19 April 2010
The Ottoman Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The skills and talents of Armenians particularly shone in the Ottoman Foreign Affairs Ministry. The first Armenian of note in the diplomatic arena was Mirzaian Manouk Bey (1769-1817).
He served as the military commander of the Ottoman Danube forces and later was an advisor to Grand Vizier Mustafa Pasha Bayrakdar. . . The Grand Vizier authorized Manouk Bey to conduct peace negotiations with the Russians during the 1806-1812 Russo-Turkish war. The Treaty of Bucharest was concluded due to his energetic efforts and as a result these two empires, contrary to the wishes of Napoleon Bonaparte, were drawn into the war. For his service to the Ottoman Empire, Manouk Bey was awarded the title of Price of Moldova by the Sultan and appointed a dragoman (diplomatic translator at the foreign affairs ministry level) of the Ottoman court.
As advisors, Armenians assisted Turkish diplomats. For instance, one of the most prominent Turkish officials of the 19th century, Reshid Pasha, author of the Tanzimat reforms, had Hagop Krdjikian (1806-1865) as his trusted advisor. With the aim of receiving an education, he left for Paris with Reshid Pasha in 1835 and enrolled at the Sorbonne. He served as the Pasha’s translator while there and later was appointed the number two translator at the Ottoman Embassy in Paris. . In 1839, when Reshid Pasha was appointed Ottoman Ambassador to England, he took Manouk Bey with him as first translator at the embassy. When Reshid Pasha was called back to Constantinople to serve as Grand Vizier, Krdjikian stayed on in London as attaché to take care of embassy business. During Reshid Pasha’s tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Krdjikian served as his advisor and translator. He returned to Paris in 1841 when Reshid Pasha once again became Ambassador to France, serving in these positions. In 1846, when Reshid Pasha took over the reins of the Ottoman government, Krdjikian also served as his advisor and translator and played an important contributory role in Reshid Pasha’s reform activities, notable the Tanzimat reforms.
Krikor Odian (1816-1873) assisted Midhat Pasha in drawing up the Ottoman Constitution and with his diplomatic activities. Odian served as secretary in the Ottoman Foreign Affairs Ministry from 1860 and later headed the foreign documents section at the department. In 1869, he was nominated Head Archivist at the Ottoman Foreign Ministry.
Sahak Apron (1823-1900) played a major role in the formation of the Ottoman Foreign Affairs Ministry and for years served in various top posts in the department including secretary, translator, archivist, etc.
He was also a member of several diplomatic delegations and committees.
Harutyun Pasha Dadian (1830-1901) was a skilled diplomat and effective national figure would stands out in 19th century Armenian history.
He served in various top government posts in his fifty year career. The son of famous Armenian benefactor Hovhannes Bey Dadian, he received his higher education at the Sorbonne. Returning to Constantinople, he entered the service of the Foreign Ministry at the foreign correspondence office. As secretary he was often included in diplomatic missions overseas or to the Ottoman provinces. In 1862, he was a member of a special delegation that left for Odessa to welcome Russian Tsar Alexander II. In 1865, he was appointed secretary at the Ottoman Embassy in Paris. In 1873 he was appointed Deputy Finance Minister. In 1875, till his death, Dadian served as Ottoman Deputy Foreign Minister. Even though he was Deputy Minister, Dadian effectively ran the department. During a short period when the “infidel” official had been removed from his post, all correspondence and diplomatic letters had to be returned since they were illegible and incomprehensible. It seems that Dadian personally proofed all correspondence emanating from the ministry himself. He was highly respected and admired in Ottoman and foreign diplomatic and government circles.
Hovhannes Pasha Kuyumjian and Manuk Azarian also served as Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister in the Ottoman Empire.
Of Armenian diplomats, the one to reach the highest position, that of Ottoman Foreign Minister, was Kapriel Noradounkian (1852-1936). He received his primary education at the Scutari High School and went on to study law at the Paris College of Jurisprudence. Returning to Constantinople in 1875, he was appointed secretary at the foreign affairs ministry by Foreign Minister Reshid Pasha. In his new post Noradounkian engaged in organizing the legal affairs of the ministry. As the First Secretary, he participated in the international commission deigned to draw the new border between Russia and Turkey after the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War. In 1908 he became the Minister for Public Works. On the eve of the Balkan Wars, in 1912, Kapriel Noradounkian assumes the position of Ottoman Foreign Affairs Minister.
During this period, the Ottoman state was experiencing several critical challenges and Noradounkian used all his skills to steer the Ottoman state clear of the dangers. He enjoyed international notoriety as a skilled legal expert as well. He published“Recueil d’actes internationaux de I’Empire Ottoman” a four volume collection of international treaties and agreements that the Ottoman government had signed since its inception.
Despite his rich and full life as a diplomat and government official, Noradounkian also engaged in Armenian communal affairs. For example, he served as chairman of the Armenian National Assembly. Along with Boghos Nubar Pasha, he headed the National Delegation to the Lausanne Conference in 1922-1923.
Thus, Armenians contributed greatly to the modernization and Europeanization of the Ottoman Foreign Affairs Ministry. From the outset, Armenians were well represented in the ministry’s correspondence and translation offices. Sahak Apron and Krikor Margosian were the first to head these offices.
When it comes to recounting those Armenians who played a role in Ottoman diplomatic circles, we must remember those who served in Ottoman embassies and consuls in various countries.
Sarkis Hamamjian was the Ottoman Ambassador to Italy. Dikran Alexsanian was the Ambassador in Belgium. Manuk Azarian was the Ottoman Consul in Toulon, Hovsep Misak in the Hague, Mihran Karakashian in Nice, Hrad Bey Dyuz in Messina, Mihran Yeram in Naples, Hovsep Azarian in Malta and Dikran Hyunkyarbeyendian in Odessa.
Armenian serving in the Ottoman embassies in the United States and Europe proved to be noteworthy advisors and secretaries. There were so many in fact that to name them all here would take up too much space.
Truly, over time Armenians serving in the Ottoman government were able to take charge of the foreign ministry. This act was picked up by the French newspaper “Le Monde” which wrote in 1903 that the most efficiently run department in the Ottoman Empire was the foreign ministry run by Armenians.
Madenataran; Junior Researcher, 2010/04/19 http://hetq.am