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OBSERVATIONS ON THE GREEK QUESTION. The Treaty of Mediation respecting the affairs of Greece, concluded between Great Britain, France, and Russia, on July 6, 1827, is an act so important as a precedent, and so pregnant with consequences, immediate and future, that, however anxiously and strictly canvassed by statesmen and jurists of the present day, it will scarcely receive less attention from posterity. The separation of the Morea and the Greek Islands from the Turkish Empire,—for such practically must be the ultimate result of even modified independence, although, in its effect upon the military strength of the Grand Seignior, perhaps not equal to the disconnection of the Crimea, -involves questions of much higher importance to the great European commonwealth. The latter was a mere cession from a weaker to a stronger power, and, in its immediate consequences, only affected the two parties; but the former event, concluded, as it has been, or will be, by the direct interposition of Great Britain, France, and Russia, and founded upon alleged principles of right and necessity, must deeply affect the international intercourse of all the states of the European continent.
The Treaty of Mediation binds the contracting parties to a direct interference between an independent sovereign and his revolted provinces ; and it is, therefore, indispensable to examine the right and necessity of such interference. Our readers will excuse the length of the following quotations from Vattel, as they are those which contain the most complete exposition of the doctrine by which the abstract right of interference can be maintained, and, in our view, embrace the several local considerations by which the question has practically been determined :
“ But if the prince, by violating the fundamental laws, gives his subjects a legal right to resist him—if tyranny, becoming insupportable, obliges the nation to rise in their own defence, every foreign power bas a right to succour an oppressed people who implore their assistance. The English justly complained of James II. The nobility and the most distinguished patriots having determined to check him in the prosecution of his schemes, which manifestly tended to overthrow the constitution and to destroy the liberties and the religion of the people, applied for assistance to the United Provinces. The authority of the Prince of Orange had doubtless an influence on the deliberations of the States. general, but it did not lead them to the commission of an act of injus-tice; for when a people for good reasons take up arms against an oppressor, it is but an act of justice and generosity to assist brave men in the defence of their liberties. Whenever, therefore, matters are carried so far as to produce a civil war, foreign powers may assist that party which appears to them to have justice on their side. He who assists an odious tyrant,--he who declares for an unjust and rebellious people, violates his duty. But when the bands of the political society are broken, or at least suspended between the sovereign and his people, the contending parties may be considered two distinct powers; and, since they are both equally independent of all foreign authority, nobody has a right to judge them. Either may be in the right, and each of those who grant their assistance may imagine that he is acting in support of the better cause. It follows then, in virtue of the voluntary law
August. – VOL. XXIII. NO. XCII.
of nations, that the two parties may act as having an equal right, and behave to each other accordingly, till the decision of the affair.
“But we ought not to abuse this maxim, and make a handle of it to authorize odious machinations against the internal tranquillity of states. It is a violation of the law of nations to invite those subjects to revolt who actually pay obedience to their sovereign, though they complain of his government.
« The practice of nations is conformable to our maxims. When the German Protestants came to the assistance of the reformed party in France, the court never attempted to treat them otherwise than on the usual footing of enemies in general, and according to the laws of war. France was engaged at the same time in assisting the Netherlands, then in arms against Spain, and expected that her troops should be considered in no other light than as auxiliaries in a regular war.
But no power ever fails to complain, as of an atrocious wrong, if any one attempts, by his emissaries, to excite his subjects to revolt."-Vattel, Law of Nations, book II., chap. 4, sec. 56. “When a religion is persecuted in one country, foreign nations who profess it may intercede for their brethren ; but this is all they can lawfully do, unless the persecution be carried to an intolerable excess ; then, indeed, it becomes a case of manifest tyranny, in opposition to which all nations are allowed to assist an unhappy people (sec. 56). A regard to their own safety, may also authorize them to undertake the defence of the persecuted sufferers. A King of France replied to the ambassadors who solicited him to suffer his subjects of the reformed religion to live in peace, that he was master of his own kingdom.' But the Protestant sovereigns, who saw a general conspiracy of the Catholics obstinately bent on their destruction, were so far masters on their side as to be at liberty to give assistance to a body of men who might strengthen their party, and help them to preserve themselves from the ruin with which they were threatened. All distinctions of states and nations are to be disregarded when there is a question of forming a coalition against a set of madmen, who would exterminate all those that do not implicitly receive their doctrines.”-Sec. 62.
We will apply this doctrine to the case of the war between Turkey and the insurgent provinces. It cannot be denied that the “bands of the political society were broken, or at least suspended between the sovereign and his people; and that a state of affairs had therefore arisen in which the contending parties might be considered as two distinct powers; and, since they were both equally independent of all foreign authority, nobody had a right to judge them.” The sentence which follows gives a perfect right of assistance to either of the contending parties; that is to say, it was competent to the several nations of Europe, either to assist the Turks in reducing the Greeks to obedience, or to aid the latter in establishing their independence. It is also of importance to remark, that the doctrine laid down by Vattel is not limited, by the previous relations of the powers who may take part with the revolted provinces, to the paramount state which has become a belligerant: on the contrary, the right rests upon
ad præsentem," and the new intere and necessities which have arisen to other parties from the war actually subsisting. In the sixty-second section of the same book and chapter quoted above, Vattel deals with the
question of interference on the ground of community in religious belief. The danger of extermination to those professing a common faith is held to be sufficient reason for giving assistance; and the aid afforded by the Protestants states of Europe to the Huguenots in France is cited as an example of interference on the additional ground of political expediency. The right of Russia to interfere in favour of the subjects of the Ottoman Porte professing the Greek religion, does not, however, rest upon the general principle, but upon positive stipulation. The seventh article of the Treaty of Koutchook Kanardgi, in the year 1774, provides that “the Porte promises to protect the Christian Religion and the Churches, and the Ministers of Russia shall be at liberty to make representations in favour of the new Church mentioned in the fourteenth article.” The church so mentioned was the Greek church. We have followed, in our quotation of the Treaty of Kanardgi, the “ Histoire Abregée des Traités de Paix,” by De Koch, continued by Schoell. The article of the Treaty on the subject of Religion, quoted by Mr. Waddington in the Appendix to his “ Visit to Greece,” is that which applies specially to Wallachia and Moldavia, and which was in a great measure extended to the islands of the Archipelago, restored to the Porte in 1774. The Wallachian and Moldavian article is not quite correctly given by Mr. Waddington ;-it should be as follows : " That the Ottoman Porte will not in any manner disturb the free exercise of the Christian Religion, and will offer no obstruction to the building of new Churches, or to the reparation of the old ; and, farther, will have the special consideration for the ministers of religion, which their profession demands."* A right of general intercession in favour of these principalities, as far as the maintenance of the stipulations of the Treaty extended, was given to the Russian Ministers resident at Constantinople.—Note. If, therefore, it appeared to Russia, that the character which the civil war in the Morea and the Islands had taken left no alternative between the establishment of independence and the extermination of the Christian inhabitants, and that the stipulated right of intercession must, in a war carried on “ usque ad internecionem,” be wholly useless and inapplicable, the case seems fairly to come within the doctrine quoted by Vattel. The barbarous and precipitate execution of the Patriarch of Constanti. nople, in 1821, followed by that of the Archbishops of Ephesus, Derkon, and Akiallo, upon the alleged charge of treason, without communication with the Russian Minister, certainly evinced an animosity towards the Greek religion not very consistent with the protecting spirit of existing treaties. It would not, perhaps, be too much to assert, that these sanguinary proceedings, only authorized by Turkish barbarism, would have justified the Emperor of Russia, 'upon the principle of a common religion, in at once assisting the Greeks; and, without doubt, the exertions of Great Britain mainly contributed to avert from the Porte the consequences of thus outraging the religion professed and protected by a great European monarch. This important object was more easily effected, from the circumstance that the atrocity bad so exasperated and concentrated the rebellion of the Greeks, that the probability of a successful issue of the contest by their own efforts was
The Ninth Article of the Treaty of Belgrade, in 1739, gave a similar right of representation to the Imperial Ambassador, in respect of the Catholic religion.
much augmented. When, however, the application of the resources of the Pashalik of Egypt to the war materially affected the prospects of the insurgents; and when, in fact, from the relative situation of the belligerents, the extermination of the unsuccessful insurgents became not a result of remote or possible, but of probable and proximate occurrence, the forbearance of Russia from interference in the contest could, unless the common sympathies of our nature be wholly excluded from the motives by which nations are to be influenced, no longer be expected. The interference, however, of Russia, under such circumstances of religious and political excitement, could not be looked on with indifference by the other powers of Europe, and least of all by Great Britain, who, as protector of the lonian Islands had a political existence in the scene of war; and, as the first naval and commercial power of Europe, had the most direct interest in the maritime tranquillity of the Mediterranean. To demand, on the letter of treaties, the continued forbearance of Russia, would almost have been an insult to the sovereign and his people; and the only alternative was, by admitting the necessity of interference between the Sultan and his revolted provinces, and by substituting negotiation for force, at once to satisfy Russia and to save the Turkish Empire. The modified independence of the Morea and the Islands was obviously the only measure by which these objects could be attained. To conduct such a negotiation to a favourable result required diplomatic ability and personal influence. These qualities were found united in the Duke of Wellington, and the protocol of the 4th of April 1826 was signed at St. Petersburgh. The substance of that important document was as follows:- That the mediation of England, which had been solicited by the Greeks, and offered to the Ottoman Porte, should proceed upon the basis, that the Greeks should hold feudally under the Ottoman Porte, and that the tribute to be paid by them should be fixed, once and for ever, by common accord. That the co-existence of the Turks and the Greeks in the Morea and the Islands being subject to inconvenience, a valuation should be made of the Turkish property therein, and the same paid by the Greeks to the Turkish proprietors. That the public authorities should be named by the Greeks, reserving, however, to the Porte a share in the nomination ; and that the Greeks should enjoy freedom of religion and commerce, and a separate and independent Administration. A provision was made for the period at which Russia should actually take part in the Mediation. In the event of the Mediation being refused by the Porte, it was agreed that whatever might be the relations of his Imperial Majesty with the Turkish Government, Russia and Great Britain would still consider the terms of the above arrangement as the basis of the pacification to be effected by them, jointly or separately, and that no opportunity should be lost of employing their influence for that purpose. The protocol farther contained a disclaimer of all views of territorial aggrandisement, or of exclusive commercial advantages for the subjects of the contracting parties. His Britannic Majesty was farther at liberty to communicate this
arrangement to the Cabinets of Vienna, Berlin, and Paris, for the purpose of obtaining their participation in the same, and joint guarantee with Russia in the proposed reconciliation between Turkey and Greece, -his Britannic Majesty himself not being able to participate in the
guarantee. Such were the principles adopted in the Protocol of the 4th of April 1826 ; and the object immediately obtained was the prevention of war between Russia and Turkey. It will be observed, that while the basis of reconciliation between the Ottoman Porte and the Greek insurgents was very clearly defined, no mode of joint accomplishment beyond that of negotiation was contracted for. We have used the expression “joint accomplishment,” because it would appear that a change in the relations of Russia to the Ottoman Porte was contemplated as a consequence of a refusal by the latter power of the proffered Mediation. The pacific character of the Protocol produced a remark from an eminent continental statesman, that it was “a still-born child.” We must, however, consider the remark inapplicable, inasmuch as the Protocol committed Russia to a definite proceeding for the pacification of Greece, obtained a solemn disavowal of any prospective territorial aggrandisement, and sanctioned the direct interference and control of Great Britain in the final reconciliation of the belligerent parties. Ready or voluntary assent, on the part of the Grand Seignior, to the propositions contained in the Protocol, offensive as they were to his pride as a sovereign, and to his religious principles as the head of the Mahomedan faith, must have been considered by the contracting parties themselves extremely doubtful; and as the Protocol could not be held to take away right of interposition in favour of the Greeks, previously possessed by Russia, the contingency of armed interference by the latter power was proportionately probable.
We have now to consider the diplomatic acts of the following year. The question then arose to the Ministers of this country, whether the principal opinion in accomplishing the reconciliation should be extended to the case of armed interference, or whether Russia should be left to effect the establishment of Greek independence, and the security of the Greek religion, by directing the force of the Government and the enthusiasm of the nation against the weak but sanguinary oppressors of their common faith. Had the latter alternative been adopted, the Protocol might indeed have been called " a still-born child." When the Crescent lay prostrate at the feet of the Greek Cross, and when Russia could have said “ Alone I did it," what but the armed and confederate nations of Europe could then have pressed the basis of the Protocol, on a youthful and Christian Emperor, flushed with military and religious triumph. In our opinion, the principle of joint interference was wiscly extended by the Treaty of London, of July 1827, and the participation of France in that Treaty, while it rendered the accomplishment of reconciliation between the belligerents less burthensome to the contracting parties, and by giving the proposal a more general and European character, made it less offensive to the Sultan, unquestionably still farther committed Russia to forbearance from designs of separate aggrandisement, or of infliction upon Turkey, beyond the recognised necessity of the case.
We have thus shortly examined the general reasons by which the conduct of Ministers, in contracting the engagements of the Treaty of London, may be justified. There are, however, other important circumstances, special to the commercial and political interests of the British Empire, that rendered the reconciliation between the Turks a case of immediate and indispensable urgency. The protectorate of the