1994) The Leading Actors of the Armenian Issue

The Turkish – Armenian relationships had gone very well until the XVIII. Century. There was no issue such as the Armenian Issue neither in the realm of Seljuks nor in the first centuries of the Ottoman Empire. As a result of the interest of the foreign powers in the Christian community of the Ottoman Empire within the Eastern Issue since the XVIII. Century, the Armenians had begun to come into forth slowly. Therefore, it is clear that the Armenian Issue had begun to come out due to the activities of the foreign actors before it was a domestic issue depending on the internal causes.

1. Russia: With the War of Prut, Russia came on to stage in the history and with the war of 1768 -1774 it was begun to be considered within the important states of the world and eventually with the Treaty of Kuchuk- Kainarji, Russia gained the right to intervene the issue in the Ottoman Empire in behalf of the Christian community. Thus, Russia created a policy in which it exploited the involvement of the Ottoman Christians as a basis in order to subvert and divide the Ottoman Empire. This policy of Russia was supported by the European Christian communities as well.

In order to achieve its goal, first of all, Russia made Croatians, Romanians, Bulgarians and Macedonians in the Balkans revolt against Turks. By the help of these rebellion acts, it aimed to make the Ottoman Empire easily defeated and then with a final stroke, it pursued a policy due to which it tried to create autonomous and independent states in the Balkans.

When Russia somehow attained an achievement with this policy in the Balkans, it continued to pursue its very same policy in the Asian territories of the Ottoman Empire, i.e. Anatolia, too. In this region, there existed the Armenians as a Christian element that seemed to be helpful to Russia. With the conquest of the South Caucasia, it became much easier for Russia that it could take the Armenians under its own control in the region and establish a relationship with the Ottoman Armenians.

Since the XIX. Century, especially after the 1877 – 1878 Ottoman –Russian War, by means of the Russian spies in the East Anatolian Region, through inciting the Armenians against Turks, Russia created hatred and grudge between the two nations. Of course this policy did not arise from Russia’s love for Christianity or its sympathy towards Armenians, but rather than that it resulted from its policy of reaching the warm seas. From time to time Russia incited the Muslim Kurds against the Ottoman Empire, which was very meaningful as an indication of its real intention. Moreover, the support to the Armenian policy of Abdulhamid II was the best signifier of this policy. Thus, the Armenians attracted the attention of the Tsars depending on the degree of their being means of the Russian policy.

2. England: After conquering India, England began to have an interest in the Ottoman Empire, especially in the Middle East. This interest was pointed out first to the Greeks, then Druses and Bulgarians, and then to the Armenians. The reason for this interest was certainly to balance the imperialist policy of Russia and France, which they carried out in the territories of the Ottoman Empire. England concentrated its attention on the Armenians due to the fact that the Armenian Church did not have a good relationship with the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches.

Following the falling out of favor of the Ottoman Greeks in the Ottoman Empire -especially the Ottoman Greeks from Fener following the independence of Greece in 1830-, the Armenians were begun to be regarded as the loyal nation and Bab-? Ali (the administrative branch of the Ottoman Empire) began to locate the Armenians in the state institutions and higher positions after the declaration of the Tanzimat (the political reforms made in the Ottoman Empire) and after this date, England began to have much more interest in the Armenians. This interest arose from the political necessities. While Russia based its policy on Orthodoxies, France on Eastern Catholics and Austria on Balkan Catholics, England could not build its policy on nothing rather than the Middle Eastern Druses. In order to be able to cope with this difference regarding the other countries, England tried to be the protector of the Armenians and began to conduct activities to have the Armenians on their sides.

In this context, England laid its hands on the Armenian intellectuals who were educated in the West and who had a democratic, liberal and secular understanding. In 1878, England promised the Armenians to “found a buffer Armenian State” in order to separate them from Russia. This Armenian State would be established both for the sake of the Armenian interests and the security of the Indian Roads. By this way, there enabled a common interest and goal between England and the Armenians. In addition to this, England managed to convince the Armenians that a Russian existence in the East Anatolia would be very harmful for them. As a matter of fact, England made the Sides place the article 61 in the 1878 Berlin Agreement for the sake of the Armenians.

Meanwhile, when England settled in Cyprus in 1878 and in Egypt in 1882, it abandoned the Armenians in order to please the Ottoman Empire and the Muslims. In 1887, when Abdulhamid II did not ratify an agreement about Egypt, England again began to act against the Ottoman Empire and continued to support the Armenians. Moreover, England began to provoke the Macedonian, Bulgarian and Cretan issues. Its aim was to prevent Bab-? Ali from having an interest in Egypt.

In 1897 Ottoman- Greek War, the Muslim colonies of England, especially the Muslims of Egypt and India wanted London to support the Ottoman Empire. Because of the fact that England was busy with the Boer War at that moment and Abdülhamit II had in an intention to establish good relationships with England, England abandoned the Armenians on their own. Moreover, as of 1899, England began to talk about a “Kurdistan” but not an “Armenia” in Anatolia. In 1907 at the Reval Meeting, England left the Armenians to Russians and began not to be interested in them, but during the World War I. England again began to have an interest in the Armenians.

3. France and the United States of America: These two countries have been interested in the Armenians in respect of religion with a Crusader spirit. In 1830 France made the Armenian Catholic Community gain a statue and had them established the Armenian Catholic Patriarchy.

United States of America has begun to have an interest in the Armenian community by means of its missioners since 1819. Both countries and the public opinions of those countries have always assumed an attitude in favor of Armenians and made this the stand point of their policies.

As a conclusion, it can be said that Russia and England pursue their policies in Anatolia by using the Armenians for their benefits, and France and the United States pursued the Crusader mentality through Armenians in the territories of the Ottoman Empire in order to have a positive image in their publics. These imperialist policies both divided the Armenians into categories as Protestants, Catholics, Orthodoxies and Gregorians and started the Turkish – Armenian hostility. At the end, the sides that lost were the Turks and the Armenians.

Reference: Belgelerin Isiginnda Ermeni Meselesi Semineri
(The Seminar of the Armenian Issue in the Light of the Documents)
Prof. Doc. Bayram KODAMAN
BAÜ Sosyal Bilimler Yayinlari: 1 2003

Source: GenocideReality.com


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