PP/GC/CA/285 Copy of a letter from Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, to Sir S.Canning, advising against the Porte consenting to the protocol, proposed by the Russians, regarding the expulsion of Hungarian [and Polish] refugees from Turkey, 7 January 1850: contemporary copy
Copy, ?in the hand of a secretary, of a letter from Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, Broadlands, Hampshire, to Sir Stratford Canning, British ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Constantinople: signing a protocol with Russia is not a good idea, but it is unlikely that the Russians will insist on one, especially as they have not mentioned the idea before, either at London or at St Petersburg.<P> The agreement between the Russian and the Turkish governments consists of the fulfilment of the engagements of the treaty and of the concessions made by Turkey beyond that treaty. "The expulsion of the Poles is a fulfilment of treaty engagements; the removal and watching of the converts is not only beyond the treaty but in fact at variance with the treaty [of Kainarji]." There is no precedent for such situations to require a new protocol. "[A protocol] is therefore tantamount to a new treaty engagement going beyond those already existing ..... yet in the present case it would go to establish an entirely new principle at variance with the principle laid down in the treaty of Kainardge".<P> It seems that the Russians wish to strengthen their ties to Turkey through treaties and protocols so as to preclude other countries from having an interest in the region. The Turks could with justification say that the notes which have been exchanged between themselves and the Russians are enough to seal agreements and any more would be to indicate that the Russians do not trust them to keep their word, as laid down in the correspondence. The French and English have been involved in this refugee dispute and could be asked by Turkey to be party to any protocol on the subject. Such an idea will certainly stop the Russians' desire for a protocol, and, if agreed to, would delay the agreement considerably, as reference would have to be made to England and France. If the Turks asked for a protocol which included France and England, it would put Russia in a dilemma as they would have no good reason to exclude England and France, even if that is what they wished.<P> The Sultan should strongly resist the Austrian demands [on the refugee question]. "Schwarzenburg may threaten and talk big and bully, but he will do nothing more. The Sultan ought not to make the duration of a measure of internal police within his own dominions depend on the good will and pleasure of a foreign power, and the more should he decline to do so in the present instance, because he may be sure that the Austrian government would never admit that the time was come for letting Kossuth and the other leaders go, and the Sultan would thus be constituted permanent gaoler for the Emperor, a position degrading to the Sultan and calculated to make him odious in the eyes of Europe." The Sultan should not permit an Austrian commissary to reside in Turkey in order to superintend the Sultan's officers in carrying out their order: this would constitute too great a foreign interference. The Sultan should undertake to detain the Hungarians for a short time only, and then should send them away in safety, looking out for any plots to waylay and murder them. The Hungarians should be on their guard. Palmerston could not give advice to Kossuth on whether to stay on in Turkey or to escape. "Some of the friends of Hungary in this country have stated to me some time ago as one ground of objection to the detention of the Hungarians in Turkey, that it would give the Austrian government an opportunity by bribery or stratagem to bring about the death of those among the Hungarians whom they fear the most and this seems to me a very serious consideration which the Turkish government ought well to weigh. For many people think the Austrian government capable of hiring assassination, and many people believe that Turkish pashas or other officers are capable of being bribed to do or let do such things, and if any of these men [Hungarian refugees] were to fall ill or die while in detention, very unpleasant imputations would be cast both on the Austrian and on the Turkish governments." It would not be difficult for the Austrians to send people over the border to murder leaders like Kossuth, and blame Turkey afterwards for lack of care for their charges; "the world, in general, would say that such a thing would not have happened if the Sultan had not made himself the gaoler for the Emperor".<P> 7 Jan 1850: contemporary copy
Three papers
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Sir Stratford Canning, later first Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, British ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Constantinople
Ottoman empire, Sublime Porte
Hungary, Magyars, invasion by Russia; refugees, exiles
Poles, Poland; Polish uprising of 1830, Hungarian uprising of 1848
Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji of 1774
Felix, Prince Schwarzenberg, President of the Austrian Council of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs
Louis Kossuth, alias Lajos Kossuth, Hungarian nationalist leader
Abdul Mejid, alias Abd al-Majid, Ottoman Sultan
Francis I, Emperor of Austria
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