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Soviet Dispute with Turkey

In 1945 the USSR denounced the treaty of friendship it had made with Turkey in 1925 and soon after demanded a revision of the 1936 Montreux Convention that allowed Turkey to remilitarize the Bosporus and the Dardanelles between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The latter was significant because the straits were the Soviet Black Sea fleet's only access to the Mediterranean. The dispute began a marked shift in Russo-Turkish relations, which had previously been friendly following World War I. Turkey completely rejected the USSR's demands, and the United States, fearful of the potential domino effect of communism spreading into Turkey and then to the rest of the eastern Mediterranean, was not about to let the Soviets have clear passage through the straits. To this end, the US gave substantial aid to Turkey (as well as Greece) as part of the Truman Doctrine's policy of Soviet containment. In 1950 the ruling party was defeated and Celal Bayar, leader of the Democratic Party succeeded incumbent President Ismet Inonu (who himself has succeeded Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish republic). Adnan Menderes became prime minister and under his rule Turkey was brought into the western fold when it sent troops to Korea as part of the US-led United Nations force in Korea, and later in 1952 when it joined NATO with Greece, making Turkey an important bulwark for the western bloc against Soviet expansion. One year later Turkey signed a friendship pact with its long-time rival, Greece. The Soviets, naturally, did not get access to the straits and the dispute marked an important step in Cold War politics, one where Soviet containment was a cornerstone of US policy.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:30:10 ZULU