Belgium and the Hamidian Regime; or, the Antinomies of Small State Diplomacy
The arrest in 1905 of Edward Joris, an anarchist from Antwerp who had settled in Istanbul, for his implication in the failed bomb attack on Sultan Abdülhamid II created anxiety and embarrassment among Belgian foreign policymakers. Public opinion, on both the domestic and international front, demanded a firm response from Brussels to what was perceived as the unlawful incarceration of an innocent Belgian citizen. Belgian diplomats initially adopted an aloof attitude, not wanting to strain official relations with Istanbul, but this position quickly changed after Joris was condemned to death. An official request for the extradition of the convict was sent to Istanbul giving rise to a diplomatic conflict, which only reached a solution when the Sultan pardoned Joris in 1907. This unusual episode in the history of Belgo-Ottoman relations—Catholic conservatives defending a leftist bomber and jeopardizing Belgian economic interests in the empire—offers an ideal case to investigate core features of prewar Belgian diplomacy, while providing a powerful illustration of some of the inevitable excrescences that were a structural part of unequal treaty law.
I wish to convey my gratitude to Isa Blumi, Rik Coolsaet, Wannes Dupont, and an anonymous reader for Palgrave for their valuable feedback on earlier drafts of this text. Thanks is also due to Kenan Van De Mieroop who carefully proofread this chapter.