Tallat Says Turks Fight For Life -nyt19180217

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Most Powerful Ottoman Minister Declares Conflict Was Forced on Them


'Sorrowful Eyes of All Islam' Turned to Turkey--Persia's Present State a Warning

CONSTANTINOPLE, Feb. 17, (via London.)--Turkey declared war without being urged by Germany or impelled by any other influences save those of the Empire; she engaged in military operations only when actions on the part of Russia and Great Britain made defensive measures necessary, and today Turkey has taken all the steps needful to carry the war through.

"The holy war is not menacing Christians ,but the holy war is a fact which the enemies of the Mohammedan world should bear in mind. Christians in the Ottoman Empire who are participating in the destinies of their country are not suffering from conditions brought about by the present state of affairs ,and any statement to the contrary are a result of British, French and Russian intrigues, the purpose of which is to direct against Turkey the pressure of neutral counties of lower standing in the Ottoman world."

The foregoing are among statements made to The Associated Press to-day by Talaat Bey when questioned concerning the political and military situation in Turkey. Talaat Bey today fills the post of Minister of the interior, Minister of Finance and Minister of Marine in the Cabinet. Two weeks ago, in addition to these offices, he was also Minister of War, which gave him the four most important portfolios in the administration. He is Young Turk and is undoubtedly the most important man in Turkey at the present time. His advice is heeded everywhere, and he virtually directs the public affairs of the Ottoman Empire.

To the correspondent of The Associated, Press Talaat complained of the attitude of foreign newspapers, including the American press, which, he said, were obvious alike of the position of Turkey under the pressure of the Entente powers and of the efforts of the Young Turks to accomplish the reforms associated with that party.

"Oh land and sea alike the Russians and the British provoked hostilities," Talaat Bey declared. " Our action was finally the result of efforts to bottle up our fleet by mining the entrance to the Bosporus.

"Turkey is prepared to carry on the war to the end of the European conflict. The fact that we are able to face the enemy on four fronts simultaneously against forces three or four times as great as ours, and to mobilize at the same time an army of more than 1,000,000 men for reserve, is for us, as well as for our allies, a matter of the greatest importance, and for our allies a precious advantage."

The interview then turned to the holly war. Answering a question on this subject, Talaat Bey said the holly war was a fact, in spite of the claims of the enemy, and he added that the Christians were the enemies of the Mussulman world. Questioned concerning the oft-mentioned "reprisal policy," the Minister answered:

"Turkey decided at the outbreak of hostilities just what retaliatory measures she would employ in case the powers of the Triple Entente acted contrary to the regulations set down by international low.

"Russia is our hereditary enemy, and Great Britain is the power which subjugated Islam," the Minister said. "Nothing demonstrates the enthusiasm of the people so well as the formation of volunteer regiments in all corners of our immense Empire.

"All the sorrowful eyes of Islam are today turned toward the Turks, who, since their appearance upon the historic scene, always have been the benevolent champions of the disciples of Mohammed and all Asiatics generally. The success of Ottoman arms can have but one result -- the rising of all Mussulmans subject to the domination of Russia, France and Great Britain. Persia is a living symbol of what Turkey would have become if we had not taken part in the present war."

The conversation was then turned to the military resources of Turkey, and in this connection Talaat Bey was willing to discuss, although guardedly, the political and military situation of Turkey's allies. In this connection he said:

"This situation appears to the excellent from every viewpoint, even admirable. I am not competent to judge of military matters. All I know is that the Germans are fighting continuously and advantageously on French and Russian territory in such a matter that their enemies do not dare go from the defensive to the offensive. Public opinion in Turkey concerning the naval operations of the Germans is simply overcome with astonishment ; the audacious offensive at sea of the Germans has provoked our legitimate admiration."

The relations of Turkey with the Balkan States was dismissed by Talaat Bey with these words:

"Turkey has most cordial relations with Bulgaria, sincere relations with Rumania, and good relations with Greece, Serbia and Montenegro do not count."

A hard copy of this article or hundreds of others from the time of the Armenian Genocide can be found in The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts From The American Press: 1915-1922