HL Deb 30 August 1880 vol 256 cc604-5

asked, Whether the Government had any further communication to make to the House in reference to the progress of the settlement of the Eastern Question?


My Lords, three weeks ago I stated to your Lordships what, up to that time, had been the action of the Powers of Europe, in order to bring about an early settlement of the International Frontier questions, and by practical reforms in European and Asiatic Turkey to prevent a catastrophe full of danger, not only to Turkey, but to Europe. In answer to the Question of the noble Lord, I will state, very briefly, what has occurred since that time. With regard to the Montenegrin Frontier, in answer to the Collective Note, in which the Powers stated to the Porte that they insisted upon either the carrying out of the Corti agreement—which had failed three months ago, in consequence of the neglect of the Turkish Government to carry out the conditions of transfer—or on the cession of the Dulcigno district, the Porte gave two answers—one verbal, the other in writing. These answers were not in the same words, and it is not yet clear whether they are to the same effect or not. The Powers have under their consideration the rejoinder which they will make, and have, in the meantime, ordered a certain number of their vessels to go to Ragusa, which port has been thrown open to them by the Austrian Government, as being within easy distance of the coast which is to be ceded to Montenegro. Instructions have been prepared for the Admiral in command of our contingent, and communicated to the other Powers. Correspondence upon the Montenegrin Frontier question will be presented before the close of the Session; but the instructions to the Admiral cannot, for obvious reasons, be published at present. Three weeks ago I stated that the Powers were likely to agree in the reply to be returned to the Turkish answer to the Collective Note respecting the Greek Frontier. That reply has since been agreed upon and presented to the Porte. It is to the effect that the Powers cannot re-open negotiations at Constantinople as to the Frontier line; but it expresses the readiness of the Powers to entertain any proposals which the Porte may think fit to make as to the manner in which the evacuation of the territory by the Turkish authorities, and its surrender to Greece, could best be conducted. I have laid a copy of the Note on the Table of the House. On the last occasion I stated it was likely that the Ambassadors of the Powers would agree to a Note to the Porte on the subject of reforms in Armenia. That agreement has taken place. I expect the Note will be presented to the Porte immediately, and it will then be laid before Parliament. The labours of the International Commission, sitting at Constantinople, have come to a satisfactory end. The Powers have been unanimous in their recommendations of a project of law for adoption in European Turkey. Papers have been presented this evening, both as to what passed in the Commission and as to the project of law itself.