Asia Minor.

Oral Answers to Questions — Ireland. – in the House of Commons on 18th May 1922.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

27.

asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government has received details of the armed risings of the Greeks in the Samsun and Baffra areas of the Black Sea coast of Turkey in Asia against the Turkish authorities in the latter part of 1921; whether these risings were aided by Greek warships, which landed arms at various points on the coast; and whether His Majesty's Government has received details of a plan for the formation of a Greek Pontus Republic comprising a great portion of the Black Sea coast?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

His Majesty's Government have reason to believe that the Turkish statements regarding armed risings of Greeks in Pontus are unfounded. Three Greek warships bombarded Ineboli last June after the Turkish authorities had refused a demand for the surrender of arms and the destruction of munition dumps. Also at the same period one shell was fired by a Greek destroyer at Eregli, and minor bombardments are alleged to have taken place at Trebizond, Rizeh Barracks and Samsun. There is no evidence that any arms were landed. On the other hand, there is no doubt that a movement existed among the Greeks of Pontus, fostered and encouraged by Greek communities and associations of Pontic Greeks abroad, for the liberation of Pontus from Turkish misrule; and several appeals from such associations have been received by His Majesty's Government since the Armistice, asking that the claims of the Pontic Greeks to independence might be favourably considered in the peace settlement. Such political aspirations, however, can furnish no justification for the wholesale and barbarous deportations of women and children which have recently been carried out by the Turks from the district in question.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

Why is it that Greek statements are always accepted but no Turkish statement is accepted? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in this case His Majesty's High Commissioner at Constantinople has the information about the villages burnt and the people killed by these Greek bands? I do not say one excuses the other.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is in the habit of putting as facts his own suppositions. It is not a fact that the statements of the Greeks are always accepted by the Government without confirmation. The information I give the House is drawn from our own or from competent neutral observers.

Sir J. D. REES:

(by Private Notice) asked the Lord Privy Seal whether a prominent and independent Mahommedan such as Sir Abbas Ali Baig, K.C.I.E., C.S.L, late Member of the Council of the Secretary of State for India, now resident in this country, or other person of like character and position, will be included in the Committee of Investigation into charges made against the Anatolian Turkish Government and Turks of cruelties and atrocities perpetrated against the Pontine Greeks, and whether the Committee will also be charged with the duty of investigating the conduct of the Greeks towards the Turks from the date of the Greek landing in Smyrna?

Photo of Mr T.P. O'Connor Mr T.P. O'Connor , Liverpool Scotland

Before the right hon. Gentleman answers, may I ask whether, if it be considered necessary to have a Kemalist representative on this Commission, he will also see the desirability of having a prominent Greek like M. Venizelos, the former Greek Premier, on the Commission?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

The hon. Member could not have heard the question. There is no suggestion in it of a Kemalist representative. It is a question of appointing a distinguished Mahommedan who is a British subject. The suggestion made in the question will be carefully considered as soon as the replies of the Allied and American Governments and of the Angora authorities to the proposals of His Majesty's Government have been received. In regard to the second part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave yesterday to my Noble Friend the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil).

Photo of Mr T.P. O'Connor Mr T.P. O'Connor , Liverpool Scotland

I apologise for having unintentionally done any injustice to the distinguished Mahommedan gentle man mentioned. I merely again ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the advisability, in case of a distinguished Mahommedan representative being put on the Committee, of putting a distinguished Greek on the Committee also.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I will repeat the hon. Member's suggestion to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but I do not myself see any necessity for this proposal.

Photo of Lord Robert Cecil Lord Robert Cecil , Hitchin

Do I understand that no replies have been received from any of the Governments?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

So far as I know, no replies have yet been received. They had not been received yesterday, and a message pressing for a quick reply was then sent.