Constantinople, 29 April 1918.
Mr. Foreign Minister,
On the 27th this month the Turkish Foreign Minister assured the Spanish minister [Julian del Arroyo], who had received an order from Madrid to speak in the Porte on behalf of the Christians, that the population in provinces that have been reconquered by the Turks will be treated with lenience without regards as to what [religion] they belong to.
After receiving a new order from his government, the minister a few days later once again insisted regarding the Armenians, and the Foreign Minister repeated his assurances, although he did remark that the Turkish government knew that the Armenians living in Europe seek to agitate world opinion against the Turks, whereby they are doing their countrymen in Turkey more harm than good.
It is natural, says the Foreign Minister, that the Turkish population is indignant because of the Armenians’ conduct, and he lengthily condemned the way that they, according to him, without regards to their Ottoman nationality had gone over to the Russians when they occupied the Turkish part of Armenia, and the cruelty with which they had treated the Turkish population while they were masters of the country.
The Foreign Minister told the minister that the papal delegate here, Monseigneur [Angelo Maria] Dolci, had also visited him the day before and for the same reason, and he repeatedly said that the Turkish government would treat all Christians well without regards to their nationality and religion, and that it intended to rebuild their destroyed houses.
The foreign governments will then get a chance, he added, to compare our behaviour with the behaviour of our enemies, and to decide who acts the most humane.
The Turkish government has, the Foreign Minister informed, sent journalists to the Caucasus so that they can see and witness in their papers what has happened in these areas, and the Minister of Justice, Halil Bey, has travelled to Batum to oversee the restoration of order and to make sure that the will of the population can be freely expressed at the forthcoming regular referendum.
I do not know yet the messages in the papers about the Turks’ conduct in the Caucasus and Armenia which I assume have given rise to the Spanish king’s and the Papacy’s demarches here, but the mutual hatred between the Armenians and the Turks is apparently so strong that they use every opportunity to take revenge on each other, and they will keep on doing so as long as the Germans do not seriously get between them and move them to show more humanity, something that for the time being unfortunately has bad prospects.
As far as I can see, the Germans have, as already reported, let the Young Turks have free hands regarding the Armenian question since the outbreak of the war, and the German ambassador, Count Bernstorff, is very careful when he speaks about this subject.
He says that the whole world blames his predecessor in the post, Baron von Wangenheim, for what has happened and believes that he has done nothing to stop the butchery, and he complains that it is now him who is being targeted, but he does not say what he has done or intends to do, and to my knowledge there is no proof, either, that Baron von Wangenheim has not kept silent when he could do humanity a good service by speaking out.
As for me, regarding the Armenian question I must refer to what is being officially told to my colleagues and me in the Porte, and to what I have already reported, but I will not fail to add that the general opinion here in Constantinople is that the Christian population in Turkey, and particularly the Armenians, are heading towards a sad future, and that better times will not arrive before the war ends and the Powers will be able to intervene in a more energetic way than they have hitherto done.
With the highest esteem I remain, Mr. Minister, yours faithfully