Mr. Hay to Mr. Griscom.

No. 211.]

Sir: I inclose for your convenient information copies of correspondence exchanged between the Department and H. D. Garabedyan, a naturalized Armenian, touching the status of persons of Ottoman origin, naturalized in the United States, who may return to their native country. I also inclose copy of a memorandum on this subject, prepared by Mr. Straus, who is at present in this city.

I am, etc.,

John Hay.
[Inclosure 1.]

Mr. Garabedyan to Mr. Hay.

Dear Sir: I see by the press that Hon. Oscar S. Straus, minister to Turkey from the United States, arrived on the 8th instant, and he informs the public in an interview that “American citizens can travel everywhere in Turkey.”

I am an Armenian and an American citizen for ten years, and I have my citizenship paper.

I would like to know whether or not I would be protected by the Government of my adopted country, the United States of America, if I go to my old home in Armenia for the purpose of finding out about my father’s estate, which was confiscated in the time of the massacre. If you will kindly write me about the particulars of the report of Minister Straus I will be more than gratified to you.

Yours, most respectfully,

H. D. Garabedyan.
[Inclosure 2.]

Mr. Hay to Mr. Garabedyan.

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 9th instant, calling attention to a newspaper publication of the 8th instant purporting to give a reportorial interview with Minister Straus upon his return from Turkey, to the effect that United States citizens may now travel in Turkey, as the interdiction against this, caused by the Armenian troubles, was removed eight months ago. In view of this [Page 939] you ask whether you would be protected by this Government if you, being a naturalized Armenian, should revisit your old home in Armenia.

Mr. Straus’s statement was here understood to relate only to the removal of the inhibition of the travel of American citizens, missionaries, and others of non-Turkish origin in Armenia during the late disturbances in that quarter, and this understanding is confirmed by Mr. Straus himself, who is now in Washington. As to our naturalized citizens of Armenian or other Ottoman origin, the situation remains the same, in the absence of a treaty of naturalization between the two countries, the Turkish Government refusing to recognize the naturalization of a Turkish subject naturalized abroad without imperial consent since the promulgation of the Ottoman law of citizenship in 1869. The United States controverts this position, but unavailingly. In international law the status of such persons comes under the doctrines of dual allegiance, each Government claiming and exacting the allegiance of its naturals within its own jurisdiction and each being incapable of enforcing its own municipal law of citizenship within the jurisdiction of the other. Such conflicts have been adjusted in many instances by conventions between the United States and foreign powers, with the result of a mutual recognition of the validity of the naturalization of a citizen or subject of the one country within the jurisdiction and according to the domestic law of the other; but the conclusion of such a convention with the Ottoman Empire appears to be remote. As the consent of the Ottoman Government to the expatriation of a subject by naturalization in another country is only given upon the alternative condition that the applicant for release from Turkish allegiance shall either stipulate never to return or agree that in the event of return he will regard himself as an Ottoman subject, it follows that the case of permitted naturalization seldom occurs, and that when it does occur it is attended with features which prevent this Government from using a free hand in dealing with a question growing out of the return of such a naturalized citizen to Turkish jurisdiction.

While the Department and its diplomatic and consular agents in the Turkish dominions will use every effort now as always to protect any naturalized citizen of Turkish origin who returns to Turkey, it can not foresee that he will be permitted to enter the Empire, or that having entered he will escape molestation or expulsion.

I am, etc.,

John Hay.
[Inclosure 3.]

Memorandum by Mr. Straus in regard to letter of H. D. Garabedyan, February 9, 1900.

After the Armenian troubles of 1895 the subjects of foreign powers in the Ottoman Empire were interdicted from traveling in the interior of Asiatic Turkey without a local passport or teskeré, which teskeré was either refused or the granting indefinitely postponed.

On my arrival in Constantinople in October, 1898, a number of foreigners—English, Americans, and Italians—were prevented from returning to their destination—Harpoot, Marash, Sivas, etc. I insisted upon our treaty rights and authorized our citizens—American missionaries—to join their post of duty, and insisted with the Porte that they should not only not be molested but accorded the usual protection. The minister for foreign affairs wired instructions to the governors or valis of the provinces to give the necessary protection.

A few weeks later I had an interview with the Sultan, and he caused orders to be issued removing the restrictions, that applications for teskerés should be made as usual, and if it appeared the applicants were neither anarchists nor disturbers of the peace the teskerés should be promptly granted. This order has been generally carried out.

So much for foreign subjects whose citizenship is not questioned or in dispute.

In view of the fact that we have no treaty of naturalization with Turkey—and the fact that in 1869 a law was promulgated denying the right of Ottoman subjects to acquire foreign naturalization without the previous written consent of the Sultan—such Ottoman subjects of origin who in violation of this law have acquired foreign nationality, their acquired citizenship, upon their return to Ottoman territory, is not recognized, and it is not advisable, especially for Armenians, who are mostly regarded as suspects on returning from foreign countries to Turkey, to come under Ottoman jurisdiction. Each returning subject of origin raises the question of the conflict of sovereignty, with the advantages in favor of the Turkish Government while its subject of origin is within Ottoman jurisdiction.

[Page 940]

This question seldom arises in respect to other powers, as they either will not protect naturalized citizens on their return to Turkey, their country of origin, or they refuse to naturalize them except upon producing the written consent of Ottoman authorities. As that consent is only given upon the applicant stipulating either not to return or in the event of his return to agree to regard himself as a Turkish subject, it follows that the question seldom arises.

Pending the absence of a treaty of naturalization, Turkish subjects of origin will come under the disadvantage caused by the conflict of sovereignty.