United Armenia (Armenian: Միացեալ Հայաստան (traditional); Միացյալ Հայաստան (reformed) Miatsyal Hayastan), also known as Greater Armenia or Great Armenia, is an irredentist concept of the territory outside the Republic of Armenia which is considered part of a national homeland by Armenians, based on the present-day and/or historical Armenian presence claimed by some Armenian nationalist groups, most notably the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. The ARF bases its claims to Turkey on the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920. Eastern Turkey held a significant Armenian population before Armenian Genocide of 1915, when the over two thousand year Armenian presence in the area largely ended and the cultural heritage was mainly destroyed by the Turkish government. Armenians still consider what is now eastern Turkey as part of their homeland. The territorial claims to Turkey are often seen as one of the main forms of the Armenian Genocide reparations, which is claimed by Turkey to be the ultimate goal of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Besides eastern Turkey (also known as Western Armenia), the concept usually incorporates claims to Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), the landlocked exclave Nakhichevan of Azerbaijan and the Javakhk (Javakheti) region of Georgia. Western Armenia and Nakhichevan no longer have Armenian populations, while Nagorno-Karabakh and Javakhk are overwhelmingly inhabited by Armenians.
Since the beginning of the Karabakh movement in 1988, the concept of Miatsum (i.e. the "unification" of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh) has been popular among Armenian circles. By the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1994, the Armenian forces have established effective control over most of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts of Azerbaijan, thus succeeding in de facto unification of Armenia and Karabakh.
- 1 History of the claims
- 2 Current status
- 3 Territories claimed
- 4 Public opinion
- 5 In culture
- 6 Reaction
- 7 See also
- 8 References
History of the claims
The Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia disintegrated in 1045 and was subsequently ruled by the Byzantine, Mongol, various Turkic (Kara Koyunlu, Aq Qoyunlu), Safavid, Ottoman and Russian empires. Although an Armenian kingdom existed from 12th to 14th centuries in Cilicia on the Mediterranean shore, the main Armenian-populated regions in the Armenian Highland were under foreign domination since the 11th century. The period of Armenian history between the late 14th and the early 17th centuries are known as the "dark ages." During this period, Armenia "was never at war, yet, it never saw peace". The nakharar system, the core of Armenian society, collapsed. Major waves of Armenian emigration took place with Crimea, Central Europe, Constantinople and other large cities of the Ottoman Empire and Iran being the main destinations.
The term "United Armenia" was created during the Armenian national awakening in the second half of the 19th century. During this period, the Armenian-populated areas were divided between the Russian Empire (Eastern Armenia) and the Ottoman Empire (Western Armenia). One of the earliest uses of the phrase "United Armenia" is by the English Society of Friends of Russian Freedom in a 1899 edition of Free Russia monthly. It quotes a confidential report of Grigory Golitsin (the Russian governor of the Caucasus) sent to tsar Nicholas II "containing suggestions for a future policy." Golitsin is convinced that there exists a nationalist movement which "aims at the restoration of the independent Armenia of the past." Golitsin writes that "their ideal is one great and united Armenia."
The idea of an independent and united Armenia was the main goal of the Armenian national liberation movement during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It became a low-intensity armed conflict between the three major Armenian parties: the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnak), Hnchak and Armenakan and the Ottoman government by the 1890s. Calls from the great powers for reforms in the Armenian provinces and Armenian aspirations of independence resulted in the Hamidian massacres between 1894 and 1896, during which up to 300,000 Armenian civilians were slaughtered by the order of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, after whom the massacres were named.
After the 1908 Young Turk Revolution, some Armenians felt that the situation would improve; however, a year later the Adana massacre took place and the Turkish-Armenian relations further deteriorated. After the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, the Ottoman government was pushed to accept the reforms in the Armenian provinces in early 1914.
World War I and the Armenian Genocide
The Armenians of eastern Ottoman Empire were exterminated by the Ottoman government in 1915 and the following years. An estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed, while the survivors found refuge in other countries. These events, which are known as the Armenian Genocide, are officially denied by the Turkish state, which claims the killings were a result of a "civil war." The Ottoman government successfully ended the over two thousand year Armenian presence in Western Armenia.
By 1916, most of Western Armenia was occupied by Russian Empire as part of the Caucasian Campaign of World War I. In the occupied areas the Republic of Van was established until 1918, when the Russian army left the region due to the Revolution of 1917. The Ottoman Empire quickly regained the territories from the small number of irregular Armenian units. In the Caucasus, the Special Transcaucasian Committee as set up after the February Revolution.
The Bolsheviks took power in Russia through the October Revolution and soon signed the Armistice of Erzincan to stop the combat in Turkish Armenia. Russian forces abandoned their positions and left the area under weak Armenian control. The Bolsheviks set up the Transcaucasian Commissariat in the Caucasus. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed on 3 March 1918 and the Ottoman army started to regain the lost territories, taking over Kars by 25 April. Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Ottoman Empire and by April 1918 the Transcaucasian Federation proclaimed its independence from Russia. This fragile federation of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan collapsed when the Turks invaded the Caucasus region. The Armenian units defeated the Turks at the Battle of Sardarabad, just 40 kilometers away from Armenia's future capital Yerevan, preventing the complete destruction of the Armenian nation.
First Republic of Armenia: 1918–1920
The Armenian National Council declared the independence of the Armenian provinces on 28 May 1918. It was recognized by the Ottoman Empire by the Treaty of Batum on 4 June 1918. After its defeat in World War I, the Ottoman Empire and the Allies signed the Armistice of Mudros by which the Turkish troops left the Caucasus and by 1919 the Republic of Armenia established control over the former Kars Oblast, the city of Iğdır and its surrounding territory, including Mount Ararat.
On 28 May 1919, on the first anniversary of the Republic of Armenia, the government of the newly founded country symbolically declared the union of Eastern and Western Armenia, the latter of which was still under the full control of the Turks. Alexander Khatisian, the Armenian Prime Minister, read the declaration:
|“||To restore the integrity of Armenia and to secure the complete freedom and prosperity of its people, the Government of Armenia, abiding by the solid will and desire of the entire Armenian people, declares that from this day forward the separated parts of Armenia are everlastingly combined as an independent political entity.
Now in promulgating this act of unification and independence of the ancestral Armenian lands located in Transcaucasia and the Ottoman Empire, the Government of Armenia declares that he political system of United Armenia is a democratic republic and that it has become the Government of the United Republic of Armenia.
Thus, the people of Armenia are henceforth the supreme lord and master of their consolidated fatherland, and the Parliament and Government of Armenia stand as the supreme legislative and executive authority conjoining the free people of United Armenia.
Treaty of Sèvres
Almost two years after the Republic of Armenia was established, on 23 April 1920, the United States officially recognized it. Its frontiers were to be determined later. On 26 April 1920, the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers in Paris (British Prime Minister Lloyd George, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and Italian Prime Minister Francesco Saverio Nitti) requested that the United States accept the mandate over Armenia and to make an Arbitral Decision to determine the boundaries of Armenia with Turkey. President Woodrow Wilson agreed to act as arbitrator and draw a mutually acceptable border between the two nations. In July 1920, the US State Department founded the Committee upon the Arbitration of the Boundary between Turkey and Armenia, headed by William Westermann. The Treaty of Sèvres was signed on 10 August 1920. On 28 September 1920, the Committee submitted a report that defined the border between Armenia and Turkey. It guaranteed access to the Mediterranean sea for Armenia via Trebizond and proclaimed Turkey's border regions demilitarization frontier line.
A territory of 40,000 square miles or 103,599 square kilometers, formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, was given to Armenia. Based on the calculations the committee made, the ethnic structure of the 3,570,000 population would have been: 49% Muslims (Turks, Kurds, Tartar Azerbaijanis, and others), 40% Armenians, 5% Lazes, 4% Greeks, and 1% others. It was expected that in the case Armenian refugees' return, they would make up to 50% of the population. Two months after the committee submitted the report to the State Department, President Woodrow Wilson received it on 12 November 1920. Ten days later, Wilson signed the report entitled "Decision of the President of the United States of America respecting the Frontier between Turkey and Armenia, Access for Armenia to the Sea, and the Demilitarization of Turkish Territory adjacent to the Armenian Frontier." The report was sent to the US ambassador in Paris Hugh Campbell Wallace on 24 November 1920. On 6 December 1920, Wallace delivered the documents to the secretary-general of the peace conference for submission to the Allied Supreme Council.
Fall of the First Republic
In the late September 1920, a war erupted between Armenia and the Turkish nationalists (Government of the Grand National Assembly), led by Kâzım Karabekir. Turks captured Kars on 30 October 1920. With the Turkish army in Alexandropol, the Bolsheviks invaded the country from the north east, and on 29 November 1920, they proclaimed Armenia a Soviet state. On 2 December 1920, Armenia became a Soviet state according to a joint proclamation of Armenia's Defence Minister Dro and Soviet representative Boris Legran in Yerevan. Armenia was forced to sign the Treaty of Alexandropol with the Government of the Grand National Assembly on the night of 2–3 December 1920. The Treaty of Sèvres and Wilson's award remained "dead letters."
Just after the Soviet invasion of Armenia in November 1920, the Soviet Azerbaijani leader Nariman Narimanov declared that "the old borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan are declared null and void. Mountainous Karabagh, Zangezur, and Nakhichevan are recognized as integral parts of the Socialist Republic of Armenia." Despite these assurances, both Nakhichevan and Karabakh were kept under Azerbaijani control for another eight months.
On 16 March 1921, Soviet Russia and the Government of the Grand National Assembly signed the Treaty of Moscow. By this treaty, Kars and Ardahan were ceded to Turkey, and Nakhichevan was put under "protectorate" of Azerbaijan. The Treaty of Kars was signed between the Grand National Assembly Government on one side and Armenian SSR, Georgian SSR and Azerbaijan SSR on the other, reaffirming the Treaty of Moscow.
Post-World War II: 1945–1953
After the end of World War II in Europe, the Soviet Union made territorial claims to Turkey. Joseph Stalin pushed Turkey to cede Kars and Ardahan, thus returning the pre-World War I boundary between the Russian and Ottoman empires. Besides these provinces, the Soviet Union also claimed the Straits (see Turkish Straits crisis). "Stalin, perhaps, expected that the Turks, shocked by the Red Army's triumph, would give up, and Washington and London accept it as a fait accompli," wrote Jamil Hasanli. Athena Leoussi added, "While Stalin's motives can be debated, for Armenians at home and abroad the re-emergence of the Armenian Question revived hopes for territorial unification". On 7 June 1945 Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov informed the Turkish ambassador in Moscow that the USSR demanded a revision of its border with Turkey.
To repopulate the claimed areas with Armenians, the Soviet government organized a repatriation of Armenians living abroad, mostly survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Between 1946 and 1948, 90,000 to 100,000 Armenians from Lebanon, Syria, Greece, Iran, Romania, France, and elsewhere moved to Soviet Armenia.
An Office of Strategic Services (predecessor of the CIA) document dated 31 July 1944 reported that the Armenian Revolutionary Federation changed its extreme anti-Soviet sentiment due to the rise of the Soviet power at the end of the war. In a memorandum sent to the Moscow Conference, Head of the Armenian Church Gevorg VI expressed hope that "justice will finally be rendered" to the Armenians by the "liberation of Turkish Armenia and its annexation to Soviet Armenia." Armenia's Communist leader Grigor Harutunian defended the claims, describing Kars and Ardahan "of vital importance for the Armenian people as a whole." The Soviet Armenian élite suggested that the Armenians have earned the right to Kars and Ardahan by their contribution in the Soviet struggle against fascism. Armenian diaspora organizations also supported the idea.
As the relations between the West and the Soviet Union deteriorated with the US and the UK backing Turkey, Soviet claims were out of the agenda by 1947. However, it was not until 1953, after Stalin's death, that they officially abandoned their claims, thus ending the Armenian hopes.
Late Cold War: 1965–1987
A wave of Armenian nationalism started in the mid-1960s in the Soviet Union after Nikita Khrushchev came to power and granted relative freedom to the Soviet people during the De-Stalinization era. On 24 April 1965, the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a mass demonstration took place in Yerevan. Thousands of Armenians poured into the streets of Yerevan to commemorate the victims of the genocide; however, their goal was not to "challenge the authority of the Soviet government", but "draw the government's attention" to the genocide and persuade the "Soviet government to assist them in reclaiming their lost lands." The Kremlin, taking into account the demands of the demonstrators, commissioned a memorial for the genocide. The memorial, which was built on Tsitsernakaberd hill, was completed in 1967.
The 1960s and 1970s saw a rise in underground political and armed struggle against the Soviet Union and the Turkish state in and outside of Armenia. In 1966, an underground nationalist party called the National United Party was founded by Haykaz Khachikyan in Yerevan. It secretly operated in Soviet Armenia from 1966 to the late 1980s and was led by Paruyr Hayrikyan. It advocated for the creation of United Armenia through self-determination. Most of its members were arrested and the party was banned. Though the NUP was blamed for the 1977 Moscow bombings, historian Jay Bergman states, "Who actually caused the explosion has never been determined conclusively."
According to Gerard Libaridian, "by the 1970s, the recognition of the [Armenian] genocide became a very important objective of the Armenian cause and diaspora political parties linked the recognition of the genocide and the dream of a greater Armenia because Turkey's recognition of the genocide would constitute the legal basis for the Armenian claims on Western Armenia." From the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, several Armenian militant (often considered terrorist) groups operated in the Middle East and Western Europe. Most notably the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) carried out armed attacks on Turkish diplomatic missions around the world. Two ARF-affiliated groups—the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide (JCAG) and the Armenian Revolutionary Army (ARA)—also carried out similar attacks, mainly in Western Europe. David C. Rapoport argues that these organizations were inspired by Gourgen Yanikian, a 77-year old Armenian genocide survivor, who assassinated two Turkish consular officials in California in 1973 as an act of revenge against Turkey.
The ASALA was the largest of the three and was mostly composed of Lebanese Armenian young adults, who claimed revenge for the Armenian Genocide, which the Turkish state denies. The concept of United Armenia was one of the ultimate goals of ASALA. On 18 June 1987, the European Parliament, with the initiative of the Greek MPs, formally recognized the Armenian Genocide. William Dalrymple and Olivier Roy claim that Armenian Genocide became internationalized as a result of the activities of the Armenian militant groups in the Western European countries.
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: 1988–1994
By the late 1980s, the Soviet Union accepted the polices of perestroika and glasnost of Mikhail Gorbachev. Thereby, the Soviet regime was relatively democratized, giving rise to a number of ethnic tensions and territorial disputes throughout the multinational empire. Starting in mid-February 1988, a popular movement swept over Soviet Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh for a unification of the two entities. The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), a small Armenian-populated enclave, was under the jurisdiction of Soviet Azerbaijan since 1923. It had been a matter of dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan during the nations' brief independence before the Soviet takeover from 1918 to 1920.
On 13 February 1988, the first demonstration took place in Stepanakert in support of the unification of NKAO with Soviet Armenia. A week later, on 20 February 1988, the Nagorno-Karabakh Supreme Council (the regional legislature) issued a request to transfer the region from Soviet Azerbaijan to Soviet Armenia. The Moscow government declined the claims, while hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Yerevan in support of the idea. Few days later, on 26 February, an anti-Armenian pogrom broke out in the Azerbaijani seaside industrial city Sumgait, forcing thousands of Armenians to leave Azerbaijan en masse.
On 15 June 1988, the Supreme Council of Soviet Armenia voted to accept Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia. On 17 June 1988, the Azerbaijan Supreme Soviet refused to transfer the area to Armenia, saying that it was part of Azerbaijan. The leading members of the Karabakh Committee, a group of intellectuals leading the demonstrations, were arrested in December 1988, but were freed in May 1989. On 1 December 1989, the Soviet Armenian Supreme Council and NKAO Supreme Council declared the unification of the two entities (օրենք «Հայկական ԽՍՀ-ի և Լեռնային Ղարաբաղի վերամիավորման մասին»). In January 1990, another pogrom took place against Armenians, this time in Baku. In the meantime, most Azerbaijanis of Armenia and Armenians of Azerbaijan left their homes and moved to their respective countries.
Pro-independence members were elected in the majority to the Armenian parliament in the 1990 election. On 23 August 1990, the Armenian parliament passed a resolution on sovereignty. The tensions grew even larger after the Soviet and Azeri forces deported thousands of Armenian from Shahumyan during Operation Ring in April and May 1991. After the unsuccessful August Putsch, more Soviet republics declared independence. On 2 September 1991, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic proclaimed independence. On 21 September 1991, the Armenian independence referendum was held with the overwhelming majority voting for the independence of Armenia from the Soviet Union. On 26 November 1991, the Azerbaijani parliament abolished the autonomy of Nagorno-Karabakh. On 10 December 1991, an independence referendum was held in Nagorno-Karabakh, boycotted by the Azeri minority, and gained a vote of 99% in favor of independence.
The Armenian forces captured Shusha on 9 May 1992, thus escalating the conflict into a full-scale armed confrontation. By 1993, the Armenian forces took control over not only the originally disputed Nagorno-Karabakh, but also several districts surrounding the region. A ceasefire agreement was eventually signed on 5 May 1994 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. According to Thomas de Waal, three factors contributed to the victory of the Armenian side: "Azerbaijan's political and military chaos, greater Russian support for the Armenians, and the Armenians' superior fighting skills." Since the 1994 ceasefire, the Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has de facto control of the territories taken over in the war.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the idea of United Armenia have been of great significance in Armenia since the late 1980s. It greatly influenced the Armenian politics in the 1990s. In February 1998, President Levon Ter-Petrosyan was forced to step down by Defence Minister Vazgen Sargsyan and Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan because he had apparently agreed on territorial concessions to Azerbaijan. Although no evidence was ever given the allegation, it was speculated that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue was also the motive of the perpetrators of the Armenian parliament shooting, during which Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan and Parliament Speaker Karen Demirchyan were assassinated.
Since its foundation in 1890, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (also known as Dashnaktsutyun or Dashnak/Tashnag) has been known as the main advocate for United Armenia. Having affiliated organizations throughout the Armenian communities abroad, the ARF is often regarded as one of the most influential Armenian institutions in the world, especially in the diaspora. Today, the ARF is the main party that makes territorial claims to neighboring countries. It received less than 6% of the popular vote in the 2012 parliamentary election and it is now in opposition with 5 seats in the National Assembly of Armenia. The ARF holds 6 of the 33 seats in the National Assembly of Nagorno-Karabakh after it received around 20% of the popular vote in 2010. The party's slogan is "Free, Independent and United Armenia", adopted in its 10th Congress in Paris (1924–1925) as the party's "supreme objective."
Another, more recently established, advocate for United Armenia is the liberal Heritage party led by Raffi Hovannisian. Hovannisian, a major opposition figure in Armenia, has repeatedly stated his nationalist views on relations with Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia. He has called for the formal recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic by Armenia. The Heritage party has introduced bills for the recognition of the NKR to the Armenian National Assembly in August 2007, October 2010, and September 2012. Additionally, Hovannisian has hinted at Western Armenia, Javakhk and Nakhichevan with "vague formulations".
|Area||Part of||Area (km²)||Population||Armenians||% Armenian||Largest city|
|Republic of Armenia||Republic of Armenia||
|Nagorno-Karabakh||Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (de facto) / Azerbaijan (de jure)||
|Javakhk||Georgia (Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda districts of Samtskhe-Javakheti)||
|Nakhichevan||Azerbaijan (Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic)||
|Total||United Armenia||182,176 km²||10,111,594||3,189,273||31.5%||Yerevan|
Armenians form absolute majority in two of the four claimed areas: Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Javakheti (Javakhk) region of Georgia. Virtually no Armenians live in Western Armenia (eastern Turkey) and the Nakhchivan region of Azerbaijan.
In the aftermath of the Nagorno-Karabakh War, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, supported by the Armenia, took control over the territory of some 11,500 km2, including several districts outside of the originally claimed borders of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of the Azerbaijani SSR, creating a "buffer zone". Kelbajar and Lachin districts guarantee solid land corridor between Armenia proper and Nagorno-Karabakh. Between 500,000 to 600,000 Azerbaijanis were displaced from the area. In the meantime, almost all Armenians from Azerbaijan (between 300,000 and 400,000) and Azerbaijanis from Armenia (over 150,000) were forced to move to their respective countries as remaining in their homes became nearly impossible since tensions between the two groups have grown worse since the start of the conflict in 1988.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (also known as Artsakh among Armenians) remains internationally unrecognized. Today, the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh Republic are de facto functioning as one entity, although the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic territory is internationally recognized as de jure part of Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh is more monoethnic than the Republic of Armenia, with 99.7% of its population being Armenian. The Azerbaijani minority was forced to leave during the war. Small numbers of Russians and Greeks live there. The areas outside the original NKAO borders taken over by the Armenian forces during the war are mostly uninhabited or very sparsely inhabited, with the city of Lachin being exception. Between 2000 and 2011, 25,000 to 30,000 people settled in NKR.
Since the end of the conflict, Armenia and Azerbaijan are negotiating through the OSCE Minsk Group. Presidents and Foreign Affairs Ministers of the two countries have been meeting each other alongside with the Russian, French and American co-chairmen trying to find a solution for the "frozen conflict" as described by experts. Armenia and Azerbaijan have exchanged fires in minor clashes throughout their border in March 2008, 2010, and 2012. As of 2013, Thomas de Waal said the risk of a new war is "relatively low" and in his words Azerbaijan "has too much to lose by choosing the military option."
According to the 2002 Georgian census, Armenians compose 55% of the population of the Samtskhe-Javakheti province of Georgia. They are the overwhelming majority (90%+) of Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda districts. These two districts are known as Javakheti among Georgians and Javakhk among Armenians. Javakhk is geographically isolated from the rest of Georgia and remains economically and socially isolated from the Georgia. According to Svante Cornell, Javakhk enjoys "wide cultural autonomy" and "certain Georgian analysts observe that the region is in practice as much 'Armenia' as 'Georgia'. It is distinctively easier to get around using Armenian than Georgian in this region; indeed, foreign visitors claim that at first they had difficulties determining which country they are in." Generally, Javakheti Armenians live in "reasonable inter-ethnic harmony" within Georgia, although there is a "fairly strong fear for the future, a sense of insecurity." Javakheti, along with Lori and Borchali, was disputed by Armenia and Georgia from 1918 to 1920. A minor armed conflict took place between the two nations in December 1918.
United Javakhk Democratic Alliance, a local civil organization, is the main organization advocating for an Armenian autonomy in the region. It was founded in 1988, during the disintegration of the Soviet Union. It campaigns for a referendum in Javakheti on autonomy. It is believed that the organization has close links with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. Although the ARF claims Javakhk as part of United Armenia, the ARF World Congresses "have agreed with the demands raised by the Armenians of Javakhk that a Javakhk with a high degree of self-government within a federal Georgia would be able to sustain itself and would become a strong link in Georgian-Armenian relations."
During Zviad Gamsakhurdia's presidency (1991), Javakheti remained de facto semi-independent and only in November 1991 was the Tbilisi-appointed governor able to take power. The issue of Javakheti was in the 1990s "clearly been perceived as the most dangerous potential ethnic conflict in Georgia", however, no actual armed conflict ever occurred. Taking into account the importance of the bilateral relations, the governments of Armenia and Georgia have pursued a careful and calming policy to avoid tension. The Armenian government has not made territorial claims to Georgia, nor has called for an autonomy in Javakheti. Armenia–Georgia relations have traditionally been friendly, however, from time to time tensions arise between the two countries. In recent years, the status of Armenian churches in Georgia and the status of the Armenian language in Georgian public schools had been a matter of dispute. Svante Cornell argues that "Armenia seems to have had a calming influence on Javakhk" as it is highly dependent on Georgia for imports. This viewpoint is shared by Georgian analysts.
Western Armenia (eastern Turkey)
|The Turkish area claimed by Armenian nationalists|
Western Armenia refers to the eastern provinces of Turkey that had significant Armenian population prior to the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Today, officially no Armenians live in Western Armenia. However, at least two groups of Armenian origin reside in the area. Hemshin peoples, a Muslim ethnic group of Armenian origin, live in the Black Sea coast, particularity in the Rize province. Another group, Crypto-Armenians or "secret" Armenians, according to some estimates numbering from 30,000 to 5,000,000, live throughout Turkey, especially eastern parts of the country. After the Armenian Genocide, the area has been mostly inhabited by Kurds and Turks, with smaller numbers of Azerbaijanis (near the Turkish-Armenian border) and Georgians and Laz people in the northeastern provinces of Turkey.
There is no exact definition of Western Armenia. Today, the Armenian nationalist groups claim the area east of the boundary drawn by US President Woodrow Wilson for the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation and groups supporting the concept of United Armenia claim that the Treaty of Sèvres, signed on 10 August 1920 between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies, including Armenia is the only legal document determining the border between Armenia and Turkey. Armenian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Ara Papian claims that the so-called Wilsonian Armenia, the territory granted to the Republic of Armenia in 1920 by the Treaty of Sèvres, is de jure part of Armenia today. According to him the Treaty of Kars, which determined the current Turkish-Armenian border, has no legal value because it was signed between two internationally unrecognized subjects: Bolshevik Russia and Kemalist Turkey. Papian has suggested that the Armenian government can file a suit at the International Court of Justice to dispute the border between Armenia and Turkey. Armenian-American journalist Harut Sassounian recommended the Armenian government to sue Turkey in the European Court of Human Rights.
Every year on 22 November, many Armenians celebrate the anniversary of the Arbitral Award. In 2010 and 2011, posters with maps of the Treaty of Sèvres were hung throughout Yerevan. In 2010, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan addressed the Conference Dedicated to the 90th Anniversary of Woodrow Wilson's Arbitral Award:
|“||It was probably one of the most momentous events for our nation in the 20th century which was called up to reestablish historic justice and eliminate consequences of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated in the Ottoman Empire. The Arbitral Award defined and recognized internationally Armenia's borders within which the Armenian people, who had gone through hell of Mets Eghern, were to build their statehood.||”|
Official position of Armenia
Since Armenia's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Armenian government has not officially made any territorial claims to Turkey. However, the Armenian government has avoided "an explicit and formal recognition of the existing Turkish-Armenian border."
- Normalization process and its relation to the territorial claims
The normalization process between Armenia and Turkey that started in 2008 culminated on 10 October 2009 when the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Armenia and Turkey (Eduard Nalbandyan and Ahmet Davutoğlu) signed the normalization protocols in Zurich, Switzerland. One of the most controversial points of the agreement was the formal recognition of the mutual existing border. The protocol stated that the two sides confirm "the mutual recognition of the existing border between the two countries as defined by the relevant treaties of international law." Many Armenians in Armenia and abroad opposed this protocols because by signing and ratifying it Armenian would officially forfeit any formal chance of possible territorial claims to Turkey in future.
In early October 2009, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan visited major Armenian diaspora communities to discuss the normalization process with the Armenian diaspora representatives. Protests against the protocols by diaspora Armenians were held in Beirut, New York, Paris, and Los Angeles. On 9 October 2009 the Armenian Revolutionary Federation marched 60,000 people in Yerevan against the Turkish-Armenian protocols. Polls showed that the protocols were unpopular in Armenia and were overwhelmingly opposed in the diaspora.
On 12 February 2010, President Serzh Sargsyan submitted the protocols to the Armenian National Assembly. They were discussed in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament later in February. Citing preconditions from Turkey, Serzh Sargsyan suspended the Armenian-Turkish protocols from the National Assembly on 22 April 2010. To this day, the protocols remain unratified by the either side.
- Recent developments
On 23 July 2011, during a meeting of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan with students in Tsaghkadzor resort city, a student asked Sargsyan if Armenia "will return Western Armenia" in the future. Sargsyan responded:
|“||It depends on you and your generation. I believe, my generation has fulfilled the task in front of us; when it was necessary in the beginning of the 1990s to defend part of our fatherland—Karabakh—from the enemy, we did it. I am not telling this to embarrass anyone: my point is that each generation has its responsibilities and they have to be carried out, with honor. If you, boys and girls of your generation spare no effort, if those older and younger than you act the same way, we will have one of the best countries in the world. Trust me, in many cases the country's standing is not conditioned by its territory: the country should be modern, it should be secure and prosperous, and these are conditions which allow any nation to sit next to the respectable, powerful and reputed nations of the world. We simply must fulfill our duty, must be active, industrious, must be able to create bounty. And we can do that, we very easily can do that, and we have done it more than once in our history. I am certain about it, and I want you to be certain too. We are a nation that always rises from the ashes like phoenix—again and again.||”|
Sargsyan's statements "were considered by Turkish officials an encouragement for young students to fulfill the task of their generation and occupy eastern Turkey." During his visit to Baku a few days later, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denounced Sargsyan's statements and described them as "provocation" and claimed that Sargsyan this "told young Armenians to be ready for a future war with Turkey." Erdoğan demanded apology from Sargsyan calling his statements a "blunder". In response, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan stated that Sargsyan's words were "interpreted out of context."
On 5 July 2013, during a forum of Armenian lawyers in Yerevan on the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide organized by the Ministry of Diaspora, Armenia's Prosecutor General Aghvan Hovsepyan made a "sensational statement". Hovsepyan particularly stated:
|“||Indeed, the Republic of Armenia should have its lost territories returned and the victims of the Armenian Genocide should receive material compensation. But all these claims must have perfect legal grounds. I strongly believe that the descendants of the genocide must receive material compensation, churches miraculously preserved in Turkey's territory and church lands must be returned to the Armenian Church, and the Republic of Armenia must get back its lost lands.||”|
According to ArmeniaNow news agency "this was seen as the first territorial claim of Armenia to Turkey made on an official level. The prosecutor general is the carrier of the highest legal authority in the country, and his statement is equivalent to an official statement." In response, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on 12 July 2013 denouncing Hovsepyan's statements. According to the Turkish side his statements reflect the "prevailing problematic mentality in Armenia as to the territorial integrity of its neighbor Turkey." The statement said that "one should be well aware that no one can presume to claim land from Turkey."
Armenian tradition says that Nakhichevan (Նախիջևան Naxidjevan in Armenian and Naxçıvan in Azerbaijani) was founded by Noah. Armenians have been living in Nakhichevan since ancient times. It was one of gavars of Vaspurakan province of the Kingdom of Armenia. In 189 BC, Nakhchivan became part of the new Kingdom of Armenia established by Artaxias I. Within the kingdom, the region of present-day Nakhichevan was part of the Ayrarat, Vaspurakan and Syunik provinces.
By the 16th century, control of Nakhichevan passed to the Safavid dynasty of Persia. Because of its geographic position, it frequently suffered during the wars between Persia and the Ottoman Empire in the 14th to 18th centuries. In 1604–1605, Shah Abbas I, concerned that the lands of Nakhichevan and the surrounding areas would pass into Ottoman hands, decided to institute a scorched earth policy. He forced some 300,000 Armenians, including the Armenian population of Nakhichevan to leave their homes and move to the Persian provinces south of the Aras River. After the last 1826-1828 Russo-Persian War, the Nakhichevan became part of Russia. Alexandr Griboyedov, the Russian envoy to Persia, reported that 1,228 Armenian families from Persia migrated to Nakhichevan, while prior to their migration there were 2,024 Muslim and 404 Armenian families living in the province.
According to the 1897 Russian Empire Census, the Nakhichevan uyezd of the Erivan Governorate had a population of 100,771, of which 34,672 were Armenian (34.4%), while Caucasian Tatars (Azerbaijanis) numbered 64,151 or 63.7% of the total population. The proportion of Armenian was around 40% prior to World War I. Nakhichevan was disputed between Armenia and Azerbaijan from 1918 to 1920 during the countries' brief independence. The Armenian population of Nakhichevan largely fled the area during the Ottoman invasion in 1918. By June 1919, after the British troops left the area, Armenia succeeded in establishing control over Nakhichevan. Some of the Nakhichevan Armenians returned to their homes in summer 1919. Again, more violence erupted in 1919 leaving some 10,000 Armenians dead and some 45 Armenian villages destroyed.
After the Soviet takeover of the Caucasus region in 1920 and 1921, the Treaty of Moscow, also known as the Treaty of Brotherhood, was signed between the Government of the Grand National Assembly and Soviet Russia on 16 March 1921. According to this treaty Nakhichevan became "an autonomous territory under the auspices of Azerbaijan, under the condition that Azerbaijan will not relinquish the protectorate to any third party." The Treaty of Kars was signed between the Grand National Assembly and Armenian SSR, Azerbaijan SSR, Georgian SSR on 13 October 1921. The treaty reaffirmed that the "Turkish Government and the Soviet Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan are agreed that the region of Nakhichevan ... constitutes an autonomous territory under the protection of Azerbaijan." By the mid-1920s, the number of Armenians in Nakhichevan dwindled significantly and according to the 1926 Soviet census the 11,276 Armenians made up only 10.7% of the autonomous republic. During the Soviet period, the Armenians of Nakhichevan felt "pressured to leave." According to the Soviet census of 1979, only 3,406 Armenians resided in Nakhichevan or 1.4% of the total population. The last few thousand Armenians left Nakhichevan in 1988 amid the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In August 1987, the Armenian National Academy of Sciences started a petition to transfer Nakhichevan and Nagorno-Karabakh under jurisdiction of Armenia. In the nationalist movement to unite Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, Armenians "used the example of the slow "de-Armenianization" of Nakhichevan in the course of the twentieth century as an example of what they feared would happen to them." During the Nagorno-Karabakh War, clashes occurred between Armenian and Azeri forces in the Nakhichevan-Armenia border, however, the war did not spill over into Nakhichevan. Turkey, Azerbaijan's close ally, threatened to intervene if Armenia invaded Nakhichevan. Nakhichevan was in center of attention during the destruction of the Armenian cemetery in Julfa in the 2000s. According to the Research on Armenian Architecture, most of the Armenian churches, monasteries and cemeteries were destroyed by Azerbaijan in the 1990s.
The Armenian government has never made any claims to Nakhichevan, although, there have been calls by nationalist circles (including Hayazn, Heritage youth wing and prominent Nagorno-Karabakh War veteran Jirair Sefilian) to forcibly annex Nakhichevan in case Azerbaijan attacks Nagorno-Karabakh. Rəfael Hüseynov, the Director of the Nizami Museum of Azerbaijani Literature, in his written question to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 2007 claimed that the "seizure Nakhichevan is one of the main military goals of Armenia."
There are no public opinion data concerning the United Armenia concept, however, according to some sources it is popular among Armenians. The expression "our lands" (մեր հողերը mer hoğerə) is often used in Armenia to refer to eastern provinces of modern Turkey.
Gallup, Inc., International Republican Institute and the Armenian Sociological Association conducted a number of opinion polls throughout 2006 and 2007. One of the question concerned the statues of Nagorno-Karabakh. The majority of the Armenians (around two-thirds) preferred Nagorno-Karabakh inside Armenian borders with half favoring an autonomous status for the area. About one-third of the respondents said Nagorno-Karabakh should be an independent state.
|Date||an ordinary region of Armenia||an autonomous region of Armenia||an independent country||part of Azerbaijan||DK/NA|
From 2005 to 2008, four short animated cartoons were released by the National Cinema Center of Armenia called Road home (Ճանապարհ դեպի տուն) produced by Armenian animator Robert Sahakyants. It tells a story of a group of school children from Karin (Erzurum) in 2050 taking a trip throughout the "liberated from enemy" territories: Tigranakert, Baghesh (Bitlis), Mush and Akdamar Island. The country they live in is called Hayk' (Հայք) after the historical name of Armenia. The series was aired by the Public Television of Armenia. In one of his last interviews, Sahakyants stated: "If today I'm shooting a film about how we are going to return Western Armenia, then I'm convinced that it will definitely take place."
The 2007 documentary film Western Armenia: Lost Motherland presents eastern regions as historically Armenian and shows the notable Armenian historical and cultural buildings such as Varagavank, Akdamar Island, Kars Church of the Holy Apostles, Holy Apostles Monastery and Saint Karapet Monastery ruins near Muş, the city of Ani, etc. Although the film presents eastern regions of Turkey (called Western Armenia by Armenians) as historically Armenian, it is not about nationalist claims, but rather about the current status of Armenian churches in eastern Turkey.
The concept of creating a united state that would include all Armenian-populated areas has been the main idea behind the Armenian revolutionary songs. Nersik Ispiryan and Harout Pamboukjian are among the most famous performers of such songs. One of the most widely known examples of these songs is "We must go" (Պիտի գնանք, Piti gnank) by gusan Haykazun written in 1989:
In December 1991, Turkey became one of the first countries to recognize the independence of Armenia from the Soviet Union. The Armenia–Turkey relations deteriorated during the Nagorno-Karabakh war, during which Turkey aligned itself with Azerbaijan. Turkey shares the Turkic heritage with Azerbaijan and the two countries are generally seen as allies in the region. The expression "one nation, two states" has been often used to describe the relations of these countries.
In Turkey, "many believe that Armenia's territorial claims are the main reason why the Armenian administration and lobbyists are pushing for global recognition of the alleged genocide of Armenians." The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism credits the idea of "Great Armenia" to Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosyan. According to Prof. İdris Bal "Turkey considers Armenian policy (and the activities of its powerful diaspora groups) since 1989 to be against its national security interests and territorial integrity. Armenia's failure to recognize the Kars Agreement, along with the frequent public references to eastern Turkey as 'Western Armenia,' provides a serious irritant to Turkey. The Turkish Mt. Ararat is pictured in the official Armenian state emblem, which Turkey interprets as a sign that the 'greater Armenia' vision is still very much alive."
According to Hürriyet Daily News some "foreign policy experts draw attention to the fact that Armenia has territorial claims over Turkey, citing certain phrases in the Armenian Constitution and Declaration of Independence." The Declaration of Independence was passed on 23 August 1990 officially declaring "the beginning of the process of establishing of independent statehood positioning the question of the creation of a democratic society." It was signed by Levon Ter-Petrosyan, the President of the Supreme Council, who became the first President of Armenia in 1991. Article 11 of the declaration read:
- "The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia."
Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev in 1998 stated in his "Decree of President of Republic of Azerbaijan about genocide of Azerbaijani people" that the "artificial territorial division in essence created the preconditions for implementing the policy of expelling Azerbaijanis from their lands and annihilating them. The concept of 'greater Armenia' began to be propagated."
In 2012, President of Azerbaijan and son of Heydar Aliyev, Ilham Aliyev, who has made several statements toward Armenia and Armenians in past such as "our main enemies are Armenians of the world", stated that "Over the past two centuries, Armenian bigots, in an effort to materialize their 'Great Armenia' obsession at the expense of historically Azerbaijani lands, have repeatedly committed crimes against humanity such as terrorism, mass extermination, deportation and ethnic cleansing of our people."
- "Ծրագիր Հայ Յեղափոխական Դաշնակցության (1998) [Armenian Revolutionary Federation Program (1998)]" (in Armenian). Armenian Revolutionary Federation Website. 14 February 1998. Archived from the original on 30 July 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2013. "ՀՅ Դաշնակցությունը նպատակադրում է. Ա. Ազատ, Անկախ եւ Միացյալ Հայաստանի կերտում: Միացյալ Հայաստանի սահմանների մեջ պիտի մտնեն Սեւրի դաշնագրով նախատեսված հայկական հողերը, ինչպես նաեւ` Արցախի, Ջավախքի եւ Նախիջեւանի երկրամասերը:
The goals of the AR Federation are: A. The creation of a Free, Independent and United Armenia. The United Armenia should include inside its borders the Armenian lands by the Sevres Treaty, as well as Artsakh, Javakhk and Nakhichevan provinces."
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