HL Deb 08 August 1879 vol 249 cc494-6

My Lords, the Question which I have to put compels me, for a moment, to advert to such official declarations as have taken place, one in the House, one out of it, upon the subject. About a week ago, the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs informed your Lordships that East Roumelia was no longer occupied by any Russian Army. Considering how long ago it should have been released, the statement was not at all astonishing. As to the remainder of the occupation, whether it had ceased, or when it was about to do so, no light was furnished at the moment. But that was not the last expression of the Government. On Wednesday, according to the public journals, the noble Earl the Prime Minister assured the Lord Mayor that no Russian soldier continued in the Dominion of the Sultan. But as a large mass of persons would hardly know whether or not Bulgaria can be included in the Dominion of the Sultan, a further and a less ambiguous statement is required to make it clear that the new Vassal Principality has passed beyond its former military tutelage. The Prime Minister may have only corroborated what fell from the Secretary of State, or may have added to it. Either interpretation might suggest itself. But there is another point to be attended to. It was distinctly contemplated in the 22nd Article of the Treaty of Berlin that the Russian troops should spend three months in traversing Roumania. The permission may not have been utilized: a different route may have been chosen. It is, therefore, indispensable to ask, Whether any Force is now between the Danube and the Pruth? In short, until we know whether by the 3rd of August the Russians had quitted all the territory occupied under the Treaty of Berlin, and not only a part of it, it is not possible to form a judgment on the prospects of the Eastern Question, or on the attitude of Russia to other European Powers, or on the mode in which the foreign policy of the Government has been conducted. The Question, therefore, will be seen by the House, whatever answer it elicits, to be required by the circumstances in which we find ourselves at present.


In answer to the Question which the noble Lord has put on the Paper, I have to say that the information I gave to the House some days ago was that all the Russian Forces had quitted Eastern Roumelia somewhere about the 27th or 28th of July, and that they had quitted Roumania a considerable time before. To-day we have been informed that the last Russian detachment quitted Rustchuk on the 14th of August. I daresay that the jealous mind of the noble Lord will see in the six hours' delay some serious breach of the Treaty; but I can assure him that, as far as our information goes, the whole of the territory occupied under the Treaty of Berlin and to be evacuated by the Russians has been evacuated, and there are no Russian troops now south of the Pruth.