Greece and Constantinople.

Oral Answers to Questions — Near Eastern Question. – in the House of Commons on 31st July 1922.

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Photo of Colonel Ralph Glyn Colonel Ralph Glyn , Clackmannan and Eastern

(by Private Notice): I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether there is any official confirmation of the report that the Greek Government intend to advance upon Constantinople without obtaining the permission of the Allied Powers; whether the action of the Greek Government. has not been taken as a means to induce the Allies to come to some definite conclusion as regards the settlement of the Near Eastern question; whether the Prime Minister can make a statement as to the prospect of summoning all the signatories to the Treaty of Sevres to attend a Conference at an early date; and what prospect is there of the Inter-Allied Commission to inquire into massacres in Asia Minor commencing their inquiries forthwith?

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

(by Private Notice): I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether the Memoranda recently presented by the Greek Government to the Allied Powers did not expressly declare that no advance on Constantinople would be made without the assent of these Powers; whether the basis of the Memorandum was the continuance of the massacres on tens of thousands of Greek and other Christians in Anatolia and elsewhere, leading to their complete annihilation ultimately, and that these massacres were encouraged by the conditions of the occupation of Constantinople by the Turks, and by the inaction of the Powers; whether the Turkish authorities have not steadily impeded every attempt of the British Government to have an impartial investigation as to these atrocities?

I beg further to ask whether, in view of the conclusion of separate agreements by some of the Allied Powers with the Turkish authorities at Constantinople and Angora and the supply of all the munitions of war to the Kemalists by these Powers and by the Soviet Government of Russia, the British Government will not see its way—by calling a Convention of all the Powers interested in the Near East—to bring to an end the present war between Greece and Turkey and to create adequate securities to the Christians against massacre?

Photo of Mr David Lloyd George Mr David Lloyd George , Caernarvon District of Boroughs

(in reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Clackmannan):

On the 29th July the Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs handed to His Majesty's representative at Athens a Note stating that the Greek Government had come to the conclusion that only the occupation of Constantinople by the Greek army would bring about peace. The Greek Government, therefore, asked the Allies to give the necessary orders to their occupying troops. On the same day as this Note was received, His Majesty's representative at Athens, in compliance with instructions from London, warned the Greek Government of the serious consequences that would ensue from such a step. In reply the Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs gave positive assurances that there was no cause for alarm, and that the Greek forces would on no account enter the neutral zone without Allied consent. These assurances he has since re-affirmed.

The action of the Greek Government is apparently due to a desire to expedite a settlement of the Near Eastern question.

I cannot make the statement asked for in the third part of the question, since no such Conference is at present contemplated.

As regards the fourth part of the question, the necessary instructions have just been issued to ask the Governments of Athens and Angora for facilities for the commissions of inquiry.

(In reply to the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool):

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative, but the Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs has given an assurance in this sense.

The basis of the second Memorandum would seem to be rather the continuance of the state of hostilities between Greece and Nationalist Turkey, but the continuance of atrocities is intimately connected therewith.

In reply to the last part of the question, the necessary instructions have just been sent to Athens and Constantinople to ask the Greek and Turkish Nationalist Governments for facilities for the Commissions of inquiry. The attitude of the latter Government will be clearer on the receipt of their reply.

His Majesty's Government have no present intention of calling a Conference of all the Powers interested in the Near East, but my hon. Friend is, of course, aware of the proposed meeting between the principal Allied Powers concerned and the Governments of Athens, Constantinople and Angora.

Photo of Lord Robert Cecil Lord Robert Cecil , Hitchin

Why is it there has been such a very long delay in appointing this International Commission? Is it not e fact it was promised in this House weeks, if not months, ago? What is the reason for the delay?

Photo of Mr David Lloyd George Mr David Lloyd George , Caernarvon District of Boroughs

We were ready with our Commissioners some time ago, as the Noble Lord well knows, but there are other Powers which did not act with the same expedition, and there has been some difficulty in getting them to appoint their Commissioners.

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

Have we made it perfectly clear to the Greek Government that any attempt to set up an Independent State in Smyrna and district will not be tolerated by the Powers?

Mr. G. MURRAY:

Have the movements of Greek troops towards Constantinople been stopped or not?