No. 517.
Mr. Maynard to Mr. Evarts.

No. 273.]

Sir: I had the honor some days since to transmit the text of the treaty of Berlin, with maps illustrating the changes made by it in the configuration of the Turkish Empire (dispatch No. 269, July 24, 1878).

For several weeks past this capital has been unusually quiet; everything has seemed stagnant, almost torpid 5 military movements have ceased.

Diplomatic achievements are accomplished; the news-gatherer finds little to stimulate the public curiosity, and there is too much poverty for great commercial activity.

The Government of Great Britain has taken possession unopposed of the island of Cyprus.

At first there was a great gathering, mostly of the enterprising classes, from different parts, expecting great personal opportunities from the change. Their experience has been undoubtedly a disappointment.

Both strategically and commercially Cyprus appears to me the least important of the Turkish islands, full of interest as it certainly is to the historian and the antiquarian. Without harbors, unhealthy, occupied by a population whose habits, fixed for generations past, will alter little for generations to come, it offers no attractions for colonization, while there are few artificial wants to encourage professional, commercial, or financial pursuits.

A governor with his staff, several hundred soldiers in scattered detachments, and a ship or two in the offing, will represent, probably for a long time, the new order of things.

Austria-Hungary has marched her troops into Bosnia and the Herzegovina, to find any but a welcome reception.

Our information is very limited, but enough to indicate a conquest challenged at every point rather than a peaceful occupation.

It is suspected that the resistance is encouraged by the Sublime Porte, but I have seen nothing to warrant the suspicion, and the hostility [Page 891] can readily be explained by the temper of the people, who aspire to independence, and not to a mere change of masters.

The port of Batoum on the Black Sea is still held by the Turks. We hear reports that the Lazes will resist a Russian approach to the bitter end.

The Russians appear to be in no haste to take possession of it, important to them as it undoubtedly is. In view of their occupation of other points dependent upon the surrender of this, they probably think they can afford to wait.

The Turkish fortresses on the Danube and those forming the so-called quadrilateral have, I understand, all been surrendered.

The independent states of Montenegro, Servia, and Roumania are apparently quiet, and busy only with their internal affairs. The same may be said of Bulgaria.

On the Grecian frontier, however, a different state of things prevails. The Greeks expected as a result of the late war a substantial acquisition of territory Epirus and Thessaly certainly, if not a considerable portion of Macedonia, in addition to the island of Crete. Their claim appears to rest negatively upon a dislike of Russia and a strong antipathy against the Bulgarians, which held them aloof from the war. What encouragement they may have received from any quarter I have no means of knowing; though assurances, they allege, were given them. Naturally they were not considered in the treaty of San Stefano. The congress of Berlin in the thirteenth protocol agreed, with the exception of the Ottoman plenipotentiaries, inviting the Sublime Porte “to arrange with Greece for a rectification of frontiers in Thessaly and Epirus.”

This was followed in Article XXIY of the treaty by a reservation to the other powers of offering mediation. This action of the congress called from His Highness Safvet Pasha, grand vizier and minister of foreign affairs, an elaborate reply in the form of a circular note to the other treaty powers, a copy of which I inclose.

So the matter stands for the present. Meanwhile there is much disorder reported all along the disputed boundary.

I am, & c.,

[Inclosure 4 in No. 273.]

Savfet Pasha to the European powers.

the turkish government and greece.

The following is published by the German papers as the text of the Turkish dispatch upon the claims of Greece:

The Berlin congress having admitted the delegates of the Kingdom of Greece to state the desires and views of the Hellenic Government, M. Delyannis formulated and developed before the distinguished assembly the demand for the incorporation with Greece of Epirus, Thessaly, and Crete. It was in consequence of this step of the Hellenic Government that a desire was expressed by the congress that Greece should be accorded a rectification of frontier, a desire which gave birth to article 24 of the treaty of Berlin, whereby the great powers reserve the right of offering their mediation to the Sublime Porte and to Greece in case the two governments should not agree on the rectification of frontier. The Ottoman plenipotentiaries at the Berlin congress declared, in accordance with the instructions of the Sublime Porte, that the imperial government reserved the right of explaining to the powers the real state of things as concerns Greece. It is by virtue of this reservation, which was inserted in the tocol, that the imperial government, after having examined with the most scrupulous attention the reasons adduced by the cabinet of Athens to justify its pretensions, submits to the great powers the considerations of a political and moral order which should [Page 892] enable them to judge, with full knowledge of the matter, of the character, bearing, and consequences of a cession of territory to Greece. The Sublime Porte is bound to declare at the outset in the most formal manner that neither His Imperial Majesty the Sultan nor his government ever had to deliberate on a project of this nature, and that it was for the first time called on to consider it when the project came to light within the congress. It knows that the cabinet of Athens endeavors to prove that it was owing to the counsels and assurances of some of the great powers that it abstained during a long lapse of time from any act of aggression against the states of the Sultan, and it thus hopes to show that these powers, who paralyzed by their pacific influence the action of Greece, are now its debtors and loyally bound to support the Hellenic claims. It is not for the imperial government to investigate the value and bearing of the counsels given to Greece for the last two years by the western powers, but it has a right to affirm that if Greece maintained an expectant attitude and abstained from any direct act of hostility toward Turkey during some time, it was not merely through regard for the counsels and promises of certain European powers, but also and especially by reason of the constant defeat of all its measures for getting itself guaranteed against the results of its enterprise. To convince any one of this it will be sufficient to reperuse the manifesto published by M. Deligeorgis, ex-minister of His Majesty King George, to justify his ministry from the reproach of inaction. Let us now examine the demand formulated by M. Delyannis before the Berlin congress. That demand consists in the annexation pure and simple of Epirus, Thessaly, and the isle of Crete to the Kingdom of Greece, and is justified according to the Hellenic ministry by arguments and considerations which may be thus summed up:

“Greece aspires to unite under the same government all the countries inhabited by populations of Greek origin; but she acknowledges the necessity for the present of limiting her desire to the annexation of Candia and the provinces bordering on the kingdom, in order to respond to the desires of Europe. This annexation has from all time been the dearest wish of those provinces, which have often expressed it by taking up arms. Satisfaction given to this desire would be an act of justice and humanity, which would complete the pacificating work of Europe, and would thus render impossible the return of the troubles periodically agitating these countries. Greece, which has all along experienced the rebound of these troubles, and which exhausts herself in armaments grounded on this abnormal situation, and in expenditure caused by the necessity of according succor to the refugees of the insurgent provinces and to the repatriated combatants, might thenceforth devote her resources to the material development of the country. Turkey herself would gain in security, and the relations of neighborliness which would be established between the two countries would run no further risk of being disturbed. The rejection of the wishes of Greece would infallibly lead to a general conflagration in these countries, in which the Hellenic people would be led to take part, whatever the efforts of its rulers to prevent it.”

Such are in substance the reasons adduced by M. Delyannis to justify his demand for an annexation. It is easy to dispose of a doctrine which, dangerous in itself, is contrary to all the principles of political right, and rests indeed on entirely erroneous historical data; but the congress having at the very first definitively set aside the idea of the annexation of Crete to the Kingdom of Greece, and having maintained as realizable only the project of a simple rectification of frontier on the continent, we will confine ourselves to recalling that the inhabitants of that isle have never taken up arms against the legitimate authority of the Sublime Porte, or against each other, except at the instigation of intriguers from abroad, and on the invasion of their country by bands of foreigners organized in Greece, not to give succor to their brethren in arms, but to involve them in war without provocation or pretext.

Thus, to consider only the third Cretan insurrection, that of 1867, the longest and the bloodiest, it is a fact that the island itself did not rise in insurrection, but experienced a veritable Greek invasion. On the very day the invasion ceased—that is to say, when the insurrection found nothing more to nourish it from without—the island was pacified as if by witchery. The result of this sad enterprise was the ruin of Crete, the death of three-fourths of the unfortunate inhabitants, who were obliged to expatriate themselves, the exhaustion of Greece, and the loss of so many brave Ottoman soldiers, defenders of their sovereign’s rights. It was also, or it ought to be, a striking and painful proof of the true character of Cretan movements, always and exclusively egged on by Greece, who took no thought of the calamities which it periodically called down on this unhappy island. Crete, however, being left out of the question by the wise will of the congress, it remains to look at the past and present situation of the provinces contiguous to Greece, and examine the value of the arguments adduced by the cabinet of Athens to sunder them from the Ottoman Empire; and let us first attend to the state of suffering, of discontent, and effervescence in which Epirus and Thessaly are alleged to have been plunged for many years. History will refute the assertion. History teaches us that from 1829, when the feudal system was abolished in Roumelia, to 1853, these two provinces have lived in perfect tranquillity; that they were only troubled for an instant in 1845 by the resistance of the Mussulman [Page 893] population of Lower Albania—a resistance soon quelled, and which for the Test had nothing to do with the pretended claims for independence attributed to the Christian element. In 1853 Epirus and Thessaly were invaded by two Greek army corps, who laid the country waste, and perpetrated on the property and persons of the Christians themselves, whom they pretended they had come to deliver, such excesses as compelled France and England to occupy the Piraeus in order to put an end to them. Again, after fifteen years of quiet, these two provinces were troubled afresh with hostile attempts publicly prepared under the eyes of the Hellenic Government. Bands of volunteers crossed from Greece into Thessaly and Epirus, carrying into these countries fire and sword, obliging the inhabitants, as the imperial government is prepared to prove, to rise against their lawful rulers but finally failing before the wisdom and loyalty of all the people. Then it was that in view of these failures the government of His Hellenic Majesty, discouraged by the inflexible refusal of Russia to give Greece a share of the fruit of her victories, and feeling that opportunities slip away, caused its army to invade Ottoman territory without rupture of diplomatic relations and in full peace, in order to secure what M. Delyannis called the objects of the national aspirations of Greece. Now, if, yielding to the observations of some of the great powers, His Majesty King George recalled his troops to Hellenic territory, is it possible that his government can now make of that an argument for maintaining that these same powers, by thus inviting him to terminate an enterprise so contrary to the law of nations, have entered into an obligation with Greece to make good to her the price of her docility by means of a cession of territory?

But, however that may be, what we have just said concerning the moral and material state of Epirus and of Thessaly for the last 50 years will suffice to nullify the first and most important arguments urged before the congress by M. Delyannis, to wit, that the populations of these provinces have always submitted with impatience to Ottoman sway, that they have constantly risen in insurrection to achieve their independence, and that their only ambition is to see their country united to the Kingdom of Greece. It is now, on the contrary, perfectly clear that the inhabitants of Epirus and Thessaly have always lived peaceably, and willingly submitted themselves to the Ottoman authorities, that they have never taken up arms to make good supposititious claims, that they have sometimes endured, but never invoked, the intervention of a neighboring country, and that, in fact, if rendered secure from the enterprises set afoot by that neighbor, they would continue to live happily and prosperously under the laws of the Ottoman Empire. It was, therefore, not in the name of these provinces, the annexation of which he demanded, that M. Delyannis was entitled to speak at the table of the congress. Among the other arguments brought forward by him to convince that high assembly, we shall not stop to deal with that which consisted in the assurance that the annexation demanded would complete the happiness of Greece. We are not qualified to deal with this question; it is for the powers more disinterested than we, and who have studied the history of Greece since its creation, to determine whether an addition of territory would result in procuring for her peace inside and outside her bounds, with stability of institutions and government. We must confine ourselves to pointing out that political honesty will not permit the dismemberment of one nation to the advantage of another, for the simple reason that the latter would thus be rendered happier. The last great argument of M. Delyannis was based on the assertion, loudly proclaimed, that by giving Epirus and Thessaly to Greece, Europe would close forever the era of struggles and conflicts between that kingdom and the Ottoman Empire, and consolidate its work of peace. Why should M. Delyannis have taken pains to deprive this argument of all credibility and force by letting it be understood at the very outset in the written communication made by him to the congress that the true and only wishes of the Hellenic Government are, and always have been, to unite under the same sway all countries inhabited by Greeks, and that if Greece confined herself for the moment merely to demanding the annexation of a few provinces, it was out of regard to the firm resolution of Europe to establish peace in the East without too much shaking the existing state of things? In view of such a statement, which opens out the seductive prospect of a lasting peace between the two states, is it not clear that if in a few months, perhaps, Greece deems the hour arrived to undertake a new campaign on the ground of supposititious national claims, the same causes would produce the same effects, and what then would become of that peace which promised to be perpetual, but which lasted no longer than was strictly necessary to hatch fresh enterprises against the law of nations? Would Europe, called upon to pronounce upon this new conflict, imperiling afresh the peace of the East and the feelings of harmony among the great powers, again determine to sacrifice the rights of lawful ownership to the covetousness of an ambitious neighbor, or would she hesitate to do an act repugnant doubtless to her honor? But, however that may be, this eventuality forces itself with such a degree of certainty on all minds, it is so rooted in the order of things, and so in keeping with Hellenic theory, that it is not possible for the great powers to admit as a decisive argument in favor of the demands of Greece the certainty or even the hope of thus doing away with the source of conflicts between Turkey and Greece. [Page 894] Such are the chief facts and considerations which impose on the Sublime Porte the duty of appealing to Europe itself from the opinion it expressed in the congress concerning the granting to Greece of some additional territory. His Majesty the Sultan, and his government are firmly convinced that the great powers, if further enlightened on the nature, arguments for, and consequences of, the demand put forward by the Hellenic Government, will modify their first opinion, and hasten to bring home to the cabinet of Athens, counsels of rectitude and prudence calculated to turn it from an enterprise equally unjust and impolitic. In any case Europe will never seek to follow Greece along this dangerous path, and thus run the risk of jeopardizing its work of peace. I beg you to read this dispatch to His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs of——, and to leave with him a copy.

Accept, & c.,