Nevertheless, the Turkish intellectuals and statesmen remained skeptical about Briand’s proposal and particularly about inclusion of Britain into it. An eminent Turkish journalist of the time, Zeki Mesut, foresaw that Britain would not favor such a project since this was developed as a political move to counter the Anglo-American hegemony.6
On the other hand, the fact that Briand did not include Turkey within the proposed European Union confirmed the existing Turkish suspicions regarding France’s political motives.
The Turkish press criticized the way in which the French defined the borders of Europe. For the French, the Turkish press argued, the European borders ended at the borders of France and those of its allies. Therefore, the French project was not considered viable because it was based on subjective criteria including some and excluding others.
Even though the French ignored it, Turkey was geographically in Europe, according to the Turks, since it was encircled by two European seas: the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.7 Moreover, it was argued that the values and norms accepted by societies were more significant than the geographical criterion, which Turkey met anyway, in defining Europeanness, which in any case met by Turkey.
Meanwhile, Ankara lobbied in several European countries, namely, Italy, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Bulgaria, to push for extension of an invitation to Turkey for its participation in the deliberations on European Union.8
While Italy and Germany recommended the participation of both Turkey and the Soviet Union to the European Union project in their responses to Briand,9 Greece stood out as Turkey’s principal sponsor.10 Greek Foreign Minister Michalakopoulus stated: “It is the opinion of the Greek government that, from an economic and even from the geographical point of view, Turkey belongs to Europe rather than Asia.”11
In fact, it was not a surprise that Greece gave the full support for Turkey’s membership into a European Union. At the same time as the European Union idea, the Balkan states, especially Greece and Turkey, were moving towards the Balkan Entente. The World Economic Crisis led the Balkan political leaders to realize the significance of a Balkan Union.
6 Zeki Mesut, “Avrupa Birliği” Milliyet, 1 August 1929, “Başka Bir Ses” Milliyet and 18 August 1929, “Samimi İtilaf” 20 August 1929.
7 “Avrupa Devleti,” Ayın Tarihi, Vol. 22-23, No. 75-78 (June-September 1930): 6440.
8 Tevfik Rüştü Aras, Atatürk’ün Dış Politikası (İstanbul: Kaynak Yayınları, 2003), p. 76.
9 Petricioli argues that Italy was fighting against the French hegemony in Europe either by a rapprochement with Britain (as in the naval disarmament conference), or forming an entente with Berlin or by drawing new forces such as Turkey and the Soviet Union into the European system. Marta Petricioli, “Dino Grandi et la Réponse Italienne”, in Le Plan Briand d’Union Fédérale Européenne, p. 331-346 (337). Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen believed that Italy had pressed for the invitation to Turkey and the Soviet Union as a means of killing the scheme (possibly discrediting the League). Pereboom, Democracies …, p. 167.
10 T.C. Başbakanlık Cumhuriyet Arşivi (BCA), 126.96.36.199. (3 August 1930).
11 League of Nations, Commission of Enquiry for European Union, Minutes of the Second Session of the Commission, Cilt:144.M45. 1931. VII, (Geneva, 16 to 21 January 1931), p. 22.