Gezi Park, adjacent to the iconic Taksim Square
Türkiye 2002-2013: The Growing Pains of a Rising Great Power, a tentitive assessment by Zeki Ergas: It is undeniable that Turkey, a country with a population of some 76 million inhabitants, and a territory of 776,000 square kilometers (bigger than any country in the European Union), and a bridge between Europe and Asia, has made, under the AKP leadership, great strides economically, politically and culturally. The Turkish nation is on the march and has not yet, probably fulfilled its potential. Does this mean that everything is well? No because while the achievements are considerable and important, there are serious shortcomings as well that cast a deep shadow on the achievements.

During the last eleven years or so, Türkiye was governed by the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi in Turkish, known by his acronym AKP), and by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of the Party's three founders, the Prime Minister and the undisputed leader. It is undeniable that Turkey, a country with a population of some 76 million inhabitants, and a territory of 776,000 square kilometers (bigger than any country in the European Union), and a bridge between Europe and Asia, has made, under the AKP leadership, great strides economically, politically and culturally, and that it has become a rising great power with considerable influence in the Middle East and among the Islamic central Asian republics.

The Turkish nation is on the march and has not yet, probably fulfilled its potential. Does this mean that everything is well? No because while the achievements are considerable and important, there are serious shortcomings as well that cast a deep shadow on the achievements.




Türkiye's economic, political and cultural achievements in the last decade or so have been nothing short of spectacular. The country's Gross Domestic Product was multiplied by three, exports by ten, industrialization and tourism registered stunning increases, and, as a result, Turkey has become the 17th biggest economy in the world. Türkiye is now acknowledged to be an important player (or stakeholder) in the Middle East and the new Islamic Central Asian republics. In the creative arts, the younger generation has shown a great deal of talent and imagination, as well as a deep understanding of what true or genuine democracy, human rights and freedom of expression entails.

Istanbul, certainly one of the most beautiful cities of the world, has benefited from the realization of major infrastructural projects, such as: a rapidly expanding metro system on both shores of the megalopolis; Marmaray, the tunnel under the Bosporus linking the European and Asian shores; and a third bridge spanning the Bosporus. Increasingly, major international conferences are held in Istanbul, including those organized by civil society. In June 2013, for example, some 500 young climate activists belonging to Bill McKibben's 350.org gathered in Istanbul for a week of intensive training and strategy development.

The persistence of poverty and the rapidly widening gap between the rich and the poor, including the number of the very rich that has exploded in the last few years: in 2012, quite amazingly, there were no less than 34 billionaires in Turkey, while, at the same time, 40 per cent of the population struggle to make do with a minimum wage that is about 900 Turkish Liras (less than $ 450) a month. Corruption is widespread, especially at the top of the government and big business.

The teething problems of the Turkish democracy continue. The human rights situation leaves a lot to be desired. Especially that of the freedom of expression. A large number of journalists, writers and editors are in prison, sentenced to stiff prison terms, for writing and publishing books on the Kurdish and Armenian questions. Paradoxically, more or less secret negotiations have been going on between the government and Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader who is serving a life sentence in the island of Imrali on the Marmara Sea, not far from Istanbul; also, an important meeting was held in Diyarbakir on November 16 and 17, 2013, between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Mesut Barzani, the Iraqi Kurdish leader. There are also rumors that the Prime Minister might take the opportunity provided by the 100th anniversary of the 1915 massacres of Armenians, to visit the Memorial in Erivan, making thus a gesture of reconciliation that could result in the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border and an exchange of ambassadors.

The handling of the Gezi park demonstrations has shown a disturbing level of brutality, arrogance and incompetence on the part of the government and of the police. Have they learned from their mistakes? The jury appears to be still out on that question.

2014 and 2015 are election years in Turkey: in 2014, a new president will be elected; in 2015, general parliamentary elections will be held. It is probable that the AKP will win both. An unresolved question is whether or not Erdogan will be allowed to become PM again.

But the larger issue, I believe, is the vision of the leadership for Turkey's future. A key person in that respect is Fethullah Gülen, who has never been in the government, and does not even live in Turkey. Born in 1941, he is an enormously prolific and influential Islamic intellectual – he wrote over 60 books – who is the founder of the Hizmet (Service in Turkish) movement that comprises a network of more than one thousand schools both in Turkey and outside Turkey – many in Africa and the United States. These schools have a reputation for quality teaching of math and the sciences. Gülen is pro-business and believes in interfaith dialog among the three monotheistic religions. He lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Ultimately, what Gülen is trying to show to the world is that Islam, democracy, modernization and development are compatible.

It is a legitimate goal, and achievable. The danger, however, lies in trying to go too far too fast.Hubris or megalomania, in other words, may blind the Turkish leaders on the limits of what can be done.To be inspired by the glorious era of the Ottoman Empire – such as that of the long reign by Soliman the Magnificent (or the Lawgiver, 1520-66) – is fine, but believing that it can be repeated – by means of gigantic projects, such as a third airport in Istanbul bigger even than that in Frankfurt, the biggest in Europe, and a large canal parallel to the Bosporus dealing with the busy oil tanker traffic from Russia – may lead to bankruptcy and ruin.

One final word about the bitter struggle between the Gülenists and the supporters of R.T. Erdogan that has been going on for a while and appears to have seriously deteriorated lately. The bone of contention seems to be that the Gülenists have decided that Erdogan should be replaced as leader owing to his authoritarianism and the corruption that prevails at the top of the government and the business circles that support him. However, whatever the outcome of this struggle, I believe that Turkey's march forward will continue, unless stopped by the hubris of its leaders, a major world crisis, or terrible natural catastrophe.


On 6 February 2023, a Mw 7.8 earthquake struck southern and central  Türkiye, as well as northern and western Syria. It occurred 32.4 km (20.1 mi) west–northwest of Gaziantep at 04:17 am, with a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme). A Mw 7.7 earthquake occurred nine hours later, centered 95 km (59 mi) to the north–northeast in Kahramanmaraş Province.

There was widespread damage and over 40,000 fatalities


Also from Zeki Ergas is 'The Protest Movement in Türkiye: the heart of the matter', June 2013 in which three distinct stages are observed in the disturbances that shook Turkey to the core:

1. A small band of ecologists opposed to the cutting of a few dozen trees at the small Gezi Park, adjacent to the iconic Taksim Square, in Istanbul, gathered peacefully in the Gezi Park.

2. Two days later, the police intervened brutally and the demonstrations overflowed to Taksim Square. Their nature began to change, the protesters now demanding the abandonment of the project which would transform Taksim Square and Gezi Park into a pedestrian mall at the center of which would be a shopping center disguised as a faux Ottoman artillery barracks which existed there in the old days, and which would be rebuilt.

3. The continuation of the police brutality turned the demonstrations into a national protest movement in which tens of thousands, perhaps even more than a hundred thousand people, took part in them, in dozens of Turkish cities, including the capital Ankara, and Izmir the third largest city. Protesters now denounced the authoritarian, corrupt and utterly capitalistic rule of the AKP (Justice and Development Party), and of its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

So, let us now try to go deeper into the causes of this national protest movement. What do the protesters really want? To what extent, can it be compared to the Occupy movement in the U. S. and to the various Indignant Ones movements in Europe and other parts of the world? One thing is almost certain: the extreme brutality of the police is the proximate cause of the morphing of the initial peaceful demonstrations into a violent national protest movement which brought to the fore the accumulated grievances of the secular, liberal, and mostly young and educated people against the conservative and Islamic AKP and, especially, Erdogan, its leader. To use a shopworn but perhaps apt metaphor: the cover of the casserole blew off, and the steam and the boiling water escaped and overflowed. Was the cook badly burned? It doesn't seem so. But maybe he was scared and shaken out of his complacency...

What are these accumulated grievances?

Before I try to describe them, it is necessary, I believe, to mention, if only for fairness sake, some of the positives associated with the AKP government and Erdogan. The party and its leader have now been in power for more than ten years. They were democratically elected three times, the last time, in 2010, with 49.9 per cent of the vote. Even their fiercest critics acknowledge that the Turkish state internationally, and the Turkish society, were deeply transformed for the better during that time. The GDP and the per cap income have been multiplied by three, and exports have increased tenfold. Turkey has emerged as a regional power with a great deal of influence in the Islamic Central Asian republics and in the Middle East (despite the current problems with Syria). Istanbul has become a clean and modern megalopolis into which millions of visitors flock every year, and in which many international conferences take place. The city is a leading candidate for the Summer Olympic Games of 2020. And Turkey has become a major tourist destination: more than 30 million foreign tourists came last year, attracted by the friendliness and hospitality of the Turkish people, its archeological treasures, and its beautiful beaches along the Mediterranean Sea.

And now the negatives. The accumulated grievances. What went wrong in Turkey under the AKP and Erdogan's rule? What is wrong in Turkey? Several issues can be mentioned, of which the Taksim and Gezi Park demonstrations, which degenerated, acted as a revealing agent. I can think of the following ones, not necessarily in the order that I am presenting them:

1. The problematic personality of the Prime Minister: powerful and charismatic, but also pretentious and arrogant.

2. The division of the Turkish people into two large groups that dislike one another: the Secularists and the Islamists. The responsibility for this division goes back a long time to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, who admired the West. Islam seemed to him as an obstacle to modernization. As a result, he failed to integrate constructively these two essential components of Turkish society: development and religion. The AKP and Erdogan are trying to do that. But the Secularists are unhappy with what they see as the growing Islamization of their country. The issue has not been resolved. Only the future will tell if a constructive equilibrium or balance can be found.

3. Growing inequality: the gap between the rich and the poor, which always existed in Turkey, is widening rapidly. Corruption is widespread. But that, of course, is not a specifically Turkish problem. It is part of the modus operandi of the neo-liberal and globalized capitalist system that the AKP and Erdogan have embraced so wholeheartedly. That system will have to be socialized.

4. The sorry state of the human rights situation. At the top of the list, the lack of freedom of expression. Turkey, possibly after China, is the country in the world that has the largest number of journalists, editors and intellectuals in prison. Most of those prosecuted are accused of illegal links or collaboration with a terrorist organization, that is, with the Kurdish PKK. Thousands of Kurdish militants have been incarcerated. Paradoxically, Erdogan's government has been, for about two years, negotiating with Abdullah Ocalan, the historic Kurdish leader, and, after the latter's decision to end armed struggle, the prospects of a negotiated solution appear to be good. Minority rights is a related important issue. The cultural and linguistic rights of the Kurdish and Alevi minorities - which, together, form some 30 per cent of the total Turkish population of close to 80 million - are very much on the agenda. Unacceptably, Erdogan's control of the media, through direct or indirect ownership, has resulted in self-censorship because those who openly disagree with government policies may lose their jobs.

To go now briefly back to my second point about the division of the Turkish people into two large groups composed of Secularists and the Islamists, the Kemalist ideology based on Nationalism, Republicanism, Secularism, Statism and Westernization relied on two all-powerful institutions: the Army and the State Bureaucracy. Both have been attacked and weakened considerably by the Islamists in power.

The Army is back in the barracks, and the State Bureaucracy is much smaller after the adoption of an extreme neo-liberal market ideology, and the privatization of most state industries. This weakening of the Army and of the State Bureaucracy, despite its excesses, has had some positive consequences, having helped the democratization and the economic development of the country.

And now I conclude with some philosophical remarks.

a. It is often forgotten that democracy and liberalism do not always go together. As Isaiah Berlin, the great British philosopher who died some fifteen years ago, remarked, that is so because it is not possible to have a maximum of all the good and desirable things in society simultaneously. For example, take liberty, equality and justice. Too much liberty will hurt equality, too much equality will harm liberty, and too much justice will result in injustice. Berlin's solution was: seeking an optimal combination of the three. We must also be aware that that optimal combination will be different in each individual country depending primarily on historical and cultural factors. For example, in the United States, owing to it being a country of immigrants, liberty and individualism will be more important; in China, on the other hand, a very large and very populous country with a very long history, equality and harmony will be more important.

b. The Turkish political tradition has always been authoritarian, never liberal. Practically all its leaders - from the Ottoman sultans to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, from Ismet Inönü to Turgut Ozal and to Adnan Menderes (Bülent Ecevit and Süleyman Demirel may have been the two partial exceptions) - were basically authoritarian. So, whether we like it or not, authoritarianism is part of the Turkish culture and identity. I am doubtful that that essential characteristic can be changed radically. So, what to do? I think, going back to Isaiah Berlin, we must aim, helped by the democratic institutions, and especially a powerful civil society, at an optimal combination of a degree of inevitable authoritarianism with a significant level of liberalism.

c. My last remark, which I am aware will displease many secular and liberal observers, has to do with an idea or consideration which I believe is of paramount importance. It is the following: the three dominant Islamic Turkish leaders - Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister, Abdullah Gül, the President, and Fethullah Gülen, the powerful Islamic philosopher (whose movement has been compared in power and importance to the Catholic Opus Dei) now living in exile in Virginia, in the United States - have, all three, the same ultimate aim or goal: to show the world that Islam and Modernization are compatible, and that an Islamic country can - again - become a world power at least comparable to four of the five BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India and China (the fifth, South Africa not being the same league). This aim or goal is a great challenge. Turkey is obviously the best candidate in the whole Islamic world to meet it.

A final note: Gülen, according to some rumor mills, preferring a softer and more liberal approach, appears to favor Gül as the next Turkish leader, a powerful president that will be elected in 2015. However, whether Erdogan loses or wins, it is likely that the ultimate aim or goal of this triumvirate of Turkish leaders will remain the same: the creation of a powerful new Islamic nation-state capable of rivaling with the world's best...

About the author:
Dr. Zeki Ergas, who comes from a Turkish-Jewish family and lives in Switzerland, is a writer, scholar and peace activist. He is also Secretary General of PEN Internationals Swiss Romand Center, and a leading member of that organisations Writers for Peace Committee. He has been supporting the Global Marshall Plan Initiative since its beginnings.
The author can be reached at zeki.ergas@netplus.ch


British Influence February 2013
debate with Kemal Kirisci
France's decision to relaunch the EU's talks with Türkiye took a few close observers by surprise last week. Many expected that President François Hollande would be a better friend to Ankara than his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, who had declared that Turkey was not part of Europe. Yet more than six months into the Hollande presidency, Turkey's EU hopes were still going nowhere. That changed last Tuesday when French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoğlu that talks could begin on one of the 35 negotiating "chapters" of the EU rule book, on regional aid.
Discussing financial oversight of road building in Anatolia sounds pretty unexciting but..... No negotiating chapter between the EU and Turkey has been opened since June 2010. Only one has been closed. Negotiations broke down, as Turkey and Cyprus (an EU member) became increasingly bogged down in their acrimonious dispute over the status of the divided island. France's move sits well with UK foreign policy. Recent British prime ministers, from Tony Blair to David Cameron, have been cheerleaders for Turkey's membership of the EU, not only to gain better access to the country's fast-growing economy, but also to bolster the EU's diplomatic heft, especially in the Middle East. In 2010, Cameron even said he was "angry" at the slow pace of EU negotiations with Türkiye, and promised its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to be "your strongest possible advocate for EU membership"
France's decision to re-start talks, to be followed by a visit from Hollande this spring, is still just a baby step. Turkey has been talking with the European club for 50 years. It made an application for membership in 1987, two years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Turkey's EU entry is not guaranteed and the path is strewn with obstacles. Turkey and Cyprus remain at loggerheads. Meanwhile, the Turkish public is losing interest in the EU. Erdoğan last month hinted that Türkiye might give up on the EU in favour of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an autocrats' talking shop that brings together China, Russia and the Central Asian states.

As the EU has wavered on Turkish membership, Ankara's progress on human rights and good governance has stalled. The latest European Commission report on Türkiye listed numerous "concerns", from the Turkish government's weak protection of minority rights to excessive use of force by security forces and an increasing number of violations of free speech.
Turkey's backsliding does not mean that the EU or the UK should give up on enlargement. Au contraire, genuine engagement from EU member states could help speed up political reform. The EU's biggest foreign policy successes have been helping to ensure a peaceful transition to democracy in central Europe after the end of Communism and stabilising the Balkans after the bloody conflicts of the 1990s by offering a path to membership. "EU prevents war in Montenegro is never going to be a Daily Mail headline" - as Professor Anand Menon of King's College London put it at a recent event organised by the Foreign Policy Centre. 'Preventing wars in Montenegro' or (in the past) promoting good governance in Warsaw is an idea British governments of all colours have supported. France's recent move gives Cameron an opening to give constructive support for Türkiye's EU ambitions and its political reform, rather than just being angry on the sidelines.In Februari 2011 three ngo's organised a debate (see picture above) entitled 'EUROPE from the EAST, titled 'Comparing Turkey's and EU's Neighbourhood Policies: conditionality versus regional integration'. Challenged were fresh perspectives on the problems Europe faces with scholars, politicians and writers from new and potential future EU-members. Kemal Kirişci (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul), a specialist in the field of EU-Turkish relations, drawed 9 Februari 2011 a comparison between the European and Turkish approach using new data. The EU's policies towards its eastern and southern neighbours aim to export the model of democracy and prosperity in return for closer political ties and greater access to the European market. This conditional approach has had little effect in the Mediterranean. Türkiye has in recent years become a driving force behind regional economic and political integration and is, according to an article in the FT October 2012, becoming a gateway for a new millenium.

More than twenty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the debate on European affairs is still dominated by Western European intellectuals and think tanks.


Turkey, Central Asia and the Caucasus
On 26 November 2009 it was discussed what direction will Türkiye's regional policy go and what position aspires Turkey with respect to its neighbours.
Within the theme 'a Good Neighbour', the Turkey Institute considered the changing Turkish policy from out different perspectives.

Türkiye's turn to the East is not weird but smart. Good relations with its neighbours will increase the advance of acceptance by the EU. If Türkiye ever will become a member of the Union, than Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria will become neighbours of the EU.

Furthermore, there is the Cyprus issue. Since 1974 Cyprus (EU-member since 2004) is spread over a Greec orthodox Cyprus and the Turkish Republic North Cyprus.

Hagia Sophia is formerly the Church of Hagia Sophia, a Late Antique place of worship in Istanbul. It originally served as a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral and was briefly a Roman Catholic cathedral, before being converted into an Ottoman mosque and then a secular museum. In 2020, it was re-opened as a mosque. Completed in 537, during the reign of the eastern Roman emperor Justinian I, it was then the world's largest interior space and the first to employ a fully pendentive dome.

The minarets were an Ottoman addition and not part of the original church's Byzantine design. On 10 July 2020, the decision of the Council of Ministers to transform the Hagia Sophia into a museum was cancelled by the Council of State. And, despite secular and global criticism (1), Erdoğan signed a decree annulling the Hagia Sophia's museum status, reverting it to a mosque.

Hagia Sophia was built as a cathedral in the sixth century.
The church was dedicated to the Wisdom of God, the Logos, the second person of the Trinity, its patronal feast taking place on 25 December (Christmas), the commemoration of the birth of the incarnation of the Logos in Christ. Sophia is the phonetic spelling in Latin of the Greek word for wisdom and sometimes referred to as Sancta Sophia, 'Saint Sophia'. The centre of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years, the building witnessed the excommunication of Patriarch Michael I Cerularius officially delivered by Humbert of Silva Candida, the papal envoy of Pope Leo IX in 1054, an act that is commonly considered the start of the East–West Schism (2). In 1204, it was converted by the Fourth Crusaders to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire, before being restored to the Eastern Orthodox Church upon the return of the Byzantine Empire in 1261. The doge of Venice who led the Fourth Crusade and the 1204 Sack of Constantinople, Enrico Dandolo, was buried in the church.


(1) Hagia Sophia and the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad – Informing the Pope and the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch
(2) After the East-West Schism, Western Christianity was adopted by newly created kingdoms of Central Europe: Poland, Hungary and Bohemia. The Roman Catholic Church developed as a major power, leading to conflicts between the Pope and Emperor.


2 IMPORTANT TREATIES (Kars and Sevres):

The Treaty of Kars was a friendship treaty between the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, which in 1923 declared the Republic of Turkey, and representatives of Soviet Armenia, Soviet Azerbaijan and Soviet Georgia (all of which formed part of the Soviet Union after the December 1922 Union Treaty) with participation of Bolshevist Russia. It was a successor treaty to the earlier Treaty of Moscow of March 1921 and established contemporary borders between Turkey and the South Caucasus states. It was signed in Kars on October 13, 1921 and ratified in Yerevan on September 11, 1922. Most of the territories ceded to Turkey in the treaty were acquired by Imperial Russia from the Ottoman Empire during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878. The only exception was the Surmalu region which was annexed by Russia in the Treaty of Turkmenchay after the last Russo-Persian War with Iran.

The agreement

The treaty provided for the territory of the former Russian Batum District of the Kutaisi Governorate to be divided. The northern half, with the port city of Batumi, was ceded by Turkey to the Soviet Union. The southern half, with the city of Artvin, would be annexed by Turkey. It was agreed that the northern half would be granted autonomy within Soviet Georgia. It eventually evolved into the Adjar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (today Adjara). Additionally, Turkey was also guaranteed a "free transit through the port of Batum for commodities and all materials destined for, or originating in, Turkey, without customs duties and charges, and with the right for Turkey to utilize the port of Batum without special charges."The treaty also created a new boundary between Turkey and Soviet Armenia, defined by the Akhurian and Aras Rivers. Turkey obtained from Armenia most of the former Kars Oblast of Russian Empire, including the Surmalu uyezd, with Mount Ararat and the cities of Iğdır and Koghb (Tuzluca), the cities of Kars, Ardahan, and Oltu, the ruins of Ani, and Lake Çıldır. Most of these areas were already under Turkish military control. The treaty required Turkish troops to withdraw from an area roughly corresponding to the western half of Armenia's present-day Shirak Province (including Alexandropol (Gyumri)).The treaty specified that the region of Nakhchivan (a territory comprising the Nakhchivan and Sharur part of Sharur-Daralagez uyezds of former Erivan Governorate of Russian Empire) was an autonomous territory under the protection of Azerbaijan. In 1924, Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was formed on this territory as an exclave subordinate to Azerbaijan SSR, and sharing a 15-km boundary with now Turkish district of Surmalu. It was also agreed that both Turkey and Russia would become guarantors of Nakhchivan's status.


According to different participants of Moscow Conference, Stalin's participation in Kars Treaty was huge in the context of huge area of Democratic Republic of Armenia territory was passed to Turkey. As Kazım Karabekir writes in his note: "Chicherin and Karakhan tried to annul Alexadropol Treaty, they openly stand on Armenian rights. That is why we decided to outwit them: Mdivani offered a new way. That way supposed direct contact with Stalin, who is the closest friend of Lenin. There two people are the most powerful in Russia. Actually he became the man, who made signing of the Treaty possible. If the issue is solved by Chicherin, who was under influence of Karakhan, supporter of Armenian interests, he would haven't done it.Participant from Turkish part Ali Fuat Cebesoy writes: ... if not the interfering of Stalin ... Moscow conference would probably last much longer; or we wouldn't get the results we reached.As he wrote before the conference to Kazım Karabekir: ...Stalin personally treats Armenians negatively...


After World War II, the Soviet Union attempted to annul the Kars treaty and regain its lost territory. On June 7, 1945, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov told the Turkish ambassador in Moscow that the regions should be returned to the USSR, in the name of both the Georgian and Armenian republics. Turkey found itself in a difficult position: it wanted good relations with the Soviet Union but at the same time they refused to give up the territories. Some British diplomats noted that as early as 1939, Soviet politicians might reopen the question of possibly annulling the Kars treaty. Turkey itself was in no condition to fight a war with the Soviet Union, which had emerged as a superpower after the Second World War. By the autumn of 1945, Soviet troops in the Caucasus were already assembling for a possible invasion of Turkey.Soviet claims were put forth by the Armenians to the leaders of the Allies of World War II; however, opposition stemmed from British leader Winston Churchill who objected to these territorial claims as additional areas of where the Soviet government could exert its influence while President of the United States Harry S. Truman, felt that the matter should not concern other parties. Ultimately, the USSR gave up its claims against Turkey.During the crisis, the USSR also asked Turkey for a military base on the Bosphorus. Turkish politicians worked hard, with the help of the British Government, to secure the help of the United States. During this period, the Turkish ambassador to Washington D.C. died and the United States sent his coffin to Istanbul on board the USS Missouri. This was the first large scale American military visit to Turkey and also a symbolic gesture. Only after this event did the USSR back down.


The validity of the treaty is under question according to some politologists and scholars. In fact the authorities of the sides that have their signatories under the treaty are questioned. The signing by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey only can be claimed a farce, as it was founded in Ankara on 23 April 1920 in the midst of the Turkish War of Independence in the efforts of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to found a new state out of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of the World War I and, according to the Constitution of the Ottoman Empire, had no legal authority to sign internationaltreaties. Article 7 of the Constitution of the Ottoman Empire reads:

Among the sovereign rights of His Majesty the Sultan are the following prerogatives: - [among all others] ………he concludes treaties with the powers; he declares war and makes peace;... [etc].

When the Constitution was revised in August 1909 the same Article 7 stated:

Among the sacred prerogatives of the Sultan are the following: - [among all others] ……… and the conclusion of Treaties in general. Only, the consent of Parliament is required for the conclusion of Treaties which concern peace, commerce, the abandonment or annexation of territory, or the fundamental or personal rights of Ottoman subjects, or which involve expenditure on the part of the State.

Only in the year 1923 the Turkish Republic was announced by the Turkish GNA and the Constitution of the Ottoman Empire was changed with a new one in 1924. There is also an opinion among researchers that as the Soviet Republics were under strict control of Moscow and so the consent and independence of the parties is also questioned. In addition, the USSR itself was established on December 29, 1922. This inflicts the local Communist governments in the Soviet Republics to be legitimate since the same date.


Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the governments of Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan have accepted the Kars treaty. But in contrast with this the Armenian position is different. As a prove of that can serve the announcements of Armenian Government officials as well as the absence of any such ratifications or decisions. The Armenian MP Levon Mkrtchyan from ARFD said the issue of recognizing or not recognizing the Kars Treaty is not on Armenia's foreign political agenda in Yerevan on February 3, 2005. He notes that the treaty was signed with gross violations of the international law as it was imposed by the Turkish-Russian Moscow Treaty, which stipulated, that all the South Caucasian republics should later sign similar separate treaties with Turkey.
Similarly Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan had argued Armenia accepts the Kars Treaty. However Armenian Declaration of Independence and Armenian Constitution call Turkey's eastern provinces Western Armenia. Armenia does not clearly recognize Turkey's national borders which defined in the Kars Treaty. --> Additionally, Oskanian noted that Turkey itself does not put a number of articles of the treaty into practice. For instance, the treaty called for Turkey to open a consulate in each of the three Transcaucasian republics.

Due to tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey has closed the land border with Armenia and severed diplomatic ties with it, thus allegedly violating this article. Oskanyan states that by this action, Turkey is putting the validity of the treaty into doubt


On August 10, 1920, the Treaty of Sevres was signed between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied Powers after World War I. A significant provision of the document was the inclusion of the Wilsonian Mandate for Armenia, which envisioned a Republic of Armenia that included much of its historic territory. The relevance of this internationally binding document became even more apparent during last year’s sloppy efforts by Armenia and Turkey to enter into a normalization process without regard for history. The reader is all too familiar with the outcome of the so-called protocols process, but the danger of reverting back to that failed approach still remains as neither party is willing to nullify the documents, which served as the basis for normalization.

Much of the discussion of the protocols debacle centered on Turkey’s preconditions for a quick resolution to the Karabakh conflict, in favor of Azerbaijan and the formation of a commission that would discuss the Armenian Genocide. But a more disturbing point of contention in the protocols documents was the absence of an acknowledgement of the Sevres Treaty, which, for all intents and purposes, laid a concise groundwork for that region of the world and provided comprehensive legal mandates for parties involved.
Due to political realities, the pursuit of the Armenian Cause has evolved into the vocal advocacy for the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In recent years that movement has achieved momentum due in great part to the perseverance and commitment of Armenians throughout the world who have pressured their respective governments for recognition. However, the Armenian Cause is multi-faceted in nature and encompasses an equally critical component, which includes restitution and reparations for the crime of Genocide. The Sevres Treaty ensures not only provides a basis for the pursuit of the above elements, but also clearly draws a map, which makes Armenians’ territorial claims legally binding and valid in the eyes of the international community.

Many times inadvertently we fall into the position of justifying our demands, where historically no justification is needed since the facts speak for themselves. The Armenian Genocide is an indisputable fact, as is the need for reparations for that crime. World leaders at the time were more cognizant of that than those who followed them since history has shown that complicity in denial has proven to be more expedient politically and economically. As we mark the 90th anniversary of this landmark document, all efforts should be directed to how effectively the Sevres Treaty can be implemented today from an international legal perspective and how each of the signatories can be pressured into accepting the mandates outlined within that document.
Futile arguments might ensue from naysayers who claim that subsequent efforts and treatises have shaped today’s reality and reversed the provision of the Sevres Treaty. It is time for national political forces to revitalize the relevance of the treaty. At the same time, the Armenian government must include the appropriate provisions of the Sevres Treaty within the context of any future talks with Turkey.