Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Kars, Ardahan, Igdir (Eastern Armenia) occupied by Turkey

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 13, 2014

The modern concept of United Armenia as used by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun).

The distribution of Armenians in the early 17th century, a few decades after its conquest by the Ottomans, within the current borders of Turkey:

Red: Armenian majority

Light red: Significant Armenian presence

Western Armenia

Western Armenia (Western Armenian: Արեւմտեան Հայաստան, Arevmdian Hayasdan) is a term used to refer to eastern parts of Turkey (formerly the Ottoman Empire) that were part of the historical homeland of Armenians.

Western Armenia, also referred to as Byzantine Armenia, emerged following the division of Greater Armenia between the Byzantine Empire (Western Armenia) and Sassanid Persia (Eastern Armenia) in 387 AD.

The area, formerly known as Turkish Armenia or Ottoman Armenia, was conquered by the Ottomans in the 16th century during the Ottoman-Safavid War (1532-1555) against their Iranian Safavid arch-rivals.

After the Turkish-Persian wars of 1623-1639, Western Armenia became part of the Ottoman Empire. Western (Ottoman) Armenia consisted of six vilayets (vilâyat-ı sitte) — the vilayets of Erzurum, Van, Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Kharput, and Sivas.

Since the Russo-Turkish War, 1828-1829, the term “Western Armenia” has referred to the Armenian-populated historical regions of the Ottoman Empire that remained under Ottoman rule after the eastern part of Armenia was ceded to the Russian Empire by the Qajar Persians following the outcome of the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813) and Russo-Persian War (1826-1828).

During the 19th century, the Russian Empire conquered most of Eastern Armenia from Iran and also some parts of Turkish Armenia, such as Kars. The region’s Armenian population was affected during the widespread massacres of Armenians in the 1890s.

During the collapse of the Ottoman Empire Western Armenia remained under Turkish rule, and in 1894–96 and 1915 the Ottoman Empire perpetrated systematic massacres and forced deportations of Armenians resulting in the Armenian Genocide.

The massive deportation and killings of Armenians began in the spring 1915. On April 24, 1915 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders were deported from Constantinople. Depending on the sources cited, from 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 Armenians were killed during this act.

During the Caucasus Campaign of World War I, the Russian Empire occupied most of the Armenian-populated regions of the Ottoman Empire. A temporary provincial government was established in occupied areas between 1915 and 1918.

The chaos caused by the Russian Revolution of 1917 put a stop to all Russian military operations and Russian forces began to conduct withdrawals. The first and second congresses of Western Armenians took place in Yerevan in 1917 and 1919.

The Armenians living in their ancestral lands were exterminated or deported during the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and the following years. The Armenian presence in the area largely ended and the cultural heritage was mainly destroyed by the then Ottoman government.

Although virtually no Armenians live in the area today, some Armenian irredentist parties, most notably the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, claim it as part of United Armenia. Since 2000, an organizing committee of the congress of heirs of Western Armenians who survived the Armenian Genocide is active in diasporan communities.

Currently, the Republic of Armenia does not have any territorial claims against the Republic of Turkey, although, some political parties such as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the largest Armenian party in the diaspora, claim the area given to the Republic of Armenia (1918–1920) by US President Woodrow Wilson’s arbitral award in 1920, also known as Wilsonian Armenia.

The fate of Western Armenia — commonly referred to as “The Armenian Question” — is considered a key issue in the modern history of the Armenian people.

Eastern Armenia

The provinces of Kars, Ardahan and Iğdır

Kars Province is a province of Turkey, located in the northeastern part of the country. It shares part of its border with the Republic of Armenia. The provincial capital is the city of Kars. The provinces of Ardahan and Iğdır were until the 1990s part of Kars Province.

Ardahan Province (Turkish: Ardahan ili), is a province in the north-east of Turkey, at the very end of the country, where Turkey borders with Georgia. The provincial capital is the city of Ardahan. This is attractive open countryside which however spends many months of the year under snow. At this altitude temperatures on average reach -20°C and can drop below freezing all year round, including summer months.

Iğdır Province (Turkish: Iğdır ili) is a province in eastern Turkey, located along the border with Armenia, Azerbaijan (the area of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic), and Iran. Its adjacent provinces are Kars to the northwest and Ağrı to the west and south. It was created from southeastern part of former Kars Province in 1993. The provincial capital is the city of Iğdır.

Turkey’s highest mountain, Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı) is in Iğdır, but much of the land is a wide plain far below the mountain. The climate is the warmest in this part of Turkey, and cotton can be grown in Iğdır. Iğdır is where Noah is said to have thrived following the flood. The border with Armenia follows the Aras River.

Kars Province

Kars

Ardahan Province

Ardahan

Iğdır Province

Iğdır

Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

Kars

Kars (Armenian: Ghars, Georgian: Karsi) is a city in northeast Turkey and the capital of Kars Province. With a population of 73,826 (in 2010), it is the largest city on the Turkish side of the border with Armenia.

Little is known of the early history of Kars beyond the fact that it had its own dynasty of Armenian rulers and was the capital of a region known as Vanand. As Chorzene, the town appears in Roman historiography (Strabo) as part ofancient Armenia.

Vanand is the name used to describe the area of historic Armenia that roughly corresponds to the Kars Province of present-day Turkey. Named after the Armenian family of Vanandi, it was a principality of the Kingdom of Armenia and a later province of the Democratic Republic of Armenia. Its historic capital was the city of Kars.

For the origin of the name “Kars”, some sources claim it to be derived from the Georgian word kari, meaning “the gate”, while other sources claim it is from the Armenian word hars, which is a folk etymological word for bride, or rather from kaṛuts berd, “Kaṛuts Fortress”, meaning “uprbuild fortress”.

Medieval Armenian historians referred to the city by a variety of names, including “Karuts’ K’aghak’” (Kars city), “Karuts’ Berd”, “Amrots’n Karuts’” (both meaning Kars Fortress) and “Amurn Karuts’” (Impenetrable Kars).

At some point in the ninth century (at least by 888) it became part of the territory of the Armenian Bagratunis. Kars was the capital of Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia between 928 and 961. During this period the town’s cathedral, later known as the Church of the Holy Apostles, was built.

In 963, shortly after the Bagratuni seat was transferred to Ani, Kars became the capital of a separate independent kingdom, again called Vanand. The extent of its actual independence from the Kingdom of Ani is uncertain: it was always in the possession of the relatives of the rulers of Ani, and, after Ani’s capture by the Byzantine Empire in 1045, the Bagratuni title “King of Kings” held by the ruler of Ani was transferred to the ruler of Kars.

Its significance increased in the 19th century, when Kars was contested between the Ottoman and Russian empires, with the latter gaining control of the city as a result of the 1877-78 war. During World War I, the Ottomans took control of the city in 1918, but were forced to relinquish it to the First Republic of Armenia following the Armistice of Mudros.

During the Turkish–Armenian War in late 1920, Turkish revolutionaries captured Kars for the last time. The controversial Treaty of Kars was signed in 1921 between the Government of the Grand National Assembly and the Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, which established the current north-eastern boundaries of Turkey.

Ardahan

Ardahan is a city in northeastern Turkey, near the Georgian border. The first surviving record about this region is attributed to Strabo, who calls it Gogarene (perhaps derived from Gugark’) and mentions that it was a part of the Kingdom of Armenia.

Prior to the outbreak of the 1828-1829 Russo-Turkish war, Ardahan was recorded to have had 400 households, the great majority of them Armenian. Many of them later immigrated to the Russian Empire.

The town passed into the hands of Russia following the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish war and was made a part of the Kars Oblast. The majority of the town was made up of Armenians, while other ethnic groups included Georgians, Pontic Greeks, Jews, Russians, Kurds and Yazidis.

The town flourished economically under Russian rule, exporting fruits, smoked lamb meat, wheat and wood. New roads were constructed, linking Ardahan to Akhalkalak, Kars and Oltu.

On December 25, 1914, in the early months of the First World War, the Ottoman army occupied Ardahan and massacred many of its Armenian, Pontic Greek, and Georgian inhabitants. The Russians, with the help of Armenian and Pontic Greek militias, captured the town on January 3, 1915, allowing some of the original inhabitants who had fled to return.

As Russian forces withdrew from the front following the October Revolution, a small Armenian volunteer force took up positions to defend the town from the approaching Ottoman Army.

On March 6, 1918 the Ottoman army, along with the help of the town’s Muslims, overwhelmed Ardahan’s Armenian garrison and retook the town. The British occupied Ardahan after the end of the First World War and eventually handed control over it to the First Republic of Armenia.

When the Turkish Nationalists captured Ardahan in November 1920, the town’s remaining Armenians, Pontic Greeks, and Georgians fled to Armenia, northern Greece, and Georgia. The Treaty of Moscow, signed the following year between the Soviets and the Turks, confirmed Ardahan as a part of Turkish territory. In 1960, Ardahan’s population stood at 7,228 and was populated by both Kurds and Turks.

Iğdır

Iğdır (Armenian: Igdir, also Tsolakert, after the ancient site nearby) was taken by the Russian Empire from Persia after the latter’s defeat in the Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828. It was organized as part of the Armenian Oblast in 1828 and made a part of the Georgia-Imeretia Governorate in 1840, and then the Surmalu uyezd of the Erivan Governorate in 1850.

According to the Russian family lists accounts from 1886, of the total 71,066 inhabitants of the districts 34,351 were Azerbaijanis (48.3%, mentioned as ‘Tatars’ in the source), 22,096 Armenians (31.1%) and 14,619 Kurds (20.6%).

Under Russian rule, two primary schools, one for boys and the other for girls, and three churches were opened and 100 Armenian families were allowed to move to Igdir. The town’s population rose to 10,000 in 1914 and largely busied itself with agriculture and commerce.

Following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the area came under the control of a temporary administrative committee created by the three main ethnic groups in the Caucasus. Though it attempted to negotiate a truce with the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman forces launched an eastward offensive and took Igdir on May 20, 1918. They occupied it until the signing of the Armistice of Mudros in November 1918.

The First Republic of Armenia assumed control over Igdir thereafter. The Armenian population suffered heavily during the grueling winter of 1918-19, as famine, disease and the cold swept away the lives of many. In May 1919, its status was elevated to that of a city.

Based on the boundaries drawn by US State Department in November 1920, Igdir was envisaged to become an integral part of the Armenian republic. But in September 1920, the Government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey led by Mustafa Kemal launched a war to eliminate the republic and overran Igdir. Turkish General Kâzım Karabekir commanded the armies but his forces were initially unable to take Igdir due to strong Armenian resistance.

However, within a few days, on October 20, 1920, they managed to drive Armenian forces out of Igdir. According to official Turkish documents, after their defeat in the Shahtahti area, Armenian forces abandoned Igdir. They burned down the Markara Bridge which spanned the Araxes River and retreated to the northern bank on November 13, 1920. Turkey annexed the region of Igdir after the conclusion of several peace treaties, but its territorial gains were mainly formalized in the 1921 Treaty of Kars.

Kars

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