Mr. Riddle to Mr. Gresham.

No. 258.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 184 of May 16, instructing me to “examine and report whether Turks naturalized in other countries receive the same treatment as those who become citizens of the United States;” and also inclosing an anonymous petition to the President, the most important statement in which is “that unnaturalized Armenians and Armenian citizens of countries other than the United States are allowed to return” to Turkey, while those naturalized in the United States are not.

This subject has already been treated in my dispatch No. 241 of May 10. In addition I may say that with regard to the naturalization of Turks in foreign countries, three different systems seem to prevail, caused by the fact that Turkey still holds to the doctrine of perpetual allegiance.

(1) In some countries, of which France is a type, a Turk is not admitted to citizenship unless he produces the evidence of the Imperial sanction to his change of nationality. In these countries all conflict of laws with Turkey concerning nationality is thus avoided.

(2) In Great Britain Turks may be naturalized without having obtained the Imperial consent, but they are no longer protected or considered as British subjects if they return to the Ottoman Empire. All British passports of naturalized citizens contain the following language:

This passport is granted with the qualification that the bearer shall not, when within the limits of the foreign state of which he was a subject previously to obtaining his certificate of naturalization, be deemed a British subject, unless he has ceased to be a subject of that state in pursuance of the laws thereof, or in pursuance of a treaty to that effect.

Here, also, no conflict of laws arises between Turkey and Great Britain.

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(3) The Government of the United States would seem to be the only-one which admits Turks to citizenship without their having obtained the Imperial sanction, and in addition claims them as citizens in Turkey as well as in all other countries. Thus there is a conflict of laws between America and Turkey over all Turks naturalized in the United States without Imperial consent who return to the Ottoman Empire.

The statement “that unnaturalized Armenians and Armenian citizens of countries other than the United States are allowed to return” is probably true, for the former have, of course, never ceased to be Turks, and the latter become Turks again as soon as they return, as they have never been given up by Turkey and are now no longer claimed by the country which naturalized them. Hence, whatever treatment they might receive when they returned to Turkey would not be made the subject of an official communication by a foreign power claiming them as citizens.

I have, etc.,

J. W. Riddle,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.