London Protocol (1830)
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|Context||The first official, international diplomatic act recognizing Greece as a sovereign and independent state with all the rights - political, administrative, commercial - deriving from its independence, which would extend south of the border line defined by the rivers Acheloos and Sperchios.|
|Signed||February 3, 1830|
|Location||London, United Kingdom|
The 1830 Protocol of London was a treaty signed between the Kingdom of France, the Russian Empire, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on February 3, 1830. It was the first official, international diplomatic act recognizing Greece as a sovereign and independent state, with all the rights - political, administrative, and commercial - that derived from its independence, which would extend south of the border defined by the rivers Achelous and Sperchios. The first governor of the newly-formed state (1830-1831) was Ioannis Kapodistrias, who had already previously served as governor of Greece in 1828 following a resolution of the Third National Assembly at Troezen.
The London Protocol also determined that the Greek state would be a monarchy and its ruler would have the title "Ruler Sovereign of Greece". For the position of monarch, the contracting countries initially selected Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (later elected Leopold I, King of the Belgians) who, despite his initial acceptance, ultimately declined their proposal.
After the Leopold's decision to decline the offer of the Greek throne and the assassination of Kapodistrias, a new treaty, signed April 25 / May 7, 1832, named the 17-year-old Prince Otto of Bavaria as the King of Greece and designated the new state the Kingdom of Greece. The selection of Otto as king, which was influenced by the philhellenism of his father, King Ludwig I of Bavaria, was not fully agreed upon the three great powers, notably the United Kingdom.
Course to the Protocol of Independence
After 1823, due to UK Prime Minister George Canning, the Greek issue appeared in European diplomacy, as the main intention of the British Foreign Secretary was the international recognition of Greece, in order to stop Russia's route towards the Aegean Sea.
- January 1824: Russia proposed the Plan of the Three Departments: Three principalities would be created according to the model of the Danube Principalities: Eastern Greece, Epirus and Aetolia-Acarnania, Peloponnese and Crete. This plan did not satisfy the Greeks who were fighting for independence.
- June 1825: Act of Vassalage. Under the pressure of Ibrahim's victories in the Peloponnese, the Koundouriotis government asked the British government to choose a monarch for Greece, stating its preference for Leopold of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha. With this Act, they essentially asked for Greece to become an English protectorate, as a sign of confidence in England. George Canning, however, refused to accept the Act.
- April 1826: The Protocol of St. Petersburg was signed, which referred to an Anglo-Russian cooperation in resolving the Greek Issue by providing autonomy to the Greeks. In fact, this is the first text that recognizes the political existence of Greece.
The terms of the St. Petersburg Protocol were repeated in the Treaty of London (July 1827), which was also signed by France. A secret "supplementary" article also provided for military coercion on both sides, mainly Turkey, in order to accept the terms of the Treaty.
This article would lead to the Battle of Navarino (7/20 October, 1827). The defeat of the Turkish fleet by the fleets of the three Great Powers (England, France, Russia) caused excitement and gave hope to the Greeks, although the European powers only spoke for autonomy - not yet independence - of certain regions, so as to appease the area.
Change of English policy and delineation of the Greek borders
- September 11/23, 1828: Kapodistrias, as Governor of Greece, sent a confidential Memorandum to the three Powers, protesting against the very limited borders of the new state, which he foresaw would be proposed by their representatives. He currently avoided raising the issue of independence.
- November 1828: As the British Foreign Secretary, Aberdeen (who succeeded George Canning after his death) recommended the first London Protocol be signed on 4/16 November with unfavorable terms for Greece: only the Peloponnese and the Cyclades were granted to Greece, a fact that provoked the strongest reaction of Kapodistrias.
- March 1829: Disputes among the three Powers and the exploitation of their competition by Kapodistrias led to new negotiations at the London Conference and the signing of the second Protocol of London. With this Protocol of March 10/22 1829, it was determined to propose to the Ottomans the following:
- c. Hereditary ruler of Greece, a Christian one, foreign to the royal families of the three powers, who would be elected "by the consent of the three Courts and the Ottoman Porte".
Russian-Turkish War (1828-1829) and Treaty of Adrianople
a. the Treaty of 6 July 1827 and
b. the protocol of March 1829 that defined the border line Ambracian Gulf .
Another change of English politics and the proposal of Independence
Russia, mighty after its victory in the Russian-Turkish War against both the Sultan and the other Powers, seemed ready and able to resolve the Greek Issue on its own, imposing a solution that would provide it with the greatest benefits. This success of Russia in demanding the Sultan to grant autonomy to Greece but also to accept terms that were particularly favorable for Russia regarding trade in the Eastern Mediterranean alarmed England, which took initiatives on the Greek Issue. The purpose of the British policy was then to create an independent Greek state that would close the roads to Russia in the Aegean and at the same time reduce Russian influence in the newly formed Greek state. At the same time, however, they sought to limit the borders, especially in Western Greece, so that there would be a safe distance between the new state and the Ionian Islands, which were then under British occupation. Thus, a new round of negotiations began that would result, following an English proposal, in the Protocol of Independence (22 January / 3 February 1830), which would be accepted by the Sultan.
The plenipotentiaries of England, France and Russia (Aberdeen, Montmorency-Laval, Leuven) participated in the London negotiations and signed the Protocol of Independence, while representatives of the Greeks and Turks were absent.
All three countries aimed to increase their influence in the newly formed state while limiting the influence of their opponents.
As for Kapodistrias, it was agreed to exclude him from the negotiations due to the British suspicion of him (they considered that he was inciting a revolution in the Ionian Islands). Since the Powers did not even inform him about the course of the negotiations, he warned them that he would not accept unfavorable terms for Greece and insisted on his country's right to express itself at the Conference.
Signing of the protocol
In the 11 articles of the Protocol, an independent Greek state is solemnly recognized with a restriction of the borders on the line of Acheloos-Sperchios. Crete and Samos were not adjudged to Greece, but only Euboea, the Cyclades and the Sporades. It was only Evia, the Cyclades and the Sporades that were adjudged to Greece but not Crete and Samos. With a second protocol, on the same day, Leopold was elected as the "Ruler Sovereign of Greece” and a loan was granted for the maintenance of the army that he would bring with him. The Great Powers demanded that Greece respect the life and property of Muslims in Greek territory and withdraw Greek troops from the areas outside its borderline.
With the protocol of February 3, the war ended and the Greek state was recognized in the international community. The recognition of the independence of Greece by the three Powers and Turkey is a critical turning point in Modern Greek history.
However, these decisions would not be final in terms of borders and the person and title of sovereign. The final settlement of the Greek Issue would occur later with the international acts of 1832.
Kapodistrias's reactions and actions to improve the northern borders
On March 27 / April 8, 1830, the ambassadors notified Greece and the Ottoman Empire of the Protocol. The Sultan was forced to accept the independence of Greece. Kapodistrias agreed with the condition that the Turks evacuate Attica and Euboea. He also demanded the presence of foreign legislators and the provision of means to deal with the refugee problem that would be caused by the evacuation of the areas outside the borders by the Greek population. At the same time he informed Leopold about his claims.
Leopold, however, met with the refusal of the British government, a fact that led him to resign (9/21 May 1830) with the argument that he did not want to impose on the Greeks the unfavorable decisions of foreigners but also for personal reasons.
Kapodistrias’s internal opposition accepted the terms of the Protocol with relative satisfaction, accusing Kapodistrias of restricting borders.
After the Protocol of Independence – Final regulation of the borders – Greece as a Kingdom
Leopold’s resignation in conjunction with Kapodistrias’s postponement policy led to a new Conference in July 1831 proposing to Turkey the extension of the Ambracian Gulf - Pagasetic Gulf line. Turkey was forced to accept the terms and a new protocol was finally signed (14/26 September 1831). Unfortunately, Kapodistrias was assassinated a few days later (September 27 / October 9, 1831), without being able to see the positive results of his policy. After the assassination of Kapodistrias, with the protocol of 1/13 February 1832 and the treaty of 25 April / 7 May 1832, Prince Otto of Bavaria was recognized – after the resignation of Leopold – as King of Greece. The Sultan agreed, after tough negotiations, with the signing on 9/21 July 1832 of the Treaty of Constantinople which provided for the independence of Greece and the enlarged Pagasetic Gulf - Ambracian Gulf border.
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