The Ottoman reaction to Cretan autonomy.

In 1898, spurred on by the massacre of Cretan Christians and the murder of British troops in Candia, the European Powers in control of Crete determined to grant the island autonomy, albeit nominally under Ottoman suzerainty. This was a compromise solution given that Great Power rivalry and the fear of the knock on effect on other European Ottoman territories, precluded allowing Greece to annex the island, the preferred solution the Cretan Christian insurrgents. The alternative, allowing the Ottoman Empire to regain control of Crete by means of force, was politically unacceptable to most of the European Powers, particularly given the outcry over the relatively recent Ottoman mistreatment of their Christian subjects in Bulgaria and Armenia.

However, while the Cretan Christians, and a minority of Cretan Muslims, welcomed the imposition of the new regime, the former seeing it as a stepping stone to union with Greece and the latter as at least bringing peace and stability to the island, feelings in the Ottoman Empire were, not unaturally, less favourable about the forced removal of Ottoman territory and the consequent injury to Ottoman patriotic pride.

Ottoman feelings were summed up in caption of the (undated but post1898) postcard shown below: The Ottoman Empire has not given up its most shining star.

However, in reality the Ottomans HAD lost their `shining star’, although it wasn’t until the end of the second Balkan War in 1913 that Crete finally became united with Greece.

 

 

Crete: The Ottoman view

Crete: The Ottoman view

 

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