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Verhandlungen und Verträge zwischen Grofsbritannien und Frankreich über Egypten, Marokko, die Neufundländer Fischerei, Senegambien, Siam, Madagaskar, Neue Hebriden. 1904*).
Nr. 13331. GROSSBRITANNIEN. Der Minister des Ausw. an den Botschafter in Paris. Berichtet über die Verhandlungen mit Frankreich.
Foreign Office, April 8, 1904.
Sir, I have from time to time kept your Excellency fully informed of the progress of my negotiations with the French Ambassador for the complete settlement of a series of important questions in which the interests of Great Britain and France are involved. These negotiations commenced in the spring of last year, and have been continued with but slight interruptions up to the present time. || Such a settlement was notoriously desired on both sides of the Channel, and the movement in its favour received a powerful impulse from the visit paid to France by His Majesty King Edward VII in May last and by the return visit of President Loubet to this country. Upon the latter occasion, the President was accompanied by the distinguished Statesman who has so long presided over the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is a matter for congratulation that his presence afforded to His Majesty's Government the great advantage of a full and frank exchange of ideas. It left us in no doubt that a settlement of the kind which both Governments desired, and one which would be mutually advantageous to both countries, was within our reach. The details of the questions at issue have since been examined in confidential discussions with the French Ambassador, to whose personal knowledge of many of the points involved and wide diplomatic experience it is largely due that I am now able to announce to you the Agreement
*) Blaubücher, Cd. 1952, 2095. Staatsarchiv LXXI.
which has been arrived at. I inclose copies of the Convention and Declarations which were signed to-day by his Excellency and myself. || Among the questions which it has been our duty to examine, that of the position of Great Britain in Egypt and of France in Morocco have necessarily occupied a foremost place. || From a British point of view there is no more remarkable episode in recent history than that which concerns the establishment and the gradual development of British influence in Egypt. Our occupation of that country, at first regarded as temporary, has by the force of circumstances become firmly established. Under the guidance of the eminent public Servant who has for the last twenty years represented His Majesty's Government in that country, Egypt has advanced by rapid strides along the path of financial and material prosperity. The destruction of the power of the Mahdi and the annexation of the Soudan have increased that influence and added to the stability of our occupation. || But while these developments have, in fact, rapidly modified the international situation in Egypt, the financial and administrative system which prevails is a survival of an order of things which no longer exists, and is not only out of date but full of inconvenience to all concerned. It is based on the very elaborate and intricate provisions of the Law of Liquidation of 1880, and the London Convention of 1885. With the financial and material improvement of Egypt, these provisions have become a hindrance instead of an aid to the development of the resources of the country. The friction, inconvenience, and actual loss to the Egyptian Treasury which it has occasioned have been pointed out by Lord Cromer on many occasions in his annual Reports. It is well described in the following passage which occurs in Lord Millner's standard work on Egypt: -,,The spectacle of Egypt, with her Treasury full of money, yet not allowed to use that money for an object which, on a moderate calculation, should add 20 per cent. to the wealth of the country, is as distressing as it is ludicrous. Every year that passes illustrates more forcibly the injustice of maintaining, in these days of insured solvency, the restrictions imposed upon the financial freedom of the Egyptian Government at a time of bankruptcy -restrictions justifiable then, but wholly unjustifiable now. No one would object to the continuance of the arrangement by which certain revenues are paid in the first instance to the Caisse de la Dette. But as long as these revenues suffice to cover the interest on the Debt and to provide any sinking fund which the Powers may deem adequate, the balance ought simply to be handed over to the Egyptian Government to deal with as it pleases, and the antiquated distinction of,authorized' and ,unauthorized' expenditure
should be swept away. No reform is more necessary than this, if the country is to derive the greatest possible benefit from the improved condition of its finances which has been attained by such severe privations."
The functions of the Caisse, originally limited to receiving certain assigned revenues on behalf of the bondholders, have in practice become much more extensive. Its members have claimed to control, on behalf of the Powers of Europe, the due execution by the Egyptian Government of all the complicated international Agreements regarding the finances of the country. Their assent is necessary before any new loan can be issued. No portion of the General Reserve Fund can be used without their sanction; and all assigned revenues are paid directly to them by the collecting Departments without passing through the Ministry of Finance. In the same way, the receipts of the railways, telegraphs, and port of Alexandria, administered by a Board consisting of three members an Englishman, a Frenchman, and an Egyptian are paid, after deduction of the expenses, into the Caisse. | The inconvenience of the arrangements which I have described has not been contested by the French Government, and they have shown themselves fully disposed to concert with us the means of bringing the system of financial administration into more close accord with the facts as they now present themselves. The case of Morocco presents different features. The condition of that country has for a long time been unsatisfactory and fraught with danger. The authority of the Sultan over a large portion of his dominions is that of a titular Chief rather than of a Ruler. Life and property are unsafe, the natural resources of the country are undeveloped, and trade, though increasing, is hampered by the political situation. || In these respects the contrast between Morocco and Egypt is marked. In spite of well-meant efforts to assist the Sultan, but little progress has been effected, and at this moment the prospect is probably as little hopeful as it has ever been. Without the intervention of a strong and civilized Power there appears to be no probability of a real improvement in the condition of the country. It seems not unnatural that, in these circumstances, France should regard it as falling to her lot to assume the task of attempting the regeneration of the country. Her Algerian possessions adjoin those of the Sultan throughout the length of a frontier of several hundred miles. She has been compelled from time to time to undertake military operations of considerable difficulty, and at much cost, in order to put an end to the disturbances which continually arise amongst tribes adjoining the Algerian frontier - tribes which, although nominally the subjects of the Sultan, are, in fact, almost