HC Deb 13 March 1871 vol 204 cc1870-1

I wish to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the Government, before coming to any decision in the Conference, will not take means to learn what were the contingencies which, in Baron Brunow's opinion, justified a violation of the Treaty of 1856, the more especially as subsequently, in reply to Lord Granville, the Russian Ambassador declared that these contingencies had never been realized? I wish also to ask whether the noble Lord can give us any information concerning proposals made at the Conference?


Sir, in reply to the Question of my hon. Friend, I have to state that Earl Granville has received permission from the Russian Ambassador to state that the contingencies to which his Excellency alluded had reference to the possible bearing of the late war between Austria and Italy on the independence and integrity of the Turkish Empire. With reference to the second Question of my hon. Friend, I will, with the permission of the House, make a short statement. I have to inform the House that a Treaty has been signed today at the Foreign Office, by which the clauses of the Treaty of 1856 respecting the neutralization of the Black Sea are abrogated, and the restrictions imposed by previously existing treaties upon the Porte in regard to the closing of the Straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, when the Porte is at peace, are so far modified as to admit of their being open to ships of war of friendly or allied Powers, in case the Porte should deem it necessary to do so in order to secure the execution of the stipulations of the Treaty of Paris of March 30th, 1856. The Treaty just signed also provides for the prolongation of the European Commission of the Danube for 12 years; and, further, for the continued neutrality of the works already created or to be created by the Commission, with a saving, however, of the rights of the Porte, as a territorial Power, to send ships of war into the Danube. At the first meeting of the Conference, on the 17th January, a special Protocol was signed, recording that it was an essential principle of the Law of Nations that no Power can liberate itself from the engagements of a treaty, nor modify the stipulations thereof, unless with the consent of the contracting Powers by means of an amicable arrangement. The French Plenipotentiary has this day signed the Protocol, together with the Treaty, and the Protocols of the Conference will be presented to Parliament with the least possible delay.