On the issue  of the Armenians of Western Armenia

  • by Western Armenia, August 03, 2023 in History

According to Article 19 of the Treaty of San Stefano, the Ottoman government had to pay Russia 1 400 000 rubles. In addition to Article 16, Articles 25 and 27 of the Treaty also address the issue of the Armenians of Western Armenia. Article 25 of the Treaty refers to the withdrawal of Russian troops from Western Armenia, i.e. "the clearing of Asian Turkey of Russian troops within six months after the final peace".

According to Article 27 of the Treaty of San Stefano, the Turkish government had no right to punish and prosecute individuals who helped the Russian army during the war and contributed to its victory. 

This was of particular importance for the Armenians, because the Slavic peoples had already gained their independence with the fraternal help of the Russian people, and the Armenians would still be under Turkish tyranny, and this had to be taken into account. That is why the following provision was included in that article of the agreement: "The Sublime Porte  undertakes not to persecute or permit any persecution of Turkish subjects who are associated with the Russian army during the war."

Thus, the Turkish state was effectively expelled from the Balkan Peninsula, Batumi and a significant part of Western Armenia. For these territories, which certainly meant a great deal"... The Russian people had lost about 200,000 people. ".

Russia then renounces its intentions for Western Armenia. Russia's implementation of this demand is also met with stubborn resistance from Britain. The creation of Western Armenia's autonomy would mean the extension of Russia's influence over the Middle East and the trade route from Trabzon to India via Persia. Therefore, British diplomacy used every means to drive Russia out of Western Armenia and strengthen its influence there.

Britain persistently resisted Russia on Western Armenia. And Russia, greatly weakened by the Crimean campaign and the subsequent Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878, could not resist the pressure and threats of the European powers and had to yield on the Western Armenia issue.

The issue of Western Armenia took place in international diplomacy and subsequently created a lot of problems for vulnerable Armenians, especially in the following fifty years. Not all parties were satisfied with the decisions of  San Stefano. The Turkish state was dissatisfied because it had lost its European territories and African influence and had the idea of strengthening itself by creating a new Turanian state in Asia Minor, relying on Muslim nations.

Even after the document was signed, Abdul Hamid appealed to the European nobility for help through the mouth of his Foreign Minister Karatheodor Pasha, a Muslim of Greek origin. Britain was displeased because Russia's strengthening in Transcaucasia posed direct threats not only to the conquest of Asia Minor, but also to India, the jewel in the crown of the British queen.

With new hysteria, the London cabinet turned to Austria-Hungary, promising to give it Bosnia-Herzegovina, "gave" France Algeria and Tunisia, offered Otto Bismarck the Empire, which a few years earlier had appeared united on the map of Europe, to Germany, dividing Turkey into economic zones and allocating a large part of it.

Britain united Europe against Russia, and in Berlin, with the participation of the powers that had signed the Paris Peace Treaty, a revision of the Treaty of Ayastefanos was demanded.

Russia was also unhappy. During the capture of the fortress-hisar of Kars, Russian troops lost a lot of blood under the walls of Shipka and Plevna near Bayazet.

They had won a heroic battle against the Ottoman Empire, but now the British naval wolf was threatening them with a pan-European war. At first, the Armenian people were initially jubilant. For the first time in half a millennium of history, Turkish diplomatic documents recognized and recorded the word "Armenia" and promised and even committed to reforms in this country. The clever game of granting autonomy to the Armenians was set up in the London cabinet. The British ambassador in Constantinople, Austen Henry Layard, was instructed to explain and convince Abdul Hamid II of the progress of the trap, and at the same time to give N. Varjapetyan the freedom to take steps in this direction.

But not all Armenians were romantic or naive. Karapet Panosyan, a member of the radical wing, editor of the Armenian-language Turkish magazine "Myunati" and later "Tercuman Efkar", took to the stage of the National Assembly and angrily said: "Black-headed, self-proclaimed diplomats, what are you doing, where are you taking the nation?... Who will give us autonomy, who are you putting your hopes in? The manipulative and insidious Europe, which wants to preserve the existence of the Turkish state for its own selfish purposes?"

To be continued...