Western Armenia and industry

  • by Western Armenia, May 25, 2024 in History

Before the First World War, Armenians occupied an influential position in foreign and domestic trade, industrial production, and banking affairs of the Ottoman Empire. They concentrated the important economic levers of the country in their hands. Compared with  Armenians, the turkish bourgeoisie was in a derivative state and did not form a significant element in the Ottoman economy.

The young turk authorities were very concerned that the economic and material empowerment of Armenians would become the basis for their political victories tomorrow. Gradually, the mentality of the Turkish authorities grew stronger that sooner or later the subject Armenians of yesterday will take over their power, as they did in the economic arena.

The organizers of the genocide against the Armenians, apart from pursuing political goals, also intended to get rid of the economic competition of the Armenians. By annihilating the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire, the Young Turkish authorities eliminated their powerful competitor from the economic arena, at the expense of their wealth, they were able to cover the huge war expenses and pay the enormous foreign debts threatening the country's independence.

By appropriating the property created by Armenians' centuries of hard work, they later created a national bourgeoisie, and already during the period of the republic, they were able to completely Turkishize the country's economy.

You will try to outline below what position the Armenians occupied in the economy of the Ottoman Empire.

During the selection of state officials in the Ottoman Empire, not the merits and abilities of individuals were taken into account, but their national and religious origin.

Almost all officials, armed forces, police and judicial bodies were composed of Muslims, mostly Ottoman turks.

Having reserved the role of the ruler, they left the entire economic field of the country to the non-Turkish elements. The Ottoman Turks did not have the level of civilization to manage and develop the country's economy, so they had to use the experience of the native civilized peoples of the countries they occupied.

The Armenians, who were the ancient bearers of the civilization of Asia Minor, along with other subject nations of the Ottoman Empire, worked hard to keep the empire's economy prosperous for more than five centuries.

Deprived of the possibility of administrative and military activities, trade and crafts in the Ottoman state became the permitted arenas where Armenians could more or less freely demonstrate and develop their abilities.

Sultans immediately settled Armenians in the cities they conquered.

Sultan Muhammad Fatih in 1453 Shortly after he set foot in Constantinople, he ordered Armenian artisans and merchants to be transferred to the capital in order to rebuild and beautify the ruined city. The successors of Sultan Fatih must have felt the need for an Armenian construction arm and skillful craftsmen and regularly transported Armenians to Constantinople.

From the 15th century, shops of Armenian merchants, separate markets, khans and merchants began to multiply in Constantinople. Transit trade from the Mediterranean and Black Seas to Iran and India was mainly carried out by Armenian merchants.

The Armenian merchants of the other most important economic center of the empire, Smyrna, were connected with European countries.

From here every day Armenian caravans went to Persia and other countries of the Asian continent. Customs duties collected from Armenian merchants were one of the most important sources of income for the sultan's treasury. XVI-XIX centuries. Armenian merchants greatly contributed to the development of trade in the Ottoman Empire, significantly contributing to the exchange of goods between Asia and Europe.