Turkey In Europe – Government And Administration

THE Turkish empire occupies a vast area, the greater portion of which is governed by vassals, almost independent of the Sultan at Stambul. The vast territories of Egypt and Tunis are in that position. The interior of Arabia is in possession of the Wahabites ; the coast of Hadramaut is inhabited partly by tribes acknowledging the suzerainty of England ; and even between Syria and the Euphrates there are numerous districts only nominally under the government of Turkish pashas, but in reality in the possession of predatory Bedwins. The Ottoman empire, properly so called, includes the European provinces, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, the basins of Tigris and Euphrates, Hejaz and Yemen in Arabia, and Tripoli, with Fezzan, in Africa. These territories, ith their dependent islands, cover an area. of no less than 210,16 square miles ; but their population, being far less dense than that of Western Europe, hardly numbers 47,000,000 souls.

The area of Turkey in Europe, exclusive of Romania, Servia, and Montenegro, is about equal to that of the British Islands. Constantinople, with the surrounding country, forms a district under the immediate supervision of the Ministry of Police. The remainder of the country is divided into eight rilayets, or provinces ; the vilayets are subdivided into mutesarifliks, or sanjaks; these latter into kazas, or cantons; and the kazas into rahiés, or parishes. Lemnos, Imbros, Samothrace, and Astypalaea, with Rhodes and the islands along the coast of Anatolia, form a separate vilayet. These political divisions, however, are subject to frequent changes.

The Sultan, or Padishah, concentrates all powers within his person. He is Emir el momenin, or head of the faithful, and his conduct is guided solely by the prescriptions of the Koran and the traditions of his ancestors. The two most influential persons in the empire, next to him, are the Sheik-el-Islam, or Great Mufti, who superintends public worship and the administration of justice, and the .Sadrazam, or Grand Vizier, who is at the head of the general administration, and is assisted by a council of ten ministers, or mushirs. The Kislar Agasi, or chief of the black eunuchs, to whom is confided the management of the imperial harem, is likewise one of the great dignitaries of the empire, and frequently enjoys the very highest influence. The legal advisers of the various ministries are known as mufti. Efendi, bey, and aga are honorary titles bestowed upon certain Government officials and persons of consideration. The title of pasha, which signifies ” grand chief,” is given to certain high civil or military functionaries. This title is symbolized by one, two, or three horse-tails attached to the top of a lance, a usage recalling the time when the nomad Turks roamed over the steppes of Central Asia.

The work of the various ministries is done by councils, and there thus exist a council of state, or slaurae derlet, councils of accounts, of war, of the navy, of public education, of police, &c. These various councils, in their totality, constitute the diran, or government chancery. There is also a supreme court of justice, with sections for civil and criminal eases. The members of these various official bodies are appointed by Government. Each of the subject “nations” is represented on the Council of State by two members, carefully selected by the Sadrazam.

The vilayet is governed by a vali, the sanjak by a mutesarif, the kaza by a kaimakan, the parish by a mudir. Each of these is supposed to act by advice of a council composed of the leading religious and civilian functionaries, Mohammedan and non-Mohammedan. In reality, however, the vali appoints all these councils, and they are popularly known as the “Councils of the Ayes.”

The rules laid down by the supreme Government for its own guidance are embodied in the hatti-sherif of Gulhane, promulgated in 1×39, and in the hatti-humayum of 1856. These hafts promise equal rights to all the inhabitants of the empire, but have been carried out hitherto only very partially. A “constitution” was promulgated in December, 1876, on the assembling of the European Conference at Constantinople. It provides representative institutions, local self-goverrmnent, and various improvements, but is likely to remain a (lead letter.

The religious and judicial organization of the country is jealously watched over by the Sheik-el-Islam and the priests, and cannot possibly be changed. The imans are specially charged with the conduct of public worship. They include sheiks, or preachers; khatibs, who recite the official prayers; and the imans properly so called, who celebrate marriages and conduct interments. Judges and imans form a body known as ulemas, at whose head is placed a kazi-asker, or chief judge, and who are divided hierarchically into mollahs, kazis (kadis), and naibs

The Greek Patriarch of Constantinople, as head of the Church in Turkey and civil director of the seek communities, wields a considerable influence. Ile is elected by a synod of eighteen member, which administers the religious budget, and whose decisions in matters of faith are final. The heads of the Latin rite are a patriarch at Constantinople and the two Archbishops of Antivari and Durazzo. The two Armenian Churches have each a patriarch at Constantinople.


It will be noticed that the preceding description of Turkey in Europe, and the succeeding accounts of Romania, Servia, and Montenegro, present the conditions existing immediately prior to the late. war with Russia, in which the Turks were completely overpowered in a fen months. The Congress of European powers sitting at Berlin in the summer of 1878, to consider the preliminary treaty of San Stefano (March 2) between Russia and Turkey, materially modified its provisions in the joint treaty signed .July 13, disposing of European Turkey in the following manner : 1. The tributary principality of Bulgaria is created (with leas than half the dimensions assigned to it by the treaty of San Stefano), to be governed by a prince (who shall not be a member of any ruling dynasty) chosen by the people within nine months, and confirmed by the Porte and the other powers, and in the mean time by Russian commissioners assisted by delegated European consuls. 2. South of the Balkans is formed the autonomous province of Eastern Roumelia, under a Christian governor-general, appointed for five years by the Porte with the assent of the powers. which are to determine within three months the administrative requirements of the province. 3. Bosnia and Herzcgovina to be occupied and administered by Austria-Hungary, excepting Novi-Lazar and a small surrounding district. This provision, unlimited as to time, practically annexes those provinces to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and has already (October, 1915) been executed, after serious armed resistance by their Moslem inhabitants. 4. Romania, Servia, and Montenegro are made independent, with the enlarged boundaries shown by the annexed map. Romania receives the Dobru ja from Russia, to which it was ceded by the treaty of San Stefano, with the understanding that it was to be ex-changed for the strip of Bessarabia transferred from Russia to Romania 1)y the treaty of Paris of 1856 which has accordingly been restored. The additions to Montenegro include the port of Antivari, which is closed to war-ships of all nations ; and Montenegro is to have no national flag nor ships of war, its merchant flag to be protected by Austrian consuls. 5. Austrian Dalmatia receives from Albania the small port of Spitza. 6. The services of the powers are offered for the rectification of the northern frontier of Greece. 7. Entire religious liberty and political equality are provided for in all the territories affected by the treaty.