Minister Jackson to the Secretary of State.
Athens, April 4, 1905.
Sir: Referring to previous dispatches and as being of possible historical interest in view of the probable eventual union of Crete to Greece, I have the honor to submit the following short report in regard to recent events in that island.
Although Crete has frequently been held up as an example to be followed in regard to other parts of the Turkish Empire where Christians form a majority of the population, opposition of one kind or another to the government of Prince George of Greece, the Christian high commissioner appointed by the powers (Great Britain, France, Italy, and Russia) in 1898, has existed ever since his royal highness assumed office.
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This opposition claims that the government of Prince George is too absolute and that continental Greeks are too often appointed to influential and lucrative positions in Crete to the disadvantage of the native Cretans. Moreover, there is the strong national desire to be united with the continental kingdom and to be able to take part in its affairs. About a year ago a Greek named A. N. Jannaris, who has English connections, criticized the government of the prince and was confined in prison in consequence and since that time the opposition has become more and more evident.
About a fortnight ago certain leaders of the opposition (Papayannakis, Venisellos, Mano, and others) organized themselves into a so called provisional national government, and they were joined by an inconsiderable number of insurgents. Arms had been prepared at Therisso, a village in the mountains not far from Canea, and the insurgents immediately took possession of this place. Union with Greece was proclaimed, the Cretan flag was pulled down and the Greek flag hoisted in its place, and a note was addressed to the representatives of the powers asking them not to interfere. The object of the insurgents was to prevent the taking place of the regular election for members of the Chamber of Deputies, to prove to the powers that the existing situation is impossible, and to bring about the desired union with Greece. One especial complaint is against the governor’s right to appoint ten of the seventy-two members of the Chamber.
The prince conferred with the representatives of the powers at once, and on March 29 issued a proclamation saying that the international troops had been ordered to march against the insurgents and thirty-six hours were to be allowed to them to lay down their arms peaceably. [Page 506] A conference took place between the commander of the troops and the insurgent leaders, and as yet there has been no armed encounter. On April 2 the prince issued a second proclamation, and on the same day the elections took place without serious disturbance throughout the island. The vote was a small one, and from some villages there were no returns. Supplementary elections are to be held next Sunday, April 9, and the Chamber is expected to meet in about two weeks. A majority has been obtained in favor of the existing government.
Apparently the “revolution” will be without material result, and the leaders are now, while still holding out at Therisso, negotiating for amnesty. They were evidently misled as to the extent of the dissatisfaction with the existing régime, and although various public meetings have expressed sympathy the expected general uprising did not take place. In the meantime, however, the powers have declared that they do not think it expedient to reduce the international force in the island, as had been planned. On the other hand, they have announced an intention to send commissioners to look into the financial situation and to endeavor to have the Sultan recognize Cretan passports and the Cretan flag.
Athens was considerably excited over the “revolution,” but the greater part of the press thought the time inopportune, and the government expressed disapproval of the entire movement.
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