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Arthur in which foreign merchants were granted the same rights and privileges as Russian commercial firms. Manchuria had practically become a Russian province; all the important cities were garrisoned by Russian troops, and strong Cossack forts were established along the great wall on all strategic points. The whole country, in fact, was organised by Russia on military lines, and special attention was given to the making of good roads and bridges. On April 28, identical notes were exchanged between Russia and Great Britain with regard to their respective railway interests in China, mutually engaging “not to seek on their own account, or on behalf of their subjects or of others, any railway concessions, and not to obstruct directly or indirectly, applications for railways concessions” supported by either Power, the districts reserved for each Power being to the north of the great wall as regards Russia, and the basin of the Yang-tsze as regards Great Britain. It was at the same time agreed that the Niu Chwang Line, for which a loan had been contracted by the Chinese Government with the Shanghai and Hong-Kong Bank, might be constructed under the superintendence of an English engineer, but that the line should not be subject to foreign control or be mortgaged or alienated to a non-Chinese company, and that the region in which the line was to be constructed might be traversed by a Russian line starting from the main Manchurian line. Notwithstanding this agreement Russia demanded from China a concession for a Russian railway to Pekin as a continuation of the Russian railway system in Manchuria. The demand was refused, but it remained in abeyance to the end of the year. In Korea, although Russia had withdrawn her officials and bound herself by a convention with Japan (see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1898, p. 279) to abstain from interference with the internal affairs of Korea, she acquired the lease of some ice-free sea-ports in that country and took other steps to secure her influence there which roused the suspicions of Japan and produced a marked coolness in her relations with Russia.
With France Russia remained on the most friendly terms, though there still was no practical result of the alliance between the two countries. M. Delcassé's visit to St. Petersburg in August was returned by Count Muravieff in October, but no important resolution seems to have been arrived at during either of these visits. One object of Count Muravieff's visit to Paris and Madrid was stated to be the formation of a continental coalition against England in view of her difficulties in South Africa, and this plan was certainly suggested by several Russian papers which were conspicuous by the malevolence of their comments on the war. The Czar, however, showed no inclination to take up the cause of the Boers, and it would indeed have been a flagrant inconsistency to support the enemies of freedom in the Transvaal while suppressing the freedom of Finland, which a London paper with a curious topsy-turvydom described as “the Russian Transvaal.” In November the Czar and Czarina visited the German Imperial Court at Potsdam, and thereby manifested once more the rapprochement between the Emperor of Russia and Germany, the latter of whom was notoriously averse to taking advantage of England's reverses in South Africa.
In October Russia at length agreed that the long-standing dispute between her and the United States as to the seizure by Russian cruisers of three American sealers in the Behring Sea should be settled by arbitration. The aggregate value of the sealers seized was estimated at $150,000, but the claims were chiefly on account of the sufferings of the officers and crews while they were detained. The cases differed from the claims presented by the British sealers and settled by the Behring Sea arbitration in this respect, that, while the British vessels were seized by American cutters on what the arbitration court declared to be the high seas, the Russian warships seized the American sealers within seven miles of the Asiatic coast. Russia contended that the marine jurisdiction of a country extends to at least this distance. There was to be only one arbitrator, Dr. Asser, the Dutch jurist.
II. TURKEY AND THE SMALLER STATES OF EASTERN EUROPE.
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In the early part of the year the disturbed condition of Macedonia caused a good deal of anxiety at the Porte. Besides sending considerable bodies of troops to the province, a counter movement to the agitation among the Christians was got up among the Mahomedan population. A great meeting of Albanian notables was held at Ipek in February for the purpose of taking steps to defend the State and the Mahomedan religion against the disaffected Christian tribes of Old Servia, Montenegro, and Macedonia, and it was decided at this meeting to form a new Albanian League, the members of which were to pledge themselves to defend every inch of the Sultan's territory and to oppose any change in the administration of Macedonia. The Macedonian committees in Bulgaria, on the other hand, demanded that Macedonia should be placed under a Bulgarian governor-general, assisted by a general assembly composed of representatives elected directly by the people, which was to decide on all questions connected with the internal administration of the province, and to fix the Budget and the taxation, subject to a payment of 25 per cent. of the revenues for the general needs of the empire, and addressed an appeal to the Powers for their support. The demand was laid before the Porte by the Bulgarian Government, but, as was to be expected, was quietly ignored at Constantinople.
In October steps were at length taken to redress the grievances of the Armenians. An imperial irade was issued sanctioning the following measures :
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1. The abolition of the special measures for preventing the free movement of Armenians in the provinces, except in the case of suspected persons.
2. The rebuilding or repairing, with Government assistance, of the churches, schools, and monasteries destroyed during the Armenian troubles.
3. The payment of the sums due to Armenian Government officials who were killed or expelled during the massacres.
4. The building of an orphanage at Yedikule, near Constantinople.
5. The pardoning of fifty-four Armenian prisoners and the commutation into imprisonment for life of the sentence of death passed upon twenty-four Armenians.
In November a great number of Mahomedans belonging to the “young Turkish party,” including several high Government officials and a general of division, were arrested at Constantinople and banished to Yemen, owing to the discovery at their residences of documents stated to be of a seditious character, and in the following month Mahmoud Pasha, the Sultan's brother-inlaw, escaped to Paris, in order, as he said, to agitate for liberal reforms in a place where he could not be arrested by order of the Sultan.
In Bulgaria the Stoiloff Ministry, which had held office since 1894, resigned in the beginning of the year, after a series of stormy scenes in the National Assembly, in the course of which one of the Ministers spat in the face of the President. The cause of these turmoils was the encouragement by Bulgaria of the revolutionary agitation in Macedonia, and a convention which had been entered into by the Bulgarian Government with the Oriental Railway Company for a lease by the Bulgarian State of the portion of that railway which was on Bulgarian territory. The convention would have given the Bulgarian Government full control over the railway, and the Porte, at the instigation it was said of Russia, refused to sanction it, although it had been ratified both by the Bulgarian National Assembly and by Prince Ferdinand, as it was feared that the loan which was to be raised for the purpose of this railway would be used to arm Bulgaria against Turkey. A new Cabinet was formed under M. Grekoff, formerly Foreign Minister in the Stambouloff Ministry, and its first act was to give the Porte assurances of its determination to cease giving support to the revolutionary agitation in Macedonia. Among the new ministers was the Liberal leader, Radoslavoff, who had been one of the most violent opponents of the convention, and three other Liberals.
This coalition Ministry did not, however, work well together, and its difficulties were considerably increased by the state of the finances, which, owing to a succession of bad harvests, had fallen so low that immediate steps were necessary to prevent a crisis. Various attempts were made to raise a loan, but in vain, and ultimately it was decided to pay part of the salaries of the public functionaries in Treasury bonds bearing 8 per cent. interest, and to revert to the old system of payment of tithes in kind. By this means a saving of 16,000,000 francs was effected. In October a number of supplementary elections took place which resulted in a complete victory for the partisans of M. Radoslavoff, who, although a member of the Cabinet, had become more and more pronounced in his antagonism to the Premier. The result was that the latter resigned, and Prince Ferdinand charged M. Ivantchoff, Minister of Public Instruction, and a prominent member of the Radoslavoff party, to form a new Ministry. The new Cabinet was entirely composed of followers of M. Radoslavoff, who was virtually the Premier, while retaining the much-coveted post of Minister of the Interior, with its extensive patronage and control of the elections. A noteworthy incident in Bulgarian history was the opening on November 20 of the railway between Radomiz, Sofia, Roman, Shumla, and Kasfidjan, on the Varna and Rustchuk Line. This railway traverses a fertile and thickly populated district, affording a much-needed outlet for Bulgarian agricultural produce. It connects the capital with the Danubian and Black Sea ports, and will ultimately be the direct route to Salonica and the Ægean.
In February a general election took place in Greece, the result of which was the complete defeat of the Deliyannis party, as a consequence of its mismanagement of the war, and a large majority for the Tricoupis party. In April the Ministry resigned and M. Theotokis, the leader of the Tricoupists, was appointed Premier. The new Cabinet proceeded at once to reorganise the naval and military services, and it obtained the sanction of Parliament for appointing foreign instructors for that purpose. In order to check as much as possible the abuses of the civil administration, a Supreme Council was also appointed to control the civil service generally, and all appointments, promotions and retirements. In Crete the National Assembly passed the draft constitution which had been framed by the commission appointed for that purpose, and Prince George's performance of his duties as High Commissioner seems to have given universal satisfaction. The following were the principal features of the new constitution : Crete is placed under an autonomous Government in conformity with the decision of the Four Powers. The defence of the country and the maintenance of public order are entrusted to the gendarmery and the Municipal Guard Service in the latter is compulsory. All religious beliefs are equally recognised and protected by law. The official language is Greek. Public appointments are open to all Cretans, in so far as their individual capacity and moral character are satisfactory. The executive power is vested in Prince George, assisted by responsible Councillors. The Chamber will consist of deputies elected by the inhabitants, in addition to ten selected by Prince George, and will be convoked every two years. During the first two years the Prince will have power to apply the laws necessary for the Judiciary, Military, Administrative, and Financial Services, and to conclude agreements relating to public works.
Servia was this year brought into the forefront of European politics by the attempt, on July 6, on the life of the ex-King Milan, and the state trial which followed it on September 8. The author of the attempt was an obscure individual named Knezevitch, but Milan, who since his return to Servia and his appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Servian Army has been the de facto ruler of the country, took the opportunity of organising an attack upon his old enemies the Radicals by arresting their leaders as the members of a conspiracy for overthrowing the dynasty. The trial took place before three judges nominated by the Government, and, though the evidence produced in support of the charge was of the most flimsy character, the Radical leaders were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, the death punishment being reserved for Knezevitch, who had been caught red-handed. These sentences produced intense indignation all over Europe, but only one of the Radical leaders, the ex-Premier, M. Pasitch, was pardoned, upon which he addressed an abject letter of thanks to the King.
MINOR STATES OF EUROPE.
The extraordinary activity of the Socialist party in Belgium was shown in the rapid development of co-operative societies, in the organisation of congresses and meetings and processions, which gave a sense of animation to the populous cities of the kingdom, and drew towards them disciplined bands of country workers. At the same time the Liberal and Radical doctrinaires, thoroughly disgusted with the policy of the Government, had temporarily laid aside their differences, and at the beginning of the year had formed a Liberal Union, of which MM. Féron, Solday, Finet, Buls and Goblet d’Alviella were the leaders. Negotiations were opened at the same time with the Socialists, in order to weld the entire Opposition into a single party ; so that the experience of the 1898 elections might be avoided. On that occasion the Clericals had succeeded in carrying 112 out of 152 seats, owing to the dissensions among the Liberals, although they could only show a majority of two or three thousand on a total poll of 1,800,000 electors. The King, in order to cut short these attempts at coalition, took upon himself to urge the Ministry to bring forward an Electoral Reform Bill, based upon the principles of one-man constituencies and a rearrangement of electoral districts. The President of the Council