Dadrian: The Current Turkish-Armenian Protocols


vahakn_dadrianThere are three elements in the new Turkish initiative calling for Attention:

1. The protocol on establishing diplomatic relations stipulates “commitment…for the principles of…territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers.” It also requires “the mutual recognition of the existing border between the two countries as defined by the relevant treaties of international law.” In other words the stipulation is based on the latter part of the paragraph whose basis is a misconstrued, if not faulty, interpretation of a definition of what it calls “relevant treaties of international law.”

The fact is, however, that “international law” was seriously encroached upon by the signing of these “relevant treaties.” Involved are here: 1. The Treaty of Moscow, signed in Moscow on March 16, 1921 between RSFSR (Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic) on the one hand, and (Kemalist) Turkey, on the other. The other, no. 2, the Treaty of Kars, was signed some seven months later, i.e., on October 13, 1921, between (Kemalist) Turkey, on the one hand, and the three Soviet Republics of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, on the other, with the participation of RSFSR. The cardinal fact is that Ankara’s Kemalist Turkey, the signatory of these twin Treaties, at that time, was not a legitimate, functioning government; rather, it was a rebel, improvised governmental set-up in contest with a then legitimately functioning government in Istanbul, then the official capital of the Empire, and ruled by a legitimate Sultan.

Consistent with this fact, in a series of governmental as well as court-martial decisions, this legitimate authority on May 24, 1920, issued a death verdict against Mustafa Kemal (Takyimi Vekay-i no. 3864), and 12 days later, June 6, 1920, six of the latter’s cohorts, including Ismet (Inonu), were likewise court-martialed in absentia and were condemned to death. Whether or not Sultan’s government was popular, or its policies were deemed prudent or wise at the time, are issues that are irrelevant here. What is paramount and incontestable, however, is the fact that the Sultan was then the sole legitimate and superordinate authority of the Ottoman Empire — in contrast to the rebel character of the Kemalist government. Accordingly, any agreement, convention or treaty signed with such a government is under international law illegitimate, hence invalid.

Thus, from the vantage point of “international law,” the Treaties of Moscow and Kars are bereft of legality and can, therefore, not be treated as legitimate instruments of negotiations. Moreover, the Moscow Treaty is additionally illegitimate by any standard of international law, for the reason that the RSFSR (Soviet Russia) was then not recognized by any nation-state, it then had almost the same status as the revolutionary, rebellious Kemalist regime. (It was only in 1922 when Germany, as the first nation-state, granted de-jure recognition of the Union at Prapallo). As if these legal deficiencies were not enough, Soviet Armenia, on the insistence of the Ankara government’s representatives, was excluded from the negotiations in Moscow that culminated in the Treaty of Moscow on March 16, 1921, these Turkish representatives had adamantly objected to inclusion in these negotiations of any Armenian representative. As a result, the lack of evidence of Armenian participation is one of the most signal features in the protocols of this Treaty. It should be noted in this connection that one of the three Turkish delegates, who prevailed in Moscow for the final drafting of this Treaty, was Colonel, later in the Turkish Republic, Major-General, Sevket Seyfi (Duzgoreu).

One of the foremost organizers of the Armenian Genocide, Seyfi distinguished himself in the task of recruitment, mobilization and deployment in the provinces of Special Organization’s killer bands, mostly convicted criminals especially selected and released from the empire’s prisons for this task, they played a major role in the implementation of the genocidal scheme. As to the ensuing Treaty of Kars, again it was the leaders of RSFSR, which assumed responsibility for prevailing upon the three Transcaucasian Soviet Republics to accommodate the Turks, their feeble efforts of some opposition notwithstanding. That treaty in fact materialized as an extension and reconfirmation of the preceding Moscow Treaty thanks to the exertions of the dominant Bolsheviks. It is painful to point out once more the rather treacherous conduct of a certain Budu Mdivani, a Georgian, serving as a communist mediator between the military defeated agonizing Armenians who had welcomed him, and the arrogant, victorious Turks. Instead of serving the interests of his Russian masters in Moscow, he secretly tried to collude with the Turks, urging Kazim Karabekir, their military commander, not to be satisfied with the Arax River as a new frontier between Armenia and Turkey, but rather to push beyond that river deep into Armenia. (Kazim Karabekir, ISTIKAL Harbimiz, the 1969 edition. Istanbul, Turkiye Publishers, p. 952)

2. The protocol no. 2 dealing with the theme of “Development of Relations between Armenian and Turkey” seductively starts as item no. 1 with a promise to “open the common border within 2 months after the entry into force of this Protocol.” Then, under items no. 2 and no. 3 come the two most critical issues preventing the bulk of the Armenian people from considering reconciliation. Through them, the unrepentant heirs of the Great Crime of 1915 are once more seeking to railroad the central issue by way of indirection, covert language and resort to alluring, seductive techniques. The Armenian government should declare unequivocally, if not emphatically, that there is nothing to “examine scientifically” with respect to the matter that covertly but allegorically is called “the historical records.” These records” have been subjected to criminal investigation by a Turkish military Tribunal in the pre-Kemalist, postwar Turkey, 1919-1921. Relying on a vast corpus of authenticated, official Turkish wartime documents, this Tribunal, demonstrated that these “records” were nothing but a repository of incontestable evidence of a gigantic crime, a centrally organized mass murder enacted against the bulk of the Ottoman Empire’s own Armenian citizens. The bill of charges, the key indictment, replete with specific documentary material that constituted the Tribunal’s evidence-inchief renders the resulting series of Verdicts an irrevocable evidence of the comprehensive scale of the wartime extermination. The prosecutors were Turks, the judges were Turks, and equally, if not most important, most of the witnesses were Turks, including the high-ranking military officers. Likewise, the court-martial proceedings were based on Ottoman Turkish domestic penal laws.

One would think that a government driven by a sense of Justice would above all tackle these court proceedings in its quest for truth and justice. But, remarkably, there is not only silence about them, but complete silence about the disappearance of the respective trial records following the capture of Istanbul by the Kemalists in the Fall of 1922. The proposal of enlisting commissions to “study” the problem and “formulate recommendations,” has all the sly elements of purposive procrastination, of a gimmick to inject uncertainty, ambivalence, and above all pressure for, ultimate compromise. We see here the use of standards of a “give and take” culture that often determines the outcome of such “commissions” and “sub-commissions,” presumably consisting of people knowledgeable about the Ottoman language. Perhaps the mo
st unusual and, therefore, in a sense, bizarre aspect of this whole protocol, a feature of decades-long official Turkish posture, is the idea that, the Turks, identified with the perpetrator camp, would visit a vis-à-vis those representing the victim of population, and negotiate as co-equals. Underlying this vagary of sheer power play is the fact that Turkey, whether officially or unofficially, is still irrevocably committed to a posture of denial as far as the key element of the crime is concerned, namely, a state-sponsored and state-organized mass murder against her Armenian citizens.

Indeed, Articles 300, 309, but especially 301, of Turkey’s current Penal Code, will as long as they are in effect, continue to legitimize and even extol this posture.

3. Given the track record of the Turkish politicians, the heirs of an established and centuries-old Ottoman tradition, it is difficult to resist the temptation to label this entire initiative a clever stratagem to lure the Armenian government into a trap. There is  not only a scheme of prolongation of the diplomatic traffic in an atmosphere of continuous uncertainty, as far as a final outcome is concerned (Abdul Hamid skilfully used this tactic when confronting the European Powers, which were pressuring him to finally implement the so-called Armenian Reforms — in Turkish it is called Ovalamak), but also an underlying design to promptly wrest from the government of Armenia, a long-cherished concession: the formal recognition of the existing borders between Armenia and Turkey. Secondly, there is Turkey’s looming goal of joining the European Union. Turkey needs to preserve the appropriate façade of conciliatoriness that is but expected of a candidate worthy of becoming an integral part of a civilized Europe. When reinforced by the possession of significant strategic assets and the leverage of distinct military power, however, such facades can prove very functional.

The situation becomes even more enigmatic, if not outright deceptive, when taking into account the pervasive current linkages between the republics of Turkey and Azerbaijan. Knowing the intensity of the latter’s frustrations if not fury, in relation to Armenia, and Turkey’s significant dependence of Azeri oil, not to speak of other kinship ties, are we to believe that the Turkish Republic earnestly and honestly is prepared to cement new ties with Armenia that by definition are bound to hemorrhage its relationship with Azerbaijan?

Even though Armenia is, and for the foreseeable future, will remain, more or less isolated, and in some respects even economically handicapped, there is such a thing as the principle of essential national priorities and, consequently, the eternal need for circumspection and exigent vigilance.

Professor Dadrian is the director of Genocide research at the Zoryan Institute.


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  1. Pingback: Dadrian: The Current Turkish-Armenian Protocols | Asbarez News | armeniatoday

  2. Edik said:

    Good article, but do you know about this:

    “Now coming to l941…The Turkish government drafted the non muslims into the army between the ages
    20 and 45. My father had just turned 45 and they all went to middle Anatolia with the intent of a massacre.
    They were Armenians, Jews and Greeks. But somehow they changed their mind and after keeping the
    troops for 8 months they returned home. Because they didn’t carry out their plan they invented a new tax-
    ation against the non muslims. Those who couldn’t pay these extremely high taxes were sent to the eastern
    part of Turkey and worked to death, building roads et c. These were very bad times for the non muslims as
    you may very well imagine. ”
    (From the letter of Alice, who is now in U.S.A.)

  3. Samvel Jeshmaridian, PhD said:

    I hope that most members of the Armenian Parliament are able to understand Vahakn Dadrian’s precise and unbiased analysis. Otherwise, the Armenia political leadership will remain under curse for 755 years, partially because Aghvan Hovsepyan and Robert Kocharyan were able to fool them in 2008, and partially that Vazgen Manoogyan and Radik Martirosyan are fooling them in 2009.

  4. Ishkhan Babajanian MD said:

    By Ishkhan Babajanian MD on October 31st, 2009 at 2:24 am

    Azeri Defense Minister Warns Sarkisian

    BAKU (APA)—Azeri defense minister Safar Abiyev Thursday warned Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian about his recent visit to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
    “This will be his last visit there,” Abiyev told reporters adding that Sarkisian had no right to visit what he termed “occupied lands.”
    In speaking about the combat readiness of the Azeri military, Abiyev said “the Armed Forces are capable of liberating the occupied lands.”
    “We are aware of everything that has happened. The enemy cannot be active,” warned Abiyev when asked about last week’s exercises in Karabakh, inspected by Sarkisian and Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakian.
    Abiyev also told reporters that the Turkish defense minister was scheduled to visit Baku on November 2


    Dear President Sargsyan We know that Ignoring, blaming and criticizing or identifying selfless Patriots of Diaspora Armenians are very easy for you ?
    But with your past experienced in Switzerland how you are going to Ignore, Confront or Respond “the armed to the teeth” of enemy who with support of your new friend (turkey) day and night threatening to “liberate Karabakh” And you pretending that everything is OK? Mr. President are you going yield ground to the enemy in Karabakh AGAIN ? If you can not stand up firm against Western and/or Eastern Pressures and really you love your Homelands The best way is, to resign honorably at least for your own LEGACY

    Thank you,

    Worry for karabakh’s future
    Dr. babajanian (independent)

  5. Hovsep (Osik) Movsessian said:

    Dear Professor Dadrian,

    This was the most in-depth analysis about this most crucial Armenian issue so far I read.


    Glendale, CA

  6. Mihran Keheyian said:

    The Armenian leadership along with the religious leaders should read and learn something from Professor Dadrian in-depth analysis,instead of lying to the Armenian nation,they must all be put on trial,as they are a bunch of crooks and traitors.

  7. Tamar Chahinian said:

    Dear Professor Dadrian,

    I was wondering when your article about the protocol issue will finally surface. I highly value your opinion and want to thank you for the most detailed and clear analysis you’ve provided us.


  8. Garo Armenian said:

    Dear Dr. Dadrian:

    Thank you for a very erudite and lucid analysis of the issues involved. You’ve produced the ultimate “bottom-line” in this very critical debate. Hope we see you in DC sometime soon.


    Mclean, VA

  9. narine said:

    I wish everybody can read this. He is brilliant an very knowledgable. Our government should consult and learn from him. We are lucky to have him.

  10. Vrej Abakian said:

    Regarding the Azeri defense minister’s threat that Serge Sarkissian’s recent trip to Artsakh would be his last falls in line with my suspicions that some months ago Arnenia/Azerbaijan/Turkey/Russia/EU/USA made the following secret agreement about the fate of Artsakh:
    1. Azerbaijan and Turkey would demand that Armenian forces leave Artsakh
    2. Armenia would reject that demand
    3. The Azeris will attack Artsakh
    4. Artsakh forces and those of the Republic of Armenia will put up a token resistance and slowly withdraw
    5. Sarkissian will then tell us that the enemy was too strong and that Armenian forces retreated to avoid further military and civilian casualties
    6. Artsakh Armenians will be rushed through the land corridor to Armenia. Showing magnanimity, the Azeris will not shoot while the evacualtion is going on
    7. The Western countries, who sponsored this deal, will provide generous assistance to Artsakh refugees. Washington might even offer them immigrant visas. “Welcome to Glendale; welcome to Pasadena…”
    8. Everybody, including Sarkissian and his cabal, but not the Armenian nation, will be happy by the outcome of the multinational conspiracy.

  11. Random Armenian said:

    Vrej Abakian,

    Really? That’s a pretty complex conspiracy theory there. You actually thing those soldiers are not going to fire on fleeing Armenian civilians after all those years of state institutionalized hate? You really think so? Do you understand hatred and human nature?

    And you think Azerbaijan will not push through to take over southern Armenia? This will be their only chance to connect with Nakhichevan and Turkey, and you think they will just stop at the border? Did you not hear about the conference in Nakhichevan where Gul himself attended and declared southern Armenia Azeri territory?

    US and Europe want energy through the caucusus and Armenians are in the way. Armenians were in the way 100 years ago.

  12. Kaloust said:

    I wonder… why Armenia’s leaders don’t consult with it’s best and brightest minds when it comes to such critical documents, as the protocols are? Perhaps… they don’t know what they don’t know.

  13. gaytzag Palandjian said:

    In spanish there is this saying”todos tenemos razon” i.e. we all have some reason(truth).This for some of the posts up above.Excluding of courese that of `prof.Vahakn Dadrian,whom I met by accident in Yerevan,after 30 years,(when we first met at Armenian Congress of Paris sept.1979).He was near next to his Hotel,but lost..He did not recognize me at first, then slowly he remembered back and invited me to his room and we chatted.Later I met him at the Congress -where he was to meet a fellow colleague I take it-when I told him a very important Conference was on in one of the Halls, re “Regional Security·” wherein delegates of Iran,Turkey,Russia,Gerogia,Armenia ,plus an Englishman, I forget the name, was now and then the moderator and aretired U.S. Air Force officer also taking to the podium.All this ,another episode.I may refer to later in a different post.
    My respect for dear Professor Dadrian is high.He also signed an autograph in his new book,giving it to me.He is one of our foremost historian´s and along with Professor Richard G.Hovanissian ,Prof.Ohanian of B-Aires, Prof.Dedeyan of Montpellier, Prof. Arthur Beylerian ,(alias)Paris and just afew two or three make up our worthy contemporary historians.All in defense of our legitimate rights have written quite a fw books.
    His(Dadrian´s ) in dept analysis up above, deserves full study and comprehension by us compatriots.
    I trust Dadrian continues with his assiduous, tough task,nay professional fact finding-like he has done in the past,digging into Ottoman turkish files in Istanbul-even then in 1979.-when I first met him and read his books.He was very deservedly last fall ,in Yerevan awarded by gold medal by pres. Serj Sargsyan,for his works to that end.May he live much longer and contribute to our much needed latter day history.
    with respect and kind wishes by
    gaytzag palandjian from a remote village in Spain(now)

  14. Lusik said:

    To Vrej, Edik, Random Armenian.
    No, there is no conspiracy. There will be no rendering. This scenario might exist in some people imagination. Armenians have won Sardarapat, when without bread and cloth, and right after the genocide. Armenians have declared-fought-built Artsakh, despite the cold and dark years of blockade and isolation.
    So, pull yourself together and stay strong.

  15. Aram said:

    Thanks Edik for your comments.

    These are two events, 20 classes (the deportation of armenians and other minorities between 25 and 45 years old) and the wealth tax are two other major blattant crime against humanity from the so-called ”modern” Turkish Republic.

    My grand-father Armenag Sarafyan, not only escaped the Genocide, eventough saw his father decapitated under his eyes when he was 14, but was deported twice from Istanbul during these two events which nobody talk or remember . Turkish government does not only recognize the Genocide but also denies these two chapters of its ”modern ” history. Still waiting for compensaton and excuses at least for that!!!

    Finally, what to expect from Turkey when its PM says that a muslim can not perpetrate a genocide….(refer to comments related to Omar Al-Bashir’s possible visit to Istanbul).