Ambassador Leishman to the Secretary of State .

No. 58.]

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.,

John G. A. Leishman.

List of Fresh Conditions Demanded by the European Concert.

The Porte must accept the conditions made by the embassies in their note of May 22, relating to the mining law, the organization of the customs administration, etc., the chemical analysis of imported goods, and the recently established petroleum depots, and must spend the sum of £T100,000 on the improvement of custom-house accommodation.
The portion which falls to the share of the Government of the increase in the customs revenue due to the extra 3 per cent duty must be devoted exclusively to the financial needs of the three Macedonian vilayets. The council of the public debt must be instructed to pay the whole of this amount to the Macedonian budget, and to advance whatever further sums, not exceeding £T250,000 a year, may be necessary to meet the deficit. In case any measures taken by the Porte without the consent of the Macedonian financial commission increase the deficit beyond what can be covered by these means, the Porte must provide supplementary material guarantees sufficient to balance the budget. Further, if the financial commission, acting in accordance with article 6 of its “reglement,” finds insufficient the sum set aside for the civil administration, including [Page 1414] the gendarmerie” and the police, the Porte shall fulfill (se conformera) the demands of the commission.
No fresh taxes, in the shape of stamp duties, etc., must henceforward be placed on the clearance if imports (opérations douanières).
The local authorities have hitherto ignored article 61 of the “gendarmerie reglement” giving the foreign officers the right to intervene in cases of crime. Instructions must be issued to secure the observance of this right, and the Government must take steps to provide more recruits for the “gendarmerie” and to hinder unauthorized persons from carrying arms.
The increased duty must not be imposed until two months after the ratification by the powers of the agreement between the Porte and embassies.