The Commissioner at Constantinople (Ravndal) to the Secretary of State20
[Received August 28, 4.28 a.m.]
157. The following is a copy of the Grand Vizier’s reply to the President’s message through Admiral Bristol to the Turkish Government.21 Please send copy also to Naval Adviser [Sic].
“To His Excellency, President Wilson, President of the United States of America.
I have had the honor to receive the wire which Your Excellency has sent to me through Bear Admiral Bristol.
No time has been wasted submitting the presidential message to His Imperial Majesty, the Sultan. The Imperial Government is conscious and fully aware of the fact that it is its sacred duty to maintain order and tranquillity within the borders of the Empire and to guarantee, as in all other organized states, the safety of life, honor and property of its citizens.
Turkey is just out of a disastrous war which has completely put the administrative machinery [of government] out of order and [with] nearly her whole army demobilized, has today nothing more than an insufficient number of soldiers and gendarmes dispersed [over her] extensive territory.
Steps repeatedly taken and applications made by us to the Allied Powers to the effect that the Imperial Government should not be prevented from increasing the number of contingents so as to face the exigencies of the actual situation have unfortunately up to today proved to be unsuccessful.
No government can possibly maintain order and accomplish tranquillity without the aid of public forces. But in spite of these, the Imperial Government has done every possible effort to overcome unimaginable difficulties and we did not fail to record that since the lapse of six months no event of any importance or of a sad character has ever occurred in any part of the Empire. It is those tragic events of Smyrna which have troubled the peace in Asia Minor and Thrace and exasperated the entire population already upset by the disastrous effects of the late general war. It is again those awful atrocities, unparalleled even in the old conservative times, that brought about a general repentance all over the Empire and caused a deep indignation and exasperation amongst the entire population.
As to the Caucasus and those regions beyond the Ottoman boundaries, I am almost sure that once well informed of the real situation and animated by feelings of justice and equity Your Excellency will not hesitate in not holding the Ottoman Empire responsible for the sad events occurring in those foreign lands and on the Ottoman territories.[Page 836]
Concerning the above mentioned factors, and in the interest of general peace in the Near East, I now beg to request Your Excellency to help the Ottoman State in the accomplishment of its humanitarian task and to facilitate the realization of the following desiderata: to give the right to the Ottoman Government to increase the number of soldiers and gendarmes and to hasten, in accord with the Allied Powers, the work of the International Commission at Smyrna and to give an end as soon as possible to the helplessness noteworthy of that province and to atrocities committed by Hellenic troops actually stationed there.
Immediate convocation of Ottoman delegates to Paris Peace Conference guarding against [sic] definite conclusion of peace, which is the normal [status] for all nations, [will put an end to conditions] existing since the last 10 months and [there] by the unsettled state of affairs will at once be replaced by order and tranquillity everywhere. Damad Ferid.”