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Armenia, Turkey In Fresh Feud Over Post-WWI Treaty


Barbed wire, pictured against the backdrop of Mount Ararat, marks Armenia's closed border with Turkey

The diplomatic agencies of Armenia and Turkey have exchanged acrimonious remarks this week over a century-old treaty viewed differently from Yerevan and Ankara.

A conference was held in Armenia on August 10 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Sevres that was signed between the Allies of World War I, a coalition led by France, Britain, the United States and others, and the Central Powers, including the Ottoman Empire.

The 1920 treaty that was never ratified by Turkey, if implemented, would, in particular, have given Armenia a much larger territory than it had, including access to the Black Sea.

In his address to scholars attending the Yerevan conference Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian described the treaty signed in a Parisian suburb as “a historical fact”.

“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’,” Pashinian said.

“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 millennia,” he added.

The remarks by Pashinian and other Armenian leaders, including President Armen Sarkissian, on the occasion elicited a strong reaction from Turkey that described the Treaty of Sevres as a case that “put forward the disgraceful blueprints of invasion and destruction.”

“The Honorable Turkish Nation sent the Sevres [Treaty] to the ash heap of history through its heroic War of Liberation, followed by the Peace Treaty of Lausanne of 24 July 1923. It is not surprising to see that those who opt for drawing animosity instead of a lesson from history after the lapse of a century hope for help from this document,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on its official website on Monday.

Reacting to the statement made from Ankara, Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anna Naghdalian on August 11 said that “it once again demonstrates the inability of that country [Turkey] to face its past.”

“While evading to face its past and urging others to ‘take lessons from history instead of animosity’, Turkey continues its traditional policy of justifying the Armenian Genocide and threatening the Armenian people with new atrocities,” Naghdalian said in an official commentary.

“Turkey’s steps towards undermining the peace and security in our region and its military posturing against Armenia are part of the expansionist policy of the Turkish Government which is aimed at destabilizing its neighboring regions. Only the reconsideration of such a policy and the capacity to face the past by Turkey will pave a way for genuine reconciliation between the peoples in our region,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry representative underscored.

Armenia and Turkey have no diplomatic relations. Internationally backed efforts for rapprochement in 2008-2009 eventually led to no normalization and the border between the two neighboring countries remains closed to date.

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