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 city of Constantinople was intended to be a free port.

It was never carried out due to the failure of the Dardanelles campaign and the threat Britain saw in Russia after the former finally reached the city in 1918. The agreement was revealed by the 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 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. With the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Russia dropped out of the war and thus the agreement never affected Russian control over former Ottoman lands.

Conflicting promises[edit]

The agreement was one of a series of negotiations regarding the actions to be taken against the Central Powers following the war, including the Treaty of London (1915) and Sykes–Picot Agreement (1916). France, Britain, and Russia mapped out the distribution of land for each country in advance and then proposed it at the Paris Peace Conference. "He [Sir Edward Grey] had emphasized, too, that the Constantinople agreement they had just reached was to be kept secret".[2]

Responsibility[edit]

France, Britain, and Russia (also known as the Triple Entente) were responsible for this agreement. They gave away Ottoman land at the end of the First World War. The Triple Entente wanted to split up the Ottoman Empire so they could distribute it between themselves to use for their own advantage and make it seem as if the post-war territorial division wasn't secretly planned well in advance.

Purpose[edit]

The purpose of the Constantinople Agreement was to partition the Ottoman Empire and readjust British territorial control in Iran. There were actually three instruments for the partition of the Ottoman Empire. One was the Treaty of London (26 April 1915), the Sykes–Picot Agreement (April to October 1916), and the Agreement of Saint-Jean de Maurienne (April to August 1917). The Treaty of London was for Italy to leave the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy) and join the Triple Entente. Then Italy was to declare war against Germany and Austria-Hungary to gain some territory. The Sykes–Picot Agreement was a secret agreement between France's Francois Georges-Picot and the United Kingdom's Sir Mark Sykes discussing their division of Ottoman Arab lands after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire. The Agreement of Saint-Jean de Maurienne was between Italy, France, and the United Kingdom to secure the position of Italian forces in the Middle East, as had been earlier agreed upon in the Treaty of London.

Consequences[edit]

Implementation of the Constantinople Agreement was unsuccessful due to the failure of the Gallipoli Campaign which was to conquer Constantinople. Furthermore, the Russian government was overthrown by the Bolsheviks in 1917. The Bolsheviks discovered these various above agreements when they gained control over government archives. They then published the agreements but the French and the British completely denied them and claimed that it was propaganda by the Bolsheviks.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations: A-E, Ed. Cathal J. Nolan, (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002), 350.
  2. ^ Fromkin, David. A Peace to End All Peace. N.p.: Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated, 2001, p.139

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