BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
The Sevres Treaty is a legal document signed by the state of Armenia and, as such, it is up to the state to pursue any action on the matter, hence, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation will not take part in an ad-hoc conference organized by various individuals, the ARF Political Affairs Director Giro Manoyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service in an interview.
“The rights envisioned by the Sevres Treaty for Armenian people, especially as they relate to territory, belong to the state of Armenia. That’s very simple,” explained Manoyan.
Some 200 Armenians, from throughout the world who claim to have Western Armenian ancestry have decided to gather in Sevres, France in December for what they are terming the “Western Armenian National Congress” to discuss what one individual terms “the rights of Western Armenians.”
The Sevres Treaty was signed on August 10, 1920 by the Ottoman Empire, the Allied Powers and the Republic of Armenia. Per the treaty, Turkey recognized Armenia as an independent republic, with the demarcation of the border between the two countries left to be determined by the United States, a measure known as the Woodrow Wilson Arbitral Award.
In November 1920, through the arbitral award by President Woodrow Wilson, the borders of Armenia were to have included two-thirds of the Van and Bitlis provinces, the entirety of Erzerum and the majority of Trabizond, including its Black Sea port.
The subsequent new world order created by the emergence of the Soviet Union, coupled with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, created an atmosphere whereby the provisions of the Sevres Treaty were ignored and the new leadership of these replacement states underhandedly colluded to undermine the treaty.
The congress is the third of such so-called “Western Armenian” initiatives, one of which boasts a self-proclaimed president and a prime minister. In the RFE/RL interview, Manoyan said that gatherings such as the one proposed for December, have the potential to discredit the Sevres Treaty and the Wilsonian Arbitral Award.
One of the organizers of the December congress, Varoujan Gureghian of France told the RFE/RL Armenian Service that “for us Sevres is merely a symbol” adding that gathering “is not related to the treaty.” He explained the conference is linked to the Western Armenia Conferences, which took place in 1917 and 1919.
“The aim is to identify the rights of Western Armenians and later, through international law, present it to Turkey,” claimed Gureghian.
Manoyan countered this simplistic approach saying that it is unacceptable that the proposed congress be the legal successor to the ones held in 1917 and 1919, especially when the 1919 conference did recognize the then Republic of Armenia as the homeland of all Armenians and the republic declared itself to be United Armenia, the homeland of all Armenians. It was the Republic of Armenia which signed the Treaty of Sevres and the Wilson Arbitration was awarded to the Republic of Armenia, whose legal successor is the current Republic of Armenia.
Manoyan also expressed concern about the so-called representatives to the conference.
“We are generally opposed to this approach, which creates a renewed separation between ‘Western Armenians’ and ‘Eastern Armenians,’” said Manoyan, who was emphasizing that the Sevres Treaty is a legal document for the entire nation, with provisions that impact all Armenians.
The International Human Rights Law Association at the University of California, Los Angeles hosted a conference last October entitled, “Genocide and Then What? The Law, Ethics, and Politics of Making Amends,” which gathered many scholars in the fields of international law, reparations and genocide, who presented distinct approaches of pusuing this matter from a national and state perspective.