Thursday, July 24, 2008

Glance at history

As a result of World War I and the Armenian genocide, the forceful exodus and extermination of Armenians from their historic lands brought up the issue of demarcation of Armenian-Turkish borders. From 1918 to 1923 five treaties determined the Armenian-Turkish border. The Sevr Treaty was signed on 10 August, 1920. It was followed by the Alexandropol Treaty (3 December, 1920), the Moscow Treaty (16 March, 1921), the Kars Treaty (13 October, 1921), and finally, the Lousanne Treaty (24 July, 1923). More notably are the Sevr Treaty and the Lousanne Treaty.

The most important point is that the Armenian-Turkish border was determined by the arbitration award of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. Armenia was among the winners of World War I and put its signature under the Sevres Treaty. Wilsonian Armenia refers to the boundary configuration for a proposed Armenian state drawn up by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson for the Treaty of Sèvres.

The proposed state incorporated Erzurum, Bitlis, and Van Provinces, which were parts of the region referred to as Ottoman Armenia (also referred to as Western Armenia). This region was extended to the north, up to the west side of Trabzon Province to provide the Democratic Republic of Armenia with an outlet to the Black Sea at the port of Trabzon.

The Turkish War of Independence forced the former wartime Allies to return to the negotiating table prior to ratification of the Treaty. The parties signed and ratified the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, which annulled the Sèvres Treaty, and also established the current borders of Turkey. This included the previously established eastern borders obtained by the Treaty of Alexandropol, signed on November 2, 1920, and the Treaty of Kars, signed on October 23, 1921 and ratified in Yerevan on September 11, 1922, the Treaty of Lausanne confirming them.

While the Sevres Treaty was not ratified, it remains valid. Today, the Republic of Armenia is still claiming that the Wilsonian Armenia as it is mapped out above is more reflective (still not fully) of historic Armenia than what was established by the Lousanne Treaty. In fact, the Lousanne Treaty was a political compromise among allies with no attention to the real grievances of Armenians against Turkey. Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide carries two-fold policy: reject the very occurrence of the genocide, and close any avenues for renegotiation of the border.

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