AND THE WAR
AN ARMENIAN'S POINT OF VIEW
WITH AN APPEAL TO BRITAIN AND
THE COMING PEACE CONFERENCE
A. P. HACOBIAN.
GREAT BRITAIN AND ARMENIA---THE LATE DUKE OF ARGYLL'S VIEWS---AN APPEAL TO BRITAIN
THERE is no brighter page in the glorious history of the British Empire than the records of the liberties that conduce to the contentment and happiness of peoples---freedom of thought and worship, freedom of speech and association, freedom of movement and habitation, freedom of language, etc.; as well as measures of self-government varying in accordance with local needs and circumstances---granted unstintingly to the great family of nations and races constituting that marvellous commonwealth. This policy of broad, liberal justice has proved, under the stern test of this great war, the highest statesmanship and the strongest bond of empire. Freedom, justice, humanity have proved an infinitely stronger impetus to loyalty than "frightfulness," a stronger cement, a superior and better "paying" stock-in-trade of empire by far than the jack-boot and the yatagan. The conclusive and practical demonstration of this great fact by the British Empire will probably exercise a far-reaching influence for good on the future policies of empires and the liberties of mankind. The British Flag has not only carried security, order and justice wherever it has gone, it has scrupulously respected religious and national sentiment everywhere. It has not denied to the peoples under its sway, or attempted to suppress, the sentiments and allegiances which it has itself held sacred. It has maintained the freedom of the seas as I believe no international device could have achieved it. I do not say this to please British readers. I have lived and travelled among small peoples and subject peoples large and small, and that is the impression I have gathered. Thus the Union Jack has become a symbol of freedom and fairplay the world over, and persecuted peoples have long had the conviction, deep down in their hearts, that British influence is continually at work towards their ultimate liberation. If we were to reverse Mr. Gladstone's famous challenge concerning Austria, and ask, mutatis mutandis: "Can any one put his finger on the map of the world and say, 'Here the British Empire has wrought evil'?" it may be that Count Reventlow himself and the author of the "Hymn of Hate" might find themselves baffled. However opinions may differ as to the justice of some of her wars, the just and liberal treatment of the peoples that have come under British dominion is an indisputable historical fact to which the masses of mankind owe at least as much gratitude as they do to the French Revolution. Ireland may be singled out, and not without reason, if I may say so, as the one shaded spot on this bright page of the story of the spread of British liberty. To the neutral observer it certainly seems strange that Ireland, so near the home of liberty and the stronghold of democratic institutions, should be so long denied the full and free enjoyment of those blessings liberally bestowed upon the more distant parts of the empire. Possibly neutral observers do not and cannot understand the difficulties and obstacles that have hitherto proved insuperable. It is outside the scope of my subject and beyond my competence to enter into a discussion of the Irish question here, but this much I may say, that Ireland should convince rulers in all countries that material prosperity alone "is no remedy." Security, order, prosperity, an efficient and equitable administration may palliate but can never heal a political injustice. They can never satisfy the legitimate aspirations for self-rule of a high-spirited and cultured people conscious of a strong, indestructible will as well as the undoubted capacity to govern itself. On the other hand, to compare the wrongs and sufferings of Ireland (and Poland) with the agony of Armenia, as is sometimes done, is to compare a headache, an acute headache if you will, with the Black Death.
It is in keeping with the ill-fortune that has dogged the footsteps of the Armenian people for five centuries that Armenia should have been the one exception to the rule; the one country which has been denied the blessings and benefits that have accrued to every small people which has come within the sphere of, or whose fortunes have been directly or indirectly affected by, the policy or interests of the British Empire.
One of the most striking features of what has been said and written in this country on the treatment meted out by the Turks to their Armenian subjects during the war has been the paucity of reference to the effect, incidental and indirect no doubt, but the real and disastrous effect, nevertheless, of British policy in Turkey since the Crimean War upon the fate of the Armenian subjects of the Turk. This is in contrast with what was said and written during previous massacres, and is no doubt attributable to the fact of the country being at war. I am not touching this aspect of the question in the way of a grievance. I well know, and most gratefully recognize what the British Government and people have done and are still doing for us during the long and ghastly nightmare through which we are passing. The noble and unremitting efforts of Lord and Lady Bryce, Lady Frederick Cavendish, Mr. Aneurin Williams, Mr. T. P. O'Connor, Miss Robinson, Mrs. and Miss Hickson, Mrs. Cole, Mr. Noel Buxton and his brother the Rev. Harold Buxton, Mr. Arthur G. Symonds, Mr. Llew Williams, the Rev. Greenland, Mr. Arnold J. Toynbee, and so many other friends of Armenia in this country, have placed us under a lasting debt of gratitude to them and to Britain. Lord Bryce's name will live in Armenian history as long as Armenia lasts.
But I do think it is fair, in justice to the people of this great and righteous empire, to one-half of the Armenian nation who have fallen as heroes and heroines both in war and martyrdom, and to "the little blood" that is left to the Armenian people, that the facts in this connection should be placed frankly and fully before the British public at this juncture, so that it may be able to form an equitable estimate of the reparation due to the Armenians, not only for the crimes and ravages committed by the enemy during the war, but also in the light of the obligations and responsibilities incurred by Europe in general and Great Britain in particular for the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire by Art. 61 of the Treaty of Berlin and the Cyprus Convention.
I have said "Great Britain," but it would be more accurate to say "the British Government of the day," for I firmly believe---in fact, who will doubt?---that if the British people had had the slightest suspicion that the Treaty of Berlin and the Cyprus Convention had in them the germs of the disaster that has since overtaken the Christian subjects of the Porte, they would never have ratified those treaties. Nor do I suggest, I need hardly say, that the statesmen who are responsible for these diplomatic instruments consciously and deliberately jeopardized the existence of an ancient Christian people. Lord Salisbury's sympathetic utterances in 1895-96 show unmistakably how deeply distressed he was at the grievous turn events had taken, and still more at the powerlessness of the Concert of Europe to save the Armenians from the position of extreme peril in which the Concert had placed them in 1878.
Successive British Governments have made frequent attempts to improve the lot of the Armenians; but the more they tried the more the Turks massacred. There is no fairer-minded public than the British, whose hospitality and the blessings of whose rule I have gratefully enjoyed for many years, as have some thousands of my compatriots in almost every part of the empire. There is also no one more ready and anxious to pay his debt than the Briton when he knows what he owes. I have therefore no fear whatever of arousing any resentment by calling the attention of the British public to the existence of this old liability. On the contrary, I am convinced that the fact will be taken note of in good part, and by most even thankfully. I read a Press article not long ago---it was, if I remember rightly, a review of Mr. Llew Williams's book, Armenia Past and Present in The Court Journal---which ended with the following question: "If these terrible things are true and we have any responsibility, why are we not told so?"
As regards the nature of the responsibilities and obligations, I refer my readers to the Appendix, where will be found the texts of Art. 61 of the Treaty of Berlin, Art. 18 of the Treaty of San Stefano---which was torn up and superseded by the Treaty of Berlin---the full text of the Cyprus Convention, and Lord Salisbury's Dispatch to Sir Henry Layard containing instructions for the negotiation of that Convention.
I may here point out that though at first sight there appears to be little difference between the wording of Art. 16 of the Treaty of San Stefano and Art. 61 of the Treaty of Berlin, there is this fundamental difference between the application of the two clauses that, while the former left the Russian Army in occupation of the Armenian provinces until the reforms should be an accomplished fact, the latter was a mere Turkish promise to be performed after their evacuation by the Russian forces. How the Turk performed his promise is well enough known, and forms the darkest page of modern history---probably of all history.
Those who have the interest and the time for fuller information on the subject I recommend to refer to Mr. Gladstone's famous speeches on the Eastern Question and the Treaty of Berlin, the debates in both Houses of Parliament on the massacres of 1895-96, Canon Maccoll's "The Sultan and the Powers," Mr. W. Llew Williams's "Armenia Past and Present," and last but not least, "Our Responsibilities for Turkey," by the late Duke of Argyll. This frank and admirable commentary on the bearing of British policy upon the Armenian question is now unfortunately out of print. I therefore quote, with apologies, the following lengthy extract for the convenience of those who may have difficulty in procuring a copy. It is an authority that will command general and respectful attention.25 (The italics are mine.)
"Nothing can be more childish than to suppose that the significance and effect of such a change as this26 can be measured or appreciated by looking at the mere grammatical meaning of the words. The words seemed harmless enough. They may even seem to be most benevolent and most wise in the interests of the Christian subjects of the Porte in Armenia. But when we look at the facts which lay behind the words, and at the motives which were at work among the contracting parties, we must see that nothing could have been devised more fatal to their interests, The change which the new words affected in the Treaty of San Stefano wounded the pride and the most justifiable ambition of Russia to be the protector of her co-religionists in provinces with which no other Christian Power had any natural connection. On the other hand, it delighted the low cunning of the Turk, in constituting another 'rift within the lute' which by and by would be quite sure to make the 'music mute' of any effective concert between the Powers of Europe. The Turk could see at a glance that, whilst it relieved him of the dangerous pressure of Russia, it substituted no other pressure which his own infinite dexterity in delays could not easily make abortive. As for the unfortunate Armenians, the change was simply one which must tend to expose them to the increased enmity of their tyrants, whilst it damaged and discouraged the only protection which was possible under the inexorable conditions of the physical geography of the country.27
"But this is not the whole of the responsibility which falls on us out of the international transactions connected with the Treaty of Berlin. After that treaty had been concluded, we entered by ourselves into a separate, and for a while a secret, convention with Turkey, by which we undertook to defend her Asiatic provinces by force of arms from any further conquests on the part of Russia, and in return we asked for nothing more than a lease of Cyprus, and a new crop of Turkish promises that she would introduce reforms in her administration of Armenia. No security whatever was asked or offered for the execution of those promises. We simply repeated the old mistake of 1856, of trusting entirely to the good faith of Turkey or to her gratitude. But this time the mistake was repeated after twenty-two years' continued experience of the futility of such a trust. As to gratitude, it must have been quite clear to the Turks that we were acting in our own supposed interests in resisting the advance of Russia at any cost.
"No doubt we had occasion to remember, with some natural bitterness, the sacrifice to Russia of all that the gallant General Williams had done for Turkey in his splendid defence of Kars. But we ought to have remembered, also, how dreadful had been the account given by that able and gallant man of the detestable Government which he was defending. We ought to have remembered how easy were the reforms which he had recommended, if the Turkish Government had been honest; and how they had all been systematically evaded. We ought, above all, to have considered the inevitable effect of this new treaty of guarantee upon the sharp cunning of the Turks. They saw how eagerly it was sought by us, and they must have concluded that, whilst we were clearly not only earnest, but excited, in our opposition to Russia, we were comparatively careless and lukewarm about any changes in their own system of government. They must have seen that the new convention28 practically superseded even the slightest restraints put upon them by the Treaty of Berlin, and that the Christian population of Armenia were practically left entirely at their mercy.
"Let us look back upon all these transactions as a whole, and try to form some estimate of the position of responsibility in which they have placed us towards the Christian populations subject to the Ottoman dominion. In 1854-56 we had saved that dominion from destruction by defeating, and locally disarming, its great natural enemy. We had set up that dominion with new immunities from attack, and we had choked off from any protectorate over the Christians the only Power which would or could exert any such influence with effect. We had done this without providing any substitute of our own, except a recorded promise from the Turks. We had provided no machinery whereby bad faith on the part of Turkey could be proved and punished. Then, twenty years later, in 1876, we had obstinately refused to join the other Powers of Europe in remedying this great defect, by putting a combined pressure on Turkey to compel her to establish effective guarantee for the future. In 1878 we had denounced the treaty in which Russia, by her own expenditure of blood and treasure, had imposed on Turkey the obligations which we had admitted to be needful, but which we had ourselves declined to do anything to enforce. Then, in the same year, at Berlin, we had again done all we could to choke off the only Power which had the means and the disposition to secure the fulfilment of any promises at all. Particularly in Armenia we had substituted for a promise to Russia which her power, her geographical position, and her pride might have really led her to enforce, another promise to all the Powers which, on the face of it, was absurd---namely, a promise to let all the Powers 'superintend the execution' of domestic reforms in a remote and very inaccessible country. Lastly, in the same year, as we had already choked off Russia, we now proceeded by a separate Convention to choke off also all the other Powers collectively, by inducing Turkey to give a special promise to ourselves, apart from them altogether. For the performance of this special promise we provided no security whatever, but trusted entirely, as we had done in 1856, to the good faith of a Power which we knew had none. With Russia deeply offended and estranged, and the rest of Europe set aside or superseded---such were the conditions under which we abandoned the Christian subjects of the Porte in Asia to a Government incurably barbarous and corrupt.'
"And now, we are astonished and disgusted by finding that the terrible consequences of all this selfish folly have fallen on those whom we had professed, and whom we were bound by every consideration of honour, to protect. Surely these years might have brought us a reconsideration of our position. The fever of our popular Russophobia had sensibly abated. We had secured our 'scientific frontier' in India, and Russian expansion had taken a new direction in the Far East. New combinations---and some new disseverments---had taken place in Europe. The whole position of affairs was favourable to a policy of escape from bad traditions---from obsolete doctrines---and from duties which it was impossible we could discharge. Surely we might have asked. ourselves, What had we been doing all these years to fulfil those duties? Nothing. And yet all along we were not ignorant that the vicious Government which we had so long helped to sustain against all the natural agencies that would have brought it to an end long ago was getting no better, but rather worse. We knew this perfectly well, and we have recorded our knowledge of it in a document of unimpeachable authority. In the second year after the Treaty of Berlin, when the obligations we had undertaken under it were still fresh in our recollection, we had made one more endeavour to recall the Ottoman Power to some sense of shame, if not to some sense of duty. In 1880 we had a special Envoy at the Porte, one of our most distinguished public men---Mr. Goschen; and we had called together at Constantinople a meeting of all the Ambassadors of the six Powers of Europe who were signatories of the Treaty of Berlin. They drew up an Identic Note, which they all signed and presented to the Porte. In that Note they declared that no reforms had been, or were even on the way to being, adopted, and that so desperate was the misgovernment of the country, that 'it would lead in all probability to the destruction of the Christian population of vast districts.' Could a more dreadful confession have been made in respect to the conduct and policy of any Christian Government?
"This Identic Note commented severely on the calculated falsehoods of all kinds, and on the cunning procrastinations, which characterized the conduct and language of the Porte. It concluded by reminding that Government, as an essential fact, 'that by treaty engagements Turkey was bound to introduce the reforms which had been often indicated,' and that these reforms were to be 'carried out under the supervision of the Powers.'
"We might as well have addressed our representations to a convict just released from a long sentence, and determined at once to renew his career of crime. And so we had gone on for fifteen more years since 1880, failing to take, or even attempt taking, any effectual measures to protect the helpless populations subject to a Government which we knew to be so cruel and oppressive---populations towards whom we lay under so many responsibilities, from our persistent protection of their oppressors. At last comes, in 1894, one of those appalling outbreaks of brutality on the part of the Turks which always horrify, but need never astonish, the world. They are all according to what Bishop Butler would have called the 'natural constitution and course of things,' that is to say, they are the natural results of the nature and government of the Ottoman Turks."
Such is the nature of Great Britain's debt to us. It was rashly incurred by her statesmen. Successive British Governments have made strenuous efforts and run great risks to discharge it. But it has proved undischargeable for forty years, with consequences to us which are well known. This terrible war and the ensuing peace will give Great Britain both the power and the opportunity to discharge that obligation, and our weapons for enforcing our claim are the honour, the conscience and the never-failing sense of justice of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the British Empire. I appeal to these in the name of my sorely-stricken nation, pale, prostrate and bleeding almost to death, to stand by us and fight our battle at the Peace Conference. And if my appeal reaches a wide enough circle of British and Irish men and women, I am confident that my nation will not die, but will live and prosper, and carve out a future that will amply compensate her for the past.
AN APPEAL TO THE COMING PEACE CONFERENCE
GENTLEMEN, this historic conference has come together to draw up a map of a new Europe and a new Near East which will in no part violate the principle of nationality---the great weakness and inherent injustice of former treaties, which has been largely responsible for the disastrous war now happily come to an end.
You have also assembled as a great international tribunal to uphold the sanctity of law and humanity, and to give judgment as to the just reparation that must be made, and as to the penalties to be exacted for all outrages committed during the war against humanity and the laws and usages of civilized warfare.
Among the multitude of problems, great and small, that await a just and wise settlement at your hands, there is also the Armenian question.
This question may appear, to some of you at least, a small and insignificant one in the presence of the great and weighty questions of world-wide importance that await settlement. I claim for it without any fear of contradiction that in point of outraged humanity and civilization, measured by the sacrifice of innocence, the magnitude and unspeakable horrors of the martyrdom, destruction and ruin that has been brought upon this people with a calculated, deliberate object, and without the slightest provocation; I maintain that, on these incontestable grounds, this is the greatest Wrong that ever demanded justice and reparation at the bar of a great International Tribunal.
And it is not Turkey and Germany alone who owe us reparation, although upon their shoulders lies the guilt for the innocent blood that has been ruthlessly shed, the wanton destruction that has been wrought and the untold suffering and sorrow brought upon this people during the war. All the Great Powers of Europe have their share of responsibility for leaving them at the mercy of the Turk to be murdered, burned, outraged, enslaved, to provide this or that European Statesman the satisfaction of having scored a point against his opponent in the sordid jealousies and rivalries of conflicting interests.
In 1877 Russian armies, partly under Armenian generals, occupied our country, and we hoped and believed that the hour of our liberation from the hideous nightmare of Turkish domination had struck.
It was a short-lived joy. The Congress of Berlin assembled soon after, tore up the Treaty of San Stefano which had given us the blessing of effective Russian protection, compelled the liberating Russian armies to evacuate our country, and left us once again the sport and prey of our Turkish and Kurdish tormentors.
After the butcheries of 1895-96 Great Britain was prepared to exact effective guarantees from the Sultan Abdul Hamid, if necessary by force of arms, against a repetition of these unspeakable barbarities; but the Russian Government of the day, sore at the rebuff administered to it by the Treaty of Berlin and the Cyprus Convention, opposed Great Britain's proposal of taking coercive measures to stay the hand of the Great Assassin.
In 1913 a Scheme of Reforms proposed by Russia formed the subject of discussion by the Powers, and was finally agreed to by Turkey after it had undergone such modifications and revisions at the instance of the Turks, backed by Germany, as to render it of little practical value. The war intervened before the scheme could be put into operation, and it remained a dead letter, as had all its predecessors. Meanwhile massacre, outrage, rapine, plunder, and all conceivable forms of oppression and persecution went on without respite, though in varying degrees of intensity, culminating in the frightful hecatombs of the last two years.
Although, of course, such was not their object and intention,--- the net result of these transactions was to give the Turk the opportunity, as events have unfortunately proved, of murdering, burning, drowning, torturing, violating, enslaving and forcibly converting to Islam at least 2,000,000 unoffending and defenceless Christians within the comparatively short space of forty years. I do not for a moment suggest that the authors of these Treaties themselves foresaw such a result of their efforts. But that makes no difference to the result. Europe backed "the wrong horse," as Lord Salisbury had the courage to say, and the stakes were the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent Christians---men, women and children---and a sum of human suffering and misery such as the world has probably never seen before.
I gratefully acknowledge the efforts made by the successive British, French, Russian and ltalian Governments, from time to time, to bring moral or diplomatic pressure upon the Turks to treat us with less harshness and inhumanity. But the Turk, Young and Old, knew that coercion would never be used against him. He treated all European representations with amusement and contempt and went his way relentlessly, intent upon wiping out the whole race. He felt more secure from the danger of coercion after the Christian Emperor William II, on his return from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, paid a visit to and fraternized with the Sultan Abdul Hamid while his hands were still red with the, blood of the fearful massacres of 1895-96.
That, gentlemen, has been the net result of the solemn promises given by the Turks in the Treaty of Berlin, for which every Signatory Power has its share of responsibility. Since that Treaty became the law of Europe we have made numerous appeals and representations for the application of Art. 61. The reply we received from the Ministers of the Signatory Powers was almost the same every time and everywhere. "Insistence on the application of Art. 61 will lead to complications; you must wait for a favourable opportunity."
Gentlemen, that long-looked-for opportunity has at last come. Armenia---"the little blood that is left to her"---stands at the bar of this Conference, full of hope and expectation that the Entente Powers will compel Turkey in the first place to make full reparation for the untold horrors, outrages and injustices that she has inflicted upon her; that they will compel Germany to compensate her for her acquiescence in the atrocities committed by the Turks while Turkey was under her influence and control; and that they will add their own quota as a debt of honour and conscience in return for a part at least of what she has had to endure as a result of the diplomatic transactions cited above, for which they have their share of responsibility. You cannot give us back our dead, but this Conference gives you the opportunity of exacting and making a reparation as generous as our trials and sacrifices have been heavy.
"What do you expect this Conference to give the Armenian people as their adequate reparation and just rights?" I would probably be asked.
This is what I should expect the Conference to give to my nation, in all justice and equity:
The formation of an autonomous Armenia, comprising the vilayets of Van, Bitlis, Erzeroum, Kharput, Diyarbekir, and Eastern Sivas, also Cilicia with an outlet on the Gulf of Alexandretta, say from the port of Alexandretta to a few miles south-west of Mersina.
This State to be an internationally guaranteed neutral State with its ports and markets open to all nations. It would have an Organic Statute drawn up for it by the Protecting Powers, England, France, and Russia, giving equality before the law to all the different elements of the population with extra-territorial rights and consular courts for Europeans for a term of years. Russia to act as mandatory of the Protecting Powers, and during the first few years the executive to consist of a Governor-General or High Commissioner and a mixed Legislative Council appointed by the Protecting Powers. A Legislative Assembly to be called together as soon as the country regains its normal state.
The country being at present in a more or less chaotic state, an army of occupation will be necessary for as many years as will be required to organize and train an efficient gendarmerie from the local population. European advisers and heads of departments would be necessary, but there are large numbers of experienced Armenian administrators, magistrates, post and telegraph inspectors, engineers, etc., etc., in the Ottoman Empire as well as in the Caucasus, Egypt and the Balkans, who would gladly put their services at the disposal of their own country. Some would probably come from America, India and elsewhere. Adequate financial compensation by Turkey29 and Germany would place at the disposal of the executive ample funds to begin the work of rebuilding the ruined towns and villages and reconstruction generally, and to carry on the Government of the country until the first year's harvest is sown and gathered and revenue begins coming into the Treasury.
This is the scheme I would propose in broad outline, it being impossible to go into details here.
"But there is not a large enough number of Armenians left to form a State," I may be told, as I have been told so often recently. (I may say here, in parenthesis, that the Turkish and German delegates cannot advance this objection, as their Governments have denied the existence of any massacres.)
That is an entirely mistaken assumption, created by the frequent but inaccurate use of the phrase "Armenian extermination." The Turks did make a final ruthless attempt to exterminate us, and have dealt us a staggering blow as a race; but, gentlemen, they have not quite succeeded in their nefarious design, and it would be a sad day, indeed, for civilization if such a design had succeeded.
There are to-day 500,000 Turkish Armenians in the parts of vilayets in occupation of the Russian armies, in the Caucasus and Northern Persia. Far from their spirits being broken, these people are animated with the unshakable determination that their beloved country shall rise again from its ashes and their nation revive and enter upon a new era of security and free development. Armenians all over the world are animated with the same spirit and determination. Of the above half-million 50,000 or 60,000, mostly able-bodied men, are in different parts of the occupied provinces. There are a little over 250,000 refugees in the Caucasus and Persia, and some 200,000 emigrants and refugees from prewar massacres; most of them are ready to return to their homes, one potent reason for the readiness of the pre-war emigrants to return being the growing scarcity and dearness of land in the fertile parts of the Caucasus. Then there are the hundreds of thousands of Armenians in concentration camps in Northern Mesopotamia and Syria. How many are alive to return to their devastated homes, I cannot say. Perhaps the Turkish delegate will be able to inform the Conference on that point. Then there are still large numbers of Armenians---though mostly old men, women and children, so far as our information goes---in Anatolia and Thrace, and. over 200,000 mostly young, intelligent, ambitious men, who have emigrated since the beginning of Abdul Hamid's reign of terror, to the United States, Egypt, the Balkans, and different other countries. A not unimportant number of these will return to their native land ready to "do their bit" in the---to them---sacred work of its reconstruction and regeneration with invincible industry.
This will give us within a very short time an Armenian population of not much under one million souls in the proposed Autonomous Armenia. It may not form a majority taken as a whole, but it will form the largest coherent ethnological element. In many important centres, such as Van, Alashgerd, etc., where there are almost no Turks left and a much smaller number of Kurds than there was before the war, it will form an absolute majority. This is an important fact which the Conference should bear in mind. Although the Armenian element is sadly reduced in numbers, the great majority of the Turkish and kindred elements in these occupied provinces have, as is their wont, followed the retreating Turkish armies and will probably never return. On the other hand, Armenians have for some time past and do still percolate through the Turkish lines in groups of various sizes and gain the Russian lines. This movement of population will almost certainly continue for some years, tending to increase the Armenian and reduce the Turkish element in the proposed Armenian State, if such a State is set up. Similar movements of populations have always taken place whenever any piece of Turkish territory has passed under Christian rule.
I may also remind the Congress that when Greece achieved her independence, the population of Greece proper did not exceed 400,000.
Another important point bearing on this question of population is the fact, to which most students of Near Eastern affairs have borne witness, that the Armenian race is endowed with extraordinary powers of recuperation, is almost entirely free from the diseases that impede the rapid growth of population, and is one of the most prolific races in the world. Their neighbours, on the evidence of travellers and students, are less free from disease and, in spite of polygamy or perhaps partly because of it, are much less prolific
But apart from mere counting of heads, it is, I believe, generally known and admitted that there is a vast difference between the moral, intellectual, economic, and industrial value of the Armenian population as compared with most of its neighbours, the Armenians being markedly superior in every field of human activity. They have proved this even under the most trying handicaps, and when they have had a fair field they have easily proved themselves the equals of Europeans. In fact, the Armenian mind is much more European than Asiatic.30
Lord Cromer has said that "the Armenians with the Syrians, are the intellectual cream of Near Eastern peoples."
Put apart from all these practical and certainly essential and vital considerations there remains, messieurs, the moral argument which, I feel quite certain, this august Conference, representing the will and the conscience of Europe. is not minded to ignore.
After the massacres and deportations of 1915 Talaat Bey is reported to have said: "I have killed the idea of Armenian autonomy for at least fifty years." Whether he said it or not, that was clearly the object---to kill the Armenian question by wiping out the Armenian race, and incidentally to destroy the roots of Christianity in Asia Minor.
Is this Conference going to condone and justify the barbarous and revolting practice, as a, State policy, of the deliberate attempt to murder a whole nation in cold blood, by permitting that infamous policy to succeed in its object?
Is it conceivable that this historic Conference can bring itself to decree that the myriads of our brothers and sisters who have fallen victims to the super-tyrants' fury, for their religion and their nation, as well as those who have fallen in the common struggle for Right, have suffered and died in vain?
In the name not only of the living, but also of the dead, I appeal to you; I appeal to the heart and conscience of Europe to desist from enacting such a flagrant and cruel injustice.
M. Paul Doumer, late President of the French Senate, declared in Paris not long ago, with a. fine sense of French chivalry and outraged humanity, that when the question of Armenian population came to be considered at the end of` the war, the dead must be counted with the living. Who but my martyred nation has the moral right to invoke the memorable and exalted words of the French officer who, at a moment of dire straits for men, looked at his fallen heroes around him and exclaimed "Debout les morts!"?
I appeal to you, in particular, great and noble-hearted Russia, our mighty neighbour and protector. Our destiny is indissolubly bound up with yours. Without the protection of your mighty sword and your most generous grants to our refugees, the Turk would have succeeded in his sinister design. We will remain ever grateful to you, and loyal to the death. We have always proved our unswerving loyalty to you in your hour of peril. We in our turn have rendered services which have been of value to you. Your generals gave our men great praise. Your foremost newspapers hailed our soldiers and volunteers, and with truth, as the saviours of the Caucasus. Your great Statesmen and Ministers declared in the Duma that our terrible sufferings were chiefly due to our loyalty to Russia. Have trust in us. Help us to stand on our feet again and rebuild our devastated homes. Leave us freedom to develop and progress according to our own national genius. Some of your newspapers are speaking of a scheme to plant Russian colonies in Armenia, "to create a dividing zone between the Russian and Turkish Armenians.31
If this is true, it is an injustice. I am speaking candidly as a friend of Russia, and a supporter of my nationality as my birthright. Russians will always be welcome amongst us. To show our feelings towards you I may mention the fact that in conversation between themselves Armenians do not speak of you as "Russians" but as "kéri," which means "uncle." But it is manifestly unfair to establish colonies and apportion lands before the repatriation of our numerous refugees, some of whom may be the owners of the land given away. Besides, what is the object or the necessity of a "dividing zone" between the Turkish and Russian Armenians? We are all ready to rally to your support again if the need should arise, as we have always done in your righteous struggle against barbarism. Such measures, before the blood of our numerous victims is dry on our land, grieve and perplex us. I say again, we welcome your protection, but enable us to say always, as Sir Wilfrid Laurier said of the French Canadians, "We are loyal because we are free." With such just and liberal treatment from you, we will not only create in a short time important markets for your trade down to the shores of the Mediterranean, but you will have in us a reliable bulwark and counterpoise, on your southern frontier, against the turbulent elements who are a standing menace to that frontier. The stronger you help us to grow, the more secure that frontier of your empire will be.
To England, France and Italy I appeal jointly with Russia, to prevent the Congress from finally condemning to death our long-cherished and legitimate aspirations of national regeneration, for which we have paid such a fearful price. In particular I appeal to you to give us an outlet to the sea, not only as an indispensable necessity of our economic life and development, but also as the avenue of Western Culture which a hard and cruel fate has so long withheld from us.
Let the radiant sun of liberty and security shine again on our land of sorrow and drive away for ever the stifling miasma of the Turkish blight, and there will spring to life, within a generation, a people with a passionate craving for the light and progress of the West---a people morally and mentally equipped and adapted for the assimilation of the New Dispensation not only for its own benefit, but also for its dissemination amongst its less advanced neighbours---a well-qualified and willing instrument and leaven of Christian civilization.
SINCE the foregoing pages were written and before they had left the printer's hands, two momentous events have occurred which must profoundly influence not only the remaining course of the war, but also, and more especially, the settlement of the peace on its termination: two events that together mark the greatest triumph of democracy and civilization the world has seen. The Russian revolution and the entry of the great American Republic into the ranks of the champions of Right and Humanity have not only brought peace nearer, they have banished any doubt that may have existed in the minds of sceptics both in belligerent and neutral countries that this war of wars is a struggle between the forces of Light and Liberty and the powers of Darkness and Reaction.
After watching the course of the struggle for more than thirty months, taking note of the difference between the methods of warfare employed by the opposing groups of belligerents; after ascertaining their respective aims; after long, patient and careful deliberation, the greatest of all the neutral judges came to the conclusion that "civilization itself seems to be in the balance." (It will not be forgotten in the Entente countries, I feel sure, that though unlimited submarine "frightfulness" was the immediate casus belli, the martyrdom of Armenia played an important part in leading President Wilson and the people of the United States to that conclusion.) The world's greatest Democracy, imbued with a deep-rooted love of peace and abhorrence of war as to which no doubt or suspicion anywhere exists, has broken away from a century-old tradition, which was the very foundation of its external policy, and drawn the sword impelled not by ambition or the furtherance of material interests of any kind, but by honour and the instinctive call of true chivalry to stand by those who have carried on a long and fierce struggle to save the "desperately assaulted" free institutions, principles and ideals which are its own and humanity's most precious and sacred possessions. For the first time in history---I think one can safely say that---a great nation, led by a great and sagacious leader, has gone to war prompted almost entirely with the disinterested motive of upholding its own ideals and the ideals and rights of humanity---truly an event of which the best elements of the human race will always be proud; which will ever stand out as a bright and noble landmark in the history of the world.
While these epoch-making events have stamped the cause of the Allies with the seal of supreme moral sanction, they have also made assurance doubly sure that the end of the war will confer upon the world a lasting peace based upon real justice and equity. The presence of the delegates of the United States at the Peace Conference side by side with the representatives of the British Empire, France, Italy, and free Russia. will constitute a sure and sterling guarantee to the world that the determining factors in the moulding of its destinies will not be the selfish interests, avowed or veiled, of this or that empire, not the whims and ambitions of despots and ruling castes or the greed of cosmopolitan financiers, but "the pure milk," of the broad interests of justice and peace, the rights of nations great and small and the freedom and welfare of mankind itself.
To the Armenian people it is a final pledge that the reparation to be demanded and obtained for them, in the terms of peace will be commensurate, in full measure, with the magnitude of the wrongs and sufferings inflicted upon them because, in a vast waste of ancient barbarism and fraud, they formed an oasis embodying the ideals and principles which the democracies of Europe and America are struggling to vindicate.
If the great and free nations of Europe have greeted these auspicious events with the satisfaction and enthusiasm we have witnessed in these last days, it can be readily imagined how intense is the rejoicing they have evoked in the hearts of the most ruthlessly oppressed of all peoples, so long denied the blessings whose advent has been placed beyond all doubt by President Wilson's clarion call to Democracy and by the declarations of the Provisional Government of free Russia.
That the declarations of the Provisional Government of free and regenerated Russia have been received with profound satisfaction by Armenians, goes without saying. These declarations added to those already made by the Allied Governments in regard to their war-aims, and President Wilson's "Declaration of Liberty" as his inspiring and memorable address to Congress has been rightly called-finally ensure the realization of Armenia's legitimate aspiration to freedom and self-government. And if the Russian people should decide that the new Russia shall be a Republic, that would open out the vista of a thoroughly democratic, integral and united Armenian State free to work out her regeneration according to her own national genius, under the guidance of the Protecting Powers and with their and America's generous moral and material support.
America's interest in Armenia and the excellent work of her Missions in numerous Armenian centres both in Armenia itself and throughout Asia Minor leave no doubt that when the time for reconstruction comes, American aid---moral, material and cultural---will be forthcoming on a. scale and in a manner worthy of that great country and the lofty aims for which she entered the war. For, what part of the vast war-stricken area in Europe and the Near East more acutely and tragically exemplifies the evils which the Allies and the United States are determined to put an end to once and for all, and what nobler and more fitting culmination to their gigantic efforts and sacrifices for humanity, than the redemption and re-birth of this thrice-martyred ancient Christian people?
Before concluding, I take this opportunity to call attention to a passage in Mr. Asquith's speech in the House of Commons on the entry of the United States into the war, which brings into strong relief the guilt of the Governments of the Central Powers in the stupendous crime of attempting the murder of a nation, although the occasion of the speech was of course the very antithesis of the attitude of the Central Powers towards the Armenian atrocities.
"In such a situation," said Mr. Asquith, "aloofness is seen to be not only a blunder but a crime. To stand aside with stopped ears, with folded arms, with an averted gaze, when you have the power to intervene is to become not a mere spectator, but an accomplice."32
I am quoting this striking utterance by one of England's greatest living statesmen also in the hope that it may furnish food for reflection to those pro-Turks who have maintained during pre-war massacres, and still maintain, with Count Reventlow and his followers, that the massacre of his Christian subjects by the Turk is his own concern, and that nobody has the right or the obligation to intervene and create new conditions that will eliminate the possibility of its recurrence.
ARTICLE XVI OF THE TREATY OF SAN STEFANO
As the evacuation by the Russian troops of the territory which they occupy in Armenia, and which is to be restored to Turkey, might give rise to conflicts and complications detrimental to the maintenance of good relations between the two countries, the Sublime Porte engages to carry into effect, without further delay, the improvements and reforms demanded by local requirements in the provinces inhabited by Armenians, and to guarantee their security from Kurds and Circassians.
ARTICLE LXI OF THE TREATY OF BERLIN
The Sublime Porte undertakes to carry out, without further delay, the improvements and reforms demanded by local requirements in the provinces inhabited by the Armenians, and to guarantee their security against the Circassians and Kurds. It will periodically make known the steps taken to this effect to the Powers, who will superintend their application.
THE CYPRUS CONVENTION
TURKEY No. 36 (1878)
Correspondence respecting the Convention between Great Britain and Turkey, of June 4, 1878.
Presented to the Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty 1878.
LIST OF PAPERS
No. 1. The Marquis of Salisbury to Mr. Layard, May 30, 1878.
No. 2. Sir A. H. Layard to the Marquis of Salisbury, one Inclosure June 5, 1878.
No. 3. Sir A. H. Layard to the Marquis of Salisbury, one Inclosure July 1, 1878.
No. 1 is the letter which conveys to Mr. Layard Lord Salisbury's instructions for entering into the Convention (as follows)---
THE MARQUIS OF SALISBURY TO MR. LAYARD.
May 30, 1878.
The progress of the confidential negotiations which have for some time past been in progress between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Russia make it probable that those Articles of the Treaty of San Stefano which concern European Turkey will be sufficiently modified to bring them into harmony with the interests of the other European Powers, and of England in particular.
There is, however, no such prospect with respect to that portion of the Treaty which concerns Turkey in Asia. It is sufficiently manifest that, in respect to Batoum, and the fortresses north of the Araxes, the Government of Russia is not prepared to recede from the stipulations to which the Porte has been led by the events of the war to consent. Her Majesty's Government have consequently been forced to consider the effect which these agreements, if they are neither annulled nor counteracted, will have upon the future of the Asiatic provinces of the Ottoman Empire and upon the interests of England, which are closely affected by the condition of those provinces.
It is impossible that Her Majesty's Government can look upon these changes with indifference. Asiatic Turkey contains populations of many different races and creeds, possessing no capacity for self-government33 and no aspirations for independence, but owing their tranquillity and whatever prospect of political well-being they possess entirely to the rule of the Sultan. But the Government of the Ottoman Dynasty is that of an ancient but still alien conqueror, resting more upon actual power than upon the sympathies of common nationality. The defeat which the Turkish arms have sustained and the known embarrassments of the Government will produce a general belief in its decadence and an expectation of speedy political change, which in the East are more dangerous than actual discontent to the stability of a Government. If the population of Syria, Asia, Minor, and Mesopotamia see that the Porte has no guarantee for its continued existence but its own strength, they will, after the evidence which recent events have furnished of the frailty of that reliance, begin to calculate upon the speedy fall of the Ottoman domination, and to turn their eyes towards its successor.
Even if it be certain that Batoum. and Ardahan and Kars will not become the base from which emissaries of intrigue will issue forth, to be in due time followed by invading armies, the mere retention of them by Russia will exercise a powerful influence in disintegrating the Asiatic dominion of the Porte. As a monument of feeble defence on the one side, and successful aggression on the other, they will be regarded by the Asiatic population as foreboding the course of political history in the immediate future, and will stimulate, by the combined action of hope and fear, devotion to the Power which is in the ascendant, and desertion of the Power which is thought to be falling into decay.
It is impossible for Her Majesty's Government to accept, without making an effort to, avert it, the effect which such a state of feeling would produce upon regions whose political condition deeply concerns the Oriental interests of Great Britain. They do not propose to attempt the accomplishment of this object by taking military measures for the purpose of replacing the conquered districts 'in the possession of the Porte. Such an undertaking would be arduous and costly, and would involve great calamities, and it would not be effective for the object which Her Majesty's Government have in view, unless subsequently strengthened by precautions which can be taken almost as effectually without incurring the miseries of a preliminary war. The only provision which can furnish a substantial security for the stability of Ottoman rule in Asiatic Turkey, and which would be as essential after the reconquest of the Russian annexations as it is now, is an engagement on the part of a Power strong enough to fulfil it, that any further encroachments by Russia upon Turkish territory in Asia will be prevented by force of arms. Such an undertaking, if given fully and unreservedly, will prevent the occurrence of the. contingency which would bring it into operation, and will, at the same time, give to the populations of the. Asiatic provinces the requisite confidence that Turkish rule in Asia is not destined to a speedy fall.
There are, however, two conditions which it would he necessary for the Porte to subscribe before England could give such assurance.
Her Majesty's Government intimated to the Porte,. on the occasion of the Conference at Constantinople, that they were not prepared to sanction misgovernment and oppression, and it will be requisite, before they can enter into any agreement for the defence of the Asiatic territories of the Porte in certain eventualities, that they should he formally assured of the intention of the Porte to introduce the necessary reforms into the government of the Christian and other subjects of the Porte in these regions. It is not desirable to require more than an engagement in general terms; for the specific measures to be taken could only be defined after a more careful inquiry and deliberation than could be. secured at the present juncture.
It is not impossible that a careful selection and a faithful support of the individual officers to whom power is to be entrusted in those countries would be a. more important element in the improvement of the condition of the people than even legislative changes; but the assurances required to give England a right to. insist on satisfactory arrangements for these purposes will be an indispensable part of any agreement to which Her Majesty's Government could consent. It will further be necessary, in order to enable Her Majesty's Government efficiently to execute the engagements now proposed, that they should occupy a position near the coast of Asia Minor and Syria. The proximity of' British officers, and, if necessary, British troops, will be the best security that all the objects of this agreement shall be attained. The Island of Cyprus appears to them to be in all respects the most available for this object. Her Majesty's Government do not wish to ask the Sultan to alienate territory from his sovereignty or to diminish the receipts which now pass into his Treasury. They will, therefore, propose that, while the administration and occupation of the island shall be as signed to Her Majesty, the territory shall still continue to be part of the Ottoman Empire, and that the excess of the revenue over the expenditure, whatever it at present may be, shall be paid over annually by the British Government to the Treasury of the Sultan.
Inasmuch as the whole of this proposal is due to the annexations which Russia has made in Asiatic Turkey, and the consequences which it is apprehended will flow therefrom, it must be fully understood that, if the cause of the danger should cease, the precautionary agreement will cease at the same time. If the Government of Russia should at any time surrender to the Porte the territory it has acquired in Asia by the recent war, the stipulations in the proposed agreements will cease to operate, and the island will be immediately evacuated.
I request, therefore, your Excellency to propose to the Porte to agree to a Convention to the following effect, and I have to convey to you full authority to conclude the same on behalf of the Queen and of Her Majesty's Government---
"If Batoum, Ardahan, Kars, or any of them shall be retained by Russia, and if any attempt shall be made at any future time by Russia to take possession of any further portion of the Asiatic territories of the Sultan, as fixed by the definitive Treaty of Peace, England engages to join the Sultan in defending them by force of arms. In return, the Sultan promises to England to introduce necessary reforms (to be agreed upon later between the two Powers) into the government of the Christian and other subjects of the Porte in these territories; and, in order to enable England to, make necessary provision for executing her engagement the Sultan further consents to assign the Island of Cyprus to be occupied and administered by England."
I am, etc.,
No. 2 is the Convention itself, as follows
If Batoum, Ardaban, Kars, or any of them shall be retained by Russia, and if any attempt shall he made at any future time by Russia to take possession of any further territories of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan in Asia, as fixed by the definitive Treaty of Peace, England engages to join His Imperial Majesty the Sultan in defending them by force of arms.
In return, His Imperial Majesty the Sultan promises to England to introduce necessary reforms, to be agreed upon later by the two Powers, into the government and for the protection of the Christian and other subjects of the Porte in these territories ; and in order to enable England to make necessary provision for executing her engagement His Imperial Majesty the Sultan further consents to assign the Island of Cyprus to be occupied and administered by England.
The present Convention shall be ratified, and the ratifications thereof shall he exchanged, within the space of one month, or sooner if possible.
In Witness whereof the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed the same, and have affixed thereto the seal of their arms.
Done at Constantinople, the fourth day of June, in the year One thousand eight hundred and seventy-eight.
(L.S.) A. H. LAYARD.
No. 3 is the Annex to the above Convention, consisting of Six Articles, signed at Constantinople on July 1, 1878, by A. H. Layard and Safvet respectively. The first five Articles deal with the manner in which the Island of Cyprus would he governed, whilst under British occupation. The final Article, viz. Article VI, is as follows---
"That if Russia restores to Turkey Kars and the other Conquests made by her in Armenia during the last war, the Island of Cyprus will be evacuated by England; and the Convention of June 4, 1878, will be at an end."
"THE Turanian movement is not the spasmodic effort of a few enthusiasts. It represents a carefully matured plan most elaborately studied. in its philosophical and practical aspects, and carried out on a vast and ambitious scale. The spirit of its teaching has been made to permeate all classes of the purely Turkish population, including women; while, in the army, it has been taught in the shape of a patriotic creed, and the force of military discipline has been laid at the service of its promoters. The movement, therefore, no longer expresses the creed of a limited number of nationalist fanatics, represented by the Central Committee of Union and Progress, or the extremist section of it, but of practically the whole of the Turkish people, backed by the formidable power of the army. Thus, the view that would represent the Turkish people as unwitting or unwilling tools in the hands of the Unionist Government can no longer he accepted. The Turkish race as a whole, with but few exceptions, stands convicted of indulging in a wanton political dream, for the realization of which it seized the opportunity of the world-war to commit most atrocious crimes. It is true that the initial responsibility lies with the C.U.P., but the whole of the Turkish nation has since shared the responsibility by its ready response. This is borne out by the easy success attained by the Unionist Government, in modifying---with hardly a dissentient voice---the system of State education, embracing even the elementary schools, and in misappropriating the Wakfs funds.
"Military officers of the higher grades were instructed to pay periodical visits to the barracks and there deliver lectures of a mixed religious and racial character, prepared by the Government. Were not the Turkish heart a ready soil, such sowings would not have yielded such an early and abundant harvest. In spite of successive admixtures of blood, the Turks have retained the original instincts of the wild men of the Steppes, and a creed aiming at conquest and domination through destruction and bloodshed found eager response in their souls. Islam, sympathetic as it is, despite its militant character, was sacrificed for the realization of this widest of human dreams. There was not enough of 'iron and blood' in its teaching. The Turanian creed, framed on the Prussian pattern of militarism, appealed a thousand times more to the Turks' savage nature; and the proof is that, without any compulsion being employed, it quickly supplanted the religious heritage of centuries. The troops took up readily the heroic Turanian songs in place of the usual prayers which had, until lately, been compulsory, but are so no more. The simplest of Anatolians willingly accepted the idea that the prophet of later days is Enver! The fundamental rules of Islam became, for them, the Testimony (for the unity of God), Reason, Character, and the Collection of contributions for the Government and the War under the Turkish banner."
(From an article entitled "Turanian and Moslem" in The Near East, April 20, 1917.)
Table of Contents