The Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, has been addressing a Conference in Yerevan to celebrate the lost Treaty of Sevres. He made a statement at that conference praising the lost Treaty of August 1920 and indicated that he would like to see it revived from the dead, presumably to carve up the Turkish Republic in favour of Armenia. The statement reveals much about the twisted mind of Armenian nationalism.
The Armenian Prime Minister began:
“The Treaty of Sevres is a historical fact. It remains so to this day. What is the benefit that we can draw from that document? Why is it still in the focus of our attention?
First, the Treaty of Sevres came in the aftermath of World War I – one of the most dramatic chapters in human history – almost two years after its end. Just as the Treaty of Versailles established peace in Europe, in the same way, the Treaty of Sevres was meant to bring peace to the former Western Asian territories of the Ottoman Empire. It put an end to the war-driven sufferings and deprivations experienced by the peoples of our region. It heralded the end of the ‘cursed years.’
Like the Treaty of Versailles, the Treaty of Sevres shaped a new system of interstate relations in the region. It introduced new principles and values, which should have established not only lasting peace, but also justice in Western Asia.”
This is a quite extraordinary statement on a number of counts. First of all, the idea that “the Treaty of Versailles established peace in Europe” is just ridiculous. Most historians would suggest it led, indirectly or directly, to the Second World War, within a generation, and the deaths of over 50 million people. A century before Versailles, the Treaty of Vienna, after the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, preserved the peace in Europe for nearly a hundred years. Versailles made sure that “the war to end all wars” created an even more catastrophic world war soon after.
The Treaty of Versailles was a dictated peace, imposed on the vanquished in Europe. Its sister, the Treaty of Sevres, was the version meant for Asia Minor and the Middle East. It was superseded by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. As a publication of Chatham House noted in 1942 of Lausanne:
“All things considered, a contributor to the History of the Peace Conference of Paris is probably justified in predicting that the Treaty inaugurated a more lasting settlement than any other that followed the War. It was not imposed but negotiated, and in that fact lie hopeful prospects for its permanence.” (G.M. Galthorne-Hardy, A Short History of International Affairs, 1920-1939, p.115)
Having seen the disaster of Versailles the British came to acknowledge that the Treaty of Lausanne was a fortunate development in replacing the Treaty that they had originally attempted to impose on the Turks at Sevres.
The Treaty of Lausanne still stands today, one of the most successful peace treaties in world history. But the Armenians would have preferred the diktat it replaced, which Mustafa Kemal buried in the dust. Why? Because it would have given them more territory and that is all that matters to an Armenian. The peace, stability and security of the rest of the world can “go hang”.
Armenian PM Pashinyan continues in praise of Sevres:
“The Treaty was anchored on the most advanced ideas of the time. It specifically highlighted the principle of self-determination and equality of peoples. It put an end to the centuries-old subjugation imposed by empires, bringing freedom and independence to the peoples of the region. Moreover, by granting peoples the right to establish nation-states in their historical territories, it created favorable conditions for peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians in the region, promoted and further developed the region’s cultural and ethnic diversity.”
Few if any historians would agree with his view that Sevres “was anchored on the most advanced ideas of the time… the principle of self-determination and equality of peoples” that “put an end to the centuries-old subjugation imposed by empires, bringing freedom and independence to the peoples of the region.”
It certainly paid lip-service to these slogans that had been trumpeted across the world in order to recruit other peoples in the service of the Great War on Germany and the Ottomans, but which were never applied by the Imperialists themselves in their own empires (Ireland, India, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt etc. etc.) Sevres was at heart an Imperialist reordering of the region that paid little attention to local conditions or the views of its peoples. The Imperialists drew the maps in London and Paris and made their lines in the sand in negotiation only with each other, attempting to pass off the less valuable and more dangerous tracts of land, including “Armenia”, to the Americans.
Sèvres had little to do with democracy or self-determination. Where were the plebiscites for example? And it made nations of peoples who had never demanded to be nations before 1914 and who had lived lives of general contentment before the West decided that their places of habitation should form another battlefield in their world war and be reordered afterwards to suit Imperialist interests.
Perhaps Pashinyan is of the belief that “favorable conditions for peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians in the region” could have been produced by the continued presence, over decades, of British, French, Italian and Greek armies. But I doubt that the rest of humanity would agree with him and his definition of “peaceful coexistence” – which seems to be more on the lines of Western Powers keeping Muslims down by armed force, in the interests of Armenia, than anything else.
Pashinyan argues that another good feature of Sevres was that it
“… was the first international document to recognize and enshrine Armenia’s independence. The Republic of Armenia acted as an equal party to the Treaty. Centuries after the loss of independence, the Armenian authorities for the first time signed an international treaty along with the world’s great powers. The Republic of Armenia was recognized as a full member of the international community, an equal subject of international law within the limits set out in the Treaty. Being a party to the Treaty, Armenia and its people were recognized as key contributors to the victory of the Allies in World War I and the establishment of peace. The Treaty highlighted and properly assessed the role of the Armenian people in international relations and in the post-war global governance.”
Well Armenia might have imagined it was an equal party to those it had enlisted in its cause but it was brought down to earth soon afterwards when none of its equal allies defended the Treaty, or afterwards defended Armenia against the Bolsheviks. By then Armenia had been thanked for its services to the cause in throwing in its lot to destroy the Ottoman State, and providing good moral propaganda for the taking away of Ottoman territory by the Imperialists. Lloyd George had grown tired of the ridiculous territorial claims and lies of the Armenians and decided they were of no further use, and good riddance to them indeed. It is all in the British archives if Pashinyan cares to read about it.
What was this “post-war global governance” that Armenia formed a part of? The League of Nations, which after recognising Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia did little or nothing to defend them from the Red Army? The same body that Britain gave up on and used as an instrument in the inter-war years and which failed miserably to do its main job and keep the peace of the world?
The Armenian PM concludes with the following:
“… in its Article 89, the Treaty of Sevres reaffirmed our nation’s indisputable historical association with the Armenian Highland, wherein the Armenian people had originated, lived, developed their statehood and culture for millenia… The establishment of the independent Armenian statehood in its ancestral homeland was the fair solution of the Armenian Question. Historical justice was being restored. Favorable conditions were created for reinstating our people’s economic and demographic potential and ensuring its natural development.”
Unfortunately for the Armenians the world does not see itself through Armenian eyes. The Imperialist Powers went across the world over centuries, uprooting and removing countless peoples from their ancestral homelands”, destroying ancient cultures with impunity. The Armenians inhabited an area, as a minority, which was of little interest to the West but of more strategic value to Russia. And that is why the Bolsheviks walked in and saved the Armenians from complete disaster a little after Sevres.
The Treaty of Sevres was actually a disaster for the Armenians. More than anything else it motivated the Turks to fight. It produced the alliance between Ankara and Moscow that put paid to “Armenia”. It convinced the United States that Congress had been right to let its idealist President draw his little maps of Great Armenia to occupy his decline, whilst America took care not to drink from a poisoned chalice. And Britain ditched it all, along with Lloyd George, in favour of something that recognised reality, at Lausanne.
For some reason the Armenian mind can see none of this. It is so self-absorbed and self-contained, without understanding of the rest of humanity, unless it can do something for Armenia. Only such a mentality could see anything positive in the Treaty of Sevres.