The opinions of the opponents during the defense were divided. If the assessment of the second opponent was close to Mandelstam’s review read during the discussion, the first opponent assessed the dissertation in a diametrically opposite way. He structured his speech in a very original way: without any comments, he read the extracts he had made from individual chapters and paragraphs of the work. Here are some of the quotes he read:
1. “The decade and a half between the signing of the Berlin Peace Treaty of 1878 and the massacre perpetrated by Abdul Hamid in 1893-1896 are replete with cases when Russian diplomacy turned a blind eye to the tactics of the uncompromising Sultan, who did not intend to seriously implement the reform program conceived, developed and clarified by Russia jointly with other great powers”.
2. “The architect of this policy was Nikolay Girs. While agreeing that the Armenians were being subjected to terrible persecution, he simultaneously stated that Russia was not interested in this and, having become disillusioned with the attitude of the Balkan peoples towards it, it did not seek to speed up the solution of the Armenian problems.”
3. “Girs’s successor, Prince Alexei Lobanov-Rostovsky, after the Berlin Congress became friends with Abdul Hamid, constantly met with him and even convinced him to ignore the reforms for Armenia envisaged by the Berlin Treaty. Moreover, participating in the decisive negotiations of the powers on the issue of Armenian reforms (March-October 1895), the Russian Foreign Minister twice declared to Sir Frank Cavendish-Lascelles, the British ambassador to Russia, that the Russian government did not want to have “a second Bulgaria” on its southern border. «.