Lausanne Conference of 1922–23

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lausanne Conference of 1922–23


an international conference convened in Lausanne, Switzerland, from Nov. 20, 1922, to July 24, 1923, to settle the situation in the Middle East after the failure of imperialist intervention in Turkey and the victory of the revolution led by Mustapha Kemal Ataturk. The participants in the conference were Great Britain, France, Italy, Greece, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Japan, and Turkey. The USA took part in the conference as an observer. The Entente powers limited the participation of the Soviet and Bulgarian delegations to the discussion of the question of control over the Black Sea straits. During the consideration of a number of minor questions (mainly economic ones), delegates from Albania, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden were admitted to the meetings.

The chief tasks of the Lausanne Conference were to prepare a peace treaty with Turkey and to settle the question of control over the Black Sea straits. The Soviet delegation’s draft on the question of the straits, the main provisions of which were formulated by V. I. Lenin, proposed that Turkey’s national aspirations be satisfied, that the straits be closed to all warships in peacetime and wartime, and that full freedom of navigation be granted to merchant ships. On the question of the straits the Entente powers sided with the British position, which provided for free passage through the straits for military vessels of all countries in peacetime, as well as in wartime, if Turkey remained neutral. If Turkey became involved in a war, the British proposal provided for free passage through the straits of military vessels of neutral countries. In addition, the British delegation demanded demilitarization of the Black Sea straits and establishment of international control over them by not only the Black Sea countries but also the Entente powers.

Turkey agreed to the British proposal, counting on Great Britain’s support in economic, territorial, and other issues of the peace treaty that was being drafted. However, the British delegation delivered an ultimatum demanding that the Turkish delegation sign a draft treaty drawn up by the Entente powers and including terms that would be disadvantageous for Turkey, particularly on such issues as the Mosul question, the system of capitulations, and financial terms. The Turkish delegation refused to accept the draft treaty, and on Feb. 4, 1923, negotiations with the British were broken off. However, they were resumed on Apr. 23, 1923. At this stage of the Lausanne Conference the Entente powers adopted a policy of direct discrimination against the Soviet delegation, which was informed that unless it signed a convention regarding control over the straits it could no longer participate in the conference. After arriving in Lausanne, V. V. Vorovskii was illegally deprived of the diplomatic status of a member of a delegation. On May 10, 1923, he was assassinated by a White Guard émigré.

During the second stage of the Lausanne Conference the discussion focused on the peace treaty with Turkey. As a result of a number of concessions made by the Entente powers and by Turkey, the Lausanne Conference ended with the signing of 17 documents, among which the most important were the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 and the convention on control over the straits. The latter was signed on July 24, 1923, by Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Greece, Rumania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Turkey. A representative of the USSR signed the convention on Aug. 1, 1923. It provided for demilitarization of the straits zone. At the same time, however, it allowed free passage through the Bosporus and Dardanelles of all merchant ships and military vessels (with minor restrictions). This created abnormal conditions for the Black Sea countries. The USSR did not ratify the 1923 convention on the straits. In 1936 it was replaced by a convention drawn up at the Montreux Conference. The other 15 documents signed at the Lausanne Conference concerned a number of minor issues, including the return of prisoners of war and the exchange of Greek and Turkish minority populations by Turkey and Greece.


Lenin, V. I. “Interv’iu korrespondentu Observer’ i ‘Manchester gardian’ M. Farbmanu.” Poln. sobr. sock, 5th ed., vol. 45.
Istoriia diplomatii, 2nd ed., vol. 3. Moscow, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.