THE PEACE PROPOSALS.
IT is evident that there are good prospects of peace be- tween Italy and Turkey. They are so good indeed that we can already say that if they should not be realized the statesmen of one country or the other will have signally failed not only in consideration for their European neighbours, but in their duty to their own countrymen. Both countries need peace for financial reasons. And from the point of view of the rest of Europe it would be an enormous gain to have the quarrel between Italy and Turkey deleted from the present heavy list of international anxieties. It appears from a full account of the peace negotia- tions which were published in the Temps on Monday that they have been something more than informal. They have been, or at all events have become in their latest phase, semi-official. It is plain, therefore, that only perversity can prevent this steady progression from good to better from reaching a happy culmination. We sincerely hope that Turkey especially will be alive to the very strong reasons which make it imperative for her to conclude a peace at the earliest possible moment. All the Powers are watching events in Macedonia and Albania ; another episode like those at Kotchana and on the Montenegrin frontier might cause Count Berchtold's scheme of tentative or disguised intervention to take a definite and extremely disagreeable shape. Turkey would then find herself in the hands of the bailiffs, the very situation she wishes to avoid ; whereas if she concludes peace of her own accord she will have a very good chance of being allowed more time to improve the administration of her provinces, and will, moreover, be able to make her effort in less dis- tracting circumstances than now. Again, if she ends the war she will be able to raise a loan on much more favour- able terms than are possible at the moment. From every point of view, then, the opportunity of peace ought to be seized. Constitutional government in Turkey may re- habilitate itself. There is a chance now. It may possibly be the last chance. We do not forget that every Turkish Government lives by prestige alone, and that if the present Government were thought to be setting their hand to an anti-national act, a young and hot-headed Chauvinist Government might quickly take their place. Such a Govern- ment might let the heavens fall before they would yield to Italy. But that, of course, though an heroic policy, would not be for the good of the Turkish Empire. We trust that the elderly and experienced statesmen who are now in power will be able to guide the negotiations patiently so that they may secure terms that will provide them with a thoroughly dignified " way out " of the war.
And we are bound to say that what we know of the pro- posed terms so far does not make us apprehend any violent ebullition of injured pride among the Turkish people. Italy is ready, we are told, to dispense with the word "annexation." Turkey will accept the "accomplished fact " in Tripoli. There is no great material difference between the two things, but there is a verbal difference, and that is what counts in the delicate business of " saving face." Egypt apparently is to be the model of the new state of things, and a better example there could not be. As in Egypt, the Sultan of Turkey will have a representative, and the Sultan is still to be recognized as the Khalif of the Moslems. Italy is also to pay a subsidy for religious and philan- thropic purposes to the Arab sheikhs. We regard these stipulations as even more important from the point of view of Italy than from that of Turkey. If the Arabs feel that their spiritual association with the Khalif is maintained they will be much less likely than they otherwise would be to conduct a holy war against the invaders. They will merely regard Italy as a kind of commercial middle- man, and before long they will want to bring their produce to the ports and to put themselves in possession of the European merchandise in which their souls particularly delight. In order to keep in touch with the interior the Turks demand a port. This is one of the matters most in dispute. To give the Turks a port is one thing, but to give them Tobruk, which is the best port, is quite another. Finally there are the financial questions. Italy seems to be ready to make her- self responsible for the contribution of Tripoli to the Ottoman debt, but the statement that Italy would herself guarantee a loan to Turkey is at present no more than a rumour. We dare say that she will not be willing to guarantee a loan. That, however, need not be an obstacle. Turkey at peace will have a far higher credit than Turkey at war, and a loan would not be very difficult to raise. If Italy, in fact, will become responsible for her proper share of the Ottoman debt the other financial questions may be approached with a light heart.
In conclusion we should like to emphasize two points. The first refers to the Turkish islands which have been captured by Italy. It would be a very culpable oversight if the possibility of reprisals by the Turks were not abso- lutely prevented. We understand that Italy will give back the islands to Turkey on the condition that Turkey pledges the safety of the Christian inhabitants. These pledges ought to be most precisely worded. It is only too easy to imagine how the Turks might " get back " on those who, according to all accounts, joyfully threw off their allegiance when the Italian ships hove in sight. The Turks may be more answerable to Europe than formerly, but with the memory of Adana still fresh, and with the smaller and more recent massacres at Kotchana and elsewhere, who shall say that they. are answerable in any real sense ? The future of the Agean Islands is, therefore, a serious matter. We must not forget that they are absolutely defenceless. It is more or less possible now to consider their future ; it would be too late if they were forgotten, or inadequately provided for, in a treaty of peace, and the Powers suddenly awoke to the fact that several of them had become minor Macedonias. It was simply by way of reprisal that the Turks carried out the massacres which have made the history of Chios memorable. In the war of Greek inde- pendence some of the Chiotes joined the rebels, with the result that the Turkish fleet and a large number of troops visited the island and exacted a fearful penalty. It is said that 25,000 persons were killed and more than 40,000 sold into slavery. The second point we have in mind is this : Why should not an armistice between Turkey and Italy be arranged on the basis of peace-terms which are admittedly provisional ? We are persuaded that if an armistice were arranged we should hear no more of the war. It would pass gradually and almost insensibly into a state of peace. We remember that when Lord Rosebery made his famous speech at Chesterfield he treated of this very point—of the undesirability of letting everything wait on the signature of a formal treaty. He suggested that an amnesty should be granted immediately, and that money should be spent freely on settling the country and restocking the farms. The analogy between the present war and the Boer war is not exact, of course, but the spirit which Lord Rosebery postulated is the spirit in which the Italians will be wise to act.