HL Deb 10 February 1854 vol 130 cc389-90

having presented (by Command) Correspondence respecting the Rights and Privileges of the Latin and Greek Churches in Turkey, Part III.—


My Lords, I will now proceed to put the question to toy noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, of which I gave notice yesterday. It is so much a matter of notoriety, that I need not remind your Lordships, that a Russian Minister has lately proceeded from St. Petersburg to Vienna, for the purpose, as it is supposed, of making some proposition either to the Court of Vienna, or through the Court of Vienna to the Ottoman Porte. The questions I am desirous, therefore, to put to my noble Friend are these: In the first place, whether Her Majesty's Government is cognisant of any proposition that may have been made there to any person, or that has been made there, either to the Court of Vienna or to the Ottoman Porte, through the intervention of the Court of Vienna; and whether, in the event of any copy of these propositions being in the possession of Her Majesty's Government, my noble Friend will have any objection to lay before Parliament that document, either in extenso, or the substance of it? I believe I have stated clearly the information I desire to obtain from my noble Friend.


My Lords, it is notorious, as my noble Friend has said, that Count Orloff has been sent on a special mission from St. Petersburg to Vienna. I believe that he was not the bearer of that counter-project or answer to the terms of the Turkish Government to which I alluded the other night. Those terms, or counter-terms, were sent by the Austrian Chargé d' Affaires from St. Petersburg to his Government, in reply to the communication he had been instructed to make to the Russian Government. I may as well mention in substance what the terms proposed by the Russian Government were. The first was, that it was indispensable that a Turkish negotiator or plenipotentiary should proceed either to St. Petersburg or to the head-quarters of the Russian army, in order to negotiate peace; secondly, that if he came to St. Petersburg, the representatives of the Four Courts might have instructions to advise and concert with the Turkish plenipotentiary, but that the form of a conference was to be avoided; thirdly, that there was to be some separate or independent act or protocol, defining clearly the former and recent firmans of the Sultan, confirming or bestowing privileges or immunities on the Greek Church in the East: there was also an article to the effect that the Principalities should be evacuated as soon as practicable; and, fourthly, that an arrangement should be come to with respect to affording an asylum to what are called "agitators and revolutionaries" from different parts of the world. A Conference was summoned by Count Buol at Vienna, to which this counter-project was submitted. It was compared with the terms forwarded by the Porte to Vienna, approved of by the Conference at Vienna, and transmitted to St. Petersburg—and it was found to be totally at variance with those terms. The Conference, therefore, determined, and recorded that determination in a Protocol, that it was inacceptable by the Sultan, and should not be transmitted to Constantinople. That is the answer to my noble Friend's question with respect to the counter-project, or terms proposed by Russia. With respect to the objects of Count Orloff's mission, I beg to state that I have no official papers on the subject, and that I am not able to make ally statement to your Lordships; but I believe I may say this much—that that mission had, as far as I am informed, only reference to the relations and proposed relations between Russia and Austria; and I believe that the answer given to his proposals was such as was fitting to be given by an independent country.

[Subject resumed on Question respecting PARLIAMENTARY REFORM.]