On the Armenian Question
Posted by Fredsvenn on June 27, 2016
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.
On Saturday Turkish deputy prime minister Nurettin Canikli called Francis’ comments “greatly unfortunate” and said they bore the hallmarks of the “mentality of the Crusades.”
The thing is that the western migrating Turks in 1071 defeated the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert and the rapidly-expanding Great Seljuk Empire gained nearly all of Anatolia while the empire descended into frequent civil wars.
The Armenian Highlands (also known as the Armenian Upland, Armenian plateau, Armenian tableland, or simply Armenia) is the central-most and highest of three land-locked plateaus that together form the northern sector of the Middle East.
During Antiquity, it was known as Armenia Major, a central region to the history of Armenians, and one of the four geo-political regions associated with Armenians, the other three being Armenia Minor, Cilicia and Commagene.
The region was historically mainly inhabited by Armenians, and minorities of Georgians and Assyrians. During the Middle Ages, Turkmens settled in large numbers in the Armenian Highlands.
The Christian population of the Western half of the region was exterminated during the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and to a smaller scale the Assyrian Genocide.
The decisive defeat of the Byzantine army and the capture of the Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes played an important role in undermining Byzantine authority in Anatolia and Armenia, and allowed for the gradual Turkification, the assimilation of individuals, entities, or cultures into the various historical Turkic states and cultures, such as the Ottoman Empire.
An early form of Turkification occurred in the time of the Seljuk Empire among the indigenous peoples of Anatolia, involving religious conversion, cultural and linguistic assimilation, and interethnic relationships, reflected in the indigenous Anatolian background of most modern Turkish people.
One year later the Turks wrested control of Palestine from the Fatimids. The disruption of pilgrimages by the Seljuk Turks prompted support for the Crusades in Western Europe.
In 1095 at the Council of Piacenza, Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos requested military aid from Urban II to fight the Turks, probably in the form of mercenary reinforcements.
By the 19th century the Ottoman empire began to decline when ethno-nationalist uprisings occurred across the empire. By 1913, the government of the Committee of Union and Progress started a program of forcible Turkification of non-Turkish minorities.
During World War I, the government of the Committee of Union and Progress continued with its Turkification policies, which effected non-Turkish minorities, such as the Armenians during the Armenian Genocide and the Greeks during various campaigns of ethnic cleansing and expulsion. In 1918, the Ottoman Government agreed to the Mudros Armistice with the Allies.
The Treaty of Sèvres —signed in 1920 by the government of Mehmet VI— dismantled the Ottoman Empire. The Turks, under Mustafa Kemal, rejected the treaty and fought the Turkish War of Independence, resulting in the abortion of that text, never ratified, and the abolition of the Sultanate. Thus, the 623-year-old Ottoman Empire ended.
Once Mustafa Kemal Atatürk led the Turkish War of Independence against the Allied forces that occupied the former Ottoman Empire, he united the Turkish Muslim majority and led them from 1919 to 1922 in overthrowing the occupying forces out.
The Turkish identity became the unifying force when, in 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed and the newly founded Republic of Turkey was formally established.
After gaining military mastery over Turkey, the Nationalists, led by Mustafa Kemal, obtained a series of concessions from France and England which absolved Turkey of any further political or material responsibilities vis-à-vis the surviving Armenians. These concessions were formalized in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne which extended international recognition to the Turkish Republic.
The Treaty of Lausanne marked a watershed because it legitimized the Turkish Nationalist program of ethnic consolidation by expelling or repressing minorities. It provided for the transfer of populations between Greece and Turkey thus completing the exodus of the Greeks from Anatolia.
The Treaty of Lausanne reversed all terms agreed upon by the Ottoman Empire in the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres which had legally obligated the Turkish government to bring accused war criminals to justice.
The official policy of Turkey on the Armenian Genocide is the denial of its occurrence. Whereas the convening of courts-martial to try the Young Turks for war crimes by the post-World War I Ottoman government amounted to an admission of guilt on the part of the state, the Nationalist government based in Ankara rejected Turkish responsibility for the acts committed against the Armenian population.
Despite the three-thousand-year existence of the Armenians and their continuous construction of civilization in their historic homeland, no archeological site in Turkey is permitted designation as historically Armenian.
While Ottoman Turkey persecuted and sought to destroy the living Armenian population, Republican Turkey has been methodically erasing the physical record of an extinguished civilization with the goal of blotting out even the memory of its existence.
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.
It is used as a term used to refer to eastern parts of Turkey (formerly the Ottoman Empire) that were part of the historical homeland of Armenians.
The area was conquered by the Ottomans in the 16th century during the Ottoman–Safavid War (1532–1555) against their Iranian Safavid arch-rivals. Being passed on from the former to the latter, Ottoman rule over the region became only decisive after the Ottoman–Safavid War of 1623–1639. The area then became known as Turkish Armenia or Ottoman Armenia.
During the 19th century, the Russian Empire conquered all 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.
The Armenians living in their ancestral lands were exterminated or deported during the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and the following years. The over two thousand year Armenian presence in the area largely ended and the cultural heritage was mainly destroyed by the then Ottoman government.
Only assimilated and crypto-Armenians live in the area today, and some irredentist Armenians claim it as part of United Armenia. The most notable political party with these views is the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
Western (Ottoman) Armenia consisted of six vilayets (vilâyat-ı sitte) — the vilayets of Erzurum, Van, Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Kharput, and Sivas. 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.