File No. 367.54/31.
The Minister of Switzerland to the Secretary of State .
Washington , May 29, 1915 .
Sir: I have the honor to express to your excellency my best thanks for the verbal note of your Department of May 25, concerning the protection of Swiss citizens in Turkey, whose protection the Government of the United States was kind enough to take over.
I immediately informed my Government of the standpoint taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Constantinople, i. e. to consent to the protection of Swiss citizens by the American Embassy provided that they enjoy the treatment of the nationals of the States having concluded no treaty or convention whatever with the Sublime Porte.
My Government has now instructed me “to strongly insist with your excellency that the Swiss citizens under American protection in Turkey be assimilated with the citizens of the United States as the Swiss protected by Germany and France have always been assimilated with the nationals of those countries.”
I should therefore be much obliged to you for forwarding by cable the foregoing reply of the Swiss Government to the American Embassy in Constantinople, so that it may be in a position to insist [Page 1299] that Swiss citizens under its protection enjoy the same treatment as citizens of the United States.
Personally I beg to add the following explanations:
According to the views of the Swiss Federal Council, a Swiss citizen in the Ottoman Empire enjoys the protection provided for in the treaties in force between Turkey and the Power under whose protection he has placed himself (Salis, Schweizerisches Bundesrecht Vol. II, No. 513). This rule is founded on customary right and was specifically confirmed to the United States by the Swiss Federal Council (note of Federal Councillor Droz to American Minister Washburn in Berne, of January 28, 1891, mentioned in “Moore, Digest of International Law,” Vol. II, page 755).
The fact that Turkey itself has shared this view is evidenced in numerous cases, part of which are mentioned in “Salis, Schweiz. Bundesrecht” and, with reference to Swiss under American protection, in Moore’s Digest, Vol. II, page 733 and paragraphs 288 and 290.
The American protection would undoubtedly be of no practical effect if our countrymen were to be treated as citizens of countries having concluded no treaties with the Porte.
I beg to avail myself of this opportunity to express to your excellency my appreciation for the valuable defense of the interests of our citizens by the American Embassy in Constantinople.