Posts Tagged ‘Cilicia’


Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee

July 24, 1923: Signature of the Treaty of Lausanne


It has been frequently said that the Treaty of Lausanne marked the burial of the Armenian Cause, even though neither Armenia nor Armenians were mentioned there.

This peace treaty signed in the Swiss city officially ended the state of war that had existed between Turkey and Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Greece, Romania, and Serbia (which had become the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after 1918) since the onset of World War I. It replaced the Treaty of Sèvres (August 10, 1920), which had been signed between all those parties and the Ottoman Empire but had been rejected by the Turkish national movement led by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), as a reaction to the defeat of Turkey and the significant loss of territories. After defeating the Republic of Armenia in the September-November 1920 war and provoking the loss of its independence under a Soviet regime, crushing Greece in the so-called “war of independence,” achieving the ethnic cleansing of Greeks and Armenians from Asia Minor and Cilicia, and abolishing the sultanate in November 1922, the forthcoming Republic of Turkey—proclaimed in October 1923—was able to dictate favorable terms to the Allies.

The Treaty of Lausanne was signed as an outcome to the Conference of Lausanne (November 1922-February 1923, April-July 1923). It ended the conflict and defined the borders of the modern Turkish state except for its border with Iraq. Turkey gave up all claims to the remainder of the Ottoman Empire and in return the Allies recognized Turkish sovereignty within its new borders. The treaty came into force in August 1924. Interestingly, the U.S. Senate refused to ratify it in 1927.

The treaty, composed of 143 articles, led to the international recognition of the sovereignty of the new Republic of Turkey as the successor state of the defunct Ottoman Empire. From a legal standpoint, it only partially replaced the Treaty of Sevres with new clauses regarding Eastern Tracia (the area of European Turkey) and the Greek-Turkish frontiers. The lobby of both the Delegation of the Republic of Armenia, chaired by Avetis Aharonian, and the Armenian National Delegation, presided by Boghos Nubar pasha, was unable to maintain the clauses of the Treaty of Sevres relative to Armenia. However, the Treaty of Lausanne stayed silent about the section on Armenia of the Treaty of Sèvres, which was regulated by the arbitral award of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in November 1920. Article 16 of the Treaty of Lausanne established:

“Turkey hereby renounces all rights and title whatsoever over or respecting the territories situated outside the frontiers laid down in the present Treaty and the islands other than those over which her sovereignty is recognised by the said Treaty, the future of these territories and islands being settled or to be settled by the parties concerned.

“The provisions of the present Article do not prejudice any special arrangements arising from neighbourly relations which have been or may be concluded between Turkey and any limitrophe countries.”

The Treaty of Lausanne also contained a section (articles 37 to 45) about the protection of the rights of minorities (Moslem and non-Moslem) in the Republic of Turkey. Their continuous and documented violation over the decades became a highlight of modern Turkey and led to the migration of most remaining members of those minorities, particularly Greeks and Armenians among others.

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The summary of the message of His Holiness Aram I delivered on 24th April 2012 in Antelias to thousands of Armenian people who were gathered to commemorate the Armenian Genocide.

We are gathered today in front of the Martyrs Chapel, where the remains of some of the victims of the Armenian Genocide were buried in 1935 when the Catholicosate of Cilicia finally settled in Antelias.

We are here to recommit ourselves to the legacy we inherited from our martyrs, irrespective of the changing political conditions around us. Our martyrs also want us to make our voice heard by the leadership in the Arab world and Europe.

Turkey is seeking to expand its political and economic influence in the Arab World, Europe and Africa. Claiming to be a defender of minorities and a champion of democratic principles and human rights, Turkey is presenting itself as a peace-builder in the Arab World.

Can a nation that fills its prisons with human rights advocates and journalists lecture others on the imperative to champion democratic principles and human rights? Can a nation that systematically killed a million and a half members of one of its minority peoples and today denies that act demand that others defend their minorities?

The Prime Minister of Turkey has cynically stated that if there really was a genocide we should be able to show them where the graves of the victims are. We can tell them that the graves are in places that the Turks have renamed in order to attempt to erase historical memories: the Turkish towns and villages in Western Armenia, Cilicia and in Der Zor, the Syrian Desert.

In a cynical attempt to appear reasonable, Turkish authorities suggest that historians should sit down together and attempt to determine what really happened in Turkey in 1915. Neutral historians have long ago determined what happened by having read the internationally accepted and verified Western Diplomatic, Armenian and Turkish sources that document the horrors that the Turkish government foisted upon the Armenians in 1915.

We hold the present Republic of Turkey, in its capacity as the legitimate successor of the Ottoman Empire, accountable for its crimes against our people. We demand our rights to compensation for the confiscated Church, community and individually owned properties not only since 1936, as the August 2011 decision stipulated, but also those confiscated from1915 to 1920.

During the international conference that we organized last February, here in Antelias, we said that recognition and compensation are inseparable. Therefore, and in consultation with the government of Armenia, the Catholicosate of Cilicia will work together with the Armenian Catholic and Evangelical communities to obtain the legal rights to confiscated properties.

On the eve of our 100th anniversary, I call upon our people in Armenia, Karabagh and the diaspora to renew their commitment to the legacy of the martyrs of the 1915 Genocide.

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      This timely book has been published through the generous contribution of the Calouste Gulbenimagekian Foundation. The book prepares the ground for the forthcoming pastoral visit of His Holiness Aram I to the United States of America. The concerns the Catholicos highlights apply both to Armenia and the Diaspora. In his introduction His Holiness Aram I writes, "I chose this title because the Church is the people."
The book consists of three parts. In the first part, Catholicos Aram I describes the nature of the church, its mission and its institutional expressions, including the parish, the dioceses and the wider Armenian community in Armenia and the diaspora. While describing the organization of each, he proposes ways in which they should be renewed.

       In the second part the Catholicos identifies the core issues that the Armenian Church is currently facing. He starts with the Bible as the foundation of Christian faith and its interpretation; he then discusses the family, the school and Christian education. At the end of this section, His Holiness Aram I explains the meaning of the term ’people of God’ and explains why Armenian women, youth and children, who have been marginalized in the Church and all community organizations, should participate in building their communities.
In the final part of the book, the Catholicos includes certain pastoral letters and messages that he has previously addressed to youth in order to prompt a meaningful dialogue with them.

      The book is a basic reader for all Armenians who want to learn about the Armenian Church and its faith, mission and organization. It is an invitation to the people in Armenia and the Diaspora to equip themselves with the legacy of the past and build Armenian communities responsive to the challenges of globalization. Finally, it is a guide to Being the Church as the people of God both in Armenia and Diaspora.

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