The Annexation of Western Armenia. A Feasibility Study

Posted on January. 18. 2020

By Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian

“Every noble work is at first impossible”. Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

The year 2019 will go into the history of the Armenian people as a celebratory event to rejoice the victory over the denialists of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923, perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks. After a long wait of fifty plus years, at last the United States Senate has unanimously voted on December 12 to recognize the Armenian Genocide. To many, this electrifying event has been the highlight of the quest to get the world’s most powerful nation finally to unshackle itself from the gag rule of Turkey and to stand on the high ground of ethicality to side with justice.

As a result, there was a lively conversation, short of a debate, at the 2019 Christmas Eve dinner table I joined with some family members and friends. The huge buzz was about the implications of the passage of the Senate Res. 150. Some were optimistic that something good will come out of it, others were quite pessimistic about Turkey not giving in to consent a cent or an inch of the Armenian lands. Those who were optimistic said we would get reparations from Turkey for our lost lands. Both the pessimists and the optimists were in agreement that any quest for the return of the Armenian lands was futile because of lack of Armenian presence in Western Armenia and due to the fact that part of Turkey has already Kurds and Turks living there and a few hidden Armenians in the Dersim area. The consensus of the two groups seemed to be to shoot for reparation for the lost properties such as houses, churches, monasteries, bank accounts, etc., despite a small number who expressed the wish to reclaim our lands, but could not see how this could be possible because of the present population of the Turkish-occupied Western Armenia. Therefore, we should be satisfied with some reparations better than total loss.
I could not restrain myself from blurting out in a vexed voice “No, we cannot do that: Our lands are not for sale! They all looked at me somewhat bewildered as though I had just landed from Mars. I explained that we just could not sell our Homeland and the Homeland of many generations to come for money alone. Our ancestors will never forgive us for abandoning the dream of annexing Western Armenia and Cilicia to the Armenian Highlands where they belong. Nothing should sway us from demanding our lands, ever. “But how to annex Western Armenia, they challenged”?
I told the company that I had researched the ways Armenia could Annex Western Armenia in the past for a feasibility study and that I would gladly rewrite about it and submit it for publication in the USA Armenian Life Magazine managed and edited by Mr. Appo Jabarian, well-known to have been a staunch advocate of the Armenian Cause. So now, let us count the ways Armenians could annex Western Armenian when it is somehow liberated.
Now for a moment the dream has stopped and the reality is setting in our consciousness. Some of us are becoming irredentist. We want to reclaim our lost lands. Before we continue on what ways to follow to realize our irredentism, let us clarify the term irredenta. The word comes from the Italian Irredentita (pluaral Irredentisti), any of the Italian patriots prominent in the last quarter of the 19th century and the early 20th century who sought to deliver Italian lands from foreign rule. Their name was derived from the two words: Italia Irredenta, meaning “unredeemed Italy” (unrecovered Italy). Can Armenians state “Armenia Irredenta” when we have a lion’s share of our lands occupied by Turkey? A resounding “Yes”!
Assuming Armenia will formally claim Western Armenia from Turkey. Apparently, there had been a major change in the Armenia irredentist claims of regaining Turkish-occupied Western Armenia. In the event, Mr. Putin of the Russian Federation with his “Greater Novorossiya” aspirations had waged war against Turkey for some reason. Armenia, as a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), provided Russia with two brave battalions. After the titanic clash, Armenia was rewarded with the annexation of Western Armenian territories.
Let us assume further that patriotic Nikol Pashinyan asked the Armenian Diaspora to find ways to solve the present population problem of the newly liberated Western Armenia consisting of different ethnicity and religion as a result of Armenia irredentism (i.e., an unredeemed territory historically or ethnically related to one political unit but under the political jurisdiction of another).
In response to Armenia’s call for assistance and out of patriotism, the Diaspora-wide leaders supposedly had brainstormed the following avenues as methods to solving the present population problem of the free and independent Western Armenia:
Population Drain through Migration: This option requires waiting for the natural attribution of the local population to central and western Anatolia. Every year thousands upon thousands of Turks are moving to central and western Anatolian cities from the southeastern parts of Turkey. In a matter of decades, the region will become devoid of Turkish people. According to Mr. Jerry Tutunjian’s informative editorial (published in on August 31, 2015), millions of Turks living in the eastern regions of Turkey have been moving to the heavily urbanized and industrialized areas of the central and western sections of Anatolia. As is obvious, the southeastern section have been losing population to central and western Turkey and also to foreign lands. Evaluation results: This method is feasible, but not a viable solution for it would take years for southeastern Turkey to be emptied. Besides, Kurds are moving in droves to replace the migrating Turks to beef up “Kurdistan”.
Deportation of the Existing Population: Armenians were subjected not only to inhumane, but to heinous treatment by decapitating the Armenian nation by killing their leaders and intellectuals; massacring their able-bodied men; drowning the young and the old alike; forcing old men, women and children on death marches to the desolate desert to die. Now, Armenians are in control only it would be fair to practice an eye for an eye sort of punishment for the crime. Evaluation results: Armenia is hailed now by archeologists, paleontologists, historians and other scientific researchers as being the earliest cradle of civilization. As a nation, Armenians are proud of their long history of cultural heritage. There is no chance they would stoop to resort to a barbaric ethnic cleansing in order to get rid of their former tormentors. Evaluation results: This is no option to consider at all for Armenians would refuse to have an indelible stain on their conscience.
Forced/Voluntary Population Exchanges: After WWI, this method was successfully used in the case of Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and Macedonia. Although, the use of forced population exchanges solves conflicts based on irredentism, this procedure has become internationally illegal in the lexicon of most diplomats. The use of transfers of populations between two or more states to solve territorial or self-determination issues is today looked upon uncivilized and potentially in violation of international law. Nevertheless, 100 years ago, the practice of both voluntary and forced population transfers between former adversaries in the Balkans was an accepted and commonplace occurrence which seldom results now in post-exchange conflicts. During Mustafa Kemal’s state building operations, Smyrna (largely populated by Greeks and Armenians) was set on fire deliberately. Houses and business were all burned down. To solve the Christian population problem of Smyrna, the Greek population was exchanged with the Ottoman Turks living in Greece. Evaluation results: This is not a viable solution for most of the population of former southeastern Turkey consists of Turks and Kurds, and only fifty or sixty thousand of Armenians presently live there in western Turkey and a few thousands in southeastern region (not including the hidden Armenians). What is more only a handful Turks live in RA which is today a homogenous ethnos. Therefore, population exchange would be lopsided.
Voluntary Relocation. This method took place right in the southeastern Anatolia (Armenian Highlands) when Nakhichevan was shamefully assigned to Azerbaijan in the 1920s. Despite the fact that the region was promised to Armenia as its historical province, the Soviets assigned the region to Azerbaijan. The Armenian population of this Russian oblast was voluntarily evacuated or relocated to Soviet Armenia, Iran, or Iraq in a matter of years. Since Turks and Kurds do not feel comfortable to live in a country that belongs to a “kafir” people, unbelievers or sinners who do not accept Prophet Mohammad as the last messenger of God would also eventually leave Western Armenia. Evaluation results: This is not a feasible solution to the population problem since it takes many years to get the Turks and the Kurds move out of Western Armenia on their own volition.
Mixed Population: This method involves the option of doing nothing. Let the present population of former southeastern Turkey continue to live there unfettered. Following the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey in 1974, the population issue was not subjected to the effects of exchanging or forcing populations to leave one part of Cyprus to the other. Instead, this was one area where their respective ethnic populations remained mixed. Evaluation results: Again, Armenians are sparsely populated in “present Western Armenia,” therefore; they would end up being a minority in that vast territory if the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) citizens choose not to move to their ancestral lands. And most likely they won’t move there for being a desert of industry and urban living.
Resurgence of Islamized Armenians: If the Republic of Armenia does not refuse to baptize the Islamized Armenians of former southeastern Turkey, the mixed population option would be possible to practice. Instead of focusing his efforts to enlarge his personal gains through personalized power, our Catholicos Karekin II should have seized the opportunity to encourage the hidden Armenians reclaim their original ethnicity and religion of their family. This is a glaring example to show how some of our high-ranking clergymen are bent on pursuing their own gains at the expense of national interests. Estimates have run anywhere from 50,000 to 5 million hidden, or cryptic Armenians now are living in Turkey combined with the Hamshens along the Black Sea (consisting of 3 to 4 million); in the event a large numbers of these populations revert back to their former religion or declare their Armenian ancestry, Western Armenia would end up with a substantial pro-Armenian population. (Incidentally, it is said that the majority of Turks have an Armenian grandmother, who would rise up to seize the opportunity). If that were the case, with the apostate hidden Armenians then the present population could be considered fairly equal in “the former southeastern Turkey”. Evaluation results: Thus, the Republic of Armenia would be able to slowly bring the Western Armenia under its wings with the help of the former Islamized Armenians and its Diaspora.
Import Settlers from RA: On account of Western Armenia being contiguous to the Republic of Armenia (RA), it would be possible to attract farmers, business men, and other entrepreneurs to establish themselves in their ancestral homeland with the extension of the infrastructures from RA to Western Armenia. This would be predicated on the assumption that Armenia would distribute real estate to these pioneering settlers free land as the Zionists encouraged Jews to return to Palestine before, during and after 1947 as mainly farmers by giving them assistance of all sorts. Evaluation results: It would be feasible to entice settlers from Armenia, Artsakh, and Javakhk by offering them substantial assistance for relocation at the expense of their dwindling populations. Evolution results: This is a feasible way, but where would the funds come from? Naturally, from “The Sugar Daddy or Deep-Pocket Diaspora”!
Import Colonists from the Diaspora: There is an important nucleus of Diaspora Armenians who would express their solidarity and nationalism by relocating to the former southeastern Turkey provided the Republic of Armenia finds ways to embrace its vast Diaspora instead of alienating it by creating uncharacteristically differences between the Diaspora Armenians and those born there. Evaluation results: The feasibility of a large number of Diaspora Armenians relocating in Western Armenia is slim and very questionable.
Combined Solutions: While the above methods are stated singly as options to consider in their merit to solving the population problem when Western Armenia is liberated, logic dictates that two or more methods could be used in solving ethnically and religiously different population problem. For example, by combining methods of Resurgence of Islamized Armenians, with Import Settlers from Republic of Armenia, and Import Colonists from the Diaspora to equalize the population balance in Western Armenia. Evolution results: The combination of the three methods would provide a doable solution to the population problem in the aftermath of Western Armenia becoming free and independent again from the yoke of Turkish occupation of the Armenian nation’s heartland.
Once in a while you read about the question some raise: “What can we do with the Turkish and Kurdish population if we get Western Armenia? There are no Armenians left in that region.” While irredenta is defined as territorial and ethnic in nature, ethnic linkages are not theoretically necessary because claims can be based solely on territory alone. In other words, an attempt can be made to detach land from one state (e.g., Turkey) in order to incorporate it into another (e.g., RA) without claiming any relations to the present population in the disputed territory.
Let us continue with our quest to get Western Armenia and be ready for the dream of centuries, the aspirations of millions, the redemption for all the blood our ancestors sacrificed, plus the killing of our cultural heritage, and then choose “a feasible way to deal with the remaining population.” We have already given the reader food for thought and there is plenty of time to mull over ways to Annex Western Armenia.
Let the Turks and the Kurds be happy that they lived in Armenian houses, enjoyed their orchards, tilled their land, and took over their businesses all rent free for over 100 years. Now, the landlord has come to occupy the premises. They milked Western Armenia as a cow for centuries, now it is our turn to enjoy our stolen ancestral lands. Where there is a will, there is a way, albeit an old cliché but it packs a lot of wisdom, tenacity, and perseverance. Empires come and empires go, if we play our cards well, if we get along with one another, if we plan now, if we form a Diaspora-based supra structure, our future generations will have the chance to one day own and enjoy Western Armenia, Cilicia, Nakhichevan, Javakhk as united into one free and sovereign nation. Constitutions of Armenia, Artsakh, or any national organizations should include the regaining of lost Armenian territories, irredentism, in their mission and vision statements. A Greater Armenia should be the ethno-nationalist irredentist quest of all Armenian generations. Our next generations should always remember that there can be no real freedom for a nation without the spirit of solidarity and that the future rewards those who keep on dreaming toward the realization of a “noble” goal — no matter how impossible it may sound to most.

2 responses to “The Annexation of Western Armenia. A Feasibility Study”

  1. Stepan says:

    I applaud your spirit and insight. We have no right to relinquish this goal. It is part of our generational inheritance. The presence of the RoA is bringing unprecedented unity to Armenians…a requirement for any progress. Next is to move our people mentally and activity wise into the reparations phase of our journey…both financial and territorial. Keep the faith.

  2. C.K. Garabed says:

    Don’t forget the Wilsonian Arbitral Award.

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