The Price of the Alliance: The effect of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Problem on Ottoman Public Opinion in the First World War

The Price of the Alliance: The effect of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Problem on Ottoman Public Opinion in the First World War

Ahmet KÖKSAL

Abstract

The fall of the Russian Navy into German hands by the Treaty of Brest-Litowsk also caused serious mobility in the Ottoman public opinion. As required by the law of the alliance, the Ottoman press suddenly began to include recurring news, such as the struggle of the Ottoman State in the Black Sea and the historical rivalry with the Russians in the harsh conditions of the war. This excitement soon increased expectations. Every day, a new article or editorial addressed this problem. The articles discussed at length that there was no doubt the Russian fleet was the spoils, while on the one hand, all the aspects of the issue, such as the historical process and the law of states, were evaluated. The newspaper articles explicitly dealt with the Black Sea issue, with particular emphasis on Germany and other allies to understand why the navy was so important to the Ottomans. Some open messages were also given to the government in order to do what was necessary due to external developments in the press, and it was stated that no information should be hidden from the Ottoman public.

As the tension on the fronts continued in the last summer of the First World War, there was an opinion in the newspapers that the Allied Germans did not examine this issue in depth and did not want to understand what the Black Sea Fleet meant to the Ottoman State. It was also emphasized that alliance relations should be based on a clear trust and the solution of the fleet issue should not be linked with any other. By the end of the First World War, public excitement about the Black Sea Fleet had disappeared, the number of related articles in newspapers had decreased, and front-line developments had come to the fore. In terms of the Ottoman press, it was the collapse of fronts such as Palestine, just as in the course of the First World War, that ended the Russian fleet issue.

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