File No. 367.11/146.

The American Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

No. 481.]

Sir: Referring to the Embassy’s despatch No. 429 of February 24, 1913, on the subject of requisitions for war purposes, I have the honor to enclose herewith a copy and translation of the Porte’s reply [Enclosure 4] to the note verbale identique therein transmitted; also copies and translations of notes exchanged between the diplomatic missions and the Porte in regard to the occupation of foreigners’ houses at San Stefano by Ottoman troops.

I have [etc.]

W. W. Rockhill.
[Inclosure 1—Circular notice—Translation.]

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the American Embassy.

At the request of certain foreign missions, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs had sent the necessary communications to the Imperial Departments of War and the Interior for the safeguarding of the furniture, as well as articles of value, found in the houses at San Stefano belonging to foreign subjects where soldiers were to be lodged.

In the meantime, the military authorities have informed the Department of the Interior that, in view of the needs of the army, it has been decided to lodge the troops in the unoccupied houses of the locality, but that in order to protect the articles of furniture found there they have ordered that they be placed in a room under seal in the presence of the members of the municipality, the Mouktar and the gendarmes. The said authorities add, however, that if the foreign missions desire it they may send a delegate from their consulates in the cases in which foreigners are interested.

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[Inclosure. 2—Identic note verbale.]

The American Embassy to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The Embassy of the United States of America has had the honor to receive the circular notice of the Imperial Ottoman Ministry for Foreign Affairs of March 4, 1913, concerning the requisition of real property at San Stefano.

The Embassy reserves the question of principle relative to the legitimacy of this measure from the point of view of the treaties in force.

At any rate it could not admit that in a case, as important as the occupation by troops of houses belonging to foreigners, the inviolability of which is consecrated by express stipulations, the Imperial authorities could of themselves decide the matter without previous agreement with the diplomatic missions.

The Embassy of the United States consequently feels obliged to protest against this proceeding, and to make the most formal reserves in regard to the damages and losses which will result from it for those within its jurisdiction; and declares that from this moment it holds the Imperial Government responsible for the reimbursement of the amount of the damages caused in this connection.

The Embassy of the United States of America regrets that consular assistance, which was provided for in the last paragraph of the above-mentioned notice, and which constitutes not a concession but an unquestionable right, has not been required at the proper time in all the cases which have arisen up to the present.

[Inclosure 3—Circular note verbale—Translation.]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the American Embassy.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has had the honor to receive the note verbale identique which the American Embassy addressed to it on the 8th of March last, in regard to the requisition of property at San Stefano belonging to American citizens.

The Commander-in-Chief ad interim of the Imperial Army, upon being informed of this step, calls attention to the fact that in time of mobilization the lodging of troops in the villages where they happen to be is provided for by the Ottoman law, as also by the laws in force in all countries, without this fact entailing the obligation of indemnifying the inhabitants.

The installing of troops in the houses at San Stefano took place by virtue of this rule. The foreign proprietors, who are in questions of real estate assimilated to Ottoman subjects, could not, owing to this fact alone, as well as considerations purely humanitarian, claim an exceptional treatment.

The Imperial Ministry feels obliged to point out that, always solicitous to safeguard foreign interests as far as possible, the Imperial Government decided to have recourse to this measure only when the rigors of winter made themselves felt to an extreme degree.

In bringing what precedes to the knowledge of the American Embassy, the Imperial Ministry is persuaded that it will kindly recognize that there is in this matter a case of force majeure and that, consequently, the Imperial Government could not be held to pay to foreign proprietors in the above-mentioned village an indemnity on the ground of the occupation of their houses.

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[Inclosure 4—Circular note verbale—Translation.]

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the American Embassy.

The Imperial Ministry for Foreign Affairs has received the note verbale which the Embassy of the United States of America addressed to it the 22nd of February, 1913, in regard to the requisition for the needs of the war of horses and vehicles belonging to foreign subjects.

The Imperial Ministry regrets that it is unable to alter the conclusions expressed in the previous communications on this subject.

In fact, requisitions in the interests of national defense are of an urgent nature and therefore do not permit of consular assistance. Such a method would be impracticable, which the American Embassy in its sentiments of high impartiality will indeed admit.

As for the payment of the compensation for animals or objects requisitioned, the Imperial Ministry hastens to inform the Embassy that the system previously adopted is modified in the sense that the Imperial Ministry of Finance will make the said payment in cash to the interested parties at the end of the war.