Posts Tagged ‘Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’


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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Prepared by
the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)

The Treaty of Alexandropol
(December 2-3, 1920)

       The Armenian-Turkish war of 1920 put the Republic of Armenia on the brink of collapse. It also brought back the very real threat of physical disappearance for the Armenian people. The secret pact signed between the Turkish Great National Assembly led by Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) and Soviet Russia in August 1920 had ensured the support of Bolshevism to the Turkish insurgents. The latter, unlike the Ottoman legal government, were leading the so-called “war of independence” against Greece in order to overturn the partition of the Ottoman Empire that included the division of current Turkey into different zones of influence and the loss of most of its territories.

       Turkish forces commanded by General Kiazim Karabekir had already reached Alexandropol (now Gumri) at the end of November 1920 when a ceasefire was forced upon the Armenian government. On the other side, a small group of Armenian Bolsheviks had crossed the border from Soviet Azerbaijan into Armenia on November 29 and proclaimed Armenia a Soviet republic, appealing for the intervention of the Red Army. The government of the Republic of Armenia, led by Prime Minister Simon Vratsian (who had assumed power on November 25), was forced to choose the lesser of two evils: to turn away the potential annihilation of Eastern Armenians, it decided to relinquish power to the Communists. The change of regime was legalized through the signature of an agreement between the authorities of the Republic of Armenia and Boris Legran, representative of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), in the morning of December 2, 1920. It was enforced on the same day at 6 pm. It established that Armenia would become an independent Soviet Socialist republic within the frontiers that had been under the jurisdiction of the government before the Turkish invasion and a revolutionary committee would take power temporarily. On its final session of the same day, the government of the Republic of Armenia decided to resign power. After more than two and half years, the first independence had come to an end.

The sovietization of Armenia did not end the Turkish menace. Karabekir threatened to resume his offensive unless his terms were accepted. The onerous terms obliged Armenia to renounce the Treaty of Sevres and all claims to Western Armenia and the province of Kars, and to accept temporary Turkish jurisdiction in Nakhichevan, among other issues. Alexander Khatisian, representative of the Republic of Armenia, signed the treaty in the wee hours of December 3.

       However, the Armenian government had already resigned and, therefore, Khatisian had no power whatsoever. On the other hand, Kiazim Karabekir represented the Great National Assembly of Turkey, with headquarters in Ankara, but the legal authority of Turkey, until November 1922, was in the hands of Sultan Mehmed VI and the Ottoman government in Constantinople. Legally, none of the signing parties had any attribution to stamp their signature under the document. Writes Richard Hovannisian: “Denounced and branded a traitor by Soviet and other non-Dashnakist authors, Khatisian justified his action as an exigency measure taken with the knowledge of the new Erevan government and intended to give time for the Red Army to enter Armenia in sufficient numbers to block a further Turkish advance. Realizing that he had not legal jurisdiction, Khatisian hoped that the new Soviet government, with the support of Russia, would repudiate his action and force the Turks to withdraw, at least to the pre-war boundaries.”

       The Treaty of Alexandropol was never ratified and was replaced by the treaties of Moscow and Kars (March and October 1921). The latter was signed by the Great National Assembly of Turkey, Soviet Russia, Soviet Armenia, Soviet Georgia, and Soviet Azerbaijan. However, these treaties cannot be recognized as valid according to international law. Mustafa Kemal had not been invested with any powers by the legally recognized Ottoman government, and Soviet Armenia was not a legally recognized state anymore.


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