21 JUNE 1913, Page 13


[To THE EDITOR OF TEl "SPECTATOR."] SIE,—Will you allow me space for a few words of comment on the editorial note appended to the letter of " V." in your issue of last Saturday P The "abstract rights" which it is proposed that the Turks should give up—to Greece, if the Cypriotes should so decide to arrange the matter—assume when investi- gated the somewhat concrete form of (1) an annual tribute of more than £90,000 guaranteed by British (not Greek) credit; (2) the power of appointing judges, with equal authority to that of the Cypriote judges, in all the district courts, and of appointing numerous local judges and officials all over the island ; (3) the right of applying to all real property in Cyprus the Turkish laws relating to inheritance, wills, &c.; (4) various extensive powers and privileges connected with religion and civil status, &c. ; (5) other minor rights too numerous to specify. In order that Greece should be able —even if the Cypriotes, in the exercise of an arbitrary discretion, should desire it—to take over the island, she would have to pay (1) the capitalized value of the tribute, say from £300,000 to £400,000, or, which comes to much the same thing, to find solid guarantees for the punctual payment in perpetuum of the tribute. (2) Fair compensa- tion for the other rights to be extinguished or taken over. So much for the Turkish claim. But what about the large sums which England has for thirty-five years past been paying for permanent improvements, which are not only un- exhausted, but are only now beginning to bring in a profitable return P Would England, simply because a haphazard majority of the islanders, including many of the most ignorant of the European races, expressed a desire to exchange British for Greek rule, consent to wipe off as a pure loss all these sums and all the long labour which it has coat her to rehabili- tate the island and its financial and social condition? Only the Turks and Arabs and some of the more intelligent and better-educated of the Greek-speaking population appre- ciate the benefits which have accrued to them from the British administration. The common people dislike the English, just as they always have disliked, and always will dislike, any Power which keeps them in order and collects taxes from them. They would undoubtedly, if the chance was given, turn any popular election in favour of a proposal to get rid of their present rulers and flee to evils which they know not of. And in a few years' time at the most they would be hating their new rulers—whether Greeks or others—ten times more than they now do us. As for the suggestion that Greece, if she became the owner of Cyprus, might continue the work of development which we have laboriously but successfully com- menced, is it in the least probable that this Power, even if she had the necessary funds to spare, would spend them in advancing the prosperity of this comparatively distant island when there will be, under the new arrangements, so many others much nearer home where money might with more immediate profit be employed P The Cypriote peasants and pseudo-patriots are not the only people who fail to know when they are well off ; and the Greeks, if they really have a desire to annex Cyprus, are not alone in coveting what would be to them a daninosa haereditas.—I am, Sir, &c., E. B. M.