783.003/149: Telegram (part air)

The Minister in Egypt (Fish) to the Secretary of State

5. My telegram No. 4. The following is the translation referred to therein.

“Mr. Minister: In spite of a modern political, administrative and economic organization Egypt remains the only country in which there still exists a regime for foreigners based on privileges which were accorded them gratuitously during the 16th century for reasons which have entirely disappeared. Now that the Capitulatory Powers have accepted elsewhere and notably in Turkey1 and Iran2 the abolition [Page 616] of the capitulations, this regime, contrary to the principles of modern law, has continued in Egypt up to the present time impeding the evolution and progress of the country and constituting an obvious infringement of the sovereignty of the state and the dignity of the nation.

Such a singular situation must come to an end. The Royal Government is convinced that the immediate return to a common justice by the abolition of the capitulations can be received in no other way than favorably by the Capitulatory Powers: the spirit of justice which animates them, the clear comprehension of the interests involved, the tolerance of which they have given proofs in the solution of similar cases, the traditional friendship which unites them with Egypt, are guarantees thereof.

With the abolition, the Royal Government will necessarily resume, with respect to foreigners residing in its territory its full sovereignty in legislative matters.

The Royal Government moreover desires to declare that it intends to continue to follow in some of the matters applicable to foreigners the principles generally adopted in modern legislation and that especially as regards legislation of a fiscal character it will make no discrimination either against foreigners or foreign firms.

The abolition of the capitulations should likewise permit the suppression of the exceptional jurisdictions functioning as regards foreigners on Egyptian territory and the exercise of full jurisdiction by the National Tribunals.

However, the Royal Government is disposed to admit of the establishment of a provisional régime of a duration to be fixed and which would allow the maintenance of the Mixed Tribunals under a revised organization and jurisdiction and the transfer to the Mixed Tribunals of the jurisdiction at present exercised by the Consular Tribunals.

Anxious not only to maintain a close cooperation between foreigners and Egyptians but desirous of developing this cooperation, of rendering it easier and more fruitful of execution henceforth within the normal framework of the rules of common law established by the right of modern people, the Royal Government has the honor to propose for the adherence of the Powers the recognition of the abolition of the capitulations as well as the establishment of a provisional regime during a transitory period at the expiration of which the Mixed and Consular Tribunals will cede to the National Tribunals the part which they hold in the administration of justice in Egypt.

Consequently the Royal Government invites the American Government to participate, by the sending of one or more delegates furnished with the necessary powers, at the conference which will be held at Montreux, April 12, 1937, for the purpose of concluding a convention between the interested powers on the one hand and Egypt on the other hand regarding the questions set forth above.

I should be grateful to you, Mr. Minister, if you would be so good as to bring the foregoing to the attention of your Government and to request it to give its answer in due time.

I seize this occasion, et cetera.” Signed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.