On August 10, 1920, the Treaty of Sevres was signed between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied Powers after World War I. A significant provision of the document was the inclusion of the Wilsonian Mandate for Armenia, which envisioned a Republic of Armenia that included much of its historic territory.
The relevance of this internationally binding document became even more apparent during last year’s sloppy efforts by Armenia and Turkey to enter into a normalization process without regard for history. The reader is all too familiar with the outcome of the so-called protocols process, but the danger of reverting back to that failed approach still remains as neither party is willing to nullify the documents, which served as the basis for normalization.
Much of the discussion of the protocols debacle centered on Turkey’s preconditions for a quick resolution to the Karabakh conflict, in favor of Azerbaijan and the formation of a commission that would discuss the Armenian Genocide. But a more disturbing point of contention in the protocols documents was the absence of an acknowledgement of the Sevres Treaty, which, for all intents and purposes, laid a concise groundwork for that region of the world and provided comprehensive legal mandates for parties involved.
Due to political realities, the pursuit of the Armenian Cause has evolved into the vocal advocacy for the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In recent years that movement has achieved momentum due in great part to the perseverance and commitment of Armenians throughout the world who have pressured their respective governments for recognition.
However, the Armenian Cause is multi-faceted in nature and encompasses an equally critical component, which includes restitution and reparations for the crime of Genocide. The Sevres Treaty ensures not only provides a basis for the pursuit of the above elements, but also clearly draws a map, which makes Armenians’ territorial claims legally binding and valid in the eyes of the international community.
Many times inadvertently we fall into the position of justifying our demands, where historically no justification is needed since the facts speak for themselves. The Armenian Genocide is an indisputable fact, as is the need for reparations for that crime. World leaders at the time were more cognizant of that than those who followed them since history has shown that complicity in denial has proven to be more expedient politically and economically.
As we mark the 90th anniversary of this landmark document, all efforts should be directed to how effectively the Sevres Treaty can be implemented today from an international legal perspective and how each of the signatories can be pressured into accepting the mandates outlined within that document.
Futile arguments might ensue from naysayers who claim that subsequent efforts and treatises have shaped today’s reality and reversed the provision of the Sevres Treaty. It is time for national political forces to revitalize the relevance of the treaty. At the same time, the Armenian government must include the appropriate provisions of the Sevres Treaty within the context of any future talks with Turkey.