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The Earl of Derby to Mr. Stuart.
Foreign Office, July 19, 1877.
I HAVE received your despatch of the 7th instant, relative to the difficulty which has arisen between Turkey and Greece, owing to the expulsion from Crete of a Greek gentleman named Philou; and I have to state to you that I approve the language which you held to M. Tricoupi on this subject, as reported in your abovementioned despatch.
I am, &c.
Mr. Stuart to the Earl of Derby.-(Received July 21.)
Athens, July 13, 1877. I RECEIVED yesterday, and communicated to M. Tricoupi this afternoon at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, your Lordship's despatch of the 2nd instant, in answer to the offer of the Hellenic Government to endeavour to prevent outbreaks in the neighbouring provinces, upon condition of obtaining a promise from Great Britain to consider that there was nevertheless an Hellenic question before Europe when the time came for settling the other questions arising out of the present war between Russia and Turkey.
M. Tricoupi asked, with reference to your Lordship's assurance that Her Majesty's Government would "be ready to use their best influence to secure for the Greek population in the Turkish provinces any administrative reforms or advantages which may be conferred upon the Christian population of any other race," whether the word advantages was to be taken separately or in connection with the word administrative, which was applied to the reforms, as in the former case it might include independence, or semi-independence, or any other privileges which might be conceded to one or more of the Slavonic provinces of Turkey.
I gave it as my opinion that administrative advantages were alone intended. When I asked M. Tricoupi what I might say to your Lordship respecting the intentions of the Hellenic Government in connection with the sentence in your despatch counselling the maintenance of a prudent attitude, he replied that the Government had not yet decided what course it would be necessary for them to pursue, but that they had no intention of raising insurrectionary movements in the Turkish Provinces, and they had every desire to continue to act with moderation and prudence.
He proceeded to tell me that if the Provinces in question wished to rise it would be a serious responsibility for the Hellenic Government to endeavour to prevent them, without being in a position to guarantee to them the same advantages which they might obtain by insurrection.
I did not fail to remind M. Tricoupi that it would be a still greater responsibility to give any encouragement to the Provinces to rise, that massacres and much bloodshed and devastation would be a certain consequence of insurrection, and that in the event of failure, the Hellenic populations would be left in a much worse state than before, whilst by trusting to peaceful means they would sooner or later obtain all that they could reasonably claim..
Although your Lordship's despatch did not promise so much as M. Tricoupi would naturally have desired, he expressed himself as being much gratified by the assurances which Her Majesty's Government had felt at liberty to give with respect to the Greek populations, as well as by the continued friendly interest evinced in the welfare of Greece; and he assured me of the continued desire of the Hellenic Government and people to conciliate the goodwill and sympathy of Great Britain.
The Earl of Derby to Mr. Stuart.
Sir, Foreign Office, July 24, 1877. HER Majesty's Government approve the language which you held to M. Tricoupi on the occasion of your reading to him my despatch of the 2nd instant, relative to the support which Her Majesty's Government would be prepared to give to Hellenic interests, as reported in your despatch of the 13th instant.
I am, &c.
Mr. Layard to the Earl of Derby.-(Received July 28.)
Therapia, July 19, 1877. ON the 9th instant M. Condouriottis, the Greek Minister at the Porte, called to inform me that he had received instructions from M. Tricoupi to demand immediate satisfaction for the arbitrary and illegal treatment of an Hellenic subject, M. Philon, in Crete.
The way in which this gentleman was arrested by Sami Pasha, and was forcibly removed from the island, is described in Mr Sandwith's despatch to me of the 2nd instant. M. Condouriottis stated to me that he had been instructed by his Government to demand that M. Philon should be allowed to return to Crete, if only for a few days, and that Sami Pasha should be ordered to call upon the Greek Consul, and to offer an apology for the manner in which he had behaved towards an Hellenic subject. M. Condouriottis requested me to do what I could to induce Safvet Pasha to give the satisfaction required by the Hellenic Government. It appeared to me that the conduct of Sami Pasha in removing M. Philon by force without first communicating with the Greek Consul, and taking the steps required in such cases, was illegal. I directed Mr. Sandison so to inform Safvet Pasha, and to suggest, at the same time, that I considered it very desirable that some satisfaction should be given to the Hellenic Government, and that the demands of M. Tricoupi appeared to me, on the whole, not unreasonable. His Excellency told Mr. Sandison that he was not unwilling to consider them, but that it was ecessary for him to submit them to the Council of Ministers. On the following da his Excellency informed me that the Council had declined to accede to M. Tricoupi's demands, and had proposed instead that the highest authority in the island after the Governor should call upon the Greek Consul to offer excuses for the treatment of M. Philon. That gentleman could not be allowed to return to Crete, as to permit him to do so on the demand of the Hellenic Government would be taken by the Cretans as a sign of weakness on the part of the Turkish Government, and might give rise to demonstrations, which would be very dangerous in the present critical state of the island.
M. Condouriottis, to whom the decision of the Council was communicated, referred it to M. Tricoupi, who refused to accept the proposed arrangement, threatening, at the same time, to have recourse to reprisals by arresting and expelling from Greece some Turkish subject. I saw Safvet Pasha myself after learning from the Hellenic Minister the resolution of his Government, and endeavoured to prevail upon his Excellency to avoid giving cause of quarrel to the Hellenes, and to get the Council to reconsider its decision. His Excellency promised to do so; but he added that he doubted whether it would agree to the return of M. Philon, who, it could be proved, was an agent of a revolutionary committee in Greece, and had been sent to Crete to stir up a rebellion. However, his Excellency admitted that the way in which Sami Pasha had treated him was irregular, and he told me, confidentially, that after excuses had been offered by the second in authority in the island to the Greek Consul, Sami Pasha himself would call upon him. Safvet Pasha subsequently saw M. Condouriottis, to whom he made the same statement, which the Hellenic Minister did not consider satisfactory, insisting that the demands of his Government should be complied with. M. Condouriottis further stated to his Excellency that he had learnt that Sami Pasha, in being asked by some of the Consuls in Crete, whether the Capitulations were still on force with regard to foreigners in the island, replied that they were, except as to Hellenic subjects. The Hellenic Minister wished to know upon what authority Sami
Pasha had made this statement. Safvet Pasha replied that he could not believe that it had been made, but that if it had, it was entirely unauthorized.
Yesterday Safvet Pasha left the Ministry, but before doing so he was able to inform M. Condouriottis that the demands of the Hellenic Government had been complied with, and that M. Philon would be allowed to return for a short time to Crete. This affair is thus satisfactorily settled.
I have, &c. (Signed)
A. H. LAYARD.
Aarifi Pasha to Musurus Pasha.—(Communicated to the Earl of Derby by Musurus Pasha,
Constantinople, le 25 Juillet, 1877. LA Grèce n'a cessé de nous prodiguer les assurances de ses intentions loyales et pacifiques, et jusqu'à ces derniers temps, grâce aux plus sages conseils, la conduite du Gouvernement Hellénique a été conforme à ces assurances. Cependant, depuis quelques semaines, des indices graves révèlent l'intention du Gouvernement Hellénique de se départir de ce programme de réserve et d'abstention dont l'observation assurait si heureusement ses bons rapports avec l'Empire Ottoman. La Sublime Porte ne saurait rester indifférente devant des symptômes aussi accusateurs, et elle doit prévoir le cas où ces dispositions hostiles se traduiraient en faits, non pas par des actes d'hostilité directe, puisque la Grèce ne pourrait se mettre en guerre de sa propre autorité et en dehors des trois Puissances protectrices, mais en provoquant le soulèvement de nos provinces limitrophes.
Je prie votre Excellence d'appeler l'attention la plus sérieuse de Lord Derby sur cette grave éventualité, et de ne pas lui dissimuler que, dans le cas où elle se présenterait, le Gouvernement Impérial, tout en réprimant énergiquement les mouvements insurrectionnels, se verrait contraint de prendre des mesures pour tarir la source de la révolte. La Sublime Porte, éclairée par l'expérience, ne pourrait tolérer qu'un Etat voisin, tout en gardant une neutralité apparente, fomente et alimente la guerre civile sur notre territoire. Si la Grèce est réellement décidée à se laisser entraîner dans cette voie dangereuse, elle devrait assumer les conséquences de sa politique, et ne s'en prendre qu'à elle seule des maux auxquels elle se serait exposée, au mépris du droit des gens.
Votre Excellence aura soin de saisir une occasion pour développer ces idées confidentiellement et d'une manière toute particulière à Lord Derby.
Constantinople, July 25, 1877. GREECE has not ceased lavishing on us the assurances of her loyal and pacific intentions, and till lately, thanks to wiser counsels, the conduct of the Hellenic Government has been in conformity with these assurances. However, for some weeks past, serious indications reveal the intention of the Hellenic Government to abandon this programme of reserve and abstention, the observance of which ensured so happily her good relations with the Ottoman Empire. The Sublime Porte cannot remain indifferent in the face of such suspicious symptoms, and she must provide for the eventuality of these hostile dispositions becoming facts, not by acts of direct hostility, since Greece could not go to war on her own authority, and independently of the three protecting Powers, but by provoking a rising in our limitrophe provinces.
I beg your Excellency to call Lord Derby's most serious attention to this grave eventuality, and not to conceal from him that, if it should occur, the Imperial Government, while energetically repressing the insurrectionary movements, would consider itself compelled to take steps to strike at the root of the revolt. The Sublime Porte, enlightened by experience, could not allow a neighbouring State, while preserving an apparent neutrality, to foment and encourage civil war in our territory. If Greece is really resolved to let herself be drawn into this dangerous path, she must take the consequences of her policy, and will only have herself to blame for the evils to which she would be exposed by her infraction of international law.
Your Excellency will make a point of taking an opportunity to acquaint Lord Derby with these ideas confidentially and quite privately.
The Earl of Derby to Mr. Layard.
Foreign Office, August 1, 1877.
I HAVE received your despatch of the 19th ultimo, reporting the settlement of the difficulty which had arisen between the Porte and the Greek Government, owing to the expulsion from the Island of Crete of M. Philon, a Greek subject, and I have to state to you that your proceedings in this matter are approved by Her Majesty's Government.
I am, &c.
Mr. Layard to the Earl of Derby.-(Received August 4.)
Constantinople, August 3, 1877, 2 P.M. I AM informed that in anticipation of attack from Greece Turkish Government has authorized Albanian Beys to organize irregulars to defend frontier. This measure, although objectionable, is considered indispensable, as the Porte has no regular troops to spare.
Mr. Stuart to the Earl of Derby.-(Received August 9.)
Athens, August 1, 1877. I HAVE the honour to inform your Lordship that it has been decided to call out the men forming the Second Reserve of the Greek army, in addition to those of the First Reserve, and to mobilize the National Guard, in order that the army may be sent to the frontier.
Mr. Stuart to the Earl of Derby.-(Received August 9.)
Athens, August 2, 1877. WHEN I called upon M. Tricoupi the day before yesterday, he informed me that the Hellenic Government had decided upon calling out the Second Army Reserves, and upon mobilizing the National Guard, in order that as large a force of the regular army as possible might be sent to the frontier.
Upon inquiring into the cause of such an evidently aggressive measure, I gathered from M. Tricoupi that the reported mobilization of a portion of the AustroHungarian army appeared to portend the approaching occupation of Bosnia by Austria-Hungary, and that in that case it would be necessary for Greece to occupy Thessaly and Epirus, with a view to be placed in the permanent possession of those provinces at the conclusion of peace.
I warned M. Tricoupi, in strong terms, of the dangers which were likely to ensue from the gratuitous adoption of such an adventurous policy, reminding him that the independence and integrity of Greece were guaranteed by Treaty and were not menaced by any Power. I said that the movement of troops and of arms towards the frontier could only be directed against Turkey, that the Hellenic Government could not expect her either to refrain from taking offence at such a menacing proceeding, or to wait until the Greek preparations for an invasion were completed, and that I should not be surprised to hear at any time that Photiades Bey had been recalled, and that an Ottoman squadron was on its way to blockade the principal ports of Greece.
I do not suppose that the Hellenic Government contemplate commencing the invasion of Thessaly and Epirus until an insurrection breaks out in those provinces, or unless Austria-Hungary occupies Bosnia, when it would be considered, in the event of the continued advance of the Russian armies, that the partition of European Turkey had become inevitable, and that, whatever injury might be inflicted upon Greek port by the Turkish fleet, few or no troops would be left to oppose the Greek army upon the Turkish frontier. It is probably further calculated that peace would shortly afterwards be imposed upon Turkev, and that Europe would be obliged to recognize any such accomplished facts as the occupation of the Hellenic provinces and their annexation to Greece.
M. Tricoupi argued that Greece would fail in her duty to the Hellenic race if she did not strike a blow for her enslaved kinsfolk, when so apparently propitious an opportunity for their liberation was likely to arise.
Mr. Stuart to the Earl of Derby.-(Received August 11.)
My Lord, Athens, August 4, 1877. WITH reference to my despatch of the 1st instant, I learnt yesterday from M. Tricoupi that it was not intended to mobilize the whole of the National Guards throughout Greece, but only those in the neighbourhood of the frontier, and, perhaps, those belonging to Athens, in order to dispense with the greater part of the present garrison.
The mobilization upon the frontier had, he said, already commenced.
According to the last Returns published, some 4,800 men out of the 10,000 belonging to the first reserve had come forward.
The Decree calling out the men of the second reserve has not yet been promulgated.
I have, &c.
Mr. Stuart to the Earl of Derby.-(Received August 11.)
Athens, August 4, 1877. I MET Photiades Bey and had some conversation with him at the door of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs yesterday.
He did not appear to be in any unusual alarm respecting the designs or the military preparations of the Hellenic Government; but he told me that he had just represented to M. Tricoupi that the formation of a camp and the concentration of troops at Lamia, which is in the immediate neighbourhood of the frontier, was an unfortunate measure, and calculated to give offence to the Ottoman Government.
The explanations which he received were to the effect that the disturbed state of the frontier required reinforcements of troops to be sent there; that it was merely an internal measure, and not dictated by any hostile feeling towards Turkey; and that Lamia had been chosen as being for various reasons the most convenient place in that part of Greece for the formation of a camp.
Consul Sir C. Sebright to the Earl of Derby.-(Received August 13.)
Corfu, August 9, 1877.
I REGRET to have to report that, since the date of my despatch of the 26th July, all the information I have received from Vice-Consul Onofrio, as well as from other reliable sources, represents the political excitement along the Acarnanian frontier as daily increasing, and the danger of a collision with the Turkish forces is imminent.