A meeting of the great European powers at Berlin between June 13 and July 13, 1878, to settle questions arising out of the Russo-Turkish war; by it many of the former provinces of Turkey were enfranchised and made independent. In several instances the congress made the grant of full civic and political rights to Jews a condition for the recognition of independence, and it has therefore an important bearing upon the history of Jews in the southeast of Europe in recent times.
Articles of identic form were inserted in the final treaty, requiring that religious conviction should form no cause of exclusion from any civic position in any of the countries liberated by the Congress of Berlin—sections v. (Bulgaria), xxvii. (Montenegro), xxxv. (Servia), xliv. (Rumania).
The question was first raised at the sitting of June 28, 1878, when Waddington, on behalf of France, required that religious equality should be made a condition of the independence of Servia. Gortschakoff, on behalf of Russia, protested against the question being introduced without previous notice to the congress, but Waddington was supported by Bismarck and De Launay (Italy) (British Blue Book, p. 128), and section xxxv. was inserted in the draft treaty.
At the sitting of July 1 Messrs. Bratianu and Cogalniceanu presented a note claiming independence for Rumania, without any reference to the Jewish question; but Waddington, on behalf of France, demanded that the same conditions be imposed on Rumania as on Servia. He was supported by Andrássy (Austria-Hungary), Beaconsfield, De Launay, and even by Gortschakoff (Russia), notwithstanding his protest three days before; and the following clause was inserted in the final treaty (British Blue Book, p. 153):
Article 44: In Rumania, difference in religious beliefs and confessions shall not be brought against any one as a ground for exclusion or unfitness as regards the enjoyment of civil and political rights, admission to public offices, functions, and honors, or the exercise of various professions and industries in any place whatever. Freedom in outward observance of all creeds will be assured to all subjects of the Rumanian state, as well as to strangers, and no obstacle will be raised either to the ecclesiastical organization of different bodies, or to their intercourse with their spiritual heads.
The citizens of all states, whether merchants or others, shall be dealt with, in Rumania, without distinction of religion, on the basis of perfect equality.
Bulgaria and Servia loyally carried out the conditions of the treaty, but Rumania evaded it, claiming that a sudden emancipation of the Jews would be deleterious to the interests of the country. A convention was summoned by the Bratianu ministry to determine how far the constitution was to be revised, and this suggested the following clause vii. of the Rumanian constitution instead of section xliv. of the Berlin Treaty, which Lord Salisbury had proposed to be inserted en bloc into the Rumanian constitution:
Article 7: Difference in religious beliefs and confessions does not constitute, in Rumania, an obstacle to the obtainment of civil and political rights, nor to the exercise of these rights.
- 1. A foreigner, without distinction of religion, and whether a subject or not of a foreign government, can become naturalized under the following conditions:(a) He shall address to the government an application fornaturalization, in which he shall indicate the capital he possesses, the profession or craft which he follows, and his abode in Rumania.(b) He shall reside, after this application, ten years in the country, and prove, by action, that he is of service to it.
- 2. The following may be exempted from the intermediary stages:(a) Those who have brought into the country industries, useful inventions, or talent, or who have founded large establishments of commerce or industry.(b) Those who, born and bred in Rumania, of parents established in the country, have never been subjected, either themselves or their parents, to any protection by a foreign power.(c) Those who have served under the colors during the war of independence; these may be naturalized collectively by government decree, by a single resolution, and without any further formality.
- 3. Naturalization can not be given except by law, and individually.
- 4. A special law shall determine the manner in which foreigners may establish their home on Rumanian territory.
- 5. Only Rumanians, and those who have been naturalized Rumanians, can buy rural estates in Rumania.Rights already acquired shall remain in force.International agreements at present existing shall remain in force in all the clauses and terms therein contained.
In the summer of 1879 Borescu was sent on a diplomatic mission to the courts of western Europe to induce them to accept the new clause vii. of the constitution instead of the Berlin Treaty. Austria had no objection, since her own Jewish subjects were protected by a special treaty; Russia could scarcely object to restrictions, having in view her own attitude toward the Jews; and Turkey was not in a position to make any protest. Italy demanded full liberty of conscience for the Jews, but Waddington, on behalf of France, gave way on the assumption that gradual emancipation would be granted, and on Feb. 20, 1880, an identic note of Germany, France, and Great Britain agreed to the independence of Rumania on condition that clause vii. be made part of the constitution. For the manner in which Rumania has utilized the restrictions of clause vii. to disfranchise the Jews of nearly all the rights of human beings, see Rumania.
- E. Sincerus, Les Juifs de Roumanie, London, 1901;
- A. d'Avril, Négociations Relatives au Traite de Berlin, Paris, 1886;
- French Yellow Book, Paris, 1879 (Affaires Etrangères, Documents Diplomatiques, Questions de la Reconnaissance de la Roumanie);
- English Blue Book (Parliamentary Papers, 1878; Treaty of Berlin);
- Anon., Aus dem Tagebuch Karls I. von Roumânien, vol. iii.