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[303 speech delivered in August at Varna by the commander of the Russian squadron, in which he declared that the Russian Black Sea Fleet would know how to fulfil the task that awaited it, and expressed the hope that he might one day see the Bulgarian fleet side by side with that of Russia. The visit of the Grand Duke Alexander Michailovitch to Bulgaria in July was regarded as a further sign of the intimate relations between the two countries.
In February a war of tariffs broke out between Russia and the United States. The Government at Washington increased the import duty on refined sugar coming from Russia, on the ground that the latter country allowed a bounty on its exportation in the shape of a reduction or return of excise duty, upon which Russia at once retaliated by raising the Customs duties on all the principal imports from the United States to the higher scale of the Russian differential tariff, which practically increased the duties by about 50 per cent. As the total importation of Russian sugar into America amounted only to 22,000 dollars, while that of American goods into Russia extends to several millions, the reprisal was strikingly disproportionate as compared with the increase of duty on the side of America. Russia, it may be noted, was one of the largest prospective markets for American iron and steel products, the trade already amounting to 10,000,000 dollars yearly. The United States next imposed a duty on Russian petroleum; but although this tariff war produced some irritation at the time the relations between the two Governments continued to be friendly.
In July a mission from the Dalai Lama of Thibet arrived at St. Petersburg, and was received with great ceremony by the Tsar and the Tsaritsa. It was headed by a former subject of Russia, a Buddhist from the Trans-Baikal province.
II. TURKEY AND THE MINOR STATES OF EASTERN EUROPE.
The Turkish Government during 1901 was involved in considerable difficulties with those of the other European Powers, in consequence of its high-handed action in matters affecting their interests. The revival of the Pan-Islamic agitation which followed the Armenian massacres, and which received a fresh impetus from the defeat of the Greeks by the Turkish Army and the visit of the German Emperor to Constantinople, had impressed the Sultan with extravagant notions of his power. At home he entirely emancipated himself from the influence of the old official bureaucracy, and extirpated all elements capable of offering opposition to his designs. The Imperial will was no longer conveyed by Vizirial missives, but by informal decrees (“Iradés”) issued by his personal secretaries, acting directly under his orders, and often without any communication with the Grand Vizier.
The Sultan now attempted to extend these autocratic methods to his treatment of foreign affairs. In May he ordered the
letter-bags of the foreign post-offices to be seized on the plea that they contained seditious matter, but he was speedily compelled to give them up by the united protests of the Powers. He next imposed taxes on the French religious orders in contravention of the Capitulations, and issued an Iradé forbidding religious orders to settle on Ottoman territory unless they applied for authorisation. This step seems to have been taken in order to play off Russia against France, the former country patronising the Greek Orthodox clergy in their efforts to counteract the influence of the Roman Catholic missionaries, who in virtue of the Capitulations are under French protection. The Porte was at the same time involved in a dispute with France about the quays at Constantinople, which were constructed by a French company, and about a loan from local French bankers, repayment of which had long been overdue. The company to whom the quays belonged complained that it had sustained great loss in regard to the dues payable to it on account of wharfage, in consequence of the Government having forced merchants to land their goods elsewhere. The French Ambassador protested, but in vain, and on August 26 diplomatic relations between the two countries were broken off. The Porte then yielded on the question of the quays, but the debts to the French bankers remained unpaid.
The next step taken by France was to send a naval squadron to Mitylene and take possession of the Customs there (November 5). A note was at the same time addressed to Turkey, stating that, in consequence of the Porte's tardiness in settling the French demands already made, four others were added to them, and that a settlement of them all must precede the resumption of diplomatic relations. These new demands included the legal recognition by Turkey of all French scholastic, charitable, and religious institutions now existent or that may afterwards be introduced in the country; the restoration of all buildings belonging to such institutions which were damaged during the Armenian troubles of 1894 and 1896; immunity from Customs duties and other taxes for such institutions in accordance with the Capitulations; and recognition of the Chaldean Patriarch of the United Greek Church, which, though practising the Eastern religious rite, acknowledges the Pope as its head and is a powerful factor of proselytism among the members of the so-called Orthodox Church To all these demands the Sultan agreed on November 9; the debts to the French bankers were paid, and the French squadron then left Mitylene and diplomatic relations were resumed. A number of claims in connection with the ill-treatment of Austrian subjects and for sums due to the Oriental Railway Company, which had for some time been in abeyance, were settled at the same time in consequence of urgent representations made by the Austrian Ambassador at Constantinople.
The Sultan also came into collision with England in the
[305 Persian Gulf. In August an attempt was made to land Turkish troops at Koweit, but, in view of an appeal from its Sheikh to the Indian Government, was foiled by a British warship; and subsequent steps taken to assert the Sultan's suzerainty over the Sheikh of Koweit were also unsuccessful.
save his face" after repeated humiliations, the Sultan dismissed his Grand Vizier and appointed as his successor Said Pasha, who had shown much skill when before in office in baffling the efforts of the Powers to reform the Turkish Government.
In home affairs the attention of the Porte was chiefly occupied with Albania, Armenia, Crete, and Macedonia. In Central Albania a state of anarchy prevailed. The Turkish troops, who had received no pay for many months, plundered the villages and made off not only with all the food they could lay hands on, but also with money wherever it was obtainable. A Slavonic propaganda was at the same time set on foot under the auspices of the Russian Consul, who was all-powerful in the province, but detested by the Albanian people as the patron of the socalled Orthodox Church against the advance of Catholicism and Islamism. In Armenia more massacres were stated to have taken place in the Sassoon district, though the facts were carefully concealed by the Ottoman authorities. As regards Crete the Powers determined not to disturb the status quo (see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1900, p. 333), though they were very desirous to retain Prince George as High Comniissioner after the expiration of his mandate at the end of the year, as his administration had been remarkably successful and he exercised great influence in the island. In June the Cretan Assembly passed a resolution in favour of union with Greece, in reply to which an identic declaration by the four protecting Powers was handed to Prince George, stating that they did not consider that there was any ground whatever for a change in this respect, that any infringement of the rights of the Sultan might seriously endanger the peace of the East by subjecting Greece once more to the hostility of Turkey, and that Crete was much better off as regards taxation and simplicity of administration than she would be if she became part of the Greek kingdom. The resolution above referred to was, indeed, proposed and carried by the Opposition in the Cretan Assembly, which formed nearly 90 per cent. of its members, and was mainly engineered from Athens. Prince George, on the other hand, consented to retain his post of High Commissioner for another three years.
During his tenure of this difficult office he had disarmed the dangerous elements in the population, introduced an excellent force of Italian gendarmerie under Italian officers, established a local administration, and set up law courts which gave universal satisfaction. Crime and disorder had consequently diminished, and the Mussulman population were gradually becoming reconciled to their Christian neighbours. He further assisted the Mahomedans to rebuild their ruined houses and
to restock their devastated farms, thereby checking their emigration to Asia Minor, where those who had gone thither on the faith of the promises of the Sultan had found that nothing was done for them. A further step in the direction of emancipating Crete from the control of the Porte was taken in August, when the Cretan Government signed a convention with the delegates of the Ottoman public debt by which the latter renounced all rights and privileges in the island in return for the payment of 1,500,000 francs and the concession of the salt monopoly for twenty years; and in November it was decided that the Cretan flag and Cretan passports should be recognised by the Porte, and that Cretans sentenced in Turkey for political or common law offences should be transferred to the island for further disposal.
In Macedonia, owing chiefly to the agitation of the Bulgarians of the revolutionary Macedonian Committee, there were constant disturbances which required troops for their suppression. Armed bands pervaded the country, rendering trade impossible, and the Christian population resolutely resisted the Turkish authorities at every opportunity, although the most prominent Christians in the province had been put in prison. In October Miss Stone, an American missionary, was captured by one of the Bulgarian bands and a large sum was demanded for her ransom.
She had not been released at the end of the year. Although the Macedonian Committee was officially repudiated in Bulgaria under the pressure of Russia and Austria, who, in pursuance of the agreement entered into in 1897 (see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1897, pp. 296, 297, 299, 314), insisted that there should be no disturbance of the status quo in the East, the committee was very active in the earlier part of the year, Under the regulations issued by the Committee all the armed bands in Macedonia consisted of native Bulgarians, provided with weapons by the Central Council and recruited within the district where they resided, and the committee of each district was instructed to spread revolutionary ideas among the people by means of incendiary harangues. All persons designated by the Committee as traitors to the cause were to be put to death, and the steps taken for this purpose were to be reported to the headquarters of the Committee at Sofia, but acts of personal vengeance were strictly prohibited. The movement had strong sympathies among the bulk of the population of Bulgaria, and it was therefore very difficult for the Government to act against it. The troops and the civil officials were, however, forbidden under severe penalties to take any part in the agitation of the Committee, and in April all its leading members, including its President, M. Sarafof, who, though acquitted of the murder of Professor Michaleano (see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1900, p. 333), was shown by strong evidence to have been one of its chief instigators, were arrested by order of the Government. M. Sarafof, in reply to questions addressed to him in the prison
(307 where he was confined, declared that the object of the Committee was not to acquire Macedonia for Bulgaria ; it would do all in its power to oppose any such incorporation, and if Macedonia was liberated from the Turkish yoke, it must be established as a separate State, independent of Bulgaria, Servia, or Greece.
The new Cabinet formed in Bulgaria at the end of the previous year (see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1900, p. 334) had but a brief existence. The result of the elections for the Sobranye showed a total collapse of the party of M. Radoslavoff, but the adherents of the policy of the late M. Stambouloff failed to obtain a working majority. The Ministry consequently resigned. In the speech from the throne delivered at the opening of the new Sobranye, Prince Ferdinand laid stress on the financial difficulties of the country and the necessity for reforms in the internal administration. The situation was indeed very critical; the want of funds had necessitated the wholesale dismissal of many officials, which excited profound discontent in a country accustomed to violent methods and demoralised by incessant revolutionary agitation, and party strife and the lack of political education among the masses hampered all attempts at reform. A new Cabinet under M. Karaveloff, who was Prime Minister at the time of the abduction of Prince Alexander and afterwards a member of the Regency, was formed on March 4, and its first task was to deal with the financial question, which had become urgent, as there were no funds to provide for the payment of the July coupon of the State debt. For this and other purposes negotiations were opened with the Banque de Paris et des Pays Bas for a loan of 100,000,000 francs, the Russian Government meanwhile advancing 4,000,000 francs for the July coupon. Russia was still regarded as the protector of Bulgaria, and out of the 136 deputies elected to the Sobranye 98 were described as Russophiles. To obtain the loan from the bank, however, was a very difficult matter, as repayment would have to be guaranteed by the concession to the bank of a monopoly in the preparation and sale of tobacco, and the Government was hardly strong enough to obtain the sanction of the Sobranye to this measure. After much discussion of the subject M. Karaveloff resigned, finding that the Sobranye was not disposed to accept the scheme. The Prince, however, requested him to remain in office, and the question was not settled at the end of the year. The Sobranye rejected the proposed loan by a majority of three, but the Government obtained from the agricultural banks a sum sufficient for the payment of the January coupon.
In Servia, too, financial difficulties were the chief feature of the political situation. In his address at the opening of the Skuptschina on January 12 the King, after referring to his marriage and thanking the Tsar for having consented to act as a witness on the occasion, sharply criticised the extravagance of the late Government, and expressed satisfaction at the departure