Ambassador Leishman to the Secretary of State.
Constantinople, October 16, 1906.
Sir: With reference to the proposed increase in the Turkish customs duties from 8 to 11 per cent, of which I have had the honor to write you on various occasions, I now have to inform the department that the recent imposition of fresh conditions by the powers, relative to the use to be made of the resulting revenues has again delayed [Page 1413] the putting into execution of this measure. The Sublime Porte has objected to certain demands advanced by the European concert, consisting of the signatory powers to the treaty of Berlin, which arrogated rights to the so-called international financial commission in Macedonia detrimental to the sovereignty of the Imperial Ottoman Government.
As the conditions demanded by the European powers have to do entirely with the internal affairs of the Ottoman Empire, I have not ventured to associate myself with them in any way, feeling convinced that while the Government would be highly gratified to see practical reforms introduced throughout Turkey, it would not wish to depart from its traditional policy of noninterference in the internal affairs of any European state.
I am making special efforts to secure the enforcement of numerous agreements already reached with the Porte. Nor have I as yet taken advantage of the instructions the department was good enough to send me in its cable of the 13th ultimo, directing me as follows: “If you are received as an ambassador and can obtain assurance that the pending school question will be taken up and promptly disposed of with due recognition of the President’s long unnoticed letter to the Sultan, you may assent to the increase of Turkish customs duties.”
Although I would recommend not to attach any conditions to our assent other than those contained in the department’s telegraphic instructions referred to above, it would yet be desirable for me to qualify my acceptance to the increase, with the understanding that American citizens and American commerce must not be placed at any disadvantage by reason of the Government’s carrying out its policy of noninterference in refusing to follow the action of European powers in interfering with the internal affairs of a European state. In so doing, I trust that my action may meet with the approval of the department, for whose further information I have the honor to append a list of the fresh conditions demanded by the European powers prior to granting their consent to the increase in customs duties.
I have, etc.,