BOUNDARIES/BORDERS OF THE ARMENIAN CLAIMS AND POSSIBILITIES OF INTERNATIONAL DIALOGUE
The problems of the Armenian Claims or the Armenian Cause in a way are discussed nearly one and a half century – since the San-Stefano and Berlin Congresses of 1878 and have several stages in their development. There are hundreds, if not thousands of scholarly and journal articles and books on the issue. In my presentation, I will share information only about the main manifestations of the Armenian claims, trying to be as short and concrete as possible and will stress only on the realities, which are present nowadays, at the beginning of the 21st century.
1. 1878-1914 – Armenians were claiming reforms in the six “Armenian” vilayets of the Ottoman Empire – Erzurum, Van, Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Kharberd (Mamuret-ul-Aziz) and Sebastia (Sivas).
2. 1915-1923 – The Armenian population of Western Armenia (as well as Armenians all over the Ottoman Empire) was eliminated, destroyed, Armenians scattered all over the world, an Armenian Diaspora was created.
3. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the WW1 and signing of the Sevres Treaty (August 10, 1920) the creation of “free and independent” Armenian state was proposed, which is supposed to include large parts of the Erzurum, Trapezund, Van, Bitlis vilayets, and the border between Armenia and Turkey must be decided by US President Woodrow Wilson. The job was done through his Arbitral Award of November 22, 1920. In general, the territory includes nearly 100.000 km2. Together with already existing Republic of Armenia in the South Caucasus, the independent Armenian state will have a territory of 160.000 km2, with an exit to the Black Sea.
4. During the September-November, 1920 Turkish-Armenian war, Armenia was defeated, and according to the December 2, 1920 Treaty of Alexandropol, Armenia renounce from Sevres Treaty. The same day a Soviet power was established in Armenia. Armenia’s nowadays borders were fixed according to March 16, 1921 (signed in Moscow) and October 13, 1921 (signed in Kars) treaties. According to 1923 Lausanne Treaty, the nowadays borders of Republic of Turkey were determined. During that conference, the idea of creation of “Armenian national region [ojakh]” on the territory of Western Armenia or Cilicia was discussed, but was refused by Turkey.
5. In 1945-47 the Soviet Union planned to take back the Kars region (in 1878-1917 – part of Russian Empire) from Turkey and to unite its territories with Armenian SSR and Georgian SSR. Turkey resisted and the problem did not receive solution. In May 1953 the USSR declared, that it did not have any territorial claims from Turkey.
6. During the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Mets Yeghern/Armenian Genocide, the claims were raised by the Armenian people in the Soviet Armenia, as well as in Diaspora. In 1975-1987, the armed struggle of the ASALA (Armenian Secret Army of Liberation of Armenia) took place, when the targets were high-ranking official representatives of Turkey in various countries. The chief aim of this means of brutal methods of struggle was to attract the attention of the world community to the fact of the Armenian Genocide, to make Turkey acknowledge it, to raise the issue of the fate of Western Armenia cleared of its ethnic population.
In 1965 the process of international recognition of the fact of the Armenian Genocide began, which continues up today.
7. On November 22, 1988 the Parliament of Armenian SSR adopted a “Law of condemnation of the Genocide of Armenians of Ottoman Turkey”. On August 23, 1990 the Parliament of Republic of Armenia adopted a Declaration of Armenia’s Independence, where there was an article, reading: “The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.” This Declaration is the part of Armenia’s constitution.
As I already said, there are different approaches, and I plan to present them based on the existing documentation.
1. The official approach/position of the Republic of Armenia isn’t fixed anywhere, but, with some reservations, it can be stated, per se the “Pan-Armenian Declaration on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide”, adopted by The State Commission on the Coordination of Events Dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in consultation with its regional committees in the Diaspora, on January 29, 2015.
In the formulations of preamble is stated, in particular, the importance of the “joint declaration of the Allied Powers on May 24, 1915, for the first time in history defining the most heinous crime prepared against the Armenian people as a “crime against humanity and civilization” and emphasizing the necessity of holding Ottoman authorities responsible, as well as the role and significance of the Sevres Peace Treaty of 10 August 1920 and US President Woodrow Wilson’s Arbitral Award of 22 November 1920 in overcoming the consequences of the Armenian Genocide.”
The Declaration has 12 articles. The first five in a way are connected to the Genocide issue. In the sixth article is written, that “the united will of Armenia and the Armenian people is to achieve worldwide recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the elimination of the consequences of the Genocide, preparing to this end a file of legal claims as a point of departure in the process of restoring individual, communal and pan-Armenian rights and legitimate interests.” The seventh article “condemns the illegal blockade of the Republic of Armenia imposed by the Republic of Turkey, its anti-Armenian stance in international fora and the imposition of preconditions in the normalization of interstate relations, considering this a consequence of the continued impunity of the Armenian Genocide.” The next article “calls upon the Republic of Turkey to recognize and condemn the Armenian Genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire, and to face its own history and memory through commemorating the victims of that heinous crime against humanity and renouncing the policy of falsification, denialism and banalizations of this indisputable fact.” Then the Declaration “supports those segments of Turkish civil society whose representatives nowadays dare to speak out against the official position of the authorities.” Finally, the document “expresses the hope that recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey will serve as a starting point for the historical reconciliation of the Armenian and Turkish peoples.”
In the formulations of the Declaration, the expression “elimination of the consequences of the Genocide” stands out. It has very broad meaning and can be interpreted in different ways, including also as manifestation of claims. Anyway, the President of Armenia in his interviews (in particular on April, 2015 given to Turkish daily “Hyuriett”) is stressing, that Armenia is not raising territorial claims towards Turkey, and such a question does not exist in the order of foreign policy of Armenia. Such an answer, at the same time, in my opinion, does not mean, that Armenia in general refuses the possibility to raise territorial claims, because in some other political statements of President (e.g. in 2009 and 2010) can be found formulations regarding the idea of territorial claims.
2. The approach/position of “Modus Vivendi” think-tank
Modus vivendi is a Latin phrase that means “mode of living” or “way of life”. It often is used to mean an arrangement or agreement that allows conflicting parties to coexist in peace. It is the name of a think-tank, which is engaged in the research of the Armenian Cause (since 1999), its founder and leader is diplomat, former ambassador of Republic of Armenia in Canada in 2000-2006, Mr. Ara Papian. He prepared and published (with his Foreword) the “Arbitral Award of the President of the United States of America Woodrow Wilson. Full Report of the Committee upon the Arbitration of the Boundary between Turkey and Armenia. Washington, November 22nd, 1920” (available in PDF format at http://www.armeniangenocidereparations. info/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Arbitral-Award-Of-The-Presidnet-Of-The-United-States-Of-America-Woodrow-Wilson.pdf). It consists from 10 Chapters and several maps, from which I present to your attention only three. Mr. Papian brings many arguments in favor to the idea, that the Arbitral Award is being in force to this day and is not subject to any appeal. The arguments can be found in many articles of Mr. Papian, most of which are published in the website of the think-tank: http://www.modusvivendicenter.org.
According to Ara Papian “Strategy Paper on the Armenian Cause” (finalized in March 2009), “the real purpose of resolving the Armenian Question is to create a sustainable state through the minimal requirements necessary for security and development.” “Without resolving the Armenian Question, Armenian statehood will remain politically unstable, militarily vulnerable, economically dependent and psychologically timid.”
“Resolving the Armenian Question has but one path: through peaceful means and compromise, the path of persistent and lasting efforts. Simultaneously, however, considering how the general political, economic or military potential of the Republic of Armenia, as well as that of the Armenian people, falls behind and will always fall behind the resources of Turkey and Azerbaijan, and also Georgia, which is caught up in their politicking, it thus becomes necessary for the struggle and resistance to take place entirely on such a field in which Armenia is not only on par with the others, but also has tangible advantages. That is to say, the relations between the Republic of Armenia and those countries who have violated its rights must manifest themselves in terms of international law, and all the prevailing issues among those relations must be given legal approaches and solutions.”
According to Papian, “today, the Armenian Question is the re-establishment of the territorial, material and moral rights by international law pertaining to or retained by the current Republic of Armenia.” “The entire process of resolving the Armenian Question can be divided into three successive and mutually dependent stages:”
“a. The preliminary stage: The stage of collecting, researching and analysing documents pertainning to resolving the Armenian Question (not to be confused with the Armenian Genocide). The final outcome of this stage must be the preparation of a collection of documents regarding the Armenian Question” (not the Armenian Genocide) “and its publication in various formats and languages, providing bases for Armenian demands.” “b. The middle stage: In this stage, it will be necessary to engage notable specialists and legal professionals experienced in international law and judicial proceedings. The final outcome of this stage must be the execution of a lawsuit against the Turkish Republic at the International Court of Justice of the UN with the participation of experts from various legal spheres.” “c. The final stage: The stage of proposing the court case and initiating the suit. At this stage, the Republic of Armenia must be completely involved as the primary claimant of the basic rights of the demands of the Armenian people, calling on the International Court of Justice of the UN […] to take up the issue of the Turkish Republic’s disregard of international law and non-compliance with international obligetions borne. The final outcome of this stage must be the decision of the UN Security Council on Turkey […] to carry out the obligations they have borne arising from, in particular, the arbitral award of Woodrow Wilson of November 22, 1920.”
“At the present stage, the Armenian Question has three main components: territorial, material and moral. Consequently, one can only consider resolving the Armenian Question with a complete handling of the issues arising from the aforementioned three components, that is, with complete or partial reparations.”
“a. The territorial component of the above triad is the most essential. Although the Republic of Armenia had significant territorial losses during 1920-1923, nevertheless, they amount to de facto losses, and not de jure. That is, even though those territories were occupied by foreign powers and later annexed to other countries, the RA nevertheless continues to maintain the title and its legal rights with regards to those territories.”
“b. The material component of the Armenian Question It must be made clear from the beginning that material reparations have nothing to do with “payment in return for blood”. Material reparations must first of all include the direct material losses borne by the Armenian people and the Republic of Armenia, which comes to around $40-100 billion with today’s currency, according to numerous estimates.”
“As the general principle behind reparations is the restoration, at the very least, of the situation before the fact, reparations thus have to make provisions for the recovery of that most sensitive aspect for the Armenian people, the human loss. The Turkish authorities, under the supervision of the international community and international organisations, must create a specific fund, which would encourage childbirth among Armenians, regardless of citizenship, providing significant material support to families with many children of descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors.”
“Material reparations must also take into account renovations within the territory of the Republic of Turkey of Armenian monuments and other aspects of cultural heritage, which have been purposefully destroyed or damaged by the Turkish authorities.”
“c. Moral compensation must not solely include the direct recognition and simultaneous condemnation of the Armenian Genocide by the Republic of Turkey, but also, which is more important, it must delve into the realization of a program for reconciliation. The Turkish authorities must undertake comprehensive and multi-faceted public campaigns and educational programs revealing the historical truth to Turkish society.”
“During the past fifty years, resolving the Armenian Question, mainly characterized by the statelessness of the Armenian people and the desire to achieve certain successes, found expression through having the Armenian Genocide recognised. Even if, with some reservations, one could consider such a policy justified given its times and limitations, such a political mainstay has come to be out of date and ineffectual ever since 1991, with the re-establishment of Armenian statehood.”
“I. The Republic of Turkey would lease “Wilsonian Armenia” from the Republic of Armenia on the basis of a bilateral treaty containing international guarantees with reasonable terms. This treaty and its adjunct agreements would codify the rights and obligations of the parties, as well the participation and involvement of international organisations and interested countries in the territories under question. The terms of lease, the method of payment and its periodicity would be decided by a corresponding agreement.”
“II. Citizens of the Republic of Turkey and the Republic of Armenia, independent of their place of residence, would maintain their citizenship, enjoying all the rights of that citizenship, carrying out their duties as citizens. All citizens of both countries would be allowed the unconditional rights of free movement, transportation of goods, residence and economic occupation in those territories, and paying taxes.”
“III. Income received through transit from third countries (including oil and gas pipelines) would go towards the improvement and development of local infrastructure (roads, railways, public places for general use).”
“IV. The territory in question would be demilitarised. Security provisions, even the defence, if necessary, of the territory would be the responsibility of international peacekeepers with corresponding authority and under the aegis of the UN Security Council. Maintaining law and order within communities would come under community police and, if necessary, internal forces. International civil and military observer and advisory bodies would have missions in the territory.”
“V. The status of the Kars region of the former Russian Empire (1878-1917) and the Republic of Armenia (1918-1920), the southern part of the Batumi region and the territories of the Surmalu region would be subject to separate discussion.” At the beginning of the 21st century, those territories comprise the provinces of Kars, Ardahan, Artvin and Igdir of the Republic of Turkey. In total, 26.241km2, or 3.4% of the total territory of the Turkey, and – at the beginning of the 21st century – 779.000 people, or 1.1% of the total. “As opposed to Wilsonian Armenia, direct Armenian sovereignty would be imposed upon these territories.”
3. The approach/position of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Dashnaktsutyun (ARF)
The ARF was the leading political force of the First Republic of Armenia (1918-1920). The ARF is the strongest and the most representative among the political parties of the Armenian Diaspora. It has “Hay Dat” [Armenian Cause] offices in many countries of the world. It is also the only political party with a diasporan base, that is present in the parliament of Armenia for two decades.
In 1998 at its 27th congress the ARF adopted a new Program, where are the following thesises on the Armenian claims issue. Thus, it is mentioned, that the aim of the party is the creation of “Free, Independent, and United Armenia”, that “the Genocide of Armenians by Turkey is not yet compensated”, that “in Turkey those historical monuments, which are witnesses of their Armenian belongingness, are being demolished or distorted. In that way a whole civilization is destroyed”. The Program declares, that “nowdays Republic of Armenia is successor of the First Republic of Armenia and that is why is the only predecessor of all Armenian occupied territories”. The Program concretize, that “the aim of ARF is
a. Creation of the Free, Independent and United Armenia, which must include the Armenian lands, determined by the Sevres Treaty, as well as Artsakh [Nagorno/Mountainous] Karabagh, Javakhq [Armenian populated territories of South-Western Georgia] and Nakhijevan [since 1921/1923 – part of Republic of Azerbaijan]
b. International condemnation of the crime done by Turkey towards Armenians, return of the occupied territories and just compensation of damages to the Armenian people.
c. Unifing dispersed Armenians in the united Armenia”.
In 2007 the Armenian Genocide Reparations Study Group (AGRSG) was convened, which received “a grant from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun” to study and report on the issue of reparations for the Armenian Genocide. Its members are Alfred de Zayas, Jermaine O. McCaplin, Ara Papian, and Henry C. Theriault (chair). The AGRSG released its' Final report (nearly 140 pages) in September 2014, which is available in PDF format online, at www.armeniangenocidereparations.info. It is available also in French, Spanish and Polish in the same website. It is noted in the annotation, that “the positions taken and perspectives expressed are those of the AGRSG members alone, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun”.
The report offers an unprecedented comprehensive analysis of the legal, historical, political, and ethical dimensions of the question of reparations for the Armenian genocide of 1915-1923, including specific recommendations for the components of a complete reparations package.
The Report consists from eight parts. “It begins with background information on the Armenian Genocide (Part 1). It then provides:
– a schematic description of the harms inflicted on Armenians through the Genocide (Part 2);
– an outline of the different components appropriate to a comprehensive reparations package for a mass human rights violation (Part 3);
– a legal analysis of the Armenian Genocide reparations issue focused on international legal statutes, principles, and precedents (Part 4);
– an alalysis of the post-Genocide treaty history as it relates to the issue of material reparations, with a focus on President Wilson's Arbitral Award (Part 5);
– a philosophical examination of the ethical aspects of reparations, including analysis of various problems that arise in relation to reparations for mass human rights violations generally and/or the Armenian Genocide specifically (Part 6);
– development of a transitional justice reparations process that encourages participation by Turkish individuals and institutions and addresses the complexities of repair beyond material reparations (Part 7);
– a determination of the specific lands that constitute proper repair as well as options on what should actually comprise the land portion of a reparation package (Part 8);
– a calculation of the general monetary restitution due Armenians for the loss of life and suffering in the Genocide (Part 8);
– a framework for calculation of specific movable material wealth expropriated through the Genocide and other economic impacts that require restoration or compensation (Part 8), and
– a detailed breakdown of other elements of a full reparations package (Part 8).”
I would like briefly to stress on paragraph 8.5.3 – “Determining the territory to be returned and its post-reparations status.” “There are three primary factors in determining specifically which land should be transferred to Armenians as restitution for land lost through the Armenian genocide.” “First, large amount of lands, privately held by Armenians in a lawfull manner in the Ottoman Empire were expropriated through the Armenian Genocide. Second, the traditional Armenian homeland, referred to as “Six Armenian Vilayets (Provinces)” (Erzerum, Van, Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Mamuret-ul-Aziz,” and Sebastia) “or “Western Armenia” in addition to the region of Cilicia in the center of the southern Asia Minor, were emptied of Armenians by deliberate government policies including the Genocide. While these lands were under Ottoman governance (having been conquered centuries before the Genocide), the clear attempt to “de-Armenianize” is grounds for an Armenian right to these lands as compensation. Third, a portion of these lands was given to the 1918 Armenian Republic through a legally binding arbitration process, in recognition of the Armenian historic right to the lands, Armenian habitation of the lands, and the need for Armenians to have independence from Turkish rule that had just subjected them to genocide and clearly could never be a legitimate authority over Armenians again. The Armenian Republic was prevented from actual possession of some of this land, and lost the remainder through direct military invasion and conquest by Turkish nationalist forces.”
“These three points correspond to three possible ways of determining the land that should be returned to Armenians: (1) land could be returned to the heirs of individual owners of the property, (2) specific areas of pre-Genocide Armenian population concentrations could be determined and returned, or (3) the lands, determined by the Wilsonian Arbitration Award process could be given.”
In the next five pages the authors of the Report discusses the objections and possibilities of suggested solutions.
Financial compensation for property unavailable for return could be estimated based on extrapolations from (1) documented property losses and (2) historical records of general levels of pre-Genocide material possessions of Armenians in various locations. Based on different approaches of calculations, the sum for property losses and compensation for deaths and suffering is suggested between $50-104 billion.
4. The approach/position of the National Congress of Western Armenians (NCWA) can be seen from the Report, prepared beforehand by a group of experts and then discussed and approved at the 4th congress of Western Armenians on March 28-29, 2015. The Congress declares that it “initiates the process for the acknowledgement and restoration of damages caused to the Western Armenians. It is the unified position of the Western Armenians, i.e. the heirs of the Armenian subjects/citizens of the Ottoman Empire that the necessity of restoration of the demographic and geopolitical existence of the Western Armenians in their homeland as a consequence of restoration and damages already caused and ongoing is irrefutable. In order to reach this supreme purpose, the 4th Congress of Western Armenians confirms the existence of two inseparable and equal goals:
1. The reparation of damages caused to the Western Armenians and restoration of their rights;
2. The return of Western Armenians to their homeland and creation of conditions in Turkey, favorable for such return, through reforms and through the establishment of the primacy of human rights values in Turkey.
Based on this collective awareness and in order to exercise its perpetual and irrefutable rights, the 4th Congress of Western Armenians is ready to simultaneously follow two paths: the path of dialogue with the Turkish society and the Turkish society and the Turkish authorities” and the second path – that is, the initiation – either directly by the Congress or through coordination of groups of private individuals – of legal actions within the Turkish courts and/or before the European Court of Human Rights.
The second document is the “Memorandum, addressed to the Government and the people of the Republic of Turkey” with the following demands:
- “Recognize the presence of the National Congress of Western Armenians as legal entity in Turkey, enter into a direct and constructive dialogue with its representatives, and establish without delay a joint agency for the management, coordination and execution of our aspirations and challenges.
- Adopt a number of subsequent reforms in the Republic of Turkey to establish a viable context on the entire territory of the country for a safe, just and harmonious existence for all peoples living in Turkey, including conditions for those Armenians living in and out of Turkey to be able to freely bear, under the law and morals, their ethnic origin and the fact of being descendants of the Armenians, which were subjects/citizens of the Ottoman Empire.
- It is and remains our everlasting and indisputable right as an ethnic entity to materialize our will to return to our homeland.
- Open the Turkish border with the Republic of Armenia immediately and without preconditions and initiate a number of steps for the establishment of interstate confidence and friendly relations with the authorities and population of the Armenian state, among whom live hundreds of thousands of descendants of Western Armenians.
- Provide unlimited access to the archives, which is necessary for the reestablishment of the rights of Western Armenians. This should include all cadastre and civil state archives, in addition to all information related to our moral and material losses (damages incurred whether pecuniary or non-pecuniary) and relevant rights.
- Return and rehabilitate all community properties, including churches, schools, material and non-material cultural heritage.
- Invalidate unconditionally all laws and legal acts concerning the expatriation, deportation of ethnic Armenians, liquidation and expropriation of “abandoned properties” thereof and all other exclusive laws and acts that target the Armenians.
- Adopt legal measures to make subsequent reparations for all individual and collective losses suffered by forefathers of the Western Armenians.”
“The scheme for its realization, as I see it, is as follows”: a commission of experts can be created, which may “only define the range of issues of the history of Armenian-Turkish” (as well as Armenian-Kurdish, Turkish-Kurdish, Greek-Turkish, Assyrian-Turkish etc) “relations that are to be presented to the Armenian and Turkish (as well as Kurdish, Greek, and Assyrian) public via the most watched TV channels, by Armenian and Turkish historians, with the provision of simultaneous translation. One thing seems to be clear: it is not likely that the historians in these debates will change their professional opinion under the weight of facts and arguments. Yet, in this case the subject is the watching public, the actual or potential representatives of a civil society, rather than the historians. It is these people, who will be able to hear the opposite party's views and opinions, and who will draw their own conclusions from the debates of experts. And only if these debates are expert (rather than journalistic or publicizing) and have merit, and if they are organized repeatedly over a long period, and are consistent, the Armenian and Turkish “truths” will become available to the conflicting parties, and will move from television screens into the sphere of active public discussions of a democratic nature. Moreover, along with genocide-related issues, it may be possible to discuss historical problems of the region and issues of Armenian-Turkish cultural interrelations in the course of their mutual history, which may help in getting to know each other better. This process is sure to have positive outcomes: the notions about each other of the people of the both sides will certainly change, and this may just pave the way for the starting of a process of actual reconciliation.”