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[War. Russia and Turkey.]
No. 138.-DECLARATIOV of War by Russia against
Turkey. St. Petersburgh, th April, 1828.
(Translation as laid before Parliament.*)
All the wishes of Russia to remain at Peace with a neighbouring Nation have proved vain. Notwithstanding her great patience, and the most costly sacrifices, she has been obliged to confide to arms the defence of her rights in the Levant, and to impress on the Ottoman Porte respect for existing Treaties. She will therefore develope the motives, at once imperative and just, which impose on her the melancholy necessity of such a resolution.
Sixteen years have elapsed since the Peace of Bucharest ;f and for the same period we have seen the Porte act contrary to the stipulations of that Treaty, evade its promises, or indefinitely delay the fulfilment of them. The irrefragable proofs which the Imperial Cabinet will adduce of this infatuated hostile tendency of the policy of the Divan, are but too numerous. On more than one occasion, particularly in 1821, the Porte assumed with respect to Russia, a character of open provocation and hostility. For these three months past, it has again assumed this character, by formal acts and measures which are notorious to all Europe.
On the same day that the Ministers of the 3 Powers, united by a disinterested engagement in the cause of Religion and of suffering humanity, expressed at their departure from Constantinople an ardent wish that Peace might be preserved, -on the same day when they pointed out the easy means of attaining that object, and when the Porte in the same manner protested its pacific dispositions; on that very day the Porte called upon all nations professing the Mahometan faith to take up arms against Russia, denouncing her as the implacable enemy of Islamism, accusing her of a design to overthrow the Ottoman Empire ; and finally, announcing its resolution to negotiate for the sole purpose of preparing for War, and its determination never to fulfil some of
(25th September, the essential Articles of the Treaty of Ackermann 1826, No. 131), which it declared, at the same time, that it concluded with no other design than that of breaking it. The
* For French Version, see “ State Papers," vol. xv, p. 656, † (Bith May, 1812). See Appendix.
[War. Russia and Turkey.]
Porte well knew that by so doing, it would also violate all preceding Treaties, the renewal of which was expressly stipulated by that of Ackermann; but it had already taken its resolution and determined its line of conduct.
Scarcely had the Sultan thus spoken to the vassals of his Crown, when the privileges of the Russian flag were violated, the ships covered by it were detained, their cargoes sequestrated, their Commanders obliged to dispose of them at prices arbitrarily fixed, the amount of an incomplete and tardy payment reduced to onehalf; and even the subjects of His Imperial Majesty were soon after compelled either to descend into the class of Rayas, or to leave in a body the dominions of the Ottoman Porte. Meanwhile the Bosphorus is closed, the trade of the Black Sea fettered, the Russian towns, whose existence depends upon that trade, are in imminent danger of ruin, and the southern provinces of the Emperor's dominions lose the only channel for the exportation of their produce, and the only maritime communication which, by promoting the exchange of their commodities, could render their labour productive, and promote industry and prosperity. Even the boundaries of Turkey did not limit the action of these hostile sentiments. At the same time that they broke forth at Constantinople, General Paskewitch, after the conclusion of a glorious campaign, was negotiating a Peace with Persia, the conditions of which were already accepted by the Court of Teheran. On a sudden, he was surprised at delays which succeeded to the eagerness which had hitherto been shown for the conclusion of a Convention, which had been already approved by both parties in all its particulars. These delays were followed by exceptions to the terms of the Treaty, and these exceptions by warlike demonstrations; and the conduct of the neighbouring Pachas who hastily took up arms, on the one hand, -and on the other, authentic information and positive confessions, revealed to us the secret of the promise of a diversion, which was to force new efforts upon us.
Thus the Turkish Government in its Proclamations announced its intention of breaking its Treaties with Russia, while it already set them at nought by its actions: thus it taught Russia to expect war at no remote period; it had in fact already begun it against her subjects and her commerce. Where war was just extinguished, it tried to rekindle it.
Russia will not dwell on the motives which render it imperative upon her to refuse to tolerate such evidentiy hostile actions,
[War. Russia and Turkey.]
and to take measures for preventing their recurrence. If a State could abandon its dearest interests, sacrifice its honour, and disown the transactions which are at once the monuments of its glory and the pledges of its prosperity, it would be a traitor to itself, and would fail in its duties by failing to insist upon its rights.
Such rights and such duties acquire even an additional title to be respected, when the assertion of them has been preceded by a moderation of the most marked kind, and by the most striking proofs of pacific intentions.
The sacrifices which Russia has imposed upon herself, with the view of securing to the world a durable Peace, ever since the memorable epoch which overthrew at the same time military despotism and the spirit of revolution,—these sacrifices, equally voluntary and numerous, dictated by the most liberal policy, and no less spontaneous than they have been numerous, are known to the world ; the history of late years testifies them, and even Turkey herself, though little disposed duly to appreciate them, and in no wise entitled to them, has felt their favourable effects. The Porte has nevertheless constantly misunderstood the advantages of its stipulations with the Cabinet of St. Petersburgh, and of the fundamental Treaties of Kainardjie,* Jassy, and Bucharest, which, by placing the existence of the Porte, and the integrity of its Frontiers, under the protection of the law of nations, could not fail to contribute to the duration of its Empire. Scarcely was the Peace of 1812 signed, when the Porte thought that it could with impunity take advantage of the difficult and eventful circumstances in which Russia then was placed, repeatedly to violate its recent engagements. An amnesty had been promised to the Servians; but instead of it, an invasion took place and a dreadful massacre. Certainly privileges were guaranteed to Moldavia and Wallachia ; but a system of plunder completed the ruin of those unhappy provinces. The incursions of the tribes which inhabit the left bank of the Kuban were to be prevented by the care of the Porte; they were, on the contrary, openly encouraged; and Turkey, not content with raising pretensions to several Fortresses absolutely necessary for the security of our Asiatic possessions, pretensions, the weakness of which it had itself recognised by the
29th December, 1791
?). See Appendix.
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Convention of Ackermann (No. 131), made them still weaker by favouring, on the coasts of the Black Sea, and even in our vicinity, the slave trade, pillage, and disorders of all kinds. Nay more : then, as now, ships bearing the Russian flag were detained in the Bosphorus, their cargoes sequestrated, and all the stipulations of the Commercial Treaty of 1783 openly violated. This took place at the very moment when the purest glory and the most beneficent victories in a sacred cause crowned the arms of His Majesty the Emperor Alexander of immortal memory. Nothing hindered him from turning his arms against the Ottoman Empire. But that Monarch, a pacific Conqueror, superior to every feeling of resentment, avoided even the most legitimate opportunity of redressing his own wrongs, and would not interrupt the peace restored to Europe by generous exertions, and with noble intentions, so soon after he had contributed to its establishment. IIis situation offered him immense advantages, of which he forbore to avail himself, with the view of entering, in the year 1816, into negotiations with the Turkish Government, founded on the principle and the wish to obtain, solely by amicable arrangement, securities for peace and for a faithful adherence to existing Treaties, as well as for the maintenance of reciprocal, satisfactory, and pacific relationis,-securities which the Emperor's victorious arms might have extorted from the Porte, then unable to resist him.
Such great moderation was not, however, duly appreciated. For five years together, the Divan was unmoved by the conciliatory overtures of the Emperor Alexander, and endeavoured to tire out his patience-to dispute his rights—to call in question his good intentions—and even to defy the superiority of Russia, which was restrained solely by a desire to preserve the general peace, by carrying her forbearance to its utmost limits.
And yet a War with Turkey would not in any way have embarrassed the relations of Russia with her principal Allies. No Convention of Guarantee, no political combination, connected the fate of the Ottoman Empire with the healing Acts of 1814 and 1815, under the protection of which civilised and Christian Europe reposed after her long dissensions, and saw her Governments united by the recollections of common glory, and a happy identity of principles and views.
After five years of benevolent and unabated exertion on the part of the Representative of Russia, and of tergiversations and delays on the part of the Porte,—when several points of the
[War. Russia and Turkey.]
negotiation relative to the execution of the Treaty of Bucharest appeared to be settled,-a general insurrection in the Morea, and the hostile invasion of Moldavia by the Chief of a Party, unfaithful to his duty, re-excited in the Turkish Government and nation all the emotions of blind hatred against its Christian tributaries, without distinction between the guilty and the innocent. Russia did not hesitate a moment to testify its just disapprobation of the enterprise of Prince Ypsilanti. As Protector of the Principalities, it approved of the proper measures of defence and suppression adopted by the Divan, at the same time insisting on the necessity of not confounding the innocent part of the population with the seditious, who were to be disarmed and punished. These counsels were rejected; the Representative of His Imperial Majesty was insulted in his own residence; the chief Greek Clergy, with the Patriarch at their head, were subjected to an ignominious punishment in the midst of the solemnities of our holy religion. The most eminent Christians were seized, plundered, and massacred without trial; the remainder fled. The flame of insurrection, however, far from abating, spread on every side. In vain did the Russian Minister endeavour to render the Porte a last service. In vain did he point out, by his note of the 6th July, 1821, a way to safety and to reconciliation. After he had protested against crimes and ebullitions of rage, unparalleled in history, he found himself obliged to obey the commands of his Sovereign, and to leave Constantinople. It was at this time that the Powers, the Friends and Allies of Russia, equally interested in the maintenance of general Peace, offered and employed their good offices for the purpose of dispelling the storm which was about to burst over the infatuated Turkish Government. Russia, on her part, delayed to redress her own just grievances, in the hope that she should be able to reconcile what she owed to herself with the forbearance required by the situation of Europe, and its oftenthreatened tranquillity. Great as these sacrifices were, they were fruitless. All the efforts of the Emperor's Allies were successively baffled by the obstinacy of the Porte, which, perhaps equally in error with respect to the motives of our conduct, and the extent of its own resources, persisted in the execution of a plan for the destruction of the Christian population, subject to its power. The war with the insurgent Greeks was prosecuted with increased acrimony, in spite of the measures which from that time had for their object the Pacification of Greece. The attitude of the Divan,