1834) Armenians’ Desire to Return to Sèvres

The main goal of the Armenian activities against Turkey is to have possession of all of the provinces which are within the territories of Turkey and claimed to be the historic Armenia, at least the region determined as Armenia in the Sevres Treaty of August 10, 1920 or to get compensation from Turkey in case these lands are not given back. . . The practices of “Deportation Law” which were put into force in 1915 by the Ottoman Empire due to some hardships resulting from the conditions of the period were exploited by the Armenians as so-called “Genocide-Massacre” particularly abroad beginning from 1965 and intensifying further in the subsequent years.

Armenian propaganda activities against Turkey were observed to be continuously escalating in all the countries with Armenian residents up to 1973 in the anniversaries of the April 24, 1915 symbolized as the day on which the so-called massacre was carried out. Killing brutally Turkey’s consul general and his deputy in Los Angeles, the USA in 1973 and thus directing their hostility towards the Republic of Turkey openly repeated their demands of land and compensation from our country uninterruptedly at first in the months of April and later in the intensive activities covering the whole year in the following years.

The main goal of the Armenian activities against Turkey can be outlined as “to have the possession of all the provinces which are within the territories of Turkey and claimed to be the historic Armenia, at least the region determined as Armenia in the Sevres Treaty of August 10, 1920 or to get compensation from Turkey in case these lands are not given back.” In order to achieve their aims, the Armenians have made efforts to arouse “a sentiment of pity” in the Christian world once again, to convey the public opinion that the foundation of “the independent Armenia” could be “an element of political balance” in settling the conflicts continuing among the leading states over the Middle East and to put across their problems to the international platforms.

As a matter of fact, in late 20th century, they gained their independence with the fall of the Soviet Union. The Armenians mainly cooperate with some persons and organizations carrying out activities against our country due to the fact that they desire an atmosphere of unrest and hope for the all the subversive movements to play an active role for partitioning Turkey.
Also, some internal and external problems of Turkey, particularly Cyprus and Southeast issues have always been abused by Armenians. As a matter of fact, after the Cyprus Peace Operation of 1974, it has been observed clearly that the Greek political demands over Cyprus and the humiliating propaganda against Turkey and Turks were put forward by the diaspora Armenians based on the provocations developed by the Greek sympathizer foci. This situation has been evaluated as the evidence of the developed anti-Turkey historic “Greek-Armenian cooperation.” It has been determined that

the Armenian strategy is in ideological respects:
• to shed light on the Armenian history,
• to maintain the Armenian customs, traditions and culture,
• to make the “hatred of Turks” a unifying element.

In political respects:
• demand of land from Turkey,
• demand of compensation from Turkey.

In respect of ensuring the strategy:
• Multidimensional and uninterrupted propaganda against Turkey in order to influence the world public opinion,
• The application to the international organizations,
• Turning towards terrorism against Turkey.

The Armenian Population in the World

Armenians name outside the Republic of Armenia as Diaspora, the Armenians living abroad as “the Armenians living in diaspora.” The Republic of Armenia gained its independence from the USSR on September 23, 1991. It has an area of 29.800 square km. and a population of 2.892.000. The population growth is -0.3 %. Due to the fact that the country is mountainous, its land is infertile and it has emigration, its population does not grow, on the contrary, it shrinks. The distribution of the Armenian population living in diaspora is possibly as follows: the USA: 1.000.000, Russia:1.000.000, France: 450.000, Iran: 300.000, Lebanon: 250.000, Syria: 60.000, Greece: 25.000, including those living in Australia, Canada, Brasilia, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Georgia etc. approximately a total of 7.5 million.
Due to its historic cooperation, France is the country which accommodates the greatest number of Armenians in diaspora after the USA and Russia. The importance of France with respect to Armenian activities stems from history. France is known to have showed sympathy and made contributions to the efforts of “establishing an Armenian state” until the Sevres Treaty in line with the thesis of “the Christians are pressurized” in the declining era of the Ottoman Empire and before and after World War I.

The western countries aiming to partition and destroy the Ottoman State altogether in early 20th century caused the splitting of the Armenian Sectarian Unity (Gregorian) as a result of the missionary activities and the establishment of the Catholic and Protestant Armenian Churches in the late 19 century. For example, the Russia in times of Czar supported Gregorian Armenians, France Catholic Armenians and the Britain supported Protestant Armenians. Thus, they strove to have an influence and control over Armenians. However, the real intention of Britain and France was that they did not wish an independent Turkey that would set an example to other Muslim countries. As matter of fact, due all those factors, France opened its doors to “the Delegation of the Republic of Armenia” formed in 1918 and Paris “Versailles Peace Conference” in 1919 in order to present the Armenian political aspirations.

Paris Peace Conference

Towards the end of war a decision was made by the Entente Powers on the division and partition of the Ottoman Empire which had been defeated together with its Allies in World War I between 1914-1918 and how this would be applied was to be determined in the Peace Conference convened in Paris. The Armenians who claimed to have struggled against the Turkish armies on the side of the Entente armies appeared in the stage of the Paris Peace Conference so as to benefit from the legacy of the Ottoman Empire and the to establish the Greater Armenia. As matter of fact, in a memo which they submitted to this conference on February 12, 1919, they referred to the lands of the Greater Armenia and proposed that they be put under the protection of a strong state for 20 years and stipulated the fulfillment of the following conditions by the protector State.

* To force the officers of the Turkish government occupying the Armenian lands at the time to leave those lands,
* To collect the arms of the public,
* To punish those who were involved in the massacres, public attacks and plundering,
* To force out of the region the marauders and migrating tribes which disturb peace,
* To drive out the Muslim immigrants who were brought to the region afterwards. Subsequently, the French armies landed in Iskenderun with three battalions of Armenian troops in 1920. The mentioned Armenian troops organized a showy parade in Marseilles before joining the operation.

During this landing, the allies of the French, the British military forces were also in the region. The goal of the French operation was to establish a national Armenian homeland in the area of Cilicia under their own protection. Upon the call of the French High Commissioner Georges Picot, the Armenians in Syria and Mesopotamia began returning to the area. After the French units, the Armenian troops moved there and tortured and persecuted the Turks together with the local Armenians as well as those who had come from other regions. On October 20, 1920, Maras was surrendered to the French by the British. On 29 October 1920, the French occupied Cilicia together with an Armenian battalion.

The Struggle Initiated by the Sütçü Imam

The persecutions carried out by the invaders exasperated the Turkish population in the region. An old hero called Sütçü Imam shot with his pistol some fierce Armenians who had molested women and wounded men and thus the first struggle began. Upon this incident, the French distributed weapons to the Armenians in Maras.

The armed Armenians continued to persecute Turks. Upon the complaints of the Maras population, the French stated that they would withdraw the Armenian units and replace them with Muslim troops. After a while an Algerian force from Adana arrived, the Armenian troops were not withdrawn and they were only released from the barracks. Taking away the Turkish flags in the area by the French and some Armenians also do so caused the local people to counteract. After a while, the British firstly turned the French forces over Urfa and then Antep. The Armenians who were in French uniforms were also together with those forces. At that time, the idea occurred among the Turkish people that the Liberation War would be initiated under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal. “The Delegation of Representatives” in Sivas tasked some young officers to organize the people in the area. The attacks of the Turkish forces and the resistance of the local population put the raiders in a difficult position in the region. Due those clashes the names of the mentioned cities were changed as Kahramanmaras, Sanliurfa and Gaziantep.

The Agreement with France

The hostilities which they had been continuing since 1914 troubled the French people. The war in the Cilicia area was a great burden on the French economy. Differences of opinion occurred in their parliaments. The debates as to whether the expenses would be reduced or the forces would be withdrawn were initiated. Both of the sides believed that an agreement had to be made in that region because the Turkish army needed to economize forces on the other fronts so as to carry out an attack. The French wished to withdraw their forces in Anatolia except Syria. Therefore, they appointed Franklin Bouillon, one of the former deputies known as a friend of Turks to Ankara as ambassador and ensured he met Mustafa Kemal and his friends. After lengthy meetings and negotiations, an agreement was reached. It was signed after the war of Sakarya. As a matter of fact, in line with the agreement signed on October 20, 1921, the Turkish lands under the French occupation were completely liberated within the borders of the Turkish national pact and the force and sources of this front were made use in the western front. Soon after this agreement, the French occupied area in the south was evacuated.

Armenians Fled

Before the French left the area, the Armenians who had acted maliciously against the population of the area during the occupation also left the country. In the final crisis years of the Ottoman State and after the events of 1915, the Armenians in the Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia firstly fled to Syria and Lebanon, and then Cyprus and Egypt on the French warships following the withdrawal of the French from Cukurova. Some of them immigrated to France in the subsequent years.

After the assailant French left Çukurova, the Cilicia Churh in the region was firstly moved to Aleppo and then Antelias near Beirut. Of the Armenian churches, this church, as it did previously, carries out intensive work against Turkey. Some of the Armenians who stayed in Lebanon fled to countries such as the USA, France and Australia due to the civil war in 1970s.

The mentioned Armenians most of whom immigrated to France in 1920’s strove to be integrated with this country. The fact that they were Christian made things easier for them. They also became successful owing to their industriousness, skills, the assistance and solidarity of their friends who had already settled in France. Their situation is very good. They are affluent and educated. They are able to carry out many activities in big cities such as Paris, Lyon and Marseilles thanks to their high level of socio-economic and cultural status. After the Jewish lobby, the strongest lobby is the Armenian lobby together with that of Greeks. They have not returned to their homeland due to their high-quality living conditions. They only travel as tourists and they come back after they visit their relatives, friends and acquaintances. Yet they make material and moral assistance to Armenia at every opportunity.

The Dream of Greater Armenia

As for the situation of the Armenian colony in France in 1939, the date when the World War II: A small Armenian group was the member of French Communist Party. A significant part of them were the members of pro-Tashnak Armenian FRA (Federation Revolutionnaire Armennienne).

During World War II, upon the German occupation of France for 4 years, the Tashnaks collaborated with the German forces. The aim of this was to defeat the Soviets by the Germans in a possible German-Soviet war and the liberation of the Soviet Armenia. Greater Armenia would be established with the so-called Western Armenia to be split from Turkey. However, as is known, Germany was defeated in World War II and thus, this idea did not materialize.

After the liberation of France from the German occupation, the Tashnaks lost credit in the eyes of the French due to their conduct in the years of occupation. Therefore, in 1945, with the encouragement of the pro Tashnak Schavarch Missakian a new organization called Nor Seround (New Generation) was established. The organization is one of the most important Armenian organizations active in France at the moment.

Campaign of Returning to Homeland

On the other hand, the National Armenian Front abominating the occupying Germans was established in those years in France. However, after a short while, the Soviets infiltrated to the Armenian National Front through their diplomatic missions in Paris and started to support this organization and its activities. Beginning from 1945 a considerable number of Dashnaks started to become members of the mentioned Front. At that time, all the Armenians believed in the possibility of the reestablishment of Armenia within the borders drawn by the Treaty of Sevres. For, the USSR was asking Turkey for Kars and Ardahan.

Of course, this Armenia was not an independent Armenia but the USSR-controlled and autonomous Armenia within the borders of Sevres. This possibility resulted in the unification among the Armenians. As matter of fact, Tashnaks and Communists got closer with each other in that period. Again, in those times, the French banned the newspaper called Jogovourth – People which the Armenian National Front considered publishing. For the activities of the front started to clash with the interests of the French national interests. Again in the same period, this Front played an active role in favor of the campaign “Return to Homeland” which the Soviets initiated for the diaspora Armenians to return to the USSR’s Armenia. However, the Soviet Foreign Minister of the time Visinski in the speech which he delivered in the UN on 24 October 1947 repeated the Soviet demands regarding Kars and Ardahan and added that these two provinces belonged to Georgia historically. This speech aroused the disillusionment of the Armenians and the supporters of Tashnak split from the Armenian National Front. The front collapsed soon afterwards.

Greece’s Support

In 1950’s the Armenians in France turned to cultural work rather than political activities. What is aimed by this is to prevent a possible Armenian assimilation by maintaining the Armenian customs and traditions. For what the French Armenians fear most is to get assimilated. As a matter of fact, despite the intensity of the cultural work still many Armenians conceal their identities and state that they are Armenians.

As with the entire the world, the Armenian activities in France have diversified since April 24, 1965, the 50th anniversary of the so-called massacre. One of the most important reasons for this is that of course this date marks the beginning of a new period in the Turkish-Greek relations. As matter of fact, Greece has been one of the supporters of the Armenian activities across the world. They have started to organize special days and demonstrations. Particularly, what is remarkable is the collaboration of the Greek minority in Marseilles with the considerable number of Armenian colonies and organizations in that province against Turkey and Turks.

Source: Cumhuriyet – Ergün Sanli 15/05/2006


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