Слике страница
PDF
ePub

II

THE NEW ARMENIA

CLAIMS AT THE PEACE CONFERENCE
Reprinted from the London Times, December 31, 1918

The following outline of Armenia's claims to be brought forward at the Peace Conference is given on the authority cf Boghos Nubar Pasha, the son of the famous Nubar Pasha, Prime Minister of Egypt, to whose work of regeneration Lord Cromer and Lord Milner have both paid tribute. He is the President of the Armenian Delegation, appointed by the Catholicos, and as such the recognised leader of the Armenian people. He is supported by all Armenian .parties, whatever the country of their adoption.

The geographical boundaries of the new Armenia and the system of government necessary for its security during the period of its reconstitution will be determined at the Peace Conference. In the meanwhile there is reason to expect that the broad lines of the settlement proposed by the delegation will be adopted. Armenia's interests clash with nobody's save the Turk's, and he has forfeited the right, and lost the power, to resist her aspirations to a new birth. The adjustment of frontiers with other new States—Georgian, Tartar, and Arab—to the north and east and south, is a matter of minor importance. The lines of nationality are fairly clear, and are not likely to involve serious dispute. The existence of a compact, autonomous Armenia is the main thing, and I gather that the delegates will not prove unaccommodating in respect to the interests of their neighbors.

The most important development in the scheme of reconstruction is that the young Armenian Republic of Ararat have agreed to throw in their lot with the Armenians of Turkey in a united State. This decision has greatly simplified the question of settlement in the Near East. The Armenians' moral claim to the independence which they have proclaimed is indisputable; the only argument against an independent State that could be used by the friends of Turkey is that the Ottoman policy of extermination has been so thorough that there are not enough Armenians left to form the nucleus of a population—an argument for non-intervention that would establish the principle of the murder of small civilized nations to admit the survival of barbarism.

This for many years has been the policy of the Turk, but Talaat's cynical boast that he would settle the Armenian question by doing away with the Armenians has not been realized. The statistics of massacre vary, and we have no certain data, but it is estimated that the Ottoman Government have eliminated by mob murder 800,000 of the Christian population of Turkish Armenia since 1915. Another 600,000 are believed to have escaped. These, with an almost equal number of "deportees" and settlers, who will seek repatriation as soon as the home of their origin has been purged of Turkish control, will form the nucleus of the liberated Armenia which used to be subject to Ottoman rule. But the question of a majority in United Armenia will settle itself by the inclusion of the two million Russian Armenians now that they have expressed their willingness to be incorporated in the new State.

As regards government, Armenia will not be strong enough for a long time to stand on her own feet, and experience has shown that a divided international control is too cumbrous, slow, and complicated to admit of smooth and uninterrupted progress. Armenia asks for a mandatory—one of the Entente Powers, England, France, or America, to stand sponsor for her while she is developing strength. This Power would organize a government, lay down the main lines of administration, and provide troops for the protection of life and property during the period of transition. A large force would not be necessary, as an Armenian gendarmerie could be enrolled almost at once. /The 25,000 Armenian troops in the Caucasus could be called in, and the 8,000 with Allenby, as well as drafts from America and elsewhere. Under the provisional government the principle of self-administration will be developed, perhaps with a nominated Council in the first place, to be succeeded by an elected one. The delegation believe that in a few years the new Armenia would be capable of self-government and self-defense. Nubar Pasha reckons on a population of something like two and a half millions so soon as there is confidence that no shadow or vestige of Turkish suzerainty will darken the prospect of the future.

As regards boundaries. The new Armenia including Russian Armenia, the six Turkish vilayets, and Cilicia, or Armenia Minor, will, if the proposal of the delegation is accepted, extend from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. On the Black Sea Samsun with its interior communications with Anatolia will naturally be Turkish. A stretch of coast east of this port to a point east of Trebizond will be the Armenian littoral. Between Trebizond, the port of Erzerum, and Batum, which will be the outlet of Georgia, the Armenian-Georgian boundary will be fixed. The Armenians lay no claim to Trebizond on historical grounds, but a thin strip of land on their northern border, interposed between them and the sea, would form an economic barrier which no unprejudiced commission could accept. From the Black Sea coast the northern frontier of the proposed Armenian State will run eastward, including Ardahan, Kars, Alexandropol, to the present boundary of Erivan, beyond which the Tartar element predominates. South of this the eastern limits of Armenia will extend to the Persian frontier down to the Kurdish country. A line of demarcation will be drawn east and west, separating, as far as possible, on a national basis, the territory of the Kurds and Armenians. This line would pass through the Bitlis and Van provinces, to Diarbekr, where the Arab frontier remains to be settled, and from Diarbekr southwest to Alexandretta, on the Mediterranean. Westward the boundary on the Mediterranean coast would include Mersina, whence a line drawn north to a point between Samsun and Ordu on the Black Sea would form the western frontier of the new State.

The case of Armenia is morally stronger than that of any of the small nations whose destiny is to be decided at the Peace Conference. The geographical parallel between Armenia and Belgium and Serbia holds; all these small nations have stood in the path of the German. Armenia's crime was that she lay between the Turks of Europe and their Tartar kinsmen of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Her exis

tence was incompatible with Pan-Turanianism. In the spring of this year the remnants of the Armenians held back the wave of the Turkish Army from Persia and the Caspian for five months, and when the armistice was concluded, bands of them were still carrying on a guerilla warfare in the hills. Andranik, the scourge of the Turk from the beginning, never submitted.

It is not likely that the Allies will fail in reparation. Our own debt is great, for our policy in backing Turkey against Russia was responsible to a large extent for the Armenian atrocities before the war. In the treaty of Berlin and the Cyprus Convention, by eliminating Russia we removed the only safeguard of the Christian population in Turkey, contenting ourselves with Ottoman promises of reform, which we had no power to enforce, and which we might have known Turkey had no intention to fulfil. Now after four years of blood and sacrifice, we are at last able to step in and save what survives, and it should be unnecessary to quote Blue-books and precedents to prove that the maintenance of any Ottoman authority in the affairs of Armenia would vitiate the whole scheme.

We are sure to hear a great deal about the liberalism of the Turk in the near future, but centuries have proved that he is incapable of reform. He is mere appetite, destroying what he cannot consume. Apart from its iniquity, his policy of extirpation has been a species of economic suicide, for it has killed the seeds of productivity. Fertile lands lie sterile under the dead hand of the Turk, whereas the Armenians are among the most practical, intelligent, industrious, and prolific races of the East. Each one of these qualities has been a count in the Turk's indictment

« ПретходнаНастави »