HC Deb 09 April 1897 vol 48 cc860-1
MR. T. C. HEDDERWICK (Wick Burghs)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Sultan of Turkey has taken any steps to effect the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from Crete, in obedience to the recent demand of the Great Powers; and, if so, whether he will state what steps the Sultan has taken to accomplish that object?


Though the Powers have made representations at Constantinople as to the withdrawal of the Turkish troops, no such demand as is spoken of in the Question has been made by them; nor can I say what steps the Sultan has so far taken in the matter.


I beg to ask the Attorney General (1) whether the allied Powers of Germany, Russia. Austria, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom have, in the event of the Grecian Government declining to withdraw their armed forces from Crete, arranged that the Piraeus, with other harbours of Greece, are to be blockaded; (2) if so, will the blockade be belligerent or pacific; and (3) can he inform the House what length of public notification, both under the rules of international law and also of international usage, will be necessary before neutral vessels (whether carrying contraband of war or other merchandise) can be debarred from entering and leaving Greek ports?


I am not able to answer the first paragraph of the Question. The intentions of the Powers cannot be announced until a definite decision has been taken, nor whether the blockade will be a pacific or a blockade jure gentium, which would imply the existence of a state of war between the Powers and Greece. If such a blockade should be decided on and if, as is probable, a pacific blockade, it will be applicable to Greek vessels only. In the event of a belligerent blockade, no doubt the usual practice will be followed of allowing the vessels of neutral Powers already in the blockaded ports to complete their cargoes within a reasonable time and sail at once. Neutral vessels arriving with cargoes for blockaded ports would be liable to be turned back from the date of the commencement of the blockade.