, it is for them later on to take up a negative attitude.
“If we cannot consent to the conditions proposed, we will make counter-proposals.”
On the following day the agencies and telegrams referring to the Note from different sources gave the following items of news:
“It is declared in Government circles that the Government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey has favourably received this proposal, which it is assumed has been made for the purpose of restor ing peace in the Near East and of leading to the evacuation of Asia Minor without further bloodshed and devastation. It is firmly hoped that the Government, confident of the goodwill and the impartiality of the Allied Powers, will give a favourable reply.
“We hope that the proposal in question contains reasonable and practicable conditions and that the period of time foreseen for the conclusion of peace will be as short as possible.”
The Council of Ministers were inclined to postpone our reply till the return of our Foreign Minister, who was in Europe. Replying that this was not necessary, I drew up my decision regarding the reply to be given to this effect:
“We agree to the armistice on principle. However, we shall not desist for a single moment from pushing forward our preparations of the army and its improvement. We do not consent to foreign Control Commissions being established over our army. We shall make conditions which can be fulfilled, provided that the armistice which we shall agree to will include the evacuation. The most essen tial condition is that this evacuation shall commence immediately the armistice is concluded.”
On the 24 th March I sent personally at the telegraph instrument to the Council of Ministers the reply to be given to the Note.
The Council on their part had sent me a copy of the reply prepared at Angora. I noticed certain differences between the two drafts of the reply Note.
At last we resolved to have a meeting with the Council of Ministers during the night of the 24 th March at Sivri Hissar and to draft the text of the reply Note.
According to a telegram in cipher which our special agent in Con stantinople had sent on the 25 tlL March to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he had had a conversation with Tewfik Pasha and the latter had told him that the High Commissioners had handed a similar Note to the Government of the Padishah, with the request that it should be sent to Angora and that they were to be informed of the reply they received.
Our agent asked Tewfik Pasha whether the right conceded to Angora of expressing their opinion referred only to the proposal of an armistice or whether it embraced all other questions. Tewfik Pasha did not reply. To the question asked by our agent as to what news had arrived from Izzet Pasha, Tewfik Pasha replied: “Izzet Pasha announces that the Conference will soon meet, and remarked that matters ought not to be driven to extremes.”
This Note contained the proposals of the Entente Powers regarding the foundation of peace
The Council of Ministers returned to Angora after having decided at Sivri Hissar upon the text of the Note to be sent in reply to the proposal of the armistice. But before they had had time to send it off, a second Note arrived from the Conference of Ministers in Paris on the 26 th March. This Note contained the proposals of the Entente Powers regarding the foundation of peace. The main points were the following :
“Participation in the League of Nations to protect the minority rights in Turkey as in Greece, as well as the application of the con ditions laid down on this question; the creation of a home in the East for the Armenians and participation of the League of Nations in this undertaking; the establishment of a demilitarised zone in the districts of the Gallipoli Peninsula and of the Straits to safeguard the freedom of the Straits; the settlement of the frontiers of Thrace in such a way that Rodosto will be Surrendered to Turkey, Kirk Kilisse, Baba Eski and Adrianople to the Greeks; the acceptance of a system guaran teeing to the Greeks in Smyrna, which remained in our possession, and the Turks of Adrianople, which came under Greek sovereignty, the possibility of taking part in a fair manner in the administration of these two towns.
“Evacuation of Constantinople by the Allies after the conclusion of Peace.
“Increase of the strength of the Turkish army, which had been fixed at 50,000 men by the S&vres Treaty, by 35,000 men, so that it would amount altogether to 85,000 men, and the transformation of the Turkish army into a volunteer army, as provided for by the Sevres Treaty.
“Abolition of the Financial Commission as provided for in the draft of the Sfevres Treaty and the introduction of a system reconcilable with Turkish sovereignty for the protection of the economic interests of the Entente Powers and for securing the payment of interest to the Dette Publique, as well as the war indemnity which would be imposed upon us.
“Appointment of a Commission for the modification of the legal and economic Capitulations. 9
Having examined the text of the first Note of the Allied Powers for the proposal of an armistice and having heard of the conditions set out in the second detailed Note, we had naturally come to the conclusion that these Powers who were supported by the Government of Constantinople had introduced a new phase in their destructive enterprise against us. In face of this fact, the situation had to be regarded as very serious and a terrific fight was anticipated. The first thing was to explain to the nation and to the public opinion of the world the nature of the conditions which had been proposed to us. I wrote to the Council of Ministers to this effect.
Allow me to quote the essential points of the reply which we gave on the 5 tlL April to the two Notes I have been speaking about.
We agreed in principle to the armistice; but we considered it to be an indispensable and essential condition that the evacuation should commence after the armistice had been concluded. We proposed to fix the duration of the armistice and the evacuation of Anatolia at four months and agreed that the term of the armistice should be automatically extended for three months if the preliminary Peace negotiations should not have led to any result when the evacuation was complete. Our proposal regarding the details of the evacuation was as follows: The main line Eski-Shehr Kutayah Afium Kara Hissar to be evacuated within the first fortnight from the date of the armistice; all the other occupied territories, including Smyrna, to be evacuated within four months from the same date.
We made known that in case our proposals regarding the armistice were accepted by the Allied Powers, we should be inclined to send our plenipotentiaries within three weeks to the town which would be agreed upon for the purpose of studying the Peace conditions.
We received an answer to our Note on the 15 th April. This answer was, naturally, in the negative.
We replied on the 22 nd of the same month. At the end of our reply we stated that even in case no agreement could be reached on the question of the armistice, it would not be desirable to postpone the Peace negotiations.
We proposed that a Conference should be held at Ismidt; but this, also, produced no result. A Conference to meet at Beicos or Venice was mentioned several times, but none of these suggestions was carried out up to the moment of our decisive victory.
The Act of the 5 th August, 1921, relating to our appointment as Commander-in-Chief has a special history. If you like, I will give you some particulars about it.
This Act was renewed for the first time on the 31** October, 1921, for the second time on the 4 t]1 February, 1922, and for the third time on the 6 th May, 1922.
Each time these renewals were accompanied by criticisms of every description from the side of the opposition.
The third renewal, in particular, took the character of rather an important incident.
During the period before the 6 th May, 1922, the question of renew ing this Act, which was approaching expiration, was raised in the Assembly. On account of illness I was unable personally to be present in the Assembly. The Council of Ministers, who came to my house on the evening of the 5 th May, explained the position to me and said that the deputies of the opposition did not wish that I should continue to hold the post of Commander-in-Chief.
After a long debate, the question was put to the vote. The neces sary majority was not obtained, consequently the renewal of the Act was not agreed to. The Council of Ministers and especially the admini stration of the General Staff, as well as the Ministry of National Defence, were quite taken aback. On account of the attitude of the Assembly, the Ministers asserted that they could no longer see what use there was in carrying on their duties, and that they considered that they ought to resign.
From the moment of the vote in the Assembly the army was without a leader.
If the Chief of the General Staff and the Ministry resigned, the outbreak of a great crisis in the general administration would be inevitable. For this reason, I requested the Chief of the General Staff and the Ministers to be patient for another twenty-four hours. For my part, I determined to continue to hold my position as Commander- in-Chief in the best interests of the country and the common cause, and informed the Council of Ministers of this resolve.
On the next day, the 6 th May, I announced that I would give some explanations at a secret sitting in the Assembly. I had previously sent for the protocols of the Assembly and the arguments put forward by the speakers who had opposed the chief command, and had examined them one after the other.
So as not to weary you too much, I shall content myself with condensing the statements I made at the secret sitting I have just mentioned.
“Gentlemen,” I said, “as happened when the question of the chief command and of the Act relating to it was first introduced, so there are to day some members who speak of this Act as being unnecessary; on the other hand, it is even more necessary to amend it, and there are still others who even complain that there is a chief command. As you are aware, these discontented persons are always the same. I am not in favour of a superfluous office or a superfluous authority, and still less of an Act that would give full powers to an authority without responsibility.
“A close study of the general and military situation, however, is absolutely necessary to enable us to decide on the necessity or useless- ness of the chief command and of the Act conferring this authority with certain full powers. Before I explain my opinion on this question, let us examine some of the statements that have been made by the speakers who have referred to the uselessness of the Act re lating to the chief command.
“For instance, Salih Effendi, deputy for Erzerum, has said that I desired to usurp the rights of the Assembly and that I had done so, and he shouted out: We shall not abandon our good right.
“Pardon me if I speak quite frankly. It was I who was responsible for the election of each one of you, with the far-reaching powers bestowed on you, for the formation of an Assembly disposing of extraordinary powers and for the adoption of the character of an institution determining the fate of the country through this Assembly. For the purpose of achieving this, I had to fight a storm of opinion with my comrades nearest to me. I risked my life, my existence, my honour and my dignity. It is, therefore, my own personal work and I would surely prefer to exalt it than humiliate it.
“I ask Salih Effendi at least to believe that I uphold the rights of this Assembly quite as much as he does. I do not ask for more than that. 55
Then I entirely rejected Salih Effendi s remark about my alleged usurpation of the full powers of the Assembly. There is no question and never can be one about this.
“A motion to the effect that it would be appropriate to discuss the question of a chief command at a secret sitting has been intro duced. This motion also has been wrongly explained in many respects. A discussion at a public sitting has been demanded. Mehmed Shukri Bey, deputy for Kara Hissar Sahib, has said that our taking refuge in a secret sitting would mean that we were trying to conceal the truth from the nation.