The Republic of Western Armenia (Armenia) is a sovereign, democratic, social and legal state with a semi-presidential regime. Its official language is Western Armenian, which belongs to the Indo-European language family of which it is a distinct and independent group. Administratively, the Republic of Western Armenia is divided into 4 provinces (Bitlis, Van, Erzeroum and Trebizond). The capital of the Republic of Western Armenia is Karin (Erzeroum), which has the status of a municipality. The national day of the Republic of Western Armenia, Independence Day, is celebrated on January 19.
The territory of the Republic of Western Armenia (here in green) is located in the heart of the Armenian highlands, at the junction of the Caucasus and Western Asia. The Republic of Western Armenia has common borders with Georgia (to be decided) to the north, Iran to the south and Turkey to the west and southwest (Kurdistan region), its eastern border with Azerbaijan is related to the political situation in the Artsakh region.
The territory of the Republic of Western Armenia (western borders of President W. Wilson) covers an area of approximately 144,000 square kilometers (without taking into account the province of Kars – 41,000 km² – Nakhichevan – 5,500 km², nor the “Eastern” Republic of Armenia – 29,743 km²) (the question of the borders to the East – Artsakh/Azerbaijan – remains an open question to this day). A water reservoir, which forms Lake Van, occupies 3,755 km², i.e. nearly 3% of the country’s territory.
Western Armenia is a mountainous country. Its geological structure is complex and its relief varied. Most of the territory is located between sea level and 2,500 meters above sea level, with the lowest point (sea level) in the north and the highest point (the summit of Mount Ararat) at 5,165 meters above sea level.
The Hays (Armenians) are one of the oldest indigenous nations of Western Asia, which developed on the territory of the Armenian Highlands, which encompasses a vast area between the Anti-Taurus and the eastern slopes of the Artsakh Mountains (Karabakh Plateau). According to historians, the former unified Armenian state of the Armenian Highlands was the kingdom of Aïrarat of Haykian. In the 9th century B.C., another tribal union increased its hold on the territory of the Armenian Highlands, seized political power and created the State of Uruarat (so called by the Assyrians after the name of the Kingdom of Ayrarat, but called Biainale (Biainnele) or Chourele in the original documents of Uruarat and currently referred to as the Kingdom of Van).
After the fall of the State of Ourartou in the 7th century BC, the country was reunited into a kingdom under the Orontides dynasty. In the 4th century BC, the Seleucid Empire, formed on the remains of the empire of Alexander the Great, extended its hold on Armenia for a short period. Armenia regained its independence in 190 BC. Thanks to several victorious wars, Artaxias [Artachetes] I, founder of the dynasty of Artaxiades, expanded the borders of the Kingdom of Great Armenia (Mets Hayk) and made it a powerful state. Under the reign of Tigran [Tigran] II the Great (95-55 B.C.), Great Armenia became a powerful empire in Western Asia, reaching the height of its political power. To complete the reunification of Armenian lands, Tigran II annexes Atropatene, Seleucid Assyria, Commagene, Cilicia, Mesopotamia, and other territories. The hegemony of the King of Armenia is recognized by the kingdoms of Judea, Nabataeus, Albania and Caucasus, as well as by the Parthian State. The Arab tribes of the Persian Gulf as well as several tribes of Central Asia made an alliance with him. Under the Artaxiads, the Hellenistic cultural influence on Armenia increases. However, the Roman expansion towards the east put an end to the supremacy of Great Armenia. At the end of the first century BC, the Artaxiad dynasty finally fell.
With the ascension to the throne of Tiridate (66-68), the younger branch of the Arsacids imposed its domination over Great Armenia. During the third and fourth centuries, the Kingdom of Greater Armenia was gradually transformed into a feudal monarchy due to social and economic upheavals. In 301, under the reign of Tiridate III (286-330), Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion. Fierce resistance to the aims of Rome and Sassanid Persia eventually weakened the Armenian Kingdom, whose territory was divided between the above-mentioned empires in 387. Then in 428, the Armenian Kingdom was dissolved by the Court of Persia, which made it a Marzpanat (province). In 405, fully aware of the danger that the situation represented for the country and for the people, Mesrop Machtots, sponsored by King Vramshapouh and Catholicos Sahak Parthev, invented the present Armenian alphabet, which became an exceptionally powerful weapon for the survival of the national identity. The invention of the Armenian alphabet opens a new era in the history of Armenian culture, science and literature.
In the middle of the 7th century, Arab troops invaded Armenia. At the beginning of the 8th century, Armenia fell entirely under Arab rule. In 885, the wars of national liberation against Arab domination ended with the restoration of the Armenian Kingdom under Achot I Bagratuni [Bagratid]. In the mid-11th century, the Bagratuni Kingdom fell. After the defeat of the Byzantines by the Seljuk Turks at the decisive battle of Manzikert in 1071, Armenia came under Seljuk Turkish rule. Due to the expulsion policy of the Byzantine Empire and the devastating invasions of the Seljuk Turks, many Armenians were forced to leave the country. Some of them settled in Cilicia, of which they constituted the majority of the population at the end of the 11th century. In the mountainous area of northeastern Cilicia is formed the principality of the Rubenians, which eventually absorbs the whole of Cilicia, as well as several adjacent regions. In 1198, Armenian Prince Leo [Levon, Leon] II Rubenian is crowned king by a Germanic emperor. The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia established close relations with Venice, Genoa, France, Spain, the Germanic Empire, and other countries. However, deprived of the assistance of Christian Europe, the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia fell in 1375 to the Sultanate of Roum [Sultanate of Iconia] and the Mamluk Sultanate. After the fall of Cilician Armenia, Armenia remained for a very long period under the yoke of foreign invaders.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Russia began the conquest of the Transcaucasus (or South Caucasus), including Eastern Armenia. The accession of the Transcaucasus to the Russian Empire was ratified by the Treaty of Turkmenshay in 1828 and by the Treaty of Andrinople in 1829. In 1828, the Marz (Armenian province) was provisionally constituted on the territory of the former khanats (Iranian provinces) of Yerevan and Nakhichevan, which later became the foundation of the restored Armenian state. The integration into the Russian Empire led both to the awakening of national consciousness and the development of capitalism in Eastern (Russian) Armenia.
In 1856, the Treaty of Paris recognized the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, so the Hatti-Humayoun issued on February 18, 1856 recognized the equality of all inhabitants of the Empire, regardless of their religion. This was the beginning of the persecutions against the Catholic Armenians of Western Armenia.
In 1878, after the Treaty of San Stefano and then the Congress of Berlin, the Armenian question, i.e. the question of Western (Turkish) Armenia and the physical security of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire, became a topic of discussion in European diplomacy. The Armenian question becomes an integral part of the so-called Eastern Question and plays an important role in international relations. This phenomenon and the outbreak of the Armenian liberation movement resulted in 1894-1896 in the genocidal massacre of the Armenian civilian population in Western Armenia at the instigation of the Government of Abdulhamid II, in which more than 300,000 Armenians perished.
Taking advantage of the situation created by the 1908 Revolution, the Young Turks organized the genocidal massacres of Adana and Cilicia, from April to May 1909, executing 25,000 Armenians in the space of twice a week. At the beginning of the First World War, the Young Turkish Government planned and orchestrated the genocide of Armenians living on the territory of the Ottoman Empire and particularly in Western Armenia. During the period 1915-1923, nearly two million Armenians out of the three million living in the Ottoman Empire were killed; the rest – nearly 500,000 – were forcibly converted to Islam or found refuge in different countries of the world. Western Armenia thus loses a major part of its indigenous population.
On November 15, 1916, the French and English governments associated with the Armenian National Delegation of the Armenians of Western (Turkish) Armenia represented by Boghos Nuba Pasha constituted the Legion of the East with the aim of liberating Cilicia from the Ottoman occupation and forming the nucleus of the future Armenian national army.
The Russian Revolution of February 1917 confronted the populations of Transcaucasia with the problem of managing the post-tsarist period.
In Moscow, Kerensky’s provisional government created a Special Committee of Transcaucasia (Ozakom). It also took a “Decision of the Provisional Government on Turkish Armenia” (26 April 1917), which allowed Armenian refugees to return home. The latter held a congress in Yerevan which designated a “Council of ‘Western Armenians'”.
In the early stages of World War I, General Andranik Ozanian commanded the first battalion of Armenian volunteers in the Russian Imperial Army against the Ottoman Empire, liberating and later ruling much of Western Armenia. After the revolution of 1917, the Russian army retreated and left the fewer Armenian irregulars against the Turks. General Andranik Ozanian led the defense of Karin (Erzeroum) in early 1918, but was forced to retreat eastward.
In January 1918, after the Erzinka Armistice (17.12.1917) deciding on the withdrawal of its troops from the territory of Western Armenia, Bolshevik Russia issued a “Decree on Turkish Armenia” which provided both for the withdrawal of Russian troops and for the self-determination of Armenians from Turkish (Western) Armenia until their independence.
From the Armistice of Moudros (October 30, 1918) to the Arbitral Award of the 28th President of the United States Woodrow Wilson (November 22, 1920), the question of Armenian independence became a question of international law. After Boghos Nubar Pasha presented a Memorandum on 26 February 1919 to the Versailles Peace Conference and then formed a government on 15 May 1919, Armenia on the territory of Western Armenia was recognized de facto (19 January 1920), then within the framework of the San Remo Conference as one of the Allied and Associated Powers, Armenia (Western Armenia) was recognized de jure (11 May 1920) at the moment when the Supreme Council transmitted the Treaty of Sèvres for signature to Turkey. Turkey recognized the new Armenian state on 25 June 1920. It was decided that the capital of the Armenian state would be Erzeroum (Karin).
The Treaty of Sèvres was signed by Turkey, the Allied and Associated Powers and Armenia on 10 August 1920, recognizing the Armenian state as sovereign and independent, as the Allied Powers had already done in the provinces of Western Armenia (Van, Bitlis, Erzeroum and Trebizond).
On November 22, 1920, an Arbitral Award signed by the 28th President of the United States Woodrow Wilson definitively settled the question of the borders between Western Armenia and Turkey.
In December 1920, the Russian Red Army entered the Armenian Republic of the Caucasus, which was placed under Soviet domination. Subsequently, Soviet Armenia (of the Caucasus) was integrated into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
In 1921, in application of the Russian-Turkish Treaty of Moscow (March 1921) and the Treaty of Kars (October 1921) signed the same year (between Turkey and the Soviet republics of the Transcaucasus), Nakhichevan became an autonomous territory under the auspices of Azerbaijan. Moreover, on 15 July 1921, the Caucasian Bureau of the Russian Communist Workers’ Party declared Nagorny Karabakh an autonomous region within Azerbaijan without following the prescribed procedure and without having the competence to take such a decision. In both cases, the inseparable historical, ethnic and cultural links between Armenia and the region are ignored. It should be emphasized that Azerbaijan’s territorial claims have no legal basis. The decision of the League of Nations to reject the application of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan for admission is the most obvious proof of this. The reason given is that Azerbaijan is not a de jure recognized State with internationally recognized borders (League of Nations, Memorandum submitted by the Secretary-General on the admission of Azerbaijan to the League of Nations, Assembly document 20/48/108) and does not exercise de facto control over the claimed territories (Letter from the Chairman of the Peace Delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. K. K. K., dated 20 April 2008). Allsoptcasbacheff, to His Excellency Mr. Paul Hymans, President of the First General Assembly of the League of Nations, dated 7 December 1920, Assembly document 20/48/206).
Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhichevan, illegally placed under the domination of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, have been regularly victims of the policy of ethnic cleansing of Armenians and destruction of Armenian cultural heritage. In this regard, the Nakhichevan, whose Armenian population was totally annihilated, has suffered particularly badly.
Taking into account the new political data and faced with this state of affairs, but without the prior, free and informed consent of the Armenian populations of Western Armenia, victims of a Genocide, and without taking into account the Arbitration Award of President Woodrow Wilson, the Supreme Council meeting in London in March 1921 was led to address new proposals to the Turks. It decided to create an Armenian National Home in the eastern provinces of Turkey. This decision was worded as follows: “As far as Armenia is concerned, these stipulations may be applied on condition that Turkey recognizes the right of the Armenians of Turkey (Western Armenia) to a National Home within the eastern frontiers of Asian Turkey and that it agrees to accept the decision of a Commission, appointed by the Council of the League of Nations, with a view to examining on the spot the question of the territories which must be equitably transferred to Armenia for this purpose. »
On September 21, 1921, the General Assembly of the League of Nations, by a unanimous vote, also opted for the creation of this National Armenian “Home”, in the following terms: “Whereas the first Assembly, on November 18, 1920, entrusted the Council with the task of safeguarding the future of Armenia; Whereas the Council, on February 25, 1921, while considering that the situation in Asia Minor made any action impossible for the time being, entrusted the Secretariat with the task of following the course of events in Armenia with a view to having the Council take new decisions at a later date; “In the meantime, the Supreme Council proposed to consider in the revision of the Treaty of Sévres the creation of a National Home for Armenians; “Considering furthermore the probable imminence of a peace treaty between Turkey and the Allied Powers at an early date; “The Assembly urges the Council to urge the Supreme Council to insist on the need to take measures in the Treaty to safeguard the future of Armenia and in particular to provide the Armenian people with a National Home fully independent of Ottoman domination. »
At the Eastern Conference in Paris in 1922, a special paragraph was devoted to Armenians: “The situation of Armenians had to be given special consideration, both because of the commitments made by the Allied Powers during the war, and because of the cruel sufferings endured by this people“.
The proposals of the Paris Conference concerning Armenians constituted an even more marked change of the Allies from their London positions. The London Conference had not stipulated the independence of the Armenian National Home, but neither had it pronounced itself against it; while the Second Assembly of the League of Nations had even demanded this independence with almost unanimous votes, including those of England and Italy.
At the Lausanne Conference, which ended with a peace treaty signed on July 24, 1923, the Turks were not only victors over the Greeks, but very often also victors over the Allies.
The Sub-Commission on Minorities of the League of Nations began the elaboration of a general statute for minorities. However, it was soon obliged to take a stand on the Armenian problem, as European and American public opinion was at that moment going through one of its generous outbursts in favor of Armenians, outbursts from which this unfortunate nation has, moreover, so far derived only purely platonic satisfaction.
On October 18, 1922, Mr. Aharonian, Chairman of the Delegation of the Republic of Yerevan, sent a note to the Governments of France, Great Britain and Italy expressing “the request of the Armenian Soviet Republic to be represented at the future Conference on Eastern Affairs in the form which the Allied Powers would consider most appropriate”. I will be permitted to recall on that occasion,” said Mr. K. K. It will be permitted to recall on this occasion, Mr. Aharonian said, that by Article 88 of the Treaty of Sévres, the Allied Powers declared that they had already recognized Armenia as a free and independent state: that this recognition could not therefore be achieved in its effects by the non-ratification of the treaty to which it predates; that the legal character of Armenia’s independence is also apparent from the preamble to the Treaty of Sèvres, which classifies it among the Allied Powers; and that, finally, Armenia, as a sovereign and independent state, has signed both the Treaty of Sèvres and a separate treaty with the principal Allied Powers on the protection of minorities. The political events, which Armenia has witnessed since that time, have certainly not been able to change its international status as an independent state”.
In their reply, the inviting Allied Powers recognized, once again, that Armenia was a state whose independence had already been recognized de jure. They did not, however, believe it possible to support Armenia’s request to participate in the Conference and based their refusal on “the Soviet form adopted by the Armenian Republic (Russian Armenia)”. However, it was foreseen that the Conference would have recourse to the Armenian National Delegation in Paris in case it considered it desirable to consult the Armenian opinion.
The two Armenian Delegations went to Lausanne, and on November 16, 1922, they presented to the Conference a Memorandum setting out their national demands.
The brief assumes three territorial solutions to the Armenian question. The first would involve the constitution of an Armenian National Home in at least part of the territories delimited by the Arbitral Award of President Wilson. The second would consist in enlarging the Republic of Yerevan by the annexation of part of the regions of Turkish Armenia. Finally, a third solution could be envisaged which would consist in creating the National Foyer in a part of Cilicia.