Woodrow Wilson’s Memorandum to the Turkish Grand Vizier – 1919

Woodrow Wilson’s Memorandum

A telegram from the French High Commissioner in Constantinople regarding the actions of Admiral Bristol who had corresponded with the Turkish government without first consulting the Allied High Commission. Translation from French.

August 23, 1919

“Admiral Bristol, the recently appointed US High Commissioner in Constantinople, sent on August 22 a critical memorandum to the Grand Vizier without consulting the Allied High Commissioners. The following is a summary of the memorandum:

‘President Wilson informs the Turkish government that if urgent measures are not taken to put an end to all violence or massacres by Turks, Kurds, or other Muslims against Armenians in the Caucasus or elsewhere, the President will exclude clause 12* from the conditions of peace.

This decision would lead to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. If the Turks wish to continue to exercise any sovereignty over any part of the Empire, then they must show that they not only intend but also have the power to forbid their citizens to commit such atrocities. No excuses or references by the Turks to impotence in this matter will be acceptable.’

The Grand Vizier forwarded this memorandum to the English and French High Commissioners. He is very concerned and claims that he is not authorized to control the powers necessary to maintain order or manage the financial resources necessary to pay the salaries of soldiers and employees. Therefore, he is in complete despair.

He could not help but notice that America, a country that hadn’t fought against Turkey and hadn’t signed a ceasefire agreement, sent this power notification independently and without the participation of the Allied Powers.”

*This provision concerns the preservation of Turkish sovereignty over part of the territory of the Ottoman Empire.

Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919-1939, First series, 1919, London, H.M.S.O., 1947, pp. 524-525. (Highlighted by us – Yu. Barsegov).

Excerpt from the book of Yu. Barsegov “Nagorno-Karabakh in international law and world politics.”




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