Yücel Güçlü

Keywords: Fascist Italy, Mare Nostrum, Turkey, Mussolini, Atatürk

Abstract

Following his seizure of power in 1922, Mussolini began to pursue the policy of 'mare nostrum' of the ancient Romans. He had an eye on the Anatolian lands bordering the Mediterranean. Local symbol of the Italian menace was the Dodecanese Islands which were started to be fortified in 1934. Mussolini's speech of that year showed that Italy did not renounce its earlier designs on Turkish territory. Atatürk did not take Mussolini's claims seriously, but the danger Italy represented could not be ignored. During the Ethiopian crisis, Turkey supported the League of Nations' sanctions against Italy and advocated the principle of collective security. Facing Italian expansionism, Turkey requested the holding of an international conference in Montreux and succeeded to obtain the right of bringing back the Straits to full Turkish sovereignty. Turkey's distrust of Italy deepened in 1937 and 1938. Ankara disliked the policy of Rome-Berlin axis. It did not acquit Italy of designs in the eastern Mediterranean. Italian occupation of Albania in 1939 soon led to Turkey's signing of mutual assistance agreements with Britain and France. Italy sharply denounced the Turco-Anglo-French rapprochement. For Turkey, as an ally in the eastern Mediterranean, had the strength to tip the balance against Italy.