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Source: DK/RA-UM/Gruppeordnede sager 1909-1945. 139. D. 1, ”Tyrkiet - Indre Forhold”. Pakke 1, til 31 Dec. 1916
Edition: Danish diplomatic sources
Departure of telegram: 12/08/1916
Arrival of telegram: 12/23/1916
Embassy/consular serial number: Nr. 169
Translated by: Matthias Bjørnlund
Last updated: 04/01/2012

The minister in Constantinople (Carl Ellis Wandel) to the Foreign Minister (Erik Scavenius)


Nr. 169
Constantinople, 8 December 1916.


Mister Foreign Minister,

The Ottoman Parliament has now been in session for 4 weeks without the diplomats having been able to receive any information about what is going on.

Although we have paid for the minutes we do not receive them, and every time I send for them I get an evasive answer.

At first they said that they would be sent soon, then that the government withheld them, and when I objected that the meetings were not secret, I was told that it was actually due to paper shortage that they had not been sent.

And as I fare, so do my colleagues who do not ascribe any significance to the Parliament.

For instance, even though he was not prevented from coming, the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, the Austrian Ambassador [Johann Pallavicini], was not even present at the opening session, and I have received second-hand information according to which he has stated that an Ambassador ought not by his presence approve of such a humbug that the Turkish Parliament has become.

The papers' renderings of the speeches of the Minister of War and the Foreign Minister, which I usually forward, do thus not originate from the minutes; they are official translations into French, which the government sends to the editorial staffs of the papers which are not told if they have caused any debate.

But according to what I hear no dissent can be expressed in the Chamber of Deputies, and it is only in the Senate that there are some members who are not afraid to speak their mind.

Both Senator Ahmed Riza Bey ("the only true Young Turk"), whom I have mentioned in my earlier reports, as well as former War- and Marine Minister, Mahmoud Bey [Mahmud Chevket bey], who calls himself Prince of Tchuruksou, have during the last couple of days rather vigorously raised objections in the Senate to Turkey's termination of the Paris- and Berlin Treaties [from 1856 and 1878, respectively], as well as to the way the appropriations for the Ministry of War are being used.

It is said that yesterday the debate even degenerated into a nasty scandal that ended with the Minister of War [Enver Pasha] declaring that he would not deign to answer these insinuations, and it is now being rumored by government circles that it is purely personal incentives that motivate both of the abovementioned speakers.

Ahmed Riza Bey wants to be Chairman [i.e. President] of the Senate instead of the senile Rifaat [Rifat] Bey, it is said, and Mahmoud Pacha wants revenge because Enver Pacha has brought about his dismissal from his position in the army.

The statements made by the Russian Prime Minister [i.e. Boris Stürmer or Alexander Trepov] in the Duma about the Entente Powers' 1915 agreement concerning Constantinople and the Straits have immediately been used by the government here.

The Foreign Minister [Halil Bey] says that it must now be clear to everyone that Turkey had to join the Central Powers, and when one raises the objection that this arrangement might not have been made if Turkey had stayed neutral, he answers in confidential conversations that he knows for certain that England already gave up its traditional policies in Turkey after the Balkan War, when it thought it had proof that it [i.e. Turkey] had become so weak that it was no longer possible to maintain its integrity, and that England therefore would benefit by giving it up and selling Constantinople as dearly as possible to Russia.

If Turkey had stayed neutral, England migh perhaps had given the impression of protecting it during the war, the Minister says, but when peace was concluded they would have thrown off the mask.

With the highest esteem I remain, Mr. Minister, yours faithfully


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