Encyclopedia >> Encyclopedia of Armenian History >> Lausanne Conference 1922-23

 CONFERENCE OF LAUSANNE 1922-23. An international conference on the issue of the Near East, after the failure of Anglo-Greek campaign against Turkey (1919-22). The conference was held from November 20, 1922, till July 24, 1923 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Participants of the conference were Great Britain, France, Italy, Greece, Japan, Romania, Yugoslavia, the United States (as an observer) and Turkey. The Soviet (Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians) joint delegation took part in the discussion of issue on the channels the Black Sea. Lausanne conference ended with a series of documents signed and the Treaty of Lausanne was the most important one which settled the boundaries of modern Turkey, and actually this treaty replaced Peace Treaty of Sèvres of 1920. Turkey abolished the foreign economic and political the privileges, commercial and military ships were allowed to access the Black Sea channels by special convention etc.

The Armenian issue was also discussed at Lausanne Conference. The delegation of the Republic of Armenia (A. Aharonian, a Khatisyan) was not allowed officially to participate in the conference because he was no longer representing Armenia where the Soviet power was established.  However, in cooperation with National delegation (G. Noratunkyan L. Bashalyan) a memorandum was presented at the conference, which offered 3 possible solutions to the Armenian issue, the creation of "Armenian national home" in the Armenian territory, the borders of which were drawn up by the US President W. Wilson. The expansion of the Yerevan Republic  (i. e, Soviet Armenia) by annexing to it part of the Western Armenia with  an access to Sea, otherwise, the national home would be in Cilicia.

The first commission and sub-commission referred to the Armenian national home during several sessions. The chairman of the session of December 12, prime minister of Great Britain lord Curzon touching upon the issue of national minorities of Turkey, talked about the Armenians, “The Armenians deserve special attention, not only in the sight of the brutal tortures suffered by the generations that arosed the sympathy and horror of the civilized world, but wemust also consider specific assurances given by Allied Powers about their future”. He asked the government of Ankara to allocate “national home” for  "this people full of spirit and determination” in the north-eastern provinces of Turkey, on the south-eastern border of Syria, and Cilicia. 

The other representatives of the Entente (Barrer, Garroni, Montana, Venizelos and others) were of the same opinion and didn’t spare "humanitarian" speeches in defense of the Armenian Cause. But the Turkish delegation (Ismet Pasha, Reza Nur Bey) firmly rejected the idea of establishing Armenian national home in Turkey, saying that Turkey didn’t have  "any piece of territory” neither in eastern provinces, nor in  Cilicia  and the majority of their population were Turks and therefore, they couldn’t be separated from the motherland. Besides, Turkey had signed treaties according to international law (referring to the treaties of Moscow and Kars in 1921) and established "good neighborly relations" with an  existing "independent Armenia," that is, Armenian SSR, and it was difficult to admit "the existence of another Armenia”

Victorious Turkey imposed its will on the Entente powers in this way. Great Britain and France, who were pursuing their own interests in Turkey and Near East, ceded to the persistence of the Turkish delegation, and made concessions at the expense of national minorities’ (Armenians, Greeks, Bulgarians in Thrace, etc.) legal interests. For the last time the 1st commission touched upon the  Armenian issue on  July 17, 1923. It turned into  "the Armenian refugees' issue and was transferred to the League of Nations. And again the Armenians and Armenia were not mentioned in the treaty.  Thus, Turkey has not only processed the Western Armenia and Cilicia, but under the pretext of protecting itself from "agitators", it rejected thousands of expatriate Western Armenians to return to their homes. According to the Article 42 of the Treaty, the Turkish Government undertook teh activities to "protect" churches, cemeteries and other religious institutions of Turkish National Minorities. The Soviet delegation at the Lausanne Conference (director G. Chicherin) expressed willingness by a memorandum to give shelter to the Armenian refugees in Russia and Ukraine. 

J. Torosyan

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