London Times, 9 November 1871, p. 4: RUSSIA IN THE EUXINE AND THE BALTIC. (From our Prussian correspondent.) Berlin, Nov. 4.
The interests of Russia and England in the Mediterranean are made the subject of a remarkable leader in the Moscow Gazette, purporting to be in reply to The Times: --
"A few days ago a curious letter from Athens was inserted in The Times. Its author, who seems to be well up in diplomatic affairs, has a good deal to say about the Suez Canal and the novel position in which England has been recently placed with regard to the Mediterranean. The tone of his correspondence, it must be admitted, is not unfriendly to Russia. He does not deny that Russia has important interests to protect in the East; and while declaring that the London and St. Petersburg Cabinets are alike concerned in the preservation of peace in those distant parts, at the same time avows that if a danger of a commotion exists at all, it does not emanate from the North-Eastern neighbour of Turkey. We cannot but direct the attention of our readers to this deliberate admission. The world has been so long accustomed to look upon the interests of Russia and England as diametrically opposite in the East that the action of Great Britain was supposed to be constantly aimed at thwarting our own. And now we are suddenly told that the views of the two Cabinets are in perfect harmony. Let us see what the Correspondent has to say in continuation of his unexpected disclosure. According to him the present year will form an epoch in the history of Oriental politics. In it both Russia and England have been freed from imminent danger. Russia's success consists in shutting the Dardanelles, which gives her unlimited sway in the Euxine; England, on the other hand, has had her Indian communications assured to her, as, after what has happened on the Continent, no one is likely to interfere with the Suez Canal. Under these circumstances, the Correspondent is not at all sorry at Russia's victory at the late Conference. He certainly observes that Russia did not choose the moment most agreeable to England for recovering her rights in the Black Sea; but he owns that it must have been very important for us to emancipate ourselves from the disadvantageous conditions imposed in 1856, and that we ought not to be censured too severely for vindicating our rights instead of approaching Europe as humble petitioners. It is now England's task, he continues, so to shape her policy, as likewise to recover prestige in the East. Without interfering with the Treaty of 1871 she ought to strengthen her political initiative and secure an absolute guarantee for the safety of her of her connexion with India and the liberty of carrying on commerce in the East. As will appear from the above, the Correspondent has no wish to conceal his thought. The parallel he so candidly draws is simply this -- Russia has been shut up in the Euxine, in return for which England wishes to secure freedom of action in Egypt. Reasoning on these premises the Correspondent arrives at the conclusion that England, by means of international treaty, should acquire the right of unimpeded navigation in the Suez Canal, both in peace and war, so as to free her important stake in that quarter from the control of either Sultan or Khedive. To this object all other considerations should bend. In comparison with this indispensible prerequisite, it would not, in the writer's opinion, matter very much if England's relations with Austria were loosened. After all, Austria's existence is now-a-days based upon the terms of 1866, and upon free navigation of the Danube. Even the independence of the Ottoman Empire, however momentous for the balance of power, is, we are told, a matter of secondary interest to England, as long as she can be sure of retaining direct communication with Asia. But who menaces England's highway to India? If we are to believe the Correspondent, the danger comes from the bellicose propensities of the Sultan and Khedive, who are bad enough to wish to make pacific England the instrument for the gratification of their wicked desires. Enterprising people at Constantinople advise the Sultan to occupy Egypt, cover his deficit out of the Khedive's revenue, and increase his army with thousands of the Khedive's recruits. By way of foiling these evil dangers, certain intriguers at Cairo are for making Egypt an independent State, and insist on spending money in the purchase of heavy ordnance, to be placed on the banks of the Suez Canal. All the remonstrances of the Porte are of no avail, as the Khedive thinks he is strong enough to realize his scheme, and even dreams of prescribing the conditions of a loan, or several loans, to England, the moment he is absolute master of his precious canal. Even the Porte, in his designs against Egypt, is said to be partly influenced by the hope that the direct and uncontested possession of the country will give her fresh facilities for financial operations. Are we, then, to believe that England has come to regard as her enemies those whom she has but recently defended against Russia? How long is it since England entertained us with the story of Turkey's progress in the path of culture and civilization? How long is it since the alleged prodigious revival of Turkey was represented as offering the strongest impediment to the ambitious designs of Muscovy? And now, all at once, we are startled by hearing that England herself is in danger of being injured by Turkish civilization, that England no longer begrudges us our influence in the East, but, on the contrary, will make common cause with us if we only oblige her by preventing the Sultan from going to war.