Turkish-Ukrainian Contacts During World War I
Turkey begins to genuinely understand the importance of Ukrainian problem during World War I, when the idea of Ukraine's liberation with the help of the Quadruple Alliance countries finds full support and syppathy on the part of leading Turkish politicians.
Well before Turkey's entry into the war the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine (SVU) issued an address to the Turkish people. This address is the first official document in modern Turkish-Ukrainian relations. Ukraine and Turkey were described as allies against the common enemy, Russian autocracy.
The SVU statement evoked a response in Turkey. The press commented on harassment suffered by Ukrainians under the Russian yoke. The newspaper Tarjiman-e-Haqiqat stated that all the Ukrainian people could only preserve their language and nationhood if they enjoyed the kind of rights granted by Austria-Hungary. The Union for the Liberation of Ukraine enthusiastically received news of Turkey's going to war. The dream of Turkish troops landing in the North Caucasus and on the Black Sea coast of Russian Ukraine took clear shape, including the participation of Ukrainian volunteers in a Turkish expeditionary corps to initiate a national uprising in Southern Ukraine and the Kuban.
To establish contacts with Turkish and Bulgarian official and unofficial circles, representatives of the Supreme Ukrainian Council and the SVU were sent to Sofia and Constantinople. Delegates of the Supreme Chief Ukrainian Council L. Tsehelsky and S. Baran met the leading Turkish politicians Enver Pasha and Talaat Bey. The latter supported the aspirations to create on the ruins of a defeated Russia an independent Ukraine as a defensive wall against Russian invasion of the Balkans and Mediterranean.
The SVU group in Constantinople was instrumental in disseminating information about the Ukrainian question in Turkish provinces. "The intelligent Turks have been completely carried away by the Ukrainian cause", a correspondent of the Visnyk SVU (SVU Herald) reported in the spring of 1915. "On coming across a Ukrainian, all of them begin to talk about Ukraine, about the liberation struggle of Ukrainians and sincerely wish them to free themselves from Moscow's grip."
The greatest achievement of the SVU mission in Constantinople was the declaration by Interior Minister Talaat Bey, one of Turkey's three actual leaders, published on November 24, 1914. In late October 1914 the Tasfir-i-Efikiar in its article "A new Nation" maintained that the formation of a Ukrainian state would be a great service to the world and mankind.
Talaat Bey stated that the Sublime Porte as well as the Cabinets in Berlin and Vienna recognized the necessity of Ukraine's liberation from Russian domination; after Russia's defeat the Ottoman government would be ready to help the Ukrainian people establish an independent state. The Union for the Liberation of Ukraine was recognized as the national organ of Ukrainians residing in Russian Ukraine.
The Young Turks' newspaper Jeune Turque (in French) noted that "The interests of the Ukrainians are closely bound up with Turkey's. The Ukrainian state desired by Ukrainians would separate Russia from the Black Sea. The creation of a non-Russian Slavic state would free Turkey from the policy of intrigues and antics pursued by the Russian autocracy which strives to dominate Constantinople and the straits. A successful liberation struggle of the Ukrainian people and Ukraine's breaking away from Russia were seen as delivering a powerful blow on Russia's traditional policies and relieving Turkey of the danger threatening it in the past two centuries.
The SVU delegation had one more task in Turkey: to lay down the conditions for forming a Ukrainian military unit which would land together with the Turkish troops in Kuban or northern Black Sea region, in the area of Odessa, to kindle the Ukrainian population's national liberation movement against the oppression of tsarist Russia.
Turkish-Ukrainian Relations in 1918-1921
In accordance with Article 8 of the Brest Peace Treaty, additional agreements were concluded between the Ukrainian People's Republic (URP) and individual states of the Quadruple Alliance. A Ukrainian-Turkish accord was sighed in Brest-Litovsky on February 12, 1918. The agreement announced null and void all the laws, regulations and orders issued on the territory of each party under the martial law. Some of the articles settled the questions of repatriation of POWs and internees and material indemnities. Mutual privileges were provided for. In view of the absence of any treaty basis for their relationships, the URP and Turkey agreed to conclude a consular convention as well as some other bilateral documents.
The Brest Peace Treaty was instrumental in turning Turkey from Ukraine's enemy into its ally. It was just at that time that news about agitation for annexing Odessa to the Ottoman Empire appeared in some Turkish newspapers. The claims were hailed by a group of Turkish politicians who, with references to historical, economic and geographic factors, tried to justify Turkey's claims on Odessa which ceased to be part of the empire only 120 years ago. However that policy line failed to acquire significance
M. Levytsky, the first Ukraine's ambassador to Constantinople, dealt with such political problems as the Crimea issue, the Bessarabia and Balkan questions, relations with Persia (an opportunity of contacts with Persia's representative in Turkey). He was especially concerned by events in the Caucasus.
Generally, Ukrainian-Turkish relations in the time of the UPR started on a constructive note. Mutual orientation to support and partnership can be testified to by the work of Turkey's Ambassador to Kyiv Akhmed Mukhtar-Bey. That trend persisted in the time of the Directory.
Soviet Ukraine in Turkish Foreign Policy
On January 2, 1922, the Treaty on friendship and fraternity was signed between Turkey and Ukraine. Speaking on January 3, at the reception after the signing of the treaty, Chairman of the Great National Assemble M. Kemal-Pasha noted: "Turkey and Ukraine are the nations closest to each other. Likewise is friendship between the peoples of these countries."
A new Turkey's leadership was quick in forgetting the foundations of bilateral ties laid down in the first post-war years and readily answered bolshevist advances. Thus, the Ankara Treaty on friendship and fraternity became another important milestone in the good-neighborly relations between Ukraine and Turkey. It provided for establishment of diplomatic and consular relations, formed the legal basis of their political alliance and initiated active partnership in commercial, economic and cultural spheres.
As early as in early and mid-1920s, Turkish-Ukrainian trade relations were rather intensive. Ukrainian official circles granted Turkish merchants the right of free entry to Ukraine at any time and conduct commercial operations at great fairs organized in the 1920s.16 Turkish vessels could enter Ukrainian Black Sea and Azov ports without special visas of Soviet representatives in Turkey. A sizable portion of Turkish export to the USSR passed just through Ukrainian ports. In 1925 in Kharkiv the Ukrainian-Oriental Trade Chamber was founded with its branches in Kyiv and Odessa. The Chamber facilitated foreign trade by various Ukrainian organizations. According to the data of the People's Commissariat for Trade of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, Turkey was the major trade partner of Ukraine: in 1926-1927 the share of Ukraine's foreign trade with Turkey accounted for 45% of the overall Ukraine's foreign trade. According to the statistics of the USSR's Main Customs Board, in the same period Ukraine's share was about 35% of the USSR's total export to Turkey.
An important role in the development of Ukrainian-Turkish relations, scientific contacts and cultural tics was played by the All-Ukrainian scientific association of orientalists founded in January 1926. It focused its activities in the political-economic and historical-ethnological directions. Many studies were devoted to Turkey, to its economy, policy, history and language. It was just that association, along with the Turkological Commission headed by Academician A. Krymsky and some other public and culture figures, that in the late 1920s and 1936s kept up a dialog between the two countries through contacts with Turkish colleagues.
Later on, Stalin's isolationism and World War II led to a practically complete degradation of Ukrainian-Turkish relationships. Only in the 1960-1980s, when relations between the Soviet Union and Turkey were normalized and considerably improved, Turkey's economic, scientific-technological and cultural ties with Ukraine intensified. But they did not have any political overtones and could not be developed independently by the two nations.
Restoration and Development of Bilateral Relations at the Present Stage
Real bilateral relations began to be restored only when the USSR was in a deep crisis, and preconditions emerged for Ukraine's becoming independent. The first documentary evidence of this became the 1989 Protocol between the Turkish Republic and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic on the development of economic and trade relations.
In the spring of 1991, Turgut Ozal, the then President of the Turkish Republic, came to Ukraine on an official visit. On March 13, 1991, the President met with the Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament. The leaders of the two countries adopted a joint statement and signed the Declaration on principles and goals of relations between the two nations. Specifically, the Declaration noted: "Proceeding from the mutual intention to continue good traditions laid down by the Treaty on friendship and fraternity of January 2, 1922, Ukraine and Turkey declare about their desire to develop mutually beneficial cooperation in political, economic, ecological, scientific-technological, informational, cultural, humanitarian and other spheres."19
The Ukrainian side emphasized its desire to support the Turkish President's initiatives on creating a zone of the Black Sea cooperation as one of the ways of developing integration processes in Europe. In this respect, the Declaration manifested willingness of the two countries to work jointly for environmental protection, primarily of the Black Sea, and elaboration of a corresponding ecological convention. The visit also resulted in signing documents on cooperation in the spheres of telecommunications and culture, and an understanding was reached on establishing the Ukrainian-Turkish Association for foreign economic and trade relations. On November 20, 1991, ten days before the All-Ukrainian referendum on independence, Turkey announced about establishing consular relations with Ukraine.
The USSR disintegration and creation of independent Ukraine put new tasks before Turkey and opened up new prospects. On March 5-6, 1992, Turkey's Foreign Minister Kh.Cetin made an official visit to Kyiv, during which the Protocol on consultations in foreign policy matters was signed. And in May 1992 Ukraine's President L.Kravchuk came to Turkey on an official visit, the first in the history of bilateral relations, during which the Treaty on friendship and partnership between Ukraine and the Turkish republic was signed.
The two sides confirmed "their obligations within the framework of all documents signed earlier and now efficient acts, especially the Treaty on Friendship and fraternity between Ukraine and Turkey of January 2, 1922. The Treaty of May 4, 1992, laid down the foundation for a comprehensive bilateral cooperation in political, economic, cultural and other spheres. It provides for development of direct ties between enterprises as well as close cooperation in the fields of environmental protection, science, technology, communications and informatics, tourism and sports. It was noted that "the sides agree to conduct consultations with a view of coordinated development of their relations and exchange of opinions on international and regional matters".
The conceptual approach of the Turkish government to constructing strategies in the region lies in that the policy of balancing between Russia and Ukraine can be shifted to the Ukrainian side, if the latter will, in its turn, work in that direction, too. Russia is a country whose policies are difficult to prognosticate for a number of geopolitical, national, ethnic and social reasons. Ukraine demonstrated its desire to maintain peace and security not only within its borders but also in the whole region, and its policies are easier to foresee and may be more in line with Turkey's national interests. source
In events in 2014 Turkey supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said in Ankara during a joint press conference with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. source