The King-Crane Commission Report, August 28, 1919
III-REPORT UPON NON-ARABIC SPEAKING PORTIONS OF FORMER OTTOMAN EMPIRE
II-THE PROBLEM OF A SEPARATE CONSTANTINOPOLITAN STATE
(1) The Conception of such a State. In facing the problem of a separate
Constantinopolitan State, there should be, first of all, a clear understanding
of the nature of the state proposed.
The definite plan for a League of Nations with its mandatory system,
it should be noted gives new help in the solution of this difficult question.
It is proposed that the Constantinopolitan State, as a great international
interest, should be directly in charge of the League of Nations for the
good of all the nations; in the sure conviction that even "national
interests are often promoted better by international cooperation than by
The State would be administered through a mandatory for the League-a
Mandatory appointed by the League, responsible to the League, and removable
at the will of the League, but held permanent except for cause; for it is
plain that there should not be any unnecessary shifting in the administrative
The Mandatory, moreover, should be a real mandatory for the League, a
trustee for international interests, not a power using its position to advance
its own national interests. To this end, the Mandatory should be territorially
and strategically disinterested.
The Constantinopolitan State could be administered by an International
Commission, [NOTE: This plan bas proved a war-breeding failure] like
the notably successful Commission on the Danube; but the problem here is
more complex, and the single Mandatory would seem to have some decided advantages
over the Commission plan. In the case of the Constantinopolitan State, for
example, there would be actual governmental functions to be exercised, as
there are not in the same sense in the control of traffic on the Danube.
These could be better handled by a regularly organized government. The Mandatory,
too, as directly controlled by the League of Nations, would be even more
truly international than an international commission of the old kind. And,
practically, a single mandatory would naturally be better able to avoid
friction, wrangling, and divided counsels, and so to prevent exasperating
and dangerous delays. It would also have more immediate power behind it.
Such a State should include Constantinople, and have charge of its administration.
This is the more demanded, for Constantinople is a markedly cosmopolitan
city, where the Turks are probably not even in the majority. This state
should also have a reasonable territory on; either side of the Straits.
All fortifications should be abolished. This international territory would
of course be open to all people for any legitimate purposes. Like the District
of Columbia in America, it would be a natural place for great educational
and religious foundations, so that such Moslem institutions could remain
and be further built up. The Turkish population, equally of course, would
be free to stay. But Constantinople would not longer be the capital of Turkey.
In the administration of the State, however, all possible consideration
should be given to Moslem sentiment, and reasonable practical adjustments
arranged. The Sultan might even conceivably continue to reside at Constantinople
if that were desired under the conditions named.
(2) The Reasons for such a State. What are the reasons which make
the establishment of an international Constantinopolitan State, as now conceived,
imperative, in the final settlement of this war?
(i) President Wilson himself, in the twelfth of his Fourteen Points,
made much of by the Turks, points at least in this direction, when he writes:
"The Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to
the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees."
It would seem that that end could be accomplished in no way so surely and
so permanently, as by an International State under the League of Nations.
The need at least, of some such internationalization is manifest, when
it is remembered that the Straits hare been closed almost continuously
(ii) Woolf hardly overstates the need of drastic action in this matter,
when he says: "Constantinople and the narrow straits upon which it
stands have occasioned the world more trouble, have cost humanity more
in blood and suffering during the last five hundred years, than any other
single spot upon the earth. Certainly during the last hundred years it
has been the chief European center of international unrest. From it, and
about it, have radiated continually international rivalries and hatreds
and suspicions. It was the direct origin and cause of a large number of
the wars fought in the nineteenth century. It is not improbable that when
Europe in her last ditch has fought the last battle of the Great War, we
shall find that what we have again been fighting about is really Constantinople."
Now, this perpetual centre of intrigue and endless cause of trouble must
be done away with.
(iii) The close of this greatest of wars, with its many new adjustments
and particularly with the break-up of the old Turkish Empire, gives an
unrivaled opportunity to clear up, in a permanent way, once and for all
this great plaguespot of the world. If this opportunity is now neglected,
or grasped only in nerveless vacillating and selfish fashion we shall have
again the old intolerable situation. We are confronted by a great challenge.
Timid counsels should not prevail. As Woolf puts it: "Constantinople
is the test of the Great War's result. If it can be, and is, given to any
one State, it means the rule of the world by war- if . . . it be administered
by all for all, Constantinople means the rule of the world by peace."
(iv) The responsibility for so fateful and strategic a world-center
is also too heavy for any single power, however great, to carry; least
of all Turkey with her terrible record of mis-government and massacre.
It would be hard to choose out of any list of leading nations a nation
less fitted for this world task than she. She has completely forfeited
any claim to such a responsibility.
(v) Moreover, as we have already seen, it would be to the distinct advantage
of Turkey's own new democratic government to be definitely withdrawn from
this center of intrigue. Thoughtful Turkish leaders already realize the
evils which have come from this intrigue, and might well welcome-even though
with natural reluctance-the kind of surgery which should sever their State
from such a seat of infection. At the same time, the Turks remaining within
the bound tries of the International State, under a competent mandatory,
would certainly have the best government they have ever had.
(vi) The situation, furthermore, cannot be dealt with adequately or
with any final satisfaction, except internationally and through an international
state. And the League of Nations and the Mandatory System, as planned by
the Peace Conference, would seem to suggest both a new and stable method
for establishing and administering such a state, and a method growing directly
out of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Until such an International
State is definitely established, there will be endless intrigues on the
part of various Powers to possess or control the Straits. So long as a
state as weak as Turkey has any kind of hold upon this critically significant
territory, intrigues will be encouraged. The Greeks, for example, have
already declared their ambition to have Constantinople in their hands,
and are conducting a campaign of propaganda to that end. That is typical
of what may be expected to go on, until a thorough-going and permanent
solution of the problem of the Straits is adopted, in an International
(vii) It deserves to be especially emphasized that the reason for the
establishment of an International Constantinopolitan State, is not to humiliate
Turkey or any Moslem interest, but simply to face squarely and honestly
a situation which is a constant menace both to the peace of Turkey and
to the peace of the world; and, deceiving ourselves no longer with vain
makeshifts, to determine upon the only fundamental solution. No such fundamental
readjustment can be made, doubtless, without some disturbance and sacrifices,
but it can be counted certain that all related interests-economic, political,
social and religious-will in the end gain from a permanent solution of
this vexing world-question.
(3) Extent and Boundaries: The discussion of the extent and boundaries
of the Constantinopolitan State is by the General Adviser, Dr. Lybyer, and
puts clearly the elements of that problem, anticipating a complete study
on the ground by the special Boundaries Commission later recommended.
1. The primary reason for the setting off of a separate area at Constantinople,
to be forever under a special regime controlled by the League of Nations,
is that the straits between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, being a
concern of many nations, who cannot remain satisfied with the ownership
of any one power, should be permanently and freely open.
2. Inasmuch as the Sea of Marmora is small, and in a sense may be regarded
as simply an enlargement of the Straits, a minimum boundary must include
not only the whole of both sides of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, but
also the entire shore of the Sea of Marmora. The American experts in International
Law at Paris pronounced that serious complications might arise if an independent
state should reach these waters at any point.
3. Constantinople is also the place where railways make the crossing
between Europe and Western Asia, arrangements for the stations and yards
of these need to be taken into account.
4. On account of the ready access by water and rail the economic support
of the city does not need to be provided for completely within the boundaries
of the state, except as regards the water supply. It would be convenient,
of course, to have room for dairy and vegetable farming, in view of the
trouble of crossing frontiers.
5. Inasmuch as the population has always been greatly mixed,-a condition
which will undoubtedly continue, and since it may be assumed that the League
of Nations will provide for the security of all elements without privilege
or favor, there is no need to adjust the boundary to racial groups.
6. On the European side, it is better, all things considered, to leave
with Constantinople the present remnant of Turkey in Europe, accepting the
Turco-Bulgarian frontier of 1915 subject to minor modifications. The Constantinople
area needs no more land than is included in an adjustment of the Enos-Midia
line, as shown on the accompanying map; but the question of disposing of
the remainder of "Turkish Thrace" is so acute, that the best solution
is to leave this also with Constantinople
i. This area was ceded to the Balkan Allies early in 1913, and assigned
to Bulgaria, but it was recovered by Turkey after the second Balkan war
If Bulgaria continues to be kept out of her rightful lands in Macedonia,
she has some ground for claiming Turkish Thrace as a region for the settlement
of refugees. As regards Turkish and Bulgarian Thrace, there has been a
considerable exchange of population since 1915, so that few Bulgarians
remain in the area, while the number of Turks has been increased .
ii. Greece has claimed the territory, but statistics submitted by the
Greeks do not estimate that before 1912 the Greek population of the territory
between the Enos-Midia line and the present Bulgarian frontier was more
than 147,000, or 42 per cent of the whole. Their own statements show that
a large proportion of this number migrated between 1912 and the Great War.
They do not state the reciprocal fact that an approximately equal number
of Turks migrated from territory acquired by Greece in 1913 and settled
here, so that there was not a mere expulsion of Greeks, but a fair exchange
of population. The Greek population was then probably not over 25 per cent
of the whole in 1914. It is less at present, but changes during the Great
War should hardly be taken into account. The claims of Greece to this area
cannot be justified.
iii. On the basis of population, Turkish Thrace was really Turkish in
1914, the proportion reaching at least 60 per cent.
iv. There is no prospect that, without violent changes, any other element
than the Turkish will become a majority of the population within a considerable
time. In case this should ultimately happen, in such a way as to make alterations
of boundaries desirable, the League of |Nations could transfer a portion
of Thrace out of the Constantinople area.
7. On the Asiatic side, the frontier beginning on the Black Sea coast
a short distance east of the mouth of the Sakaria River might run east of
the river to Ak Sofu Dagh, cross to Geuk Dagh, pass southwestward to the
ridge between Isnik and Yeni Shehir, and proceed westward along the heights
south of Mudania, and Pandernwa as far as the boundary of the Sanjak of
Bigha, which it might follow to the sea south of Mt. Ida.
i The line between the Black Sea and Ismid is located east of the Sakaria,
including the marshy area near the river's mouth, in order to facilitate
engineering problems of drainage, and provide an area suitable for dairy
farming within the reach and control of Constantinople.
ii. Brusa would better be left to the Turks, because it has no relation
to the defense of the Straits; because the local population is predominantly
Turkish; and because the Turks are sentimentally attached to this as the
first Ottoman capital. To take from them all three capitals, Constantinople,
Adrianople, and Brusa, would be very severe.
iii. The Troad Peninsula, while predominantly Turkish, constitutes such
a separate physical area that it cannot well be divided. Therefore, for
the defense of the Dardanelles, it must all go with the Straits.
8. The total population of this area would be at the outset about two
millions, of whom about 60 per cent would be Turks, 25 per cent Greeks,
and 10 per cent Armenians. The proportion of Turks would be likely in time
to decrease, and that of Greeks and Western Europeans to increase, especially
in Constantinople and the smaller cities of the area.
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