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on his return from Paris, where he had been to meet General Ignatiew.
His Excellency placed in my hands a draft Protocol, which his Government propose for signature by the six Powers.
I told Count Schouvaloff that I would take the earliest opportunity of submitting this proposal to my colleagues, and would acquaint his Excellency with the view taken of it by them.
I accordingly saw his Excellency again this afternoon after a Cabinet Council had been held, and informed him that Her Majesty's Government were ready to agree in principle to such a Protocol, provided he could come to an understanding as to its terms.
I then proceeded to discuss the wording of the Protocol with his Excellency, who promised to report my observations to his Government.
THE EARL OF DERBY TO Lord A. LOFTUS.
Foreign Office, March 13, 1877. MY LORD,--The Russian Ambassador, when handing to me the draft Protocol inclosed in my dispatch of this day's date, accompanied it by a statement of the views and wishes of his Government to the following effect:
The object of General Ignatiew's journey, Count Schouvaloff stated, had been to furnish explanations as to the real views of the Cabinet of St. Petersburg, and to facilitate a pacific solution.
After the sacrifices which Russia had imposed upon herself, the stagnation of her industry and of her commerce, and the enormous expenditure incurred by the mobilisation of 500,000 men, she could not retire nor send back her troops without having obtained some tangible result as regards the improvement of the condition of the Christian populations of Turkey. The Emperor was sincerely desirous of peace, but not of peace at any price.
The Governments of the other Powers were at this moment preparing their answers to the Russian Circular. The Russian Government would not express any opinion by anticipation on these replies, but they foresaw in them the possibility of a great danger. For
if the replies were not identical, what would be the position of the Imperial Cabinet? The agreement of the Powers, so fortunately established at the Conference, might be broken up in consequence of the shades of opinion manifested in the replies of the several Cabinets; would not that be a determining cause to induce Russia to seek for a solution, either by means of a direct understanding with the Porte, or by force of arms?
Under these circumstances it appears to the Russian Government that the most practical solution, and the one best fitted to secure the maintenance of general peace, would be the signature by the Powers of a Protocol which should, so to speak, terminate the incident.
This Protocol might be signed in London by the representatives of the Great Powers, and under the direct inspiration of the Cabinet of St. James.
The Protocol would contain no more than the principles upon which the several Governments would have based their reply to the Russian Circular. It would be desirable that it should affirm that the present state of affairs was one which concerned the whole of Europe, and should place on record that the improvement of the condition of the Christian population of Turkey will continue to be an object of interest to all the Powers.
The Porte having repeatedly declared that it engaged to introduce reforms, it would be desirable to enumerate them on the basis of Safvet Pasha's Circular. In this way there could be no subsequent misunderstanding as to the promises made by Turkey.
As a period of some months would not be sufficient to accomplish these reforms, it would be preferable not to fix any precise limit of time. It would rest with all the Powers to determine by general agreement whether Turkey was progressing in a satisfactory manner in her work of regeneration.
The Protocol should mention that Europe will continue to watch the progressive execution of the reforms by means of their diplomatic representatives.
If the hopes of the Powers should once more be disappointed, and the condition of the Christian subjects of the Sultan should not be improved, the Powers would reserve to themselves to consider in common the action which they would deem indispensable to secure the well-being of the Chris
The Powers who have undertaken in common the pacification of the East, and have with that view taken part in the Conference of Constantinople, recognise that the surest means of attaining the object, which they have proposed to themselves, is before all to maintain the agreement so happily established between them, and jointly to affirm afresh the common interest which they take in the improvement of the condition of the Christian populations of Turkey, and in the reforms to be introduced in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Bulgaria, which the Porte has accepted on condition of itself carrying them into execution.
They take cognizance of the conclusion of peace with Servia.
As regards Montenegro, the Powers consider the rectification of the frontiers and the free navigation of the Boïana to be desirable in the interest of a solid and durable arrangement.
The Powers consider the arrangements concluded, or to be concluded, between the Porte and the two Principalities, as a step accomplished towards the pacification which is the object of their common wishes.
They invite the Porte to consolidate it, by replacing its armies on a peace footing, excepting the number of troops indispensable for the maintenance of order, and by putting in hand with the least possible delay the reforms necessary for the tranquillity and well-being
of the provinces, the condition of which was discussed at the Conference. They recognise that the Porte has declared itself ready to realise an important portion of them.
They take cognisance specially of the Circular of the Porte of the 13th of February, 1876, and of the declarations made by the Ottoman Government during the Conference and since through its representatives.
In view of these good intentions on the part of the Porte, and of its evident interest to carry them immediately into effect, the Powers believe that they have grounds for hoping that the Porte will profit by the present lull to apply energetically such measures as will cause that effective improvement in the condition of the Christian populations which is unanimously called for as indispensable to the tranquillity of Europe, and that having once entered on this path, it will understand that it concerns its honour as well as its interests to persevere in it loyally and efficaciously.
The Powers propose to watch carefully, by means of their representatives at Constantinople and their local agents, the manner in which the promises of the Ottoman Government are carried into effect.
If their hopes should once more be disappointed, and if the condition of the Christian subjects of the Sultan should not be improved in a manner to prevent the return of the complications which periodically disturb the peace of the East, they think it right
Minutes of a Meeting held at the Foreign Office, March 31, 1877.
Count Münster, Ambassador of Germany, Count Beust, Ambassador of Austria-Hungary, the Marquis d'Harcourt, Ambassador of France, the Earl of Derby, Her Britannic Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, General Count de Menabrea, Ambassador of Italy, and Count Schouvaloff, Ambassador of Russia, met together this day at the Foreign Office, for the purpose of signing the Protocol proposed by Russia relative to the affairs of the East.
Count Schouvaloff made the following declaration, placing, at the same time, a pro-memoria of it in the hands of Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State.
"If peace with Montenegro is concluded and the Porte accepts the advice of Europe and shows itself ready to replace its forces on a peace footing, and seriously to undertake the reforms mentioned in the Protocol, let it send to St. Petersburg a special envoy to treat of disarmament, to which His Majesty the Emperor would also on his part consent.
"If massacres similar to those which have stained Bulgaria with blood take place, this would necessarily put a stop to the measures of demobilisation."
The Earl of Derby read and delivered to each of the other Plenipotentiaries a declaration, a copy of which is annexed to the present procès-verbal.
General Count de Menabrea declared that Italy is only bound by the signature of the Protocol of this day's date, so long as the agreement happily established between all the Powers by the Protocol itself is maintained.
The signature of the Protocol was then proceeded with.
L. F. MENABREA.
Declaration made by the Earl of Derby before the signature of the Protocol.
The undersigned, Her Britannic Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, makes the following declaration in regard to the Protocol signed this day by the Plenipotentiaries of Great Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, Italy, and Russia::
Inasmuch as it is solely in the interests of European peace that Her Britannic Majesty's Government have consented to sign the Protocol proposed by that of Russia, it is understood beforehand that, in the event of the object proposed not being obtained -namely, reciprocal disarmament on the part of Russia and Turkey, and peace between them-the Protocol in question shall be regarded as null and void.
London, March 31, 1877.
Declaration made by the Ambassador of Russia before the signature of the Protocol.
If peace with Montenegro is concluded and the Porte accepts the advice of Europe, and shows itself ready to replace its forces on a peace-footing, and seriously to undertake the reforms mentioned in the Protocol, let it send to St. Petersburg a special envoy to treat of disarmament, to which His Majesty the Emperor would also, on his part, consent.
If massacres similar to those which have occurred in Bulgaria take place, this would necessarily put a stop to the measures of demobilisation.
Declaration made by the Italian Ambassador before the signature of the Protocol.
Italy is only bound by the signature of the Protocol of this day's date so long as the agreement happily established between all the Powers by the Protocol itself is maintained.
DESPATCH FROM THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT ON THE PROTOCOL OF MARCH 31, 1877.
SAFVET PASHA TO MUSURUS PASHA. -(COMMUNICATED TO THE EARL OF DERBY BY MUSURUS PASHA, APRIL 12.) (Telegraphic.)
Constantinople, April 9, 1877.
The Protocol signed at London on March 31, 1877, has been communicated to the Sublime Porte by the Principal Secretary of State of Her Britannic Majesty, and by the German, Austro-Hungarian, French, Italian, and Russian Ambassadors, as also the declarations of the Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Her Britannic Majesty, and of the Italian and Russian Ambassadors which are annexed to it.
Whilst taking note of these documents, the Sublime Porte has experienced deep regret at perceiving that the Great Friendly Powers did not consider it their duty to admit the Imperial Government to participate in deliberations in which, nevertheless, questions affecting the most vital interests of the Empire were treated. The complete deference which the Imperial Government has, under all circumstances, evinced for the advice and wishes of the Great Powers, the close connection which so happily unites the interests of the Empire to those of the rest of Europe, the most incontestable principles of equity, and, lastly, solemn engagements, authorised the Sublime Porte to believe that it, too, would be called to take part in the work destined to restore peace to the East and to establish the agreement on this subject amongst the Great Powers on a just and legitimate basis.
But, from the moment that this has not been the case, the Sublime Porte sees itself imperiously obliged to assert itself against the authority of such a precedent, and to call attention to the fatal consequences which might also result in the future to the guiding principles of the security of international relations.
Passing to the examination of these documents, the Sublime Porte has come to the conclusion that if the Signatory Powers had taken better account of the exchange of views which
took place at the time of the Constantinople Conferences, of the results obtained in the interval which has elapsed since then, and of the nature of the new dangers which threaten peace, it would perhaps have been easy to have arrived, by a just consideration of the great interests in question, at a definite agreement, which would not have been dependent either on serious infractions of law or on conditions which were impossible of realisation.
During the Constantinople Conferences the Sublime Porte, relying on the constitution which His Imperial Majesty had just spontaneously granted, and which realised the most comprehensive reform which had been seen in this Empire since its establishment, had taken care to point out the injustice of any measure which, under the appearance of reform, might be developed by the division of provinces, creeds, or classes; as well as the impossibility of accepting anything_contrary to the integrity or independence of the Empire. This double point of view answers fully to the conditions of the English programme which was accepted by the Powers. This programme laid down in principle the maintenance of the integrity and independence of the Empire, and demanded for certain provinces a system of institutions which should afford guarantees against bad administration and acts of arbitrary authority. Thus, the system of institutions demanded was naturally realised in law, as well as in fact, by the very nature of the new political organisation given to the Empire, without distinction of language, creeds, or provinces. Since then the Ottoman Parliament has been convoked, and an Assembly, founded on a system of free election, which will shortly be arranged in a manner which will give no ground for any well-founded criticism, is actually in session at Constantinople, and discusses with perfect freedom the most important State affairs. If the objection be made that this system of reforms is too new to bear fruit immediately, it may be remarked in reply that that is an objection which could just as well have been made to the reforms recommended by the
foreign Plenipotentiaries, and in general against every reform which, from the very fact that it is an innovation, cannot possess at its birth the efficacy that time alone can impart.
Again, internal security was solidly re-established. Tranquillity was restored to Servia, and negotiations, in which the Sublime Porte continues to give proof of the greatest moderation, have been commenced with Montenegro.
Unfortunately a new incident arose in the interval, and the extraordinary armaments which have been going on for some months through the length and breadth of Russia, while compelling the Sublime Porte to provide for measures of defence, have not only prevented a complete tranquillisation of feeling being arrived at, but have, in the end, brought about a situation fraught with danger. The Sublime Porte will do itself the justice of declaring that it has neglected nothing which was calculated to dissipate doubts, to calm disquietudes, and to soothe the most delicate susceptibilities.
Seeing that the Porte was hardly freed from the long and difficult trials which the revolutionary plots had sought to let loose on all the provinces of the Empire, it was natural that it should only long for repose, and should have no other desire than to devote itself at the first moment possible to the faithful work of internal regeneration. It could only, from that time, the more keenly deplore the sight of the further removal every day of this constant object of its wishes, in proportion as the restraint which it was sought to impose on it, left it no other alternative than to demand weighty sacrifices from its people, to exhaust its finances by large and unproductive expenditure, and above all to devote its attention to the way in which it could succeed in averting a conflict which was calculated to disturb deeply the peace of the world.
It is natural that the Great Powers interested themselves in this situation. The Sublime Porte, for reasons which it is unnecessary to explain, had up to the present time avoided drawing officially the attention of the Powers to this new phase of the question, assuredly the gravest of all. But the declarations which their Excellencies Lord Derby and Count Schouvaloff prefixed to the signature of the Protocol give it also, at the present moment, an opportunity of conveying to the friendly Cabinets the urgent need
there is to put an end to a complication so dangerous, and of which it is not in the power of the Sublime Porte much longer to delay the result.
Consequently, and in reply to the declaration of his Excellency the Ambassador of Russia, the Sublime Porte, on its side, notifies the following declaration to the Powers who signed the Protocol:
1. The Sublime Porte, following as regards Montenegro the same course which had brought about peace with Servia, spontaneously informed the Prince, two months ago, that no effort, even at the price of certain sacrifices, would be spared to come to an understanding with him; viewing Montenegro as an integral portion of Ottoman territory, the Porte proposed a rectification of the line of boundary, which would ensure certain advantages to Montenegro, and henceforth it depends entirely on the counsels of moderation, which the Sublime Porte trusts will prevail at Cettigné, whether this affair may be considered as terminated.
2. The Imperial Government is ready to carry out immediately all the promised reforms; but these reforms, in conformity with the fundamental dispositions of our constitution, must not bear a special and exclusive character; and in this spirit the Imperial Government will, while reserving its full and complete liberty of action, persevere in establishing these institutions.
3. The Imperial Government is prepared to replace its armies upon a peace footing as soon as it sees that the Russsian Government is taking measures with a similar object; the Turkish armaments are essentially of a defensive character, and the bonds of friendship and esteem which unite the two Empires give reason to hope that the Cabinet of St. Petersburg will not isolate itself in Europe by clinging to the belief that the Christian populations of Turkey are exposed to such dangers from their own Government that it is necessary to prepare against a friendly neighbour and State every possible means of invasion and destruction.
4. As regards the disorders which might break out in Turkey and arrest the demobilisation of the Russian army, the Imperial Government, which rejects the offensive terms in which this idea has been expressed, believes that Europe is convinced that the disorders which have disturbed the tranquillity of the provinces were due to external