I welcome all participants of ofthis conference dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Sevres. Thank you very much for initiating this important event.
The Treaty of Sevres is a milestone in Armenian modern history, and it is not by mere chance that it continues to be a subject of scientific research and analysis. Therefore, I consider it extremely important that our scholars’ unbiased analysis of the document signed a century ago and the events that preceded it become available to our people and to the wider international community, as well. Today’s conference serves that very purpose, and I wish all of you successful proceedings, fruitful discussions and new important findings.
The Treaty of Sevres is a historical fact. It remains so to this day. What is the benefit that we can draw from that document? Why is it still in the focus of our attention?
First, the Treaty of Sevres came in the aftermath of World War I – one of the most dramatic chapters in human history – almost two years after its end. Just as the Treaty of Versailles established peace in Europe, in the same way, the Treaty of Sevres was meant to bring peace to the former Western Asian territories of the Ottoman Empire. It put an end to the war-driven sufferings and deprivations experienced by the peoples of our region. It heralded the end of the “cursed years.”
Like the Treaty of Versailles, the Treaty of Sevres shaped a new system of interstate relations in the region. It introduced new principles and values, which should have established not only lasting peace, but also justice in Western Asia.
The Treaty was anchored on the most advanced ideas of the time. It specifically highlighted the principle of self-determination and equality of peoples. It put an end to the centuries-old subjugation imposed by empires, bringing freedom and independence to the peoples of the region.
Moreover, by granting peoples the right to establish nation-states in their historical territories, it created favorable conditions for peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians in the region, promoted and further developed the region’s cultural and ethnic diversity.
Second, the Treaty of Sevres was the first international document to recognize and enshrine Armenia’s independence. The Republic of Armenia acted as an equal party to the Treaty.
Centuries after the loss of independence, the Armenian authorities for the first time signed an international treaty along with the world’s great powers. The Republic of Armenia was recognized as a full member of the international community, an equal subject of international law within the limits set out in the Treaty.
Being a party to the Treaty, Armenia and its people were recognized as key contributors to the victory of the Allies in World War I and the establishment of peace. The Treaty highlighted and properly assessed the role of the Armenian people in international relations and in the post-war global governance.
Third, in its Article 89, the Treaty of Sevres reaffirmed our nation’s indisputable historical association with the Armenian Highland, wherein the Armenian people had originated, lived, developed their statehood and culture for millenia.
And finally, the Treaty of Sevres was signed in the wake of the Armenian Genocide as the Ottoman Empire was trying to resolve the “Armenian Question” by exterminating the Armenians. Our people were subjected to the most brutal and inhuman suffering. Enormous losses were inflicted on our nation. Meanwhile, the Treaty of Sevres paved the way for overcoming the consequences of the Genocide. The establishment of the independent Armenian statehood in its ancestral homeland was the fair solution of the “Armenian Question.” Historical justice was being restored. Favorable conditions were created for reinstating our people’s economic and demographic potential and ensuring its natural development.
Although the Treaty of Sevres was never implemented, it continues to be a historical fact, which reflects our long journey to restore our independent statehood. We are bound by duty to remember it, realize its importance and follow its message.