Constantinople Agreement

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The Constantinople Agreement (18 March 1915) was a set of secret assurances made by the Triple Entente during World War I. France and Great Britain promised to give Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and the Dardanelles (land on either coast in Thrace and Asia Minor), which at the time were part of the Ottoman Empire, to the Russians in the event of victory.[1] The Greek government was neutral, but in 1915 it negotiated with the Allies, offering soldiers and especially a geographical launching point for attacks on the Straits. Greece itself wanted control of Constantinople. Russia vetoed the Greek proposal, because its main war goal was to control the Straits, and take control of Constantinople.[2] The UK and France both agreed, while putting forward their own claims, to an increased sphere of influence in Iran in the case of the UK and to annexation of Syria (including Palestine) and Cilicia for France. The UK and French claims were both agreed all sides also agreeing that the exact governance of the Holy Places was to be left for later settlement.[3]

Though the Allied attempt to seize the area in the Gallipoli Campaign failed, Constantinople was nevertheless occupied by the victorious Allies at the end of the war in 1918. By that time, however, Russia had undergone the Communist Revolution and withdrawn from the war, and was no longer considered one of the Allied Powers. The agreement was therefore never implemented. Its existence was revealed by the Russian Bolsheviks in 1917, making public the British diplomatic intentions and encouraging the passing of the Balfour Declaration. Knowledge of the agreement was used by Kemal Ataturk to regain Constantinople for the Turkish Republic, risking war with the Allies.

Details[edit]

From 4 March to 10 April 1915, the Triple Entente (Britain, France, and Russia) secretly[4] discussed how to divide up the lands of the Ottoman Empire. Britain was to control an even larger zone in Iran while Russia would get the Ottoman capital, Constantinople. The Dardanelles were also promised to Russia. Even though the British never wanted the Russians to control Constantinople or the Dardanelles, they saw this agreement as a means to keep Russia in the First World War.[citation needed] The agreement was one of a series of agreements regarding the partition of the Ottoman Empire by the Triple Entente and Italy following the war, including the Treaty of London (1915), the Sykes–Picot Agreement (1916) and the Agreement of Saint-Jean de Maurienne (April to August 1917).

The British Gallipoli Campaign (1915–16) was aimed at seizing the Dardanelles and Constantinople but was defeated by the Turks, and the Allies did not gain control of the region until occupying it in November 1918, after the end of the war. By that time, the Communist Bolsheviks had seized power in Russian during the October Revolution of 1917 and had signed a separate peace with the Central Powers in March 1918, dropping out of the war.[5] As the Allies therefore no longer considered Russia among their number, and, indeed, did not even recognise the legitimacy of the Bolshevik government, the agreement was never implemented.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cathal J. Nolan, ed. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations: A-E, (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002), 350.
  2. ^ Hugh Seton-Watson, The Russian Empire, 1801-1917 (1967) pp 706-7.
  3. ^ J. C. Hurewitz (1979). The Middle East and North Africa in World Politics: A Documentary Record. British-French supremacy, 1914-1945. 2. Yale University Press. pp. 16–21. ISBN 978-0-300-02203-2.
  4. ^ "He [Sir Edward Grey] had emphasized, too, that the Constantinople agreement they had just reached was to be kept secret". David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace (2001), p.139
  5. ^ Gordon Martel, ed. (2008). A Companion to International History 1900 - 2001. p. 132.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • Bassett, Sarah Guberti. "'Excellent Offerings': The Lausos Collection in Constantinople." The Art Bulletin 82.1 (2000): 6–25. JSTOR 3051362
  • Fitzgerald, Edward Peter. "France's Middle Eastern Ambitions, the Sykes–Picot Negotiations, and the Oil Fields of Mosul." The Journal of Modern History 66.4 (1994): 697–725. JSTOR 2125155
  • Fromkin, David. A Peace to End All Peace. N.p.: Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated, 2001. Print.
  • Helmreich, Paul C. "Italy and the Anglo-French Repudiation of the 1917 St. Jean de Maurienne Agreement." The Journal of Modern HIstory 48.2 (1976): 99–139. JSTOR 1877819
  • Manners, Ian R. "Constructing the Image of a City: The Representation of Constantinopole in Christopher Buondelmonti's Liber Insularum Archipelagi." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 87.1 (1997): 72–102. JSTOR 2564123