HC Deb 26 March 1889 vol 334 cc849-51
MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the attention of Her Majesty's Government had been called to the accounts constantly appearing in the European newspapers of the oppressions perpetrated on the Armenian Christians in Asiatic Turkey by Turkish officials, and in particular to the reports from various parts of Armenia, published in the journal Haiasdan of 1st and 15th February, 1889; whether Her Majesty's Government is taking or will take measures to inform themselves as to the condition of Asiatic Turkey and the sufferings endured by the Christian population there; when papers containing the reports received from the Consuls in Asiatic Turkey during the last seven years (in continuation of the Blue Book of 1882) will be laid before Parliament; and whether Her Majesty's Government, having regard to the duty undertaken by them in the so-called Anglo-Turkish Convention, and in the sixty-first article of the Treaty of Berlin, to secure the fulfilment of the promises then made by the Turkish Government to carry out administrative reform in Armenia and Asia Minor, and protect the Armenian Christians from the Kurds and Circassians, will, if convinced that these promises remain wholly unfulfilled, remonstrate with the Turkish Government and endeavour to secure their fulfilment?


In reply to the hon. Member, I beg to say that the Foreign Office are not in possession of the particular number of the Haiaisdan mentioned. Sir W. White constantly makes use of such means of information as are in his power to obtain authentic information of the condition of the Christian population in Asiatic Turkey, and the general result is to show that the reports which appear in the newspapers, though, unhappily, not always unfounded, are, at all events, greatly exaggerated in many instances. As the hon. Gentleman will remember, it was decided when the late Government was in office that the publication of these papers was undesirable in the interests of the Armenians themselves; and Her Majesty's Government have found, by experience, that their representations in favour of administrative reform, if they produce any effect, it is of a contrary nature to that which they desire. They, therefore, consider that it is undesirable to address any formal and general representation on the subject to the Porte without the concurrence of the other Powers parties to the Treaty of Berlin, but Her Majesty's Ambassador will continue, as heretofore, to represent to the Sultan and to His Majesty's Ministers unofficially any individual cases of hardship and oppression of which he may receive well-established evidence.


I should like to remind the right hon. Gentleman that some years have elapsed since any Reports were received. In consequence of the extremely unsatisfactory nature of the reply and of previous replies which I have received, and the non-publication of any Report for seven years, I shall take the first opportunity of calling attention to the subject and to the tactics of Her Majesty's Government.