The Treaty of Adrianople – The Trojan Horse to Occupy Circassia
By: Adel Bashqawi
December 5, 2017.
Imperial powers have always competed for the acquisition of the homelands of peoples and nations regardless of cost and circumstances. These powers regard themselves as the guardians over others, while in reality they are colonizers who think they are entitled to control others. These irresponsible actions affect the present and future of many peoples, who can only be saved by being granted the right to self-determination.
Among the large countries that bear moral and legal responsibility, and were competing among themselves in the Black Sea Coast and the Caucasus region in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, are the Ottoman and the Tsarist Russian Empires. It is no accident that people’s rights are trampled on, the events are distorted, and history is falsified by imposing prewritten scripts in a way that appeals for one party or another.
Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca
Perhaps the “Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca” was the beginning of acquiescence, weakness of will, and the potential disintegration of the ageing Ottoman Empire. At the same time, the Russian Tsarist Empire took advantage of all the colonial spoils and imperial influence lost as a result of the weakened and aged Ottomans. The pact was signed on July 21, 1774. “At the conclusion of the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–74 at Küçük Kaynarca, in Bulgaria, ending Undisputed Ottoman control of the Black Sea and providing a diplomatic basis for future Russian intervention in internal affairs of the Ottoman Empire.” The “treaty was a most humiliating blow to the once-mighty Ottoman realm. It would also stand to foreshadow several future conflicts to arise between the Ottomans and Russia. This would be only one of many attempts by Russia to gain control of Ottoman territory.”
At the time, the Ottoman Empire was losing its prestige and sovereignty, affecting many of the regions that were the subject of greed of colonial powers, especially the Russian Empire. “The treaty’s commercial provisions gave Russia the right to establish consulates anywhere in the Ottoman Empire, to navigate freely in Ottoman waters through the Straits of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, and to enjoy commercial privileges in Ottoman lands.”
Treaty of Adrianople
Another important milestone of Ottoman collapse, which indicated the inevitable end of the Ottoman Empire and its uncontrolled decline, is the Treaty of Edirne, also called Treaty of Adrianople. Signed on September 14, 1829, it is the “pact concluding the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–29, signed at Edirne (ancient Adrianople), Tur.; it strengthened the Russian position in Eastern Europe and weakened that of the Ottoman Empire. The treaty foreshadowed the Ottoman Empire’s future dependence on the European balance of power and also presaged the eventual dismemberment of its Balkan possessions.”
The Circassians were set up to be destroyed and eliminated by the irresponsible actions of others. “Russia, victorious on the Balkan and Caucasus fronts, preferred a weakened Ottoman Empire to one that was dismembered by other powers. The treaty allowed Russia to annex the islands controlling the mouth of the Danube River and the Caucasus coastal strip of the Black Sea, including the fortresses of Anapa and Poti.”
Shameless frankness concluded the farce of giving up the homeland of others, regardless of all consequences, through a swap of colonial interests between those who do not own to those who do not deserve. “It gave Russia, as the victors, Item (b) of Treaty of (Edirne) Adrianople (1829) states: Control of the Caucasus coastal strip by annexation of considerable territory in the Caucasus.”
Refuting the Claims of Circassia’s Subordination
A hostile, aggressive propaganda and public relations campaign led to a misconception and ambiguity in regard to who has the legitimacy and sovereignty to concede the Caucasus, and specifically Circassia, to the Russian Empire. “In 1828, hostilities flared up anew between the Russians and Ottomans resulting in the defeat of the latter and the capture of Anapa in June. Turkey gave Russia a free hand in the Caucasus in the Treaty of Adrianople in 1829. Yet again, the Ottomans gave away something that did not belong to them in the first place. Therefore, Russia embarked on a vicious war of attrition, which met with fierce resistance for 35 years.”
It is not surprising that, because of the surrounding circumstances, this empire reached a state of disorientation with loss of sense of time, place, moral principles, and even practical identity. Regrettably, when the Ottomans felt that they were sinking, they wanted Circassians and other nations of the Caucasus to commit suicide with them. It is as if they were saying: “You wanted me to be your anchor, but you didn’t realize that meant I had to drown.” While logic and real friendship appear as the following: “if they want you, they will not lose you and that is how it works. When someone loves you they will drink the ocean just to make sure you do not drown.”
Mr. John Roebuck, a member of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, said on the Russian confiscation of the schooner Vixen, “When at the port it was seized by a Russian ship-of-war, and the master and crew were imprisoned.” He continues, affirming that Circassia was not a Russian subject, “The defense of Russia is that, by the treaty of Adrianople, Circassia was ceded to Russia by Turkey; and, consequently, that Russia had a right to establish a blockade of the coast of Circassia, and to establish whatever custom-house regulations she might think proper in relation to her ports. Now, in the first place, I deny that the territory of Circassia is in the possession of Russia; secondly, I assert that, not being in the possession of Russia, Russia has no right, according to the law of nations, to make any custom-house regulations in relation to the ports of Circassia; and, thirdly, I maintain that Russia has no right to blockade the coast of the territory of a free people against the entrance into its ports of an English vessel with English goods.”
He also criticized the blockade imposed on the Circassian coast and added, “It is contended that Circassia was ceded to Russia by the treaty of Adrianople. But the Circassians are in possession of their own country. I deny that Turkey had any right to cede Circassia to Russia. But even if Turkey had a right to cede Circassia to Russia, yet, seeing that Russia is not in possession of Circassia, I maintain that Russia has no right to proclaim a blockade of the coast of Circassia.”
Mr. O’Connell, also a member of the House of Commons, said: “In this case, he thought that Mr. Bell was perfectly justified in sending out his vessel, for he had been told to refer to The Gazette to see whether there was a blockade or not. It was clear, therefore, from this observation of the noble Lord, that he did not at that time consider the coast of Circassia as any part of the Russian territory. Again, in 1826, notwithstanding the subject matter of quarrel between Russia and the Porte, it was agreed that no sort of commercial advantage should be gained on this coast by either party.”
Also, Lord Dudley Stuart, another member of the House of Commons, said: “If they admitted the plea of Russia, in the case of the Vixen, they would enable that power to make what regulations it pleased under the pretense of a quarantine. He contended that Russia had no right whatever to Circassia. He was prepared to maintain this on several grounds. He denied that Turkey ever had possession of that country. Whenever Turkey had possession of a country it sent a Pacha there, and also enforced the payment of tribute; but nothing of the kind had ever been enforced by Turkey in Circassia. The noble Lord, the Secretary of State, apparently wished the House to infer that Russia had possession of the country. But the fact was that she had only possession of two or three forts, and this was not sufficient to allow them to exercise the rights of sovereignty. He would read an authority, to which he thought the noble Lord would attach great weight, as to the possession of two or three forts giving anything like a legal occupation to a country.”
Circassia in the Ottoman Empire’s Maps
Unfortunately, many people are vaguely aware that Circassia, a separate and independent entity, was never an integral part of the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, or any other imperial power.
— Circassia is shown in a “North Caucasus, 1767 – 1783” map. It is shown as neither an Ottoman nor a Tsarist Russian entity. It is worth mentioning that according to a bilateral agreement, Circassians had allowed the Turks to have some coastal fortresses on the Black Sea. The map shows the attractive coastal prey for both the Ottoman and Russian empires during the Russian-Circassian War, which lasted between 1763-1864.
— A map in the title of “Russian expansion in the Caucasus 1783-1878,” shows Russian acquisitions.
— A map that shows “The Ottoman Empire at its Greatest Extent” proves that Circassia was not then a part of the Ottoman Empire.
— A map of the “Decline of the Ottoman Empire between 1683 and 1914.” It displays the status of Circassia, being not part of that empire.
— Another map which indicates that Circassia was not part of the Ottoman Empire during its “decline 1683-1924.”
— A map which confirms that Circassia was not part of the “Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal Empire in the 16th and 17th Centuries.”
— A map that was published in March 2017 by the National Geographic Society magazine. It shows the time when abundance overcame courage; when the “Russians finally defeated the Circassians in 1864 at Krasnaya Polyana, now the Olympic site for skiing and sledding.”
In conclusion, in the face of direct colonial competition, the Russian Empire wanted to gain possession of others’ properties, but they needed to get an excuse for its wrong doings, by obtaining legal justification for the seizure of the Circassian homeland. Giving territorial concessions, such as giving up Circassia and its Black Sea coast to the Tsarist Russian Empire, was not a privilege that the Ottoman Empire was entitled to. All those conspiracies were without the consultation or the consent of the Circassian people, the real owners of the Circassian homeland.
These days, “The Circassian activists are now pushing Russia and the global community to recognize the events of the 1860s as constituting genocide. They hope to use the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia – once a Circassian port – to bring their historical plight to global attention.” Also, “More immediately, Circassian activists want Russia to create a single internal republic for the four legally defined ethnic groups (the Adyghe, Cherkesm, Shapsugs, and Kabardin) that together constitute the Circassian people.”
This issue raises an important query; it is not the fault of the Circassian nation that its homeland is located in a strategic location which is subject to envy of the imperial ambitions and greed in the absence of international laws that protected the small peoples and nations. It would be productive to explore further reviews on treaties and conventions that relate to the subject. A comprehensive review should be conducted. Maps and geopolitical situation of the region should be revised. The results should be presented to those with experience and competence, and published to benefit those who are concerned.
 Imperial Russia: A Reference Handbook (J. Paxton), Page 135 (https://books.google.jo/books?id=7MKADAAAQBAJ&pg=PA135&lpg=PA135&dq=Treaty+of+Adrianople+(1829),+between+the+Ottoman+Empire+and+Russia&source=bl&ots=vtoYYzK0y8&sig=MaSZNkDQVMd9wYQyYUpu1PLpeAc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjK2_7A3t_XAhWBZFAKHYu5A7oQ6AEITzAH#v=onepage&q=Treaty%20of%20Adrianople%20(1829)%2C%20between%20the%20Ottoman%20Empire%20and%20Russia&f=false)
 The Circassians, a handbook (Amjad Jaimoukha), Page 63.
 Schooner: a sailing ship with two or more masts, typically with the foremast smaller than the mainmast.