Cyprus Convention

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The Cyprus Convention of June 4, 1878 was an agreement reached between the United Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire which granted control of Cyprus to Great Britain in exchange for their support of the Ottomans in the Russian-Turkish war. This agreement was the result of secret negotiations that took place earlier in 1878.

Here follows the entire text of the first agreement and the follow-on annex, as reported in Hertslet, E. (1875-91) The Map of Europe by Treaty; Showing the Various Political and Territorial Changes Which Have taken Place Since The General Peace of 1814 (4 Vols, London). For commentary and context, see the History of Cyprus and the external links below.

First Agreement

CONVENTION of Defensive Alliance between Great Britain and Turkey, with respect to the Asiatic Provinces of Turkey. Signed at Constantinople, 4th June, 1878.


Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, and His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, being mutually animated with the sincere desire of extending and strengthening the relations of friendship happily existing between their two Empires, have resolved upon the conclusion of a Convention of Defensive Alliance with the object of securing for the future the territories in Asia of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan. Their Majesties have accordingly chosen and named as their Plenipotentiaries, that is to say: Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, the Right Honourable Austen Henry Layard, Her Majesty's Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at the Sublime Porte; And His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, his Excellency Safvet Pasha, Minister for Foreign Affairs of His Imperial Majesty; Who, after having exchanged their full powers, found in due and good form, have agreed upon the following Articles:

Engagement of Great Britain to join Turkey in event of Russia retaining Batoum, Ardahan, or Kars, and making any attempt to take further Territories in Asia.

ART. I. If Batoum, Ardahan, Kars, or any of them shall be retained by Russia, and if any attempt shall be made at any future time by Russia to take possession of any further territories of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan in Asia, as fixed by the Definitive Treaty of Peace, England engages to join His Imperial Majesty the Sultan in defending them by force of arms.

Engagement of Sultan, in return, to introduce Reforms in Government, and for Protection of Christian and other Subjects of the Porte, in Asia.

In return, His Imperial Majesty the Sultan promises to England to introduce necessary Reforms, to be agreed upon later between the two Powers, into the government, and for the protection of the Christian and other subjects of the Porte in these territories.

Occupation and Administration of Cyprus by Great Britain.

And in order to enable England to make necessary provision for executing her engagement, His Imperial Majesty the Sultan further consents to assign the Island of Cyprus to be occupied and administered by England.


ART. II. The present Convention shall be ratified, and the ratifications thereof shall be exchanged, within the space of one month, or sooner if possible.

In witness whereof the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed the same, and have affixed thereto the seal of their arms.

Done at Constantinople, the fourth day of June, in the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy-eight.

(L.S.) A. H. LAYARD.


The following is the full text of an annex which was subsequently agreed to as part of this convention:

ANNEX TO CONVENTION of Defensive Alliance between Great Britain and Turkey, of 4th June, 1878. Conditions of British Occupation and Administration of Cyprus. Signed at Constantinople, 1st July, 1878.

The Right Honourable Sir A. H. Layard, G.C.B., and his Highness Safvet Pasha, now the Grand Vizier of His Majesty the Sultan, have agreed to the following Annex to the Convention signed by them as Plenipotentiaries of their respective Governments on the 4th June, 1878:

Conditions of Occupation and Administration of Cyprus.

It is understood between the two High Contracting Parties that England agrees to the following conditions relating to her occupation and administration of the Island of Cyprus:

Mussulman Religious Tribunal.

I. That a Mussulman religious Tribunal (Mehkéméi Shéri) shall continue to exist in the island, which will take exclusive cognizance of religious matters, and of no others, concerning the Mussulman population of the island.

Superintendence and Administration of Mussulman Schools and other Religious Establishments in Cyprus.

II. That a Mussulman resident in the island shall be named by the Board of Pious Foundations in Turkey (Evkaf) to superintend, in conjunction with a Delegate to be appointed by the British Authorities, the administration of the property, funds, and lands belonging to mosques, cemeteries, Mussulman schools, and other religious establishments existing in Cyprus.

Excess of Revenue over Expenditure to be paid by England to Turkey.

III. That England will pay to the Porte whatever is the present excess of revenue over expenditure in the island; (this excess to be calculated upon and determined by the average of the last five years, stated to be 22,336 purses, to be duly verified hereafter, and to the exclusion of the produce of State and Crown lands let or sold during that period.)

Power reserved to Porte to Sell and Lease Lands and other Property of the Crown and State in Cyprus.

IV. That the Sublime Porte may freely sell and lease lands and other property in Cyprus belonging to the Ottoman Crown and State (Arazii Miriyé vé Emlaki Houmayoun) the produce of which does not form part of the revenue of the island referred to in Article III.

Purchase of Land by English Government.

V. That the English Government, though their competent authorities, may purchase compulsorily, at a fair price, land required for public improvements, or for other public purposes, and land which is not cultivated.

Conditions of Evacuation of Cyprus by Great Britain.

VI. That if Russia restores to Turkey Kars, and the other conquests made by her in Armenia during the last war, the Island of Cyprus will be evacuated by England, and the Convention of the 4th of June, 1878, will be at an end.

Done at Constantinople, the 1st day of July, 1878.

External links