The Treaty of Sèvres (French: Traité de Sèvres) was one of a series of treaties that the Central Powers signed after their defeat in World War I. Hostilities had already ended with the Armistice of Mudros. The treaty was signed on 10 August 1920, in an exhibition room at the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres porcelain factory in Sèvres, France.
The Sèvres treaty marked the beginning of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, and its dismemberment. The terms it stipulated included the renunciation of all non-Turkish territory and its cession to the Allied administration. Notably, the ceding of Eastern Mediterranean lands allowed the creation of new forms of government, including Mandatory Palestine and the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon.
The terms of the treaty stirred hostility and nationalist feeling amongst Turks. The signatories of the treaty were stripped of their citizenship by the Grand National Assembly led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and this ignited the Turkish War of Independence. In that war, Atatürk led the Turkish nationalists to defeating the combined armies of the signatories of the Treaty of Sèvres, including the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. In a new treaty, that of Lausanne in 1923, Turkish sovereignty was preserved through the establishment of the Republic of Turkey.
George Dixon Grahame signed for the UK, Alexandre Millerand for France, and Count Lelio Bonin Longare for Italy. Avetis Aharonian, the President of the Delegation of the First Republic of Armenia, which had signed the Treaty of Batum on 4 June 1918, was also a signatory. One Allied power, Greece, did not accept the borders as drawn, mainly due to the political change after the Greek legislative election, 1920, and never ratified the treaty.
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic was not a party to the treaty because it had negotiated the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Ottoman Empire in 1918. In that treaty, at the insistence of Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha, the Ottoman Empire regained the lands the Russian Empire had captured in the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78), specifically Ardahan, Kars, and Batumi.
The Treaty of Versailles was signed with the German Empire before the Sèvres treaty, and it annulled German concessions in the Ottoman sphere, including economic rights and enterprises. Also, France, Great Britain and Italy signed a secret "Tripartite Agreement" on the same date. The Tripartite Agreement confirmed Britain's oil and commercial concessions, and turned the former German enterprises in the Ottoman Empire over to a Tripartite corporation.
The United States, having refused in the Senate to assume a League of Nations mandate over Armenia, decided to not participate in the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. The U.S. wanted a permanent peace as quickly as possible, with financial compensation for its military expenditure. However, after the American Senate rejected the Armenian mandate, its only hope was its inclusion in the treaty by the influential Greek prime minister, Eleftherios Venizelos.
The treaty imposed a number of territorial losses on Turkey. It also had a number of provisions which applied to the territory, recognised as belonging to Turkey.
The Allies were to control the Empire's finances. The financial control extended to the approval or supervision of the national budget, financial laws and regulations, and total control over the Ottoman Bank. The Ottoman Public Debt Administration (instituted in 1881) was redesigned to include only British, French and Italian bond holders. The Ottoman debt problem dated back to the time of the Crimean War (1854–56), during which the Ottoman Empire had borrowed money from abroad, mainly from France. Also the capitulations of the Ottoman Empire, which had been abolished in 1914 by Talaat Pasha, were restored.
The Empire was required to grant freedom of transit to persons, goods, vessels, etc., passing through her territory, and goods in transit were to be free of all customs duties. Future developments of the tax system, the customs system, internal or external loans, import and export duties, or concessions could not be arranged without the consent of the financial commission of the Allied Powers. To forestall the economic re-penetration of Germany, Austria, Hungary, or Bulgaria the treaty demanded that the Empire liquidate the property of citizens of those countries in its territories. This public liquidation was to be turned over to the Reparations Commission. Property rights of the Baghdad Railway passed out of German control.
The Ottoman Army was to be restricted to 50,700 men; the Ottoman Navy could only preserve seven sloops and six torpedo boats; and the Ottoman State was prohibited from obtaining an air force. The treaty included an inter-allied commission of control and organisation to supervise the execution of the military clauses.
The treaty required determination of those responsible for the Armenian Genocide, describing it as "barbarous and illegitimate methods of warfare… [including] offenses against the laws and customs of war and the principles of humanity". Article 230 of the Treaty of Sèvres required that the Ottoman Empire "hand over to the Allied Powers the persons whose surrender may be required by the latter as being responsible for the massacres committed during the continuance of the state of war on territory which formed part of the Ottoman Empire on August 1, 1914." However, the inter-allied tribunal attempt to prosecute war criminals demanded by the Treaty of Sèvres was eventually suspended and the men who orchestrated the genocide escaped prosecution and traveled relatively freely throughout Europe and Central Asia.
Within the territory retained by Turkey under the treaty, France received Syria and neighbouring parts of Southeastern Anatolia, including Antep, Urfa and Mardin. Cilicia including Adana, Diyarbakır and large portions of East-Central Anatolia all the way up north to Sivas and Tokat were declared a zone of French influence.
The occupation of Smyrna established Greek administration on 21 May 1919. This was followed by the declaration of a protectorate on 30 July 1922. The treaty transferred "the exercise of her rights of sovereignty to a local parliament" but leaving the region under the Ottoman Empire. According to the provisions of the treaty, Smyrna was to be administered by a local parliament and it also gave the people of Smyrna the chance of a plebiscite after five years on whether they wished to join Greece or remain in the Ottoman Empire. This plebiscite would be overseen by the League of Nations. The treaty accepted Greek administration of the Smyrna enclave, but the area remained under Turkish sovereignty.
Turkish nationalist leader Mustafa Kemal demanded that the Turks fight against the Greeks trying to take the land that had held by the Ottoman Empire and given to Greece in this treaty. This started the Greco-Turkish War (1919-22) and resulted in a Turkish victory.
Italy was confirmed in the possession of the Dodecanese Islands (already under Italian occupation since the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–1912, despite the Treaty of Ouchy according to which Italy should have been obliged to return the islands to the Ottoman Empire). Large portions of Southern and West-Central Anatolia (the Mediterranean coast of Turkey and the inlands), including the port city of Antalya and the historic Seljuk capital of Konya, were declared an Italian zone of influence. Antalya Province was promised by the Triple Entente to Italy in the Treaty of London, and the Italian colonial authorities wished the zone to become an Italian colony under the name of Lycia.
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Square miles (km²)
|1914||Ottoman Empire 1,589,540 km2 (613,724 sq mi)|
|1918 (Sèvres Treaty)
453,000 km2 (174,900 sq mi)
160,000 km2 (60,000 sq mi)
350,000 km2 (136,000 sq mi)
370,000 km2 (143,000 sq mi)
260,000 km2 (100,000 sq mi)
91,000 km2 (35,000 sq mi)
190,000 km2 (75,000 sq mi)
The Zone of the Straits was planned including the Bosphorus, the Dardanelles and the Sea of Marmara in between. One of the most important points of the treaty was the provision that the navigation was to be open in the Dardanelles in times of peace and war alike to all vessels of commerce and war, no matter under what flag, thus, in effect, leading to internationalization of the waters. The waters were not to be subject to blockade, nor could any act of war be committed there, except in enforcing the decisions of the League of Nations.
Certain ports were to be declared to be of international interest. The League of Nations were completely free and absolute equality in treatment, particularly in the matter of charges and facilities insuring the carrying out of the economic provisions in commercially strategic places. These regions were be named the "free zones". The ports were: Istanbul from San Stefano to Dolmabahçe, Haidar-Pasha, Smyrna, Alexandretta, Haifa, Basra, Trabzon, and Batum.
Thrace (up to the Chatalja line), the islands of Imbros and Tenedos, and the islands of the Sea of Marmara were ceded to Greece. The sea line of these islands was declared international and left to the administration of the "Zone of the Straits".
There was no general agreement among Kurds on what its borders should be, because of the disparity between the areas of Kurdish settlement and the political and administrative boundaries of the region. The outlines of Kurdistan as an entity were proposed in 1919 by Şerif Pasha, who represented the Society for the Ascension of Kurdistan (Kürdistan Teali Cemiyeti) at the Paris Peace Conference. He defined the region's boundaries as follows:
This caused controversy among other Kurdish nationalists, as it excluded the Van region (possibly as a sop to Armenian claims to that region). Emin Ali Bedir Khan proposed an alternative map which included Van and an outlet to the sea via Turkey's present Hatay Province. Amid a joint declaration by Kurdish and Armenian delegations, Kurdish claims on Erzurum vilayet and Sassoun (Sason) were dropped but arguments for sovereignty over Ağrı and Muş remained.
Neither of these proposals was endorsed by the treaty of Sèvres, which outlined a truncated Kurdistan, located on what is now Turkish territory (leaving out the Kurds of Iran, British-controlled Iraq and French-controlled Syria). However, even that plan was never implemented as the Treaty of Sèvres was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne. The current Iraq–Turkey border was agreed in July 1926.
Also article 63 grants explicitly full safeguard and protection to the Assyro-Chaldean minority. This reference was later dropped in the Treaty of Lausanne.
Armenia was recognized as an established state by the signed parties. (Section VI "Armenia", articles 88-93).
The details as reflected in the treaty regarding the British Mandate of Iraq were completed on 25 April 1920 at the San Remo conference. Oil concession in this region was given to the British-controlled Turkish Petroleum Company (TPC) which had held concessionary rights to the Mosul Vilayet (province). With elimination of the Ottoman Empire with this treaty, British and Iraqi negotiators held acrimonious discussions over the new oil concession. The League of Nations voted on the disposition of Mosul, and the Iraqis feared that, without British support, Iraq would lose the area. In March 1925, the TPC was renamed the "Iraq Petroleum Company" (IPC), and granted a full and complete concession for a period of 75 years.
The French Mandate was settled at the San Remo Conference. Comprising the region between the Euphrates River and the Syrian Desert on the east, and the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and extending from the Alma Dagh Mountains on the south to Egypt on the south; Area of territory about 60,000 sq mi (160,000 km2) with a population of about 3,000,000. Lebanon and an enlarged Syria, which were later assigned again under League of Nations Mandate. The region was divided under the French into four governments as follows: Government of Aleppo from the Euphrates region to the Mediterranean; Great Lebanon extending from Tripoli to Palestine; Damascus, including Damascus, Hama, Hems, and the Hauran; and the country of Mount Arisarieh. Faisal ibn Husayn, who had been proclaimed king of Syria by a Syrian National Congress in Damascus in March 1920, was ejected by the French in July of the same year.
The Kingdom of Hejaz was granted international recognition. Estimated area of 100,000 sq mi (260,000 km2), and population of about 750,000. The biggest cities were the Holy Places of Mecca, with a population of 80,000, and Medina, with a population of 40,000. It had constituted the vilayet of Hejaz, but during the war became an independent kingdom under British influence.
The terms of the Treaty of Sèvres were far more severe than those imposed on the German Empire by the Treaty of Versailles. France, Italy, and Great Britain had secretly begun the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire as early as 1915. The open negotiations covered a period of more than fifteen months, beginning at the Paris Peace Conference. They continued at the Conference of London, and took definite shape only after the premiers' meeting at the San Remo conference in April 1920. The delay occurred because the powers could not come to an agreement which, in turn, hinged on the outcome of the Turkish national movement. The Treaty of Sèvres was annulled in the course of the Turkish War of Independence, and the parties signed and ratified the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 and 1924. Not all signatories of the Treaty of Sèvres were parties to the Treaty of Lausanne, nor was there a valid international act of annulment of the Treaty of Sèvres. Therefore, the Treaty of Sèvres remains a valid instrument of international law, although the Lausanne signatories have chosen not to implement it.
While the treaty was under discussion, the Turkish national movement under Mustafa Kemal Pasha split with the monarchy based in Constantinople, and set up a Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara in April 1920.
On 18 October, the government of Damat Ferid Pasha was replaced by a provisional ministry under Ahmed Tevfik Pasha as Grand Vizier, who announced an intention to convoke the Senate with the purpose of ratification of the Treaty, provided that national unity were achieved. This required seeking for cooperation with Mustafa Kemal. The latter expressed disdain to the Treaty and started a military assault. As a result, the Turkish Government issued a note to the Entente that the ratification of the Treaty was impossible at that time.
Eventually, Mustafa Kemal succeeded in his fight for Turkish independence and forced the former wartime Allies to return to the negotiating table.
Arabs were unwilling to accept French rule in Syria, the Turks around Mosul attacked the British, and Arabs were in arms against the British rule in Baghdad. There was also disorder in Egypt.
In course of the Turkish War of Independence, the Turkish Army successfully fought Greek, Armenian, and French forces and secured the independence of a territory similar to that of present-day Turkey, as was aimed by the Misak-ı Milli.
The Turkish national movement developed its own international relations by the Treaty of Moscow with the Soviet Union on 16 March 1921, the Accord of Ankara with France putting an end to the Franco-Turkish War, and the Treaty of Alexandropol with the Armenians and the Treaty of Kars fixing the Eastern borders.
Hostilities with Britain over the neutral zone of the Straits were narrowly avoided in the Chanak Crisis of September 1922, when the Armistice of Mudanya was concluded on 11 October, which led the former Allies of World War I to return to the negotiating table with the Turks in November 1922. This culminated in 1923 in the Treaty of Lausanne, which replaced the Treaty of Sèvres and restored large territory in Anatolia and Thrace to the Turks. Terms in the Treaty of Lausanne that were different from those in the Treaty of Sèvres included France and Italy only having areas of economic interaction rather than zones of influence; Constantinople was not opened as an international city; and there was to be a demilitarized zone between Turkey and Bulgaria.
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