Mr. Straus to Mr. Blaine.
Constantinople , May 18, 1889. (Received June 3.)
Sir: I have the honor to bring to the attention of the Department the following state of facts concerning the refusal of the Ottoman Government to recognize the American citizenship of Meimaraghlou Yorghi, naturalized under the name of George Meimar:
On the 31st January last the Sublime Porte addressed a note-verbale to this legation informing it that, in a suit pending at Smyrna against the said Meimar as defendant, wherein an Ottoman subject, Kapédjioglou, is plaintiff, the said Meimar set up the plea that he was an American citizen. The Sublime Porte requested the legation to instruct its consul at Smyrna not to interfere in the matter, alleging that the said Meimar is an Ottoman subject, and that he has never legally divested himself of his nationality of origin; that while it is true that the said Meimar had gone to America and remained there for a number of years, he had never complied with the requirements of the Ottoman law relating to foreign nationality.
The further facts in the case are set forth in the dispatch of our consul, Mr. Emmet, to the consul-general, No. 90, of March 22, 1889, a copy of which is inclosed.
On the 4th April last, after I received the above dispatch of Mr. Emmet, I replied to the Porte, stating that Meimar is an American citizen, duly naturalized as such, and that therefore the action of the consul was approved by the legation, and it was hoped that, these facts appearing, the ministry of foreign affairs would instruct the authorities at Smyrna to recognize Meimar as an American citizen and accord him the rights appertaining thereto. To this answer and request the Porte made no reply; but in the mean time the court at Smyrna, to wit, March 6 last, gave judgment for the plaintiff against the defendants above named for the sum of £1,400 Turkish, the amount claimed, with interest, overruling the plea of Meimar’s attorney as to the American nationality of his client. In this connection I would state that Meimar in his interview with me said that he has no property out of which the judgment can be satisfied, but that his father, co-defendant, has property. He further stated that if the Ottoman authorities could be made to recognize his American citizenship the judgment would be vacated and the plaintiff would have to begin his action anew.[Page 719]
This is correct, as a foreign subject has to be sued through the intervention of his consul in the mixed tribunal. In the mean time, of course, his father could, if he wished, dispose of his property. Having received no reply from the Porte to my note above mentioned, I asked for one; the minister of foreign affairs stated (verbally) that under the Ottoman nationality law of 1869 no Ottoman subject has the right to change his nationality unless with the consent of the Sultan: that said Mei-mar had not applied for nor obtained such consent, and that therefore he approved the decision of the court at Smyrna.
The minister of foreign affairs further stated that the Ottoman Government after long negotiations had finally consented to the treaty of naturalization proposed by our Government, with the purpose and object of avoiding the discussions and conflicts arising from disputed nationality, and that until such treaty is accepted his Government felt bound to give validity to its laws within its territory.
In this connection I have the honor to refer you to Secretary Bayard’s instruction No. 30, of July 26, 1887, in reply to Mr. King’s dispatch No. 323, of May 14, 1887, setting forth a number of cases of disputed nationality.
Awaiting your instructions in this matter,
I have, etc.,