HC Deb 05 July 1881 vol 263 cc22-3

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether his attention has been directed to a conversation between Prince Alexander of Battenberg and a correspondent of the "Standard," in which the Prince is alleged to have said that "for the Great Powers, Bulgaria c'est mer" (meaning thereby apparently himself), and that when he asked the Emperors of Austria, Russia, and Germany, what he ought to do in consequence of having sworn to maintain a Constitution, which he terms a ' half Republican Constitution," they each replied, "do what you like, but do not leave Bulgaria;" and if the Government have received any confirmation of the alleged conversation; whether Her Majesty's Government, as one of the Great Powers, accepts the assertion of the Prince that Bulgaria is a mere diplomatic expression, meaning neither the country nor its inhabitants, but Prince Alexander of Battenberg; whether communication has been received from any foreign Government leading to the conclusion that, in the event of the Bulgarians declining to grant to Prince Alexander a dictatorship, or seeking to hinder him from exercising such a dictatorship, a foreign occupation of Bulgaria would ensue; whether any complaint has been received respecting the manner in which the elections to the Grand National Assembly have been conducted; and whether, considering the great losses that have accrued to investors by lending money to foreign countries on imperfect security, Her Majesty's Government will make public the fact that, by the Articles 123–125 of the Constitution of Bulgaria, the Prince can under no circumstances decree a loan of above 1,000,00 francs, nor authorise expenditures from the public Treasury, which taken together shall exceed the sum of 300,000 francs, and that consequently, if he acquires dictatorial power by unconstitutional means, no loan incurred by him for more than 1,000,000 francs would be valid as against Bulgaria?


Sir, we have not received any confirmation of the language alleged to have been used by Prince Alexander in the conversation referred to. The view of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the meaning of the term "Bulgaria" is that which may be drawn from a perusal of the Treaty of Berlin. We have not heard that any foreign occupation has been proposed or is probable. We have not, since the holding of the elections, received any complaint as to the manner in which they were conducted. The Constitution of Bulgaria has been laid before Parliament, and does not, therefore, seem to lack publicity.