Karl Radek

The Conference in Lausanne

(29 November 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 104, 29 November 1922, pp. 836–836.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2021). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Today the Lausanne Conference will open to discuss and decide the Near Eastern Question. According to the plan of (he Allies, the Conference is to consist of two parts. In the first part the conditions will be laid down for the Peace Treaty between the Allies and Turkey. The second part will occupy itself with the solution of the question of the Straits. It suffices to raise the quest on whether England will be willing to conclude peace with Turkey, whether it will be necessary to withdraw the English cruisers and the garrison from the Straits and if Turkey will be allowed to build defence works. on both shores of the Straits, for anyone to see how artificial is this division of the Conference. The division is dictated by fear of the participation of the Delegation of Soviet Russia in the negotiations on the questions of the state debts of Turkey, of the privileges of foreigners, of the right of Turkey to arm herself. The participation of Soviet Russia in the discussion of these questions will not only afford Turkey an opportunity to draw assistance from Russia, but would demonstrate before the eyes of the entire world the salient fact that while all the capitalist powers are striving to subjugate Turkey, only the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government of Russia as the representative of the world proletariat, is ready to defend the enslaved Turkish nation.

When the Turkish cannon and bayonets pierced the front of England’s vassal Greece, when the Turkish army, driving the Greeks before them approached the Straits, Turkey hoped that in the struggle with English imperialism she would obtain the support of France. But the Mudania Conference should have disillusioned Turkey. The French were opposed to the new war in the Orient threatened by Lloyd George. But the French not less than the English were opposed to the transfer of Constantinople to Turkey and the evacuation of the Straits. They wanted to defend them, not at Chanak, but to concentrate the forces on the European coast, in order to avoid an immediate military clash and thus gain time to bring diplomatic pressure on Turkey. But France not less than England wanted to retain in the hands of the Allies the Straits and Constantinople, at least during the critical period in the Near East, in order to control the necessary means for bringing pressure to bear upon Turkey. France is in need of such means of pressure, because she will be compelled to demand of Turkey such concessions which Turkey will concede only at the point of the bayonet.

France is the chief creditor of Turkey and therefore French capital will not only insist upon financial control over Turkey but will demand the granting of a series of profitable concessions, to guarantee the payment of interest on the State debts of Turkey, the French capitalists not less than the English will demand juridical privileges in Turkey. They will refuse to recognize the Turkish Law Courts.

As far as these demands are concerned the entire capitalist world is at one and even Denmark and Norway have now declared that they are unwilling to stay in Turkey on conditions of equality, and demand for their merchants privileges against the sovereignty of the Turkish people on Turkish territory.

Wherein is the difference between the policy of English and French imperialism in regard to Turkey?

The French policy in Turkey is the exact copy of the German pre-war policy. It aims at the military strengthening of Turkey against England and a fictitious independence in order to convert her into her colony, and make her the object of her capitalist expansion, whereas England pursues the policy of the partition of Turkey and of her ruin.

No change in English policy has been observed since the fall of Lloyd George, except the renunciation of those claims which England well knows to be unattainable as a result of the crushing defeat of the Greek army. The clearest proof of this fact can be found not only in the threats of Bonar Law and Curzon, but in the departure from Constantinople of the Turkish Sultan on an English destroyer for Malta. The Angora government decided to overthrow the crowned traitor who, two years ago, denounced Kemal Pasha and the National Movement at the behest of the English Generals. At the same time it deprived him of his title of Caliph and appointed to this post another member of the Osman family, members of which have held this post since the sixteenth century. During the war England captured Mecca and Medina, the sacred places which are now actually in the hands of the English, though formally under the domination of Hussein, the King of Arabia. The departure of the Turkish Sultan on an English destroyer means that English imperialism will proclaim the Sultan as the legitimate Caliph, an order to carry on agitation in the Mohamedan world to destroy confidence in the Angora Government and Kemal Pasha as the defenders of Islam. These religious intrigues of the Indian Department of the English Government, this powerful centre of the anti-Mohamedan elements, penetrating into all the sects of the Mohammedan world and conducting on a religious basis a subtle struggle against the regeneration of Turkey have already been conducted on a large scale in India.

The English Government has secured itself against unexpected moves on the part of France. With a brutality which left no room for doubt, England informed France that if France carries on an anti-English policy in the Near East, England will then develop an anti-French policy on the reparations question. Under the pressure of England a reversion of sentiment towards Turkey has taken plane in the French press. Within the French government itself a struggle broke out giving rise to different tendencies. Millerand, President of the Repubhc, ia inclined to place greater weight upon French interests in Germany. Poincaré, while endeavouring to defend French capitalist interests in Turkey, is determined to maintain a certain amount of freedom of action. But judging by the fact that the policy of Poincaré is endorsed only by the Temps which continues to maintain a Turcophile attitude, whereas the overwhelming majority of the French press announces that the reparation money on the Rhine is more important than Turkey, it is clearly seen that victory is on the side of Millerand. All evidence goes to show that France, apart from one or two ostensible moves to aid Turkey, will in all fundamental issues follow the dictates of England, preserving only an exterior appearance of Turcophile policy.

The Turkish Government, which with the utmost energy seeks the destruction of Entente hegemony in Turkey, and which is attempting to take the government functions in Constantinople firmly in its hands in spite of the threats of the Allies, will find itself in the most precarious position at the Lausanne Conference. To defend the national interests of Turkey, the Turkish government must be able to convince the broad masses of Turkey that it does not represent the interests of the higher classes of the nation, which are striving to supplant foreign capital by their own exploitation of the Turkish people. We consider the persecutions of the Communists in Turkey a crime not only because we are Communists and are obliged to defend our comrades, but also in relation to the interests of the national emancipation movement of Turkey, as one of the centres of the emancipation movement against European imperialism in the Near East. The rulers of Turkey, of course, attack the Communist Party not without definite reason on their part. They understand that the Turkish peasant masses consider the war terminated and want to be demobilized from the army and improve their conditions. The rulers of Turkey are afraid that the peasant masses will swing to the left, and that the Communist workers will become the guiding force of this movement.

But such a movement among the large masses which have undergone unparalleled suffering during the war is inevitable. If the rulers of Turkey desire that this movement shall not oppose them, they should themselves do everything in their power to improve the conditions of the peasant and working masses. The arrests of the Communists who, during the entire period of the blockade of Turkey and of the Allied intervention, were in the front ranks of the defenders of the national interests of Turkey, will convince the masses that the Turkish government is fighting against them. Following the example of Karl Marx who in 1847 advised the Young Communist Movement in Germany to support the national democratic movement of the bourgeoisie and even advised the revolutionary elements in Poland to support those sections of the landlord class which stood for land reform, the Communist International advised the Turkish Communists to support the national movement in Turkey as a force directed against foreign imperialism. But the Communist International will be able to do this in the future only on condition of the cessation of the persecutions against the Communists and on condition that the Turkish Government will understand that in the struggle with world capitalism it must be supported by the bread masses. The English-picked Sultan and his clique of old venal Constantinople nobles will mobilize ah the reactionary forces against Kemal Pasha. If he fails to change his policy as expressed is the persecutions of the Communists, he will undermine his own power, for the Turkish army consists of peasants.

Soviet Russia supported and is still supporting Turkey, not for the sake of the beautiful eyes of the government, but because it recognizes the victory of Turkey to be a strong factor for the revolutionizing of the Orient and for the strengthening of the world proletariat and the Russian Revolution. The Soviet government at Lausanne will support the legitimate demands of Turkey. The fools of toe Second and Two and a Half Internationals who, together with the entire capitalist press are speculating on Soviet Russia changing her policy, do not understand that this policy is fundamentally independent of any accidental moves of the Turkish government in the sphere of diplomacy or in home polities. We openly denounce such moves on the part of the Turkish government because such action is detrimental to the interests of the Turkish nation. At the same time Soviet Russia, in spite of the deviations, sees the great historic road on which the industrial proletariat of the world finds a common objective with the peoples of the Orient in the struggle against world capitalism.

Last updated on 4 January 2021