The Treaty of Sevres (Articles Regarding Armenia, Protection of Minorities and Punishment of War Criminals)

I. Armenian Question in a Historical Context

1. Treaty of Sevres

(Articles Regarding Armenia, Protection of Minorities and Punishment of the War Criminals)




Turkey, in accordance with the action already taken by the Allied Powers, hereby recognises Armenia as a free and independent State.


Turkey and Armenia as well as the other High Contracting Parties agree to submit to the arbitration of the President of the United States of America the question of the frontier to be fixed between Turkey and Armenia in the vilayets of Erzerum, Trebizond, Van and Bitlis, and to accept his decision thereupon, as well as any stipulations he may prescribe as to access for Armenia to the sea, and as to the demilitarisation of any portion of Turkish territory adjacent to the said frontier.


In the event of the determination of the frontier under Article 89 involving the transfer of the whole or any part of the territory of the said Vilayets to Armenia, Turkey hereby renounces as from the date of such decision all rights and title over the territory so transferred. The provisions of the present Treaty applicable to territory detached from Turkey shall thereupon become applicable to the said territory.

The proportion and nature of the financial obligations of Turkey which Armenia will have to assume, or of the rights which will pass to her, on account of the transfer of the said territory will be determined in accordance with Articles 241 to 244, Part VIII (Financial Clauses) of
the present Treaty.

Subsequent agreements will, if necessary, decide all questions which are not decided by the present Treaty and which may arise in consequence of the transfer of the said territory.


In the event of any portion of the territory referred to in Article 89 being transferred to Armenia, a Boundary Commission, whose composition will be determined subsequently, will be constituted within three months from the delivery of the decision referred to in the said Article to trace on the spot the frontier between Armenia and Turkey as established by such decision.


The frontiers between Armenia and Azerbaijan and Georgia respectively will be determined by direct agreement between the States concerned.

If in either case the States concerned have failed to determine the frontier by agreement at the date of the decision referred to in Article 89, the frontier line in question will be determined by the Pricipal Allied Powers, who will also provide for its being traced on the spot.


Armenia accepts and agrees to embody in a Treaty with the Principal Allied Powers such provisions as may be deemed necessary by these Powers to protect the interests of inhabitants of that State who differ from the majority of the population in race, language, or

Armenia further accepts and agrees to embody in a Treaty with the Principal Allied Powers such provisions as these Powers may deem necessary to protect freedom of transit and equitable treatment for the commerce of other nations.




Turkey undertakes that the stipulations contained in Articles 141, 145 and 147 shall be recognised as fundamental laws, and that no civil or military law or regulation, no Imperial Iradeh nor official action shall conflict or interfere with these stipulations, nor shall any
law, regulation, Imperial Iradeh nor official action prevail over them.


Turkey undertakes to assure full and complete protection of life and liberty to all inhabitants of Turkey without distinction of birth, nationality, language, race or religion. All inhabitants of Turkey shall be entitled to the free exercise, whether public or private, of
any creed, religion or belief.

The penalties for any interference with the free exercise of the right referred to in the preceding paragraph shall be the same whatever may be the creed concerned.


Whereas, in view of the terrorist regime which has existed in Turkey since November 1, 1914, conversions to Islam could not take place under normal conditions, no conversions since that date are recognised and all persons who were non-Moslems before November 1, 1914, will be considered as still remaining such, unless, after regaining their liberty, they voluntarily perform the necessary formalities for embracing the Islamic faith.

In order to repair so far as possible the wrongs inflicted on individuals in the course of the massacres perpetrated in Turkey during the war, the Turkish Government undertakes to afford all the assistance in its power or in that of the Turkish authorities in the search for and deliverance of all persons, of whatever race or religion, who have disappeared, been carried off, interned or placed in captivity since November 1, 1914.

The Turkish Government undertakes to facilitate the operations of mixed commissions appointed by the Council of the League of Nations to receive the complaints of the victims themselves, their families or their relations, to make the necessary enquiries, and to order the
liberation of the persons in question.

The Turkish Government undertakes to ensure the execution of the decisions of these commissions, and to assure the security and the liberty of the persons thus restored to the full enjoyment of their rights.


Turkey undertakes to recognise such provisions as the Allied Powers may consider opportune with respect to the reciprocal and voluntary emigration of persons belonging to racial minorities.

Turkey renounces any right to avail herself of the provisions of Article I6 of the Convention between Greece and Bulgaria relating to reciprocal emigration, signed at Neuilly-sur-Seine on November 27, 19l9. Within six months from the coming into force of the present Treaty, Greece and Turkey will enter into a special arrangement relating to the reciprocal and voluntary emigration of the populations of Turkish and Greek race in the territories transferred to Greece and remaining Turkish respectively.

In case agreement cannot be reached as to such arrangement, Greece and Turkey will be entitled to apply to the Council of the League of Nations, which will fix the terms of such arrangement.


The Turkish Government recognises the injustice of the law of 1915 relating to Abandoned Properties (Emval-i-Metroukeh), and of the supplementary provisions thereof, and declares them to be null and void, in the past as in the future.

The Turkish Government solemnly undertakes to facilitate to the greatest possible extent the return to their homes and re-establishment in their businesses of the Turkish subjects of non-Turkish race who have been forcibly driven from their homes by fear of massacre or any other form of pressure since January 1, 1914. It recognises that any immovable or movable property of the said Turkish subjects or of the communities to which they belong, which can be recovered, must be restored to them as soon as possible, in whatever hands it may be found. Such property shall be restored free of all charges or servitudes with which it may have been burdened and without compensation of any kind to the present owners or occupiers, subject to any action which they may be able to bring against the persons from whom they derived title.

The Turkish Government agrees that arbitral commissions shall be appointed by the Council of the League of Nations wherever found necessary. These commissions shall each be composed of one representative of the Turkish Government, one representative of the community which claims that it or one of its members has been injured, and a chairman appointed by the Council of the League of Nations. These arbitral commissions shall hear all claims covered by this Article and decide them by summary procedure.

The arbitral commissions will have power to order:

(1) The provision by the Turkish Government of labour for any work of reconstruction or restoration deemed necessary. This labour shall be recruited from the races inhabiting the territory where the arbitral commission considers the execution of the said works to be necessary

(2) The removal of any person who, after enquiry, shall be recognised as having taken an active part in massacres or deportations or as having provoked them; the measures to be taken with regard to such person’s possessions will be indicated by the commission;

(3) The disposal of property belonging to members of a community who have died or disappeared since January 1, 1914, without leaving heirs; such property may be handed over to the community instead of to the State

(4) The cancellation of all acts of sale or any acts creating rights over immovable property concluded after January 1, I914. The indemnification of the holders will be a charge upon the Turkish Government, but must not serve as a pretext for delaying the restitution. The arbitral commission will, however have the power to impose equitable arrangements between the interested parties, if any sum has been paid by the present holder of such property.

The Turkish Government undertakes to facilitate in the fullest possible measure the work of the commissions and to ensure the execution of their decisions, which will be final. No decision of the Turkish judicial or administrative authorities shall prevail over such decisions.


All Turkish nationals shall be equal before the law and shall enjoy the same civil and political rights without distinction as to race, language or religion.

Difference of religion, creed or confession shall not prejudice any Turkish national in matters relating to the enjoyment of civil or political rights, as for instance admission to public employments, functions and honours, or the exercise of professions and industries.

Within a period of two years from the coming into force of the present Treaty the Turkish Government will submit to the Allied Powers a scheme for the organisation of an electoral system based on the principle of proportional representation of racial minorities.

No restriction shall be imposed on the free use by any Turkish national of any language in private intercourse, in commerce, religion, in the press or in publications of any kind, or at public meetings. Adequate facilities shall be given to Turkish nationals of non-Turkish speech for the use of their language, either orally or in writing, before the courts.


The Turkish Government undertakes to recognize the validity of diplomas granted by recognised foreign universities and schools, and to admit the holders thereof to the free exercise of the professions and industries for which such diplomas qualify.

This provision will apply equally to nationals of Allied powers who are resident in Turkey.


Turkish nationals who belong to racial, religious or linguistic minorities shall enjoy the ame treatment and security in law and in fact as other Turkish nationals. In particular they shall have an equal right to establish, manage and control at their own expense, and independently of and without interference by the Turkish authorities, any charitable, religious and social institutions, schools for primary, secondary and higher instruction and other educational establishments, with the right to use their own language and to exercise their own religion freely therein.


In towns and districts where there is a considerable proportion of Turkish nationals belonging to racial, linguistic or religious minorities, these minorities shall be assured an equitable share in the enjoyment and application of the sums which may be provided out of public funds under the State, municipal or other budgets for educational or charitable purposes.

The sums in question shall be paid to the qualified representatives of the communities concerned.


The Turkish Government undertakes to recognise and respect the ecclesiastical and scholastic autonomy of all racial minorities in Turkey. For this purpose, and subject to any provisions to the contrary in the present Treaty, the Turkish Government confirms and will uphold in their entirety the prerogatives and immunities of an ecclesiastical, scholastic or judicial nature granted by the Sultans to non-Moslem races in virtue of special orders or imperial decrees (firmans, hattis, berats, etc.) as well as by ministerial orders or orders of the Grand Vizier.

All laws, decrees, regulations and circulars issued by the Turkish Government and containing abrogations, restrictions or amendments of such prerogatives and immunities shall be considered to such extent null and void.

Any modification of the Turkish judical system which may be introduced in accordance with the provisions of the present Treaty shall be held to override this Article, in so far as such modification may affect individuals belonging to racial minorities.


In towns and districts where there is resident a considerable proportion of Turkish nationals of the Christian or Jewish religions the Turkish Government undertakes that such Turkish nationals shall not be compelled to perform any act which constitutes a violation of their faith or religious observances, and shall not be placed under any disability by reason of their refusal to attend courts of law or to perform any legal business on their weekly day of rest. This provision, however, shall not exempt such Turkish nationals (Christians or Jews) from such obligations as shall be imposed upon all other Turkish nationals for the preservation of public order.


The Principal Allied Powers, in consultation with the Council of the League of Nations, will decide what measures are necessary to guarantee the execution of the provisions of this Part. The Turkish Government hereby accepts all decisions which may be taken on this subject.




The Turkish Government recognises the right of the Allied Powers to bring before military tribunals persons accused of having committed acts in violation of the laws and customs of war. Such persons shall, if found guilty, be sentenced to punishments laid down by law. This
provision will apply notwithstanding any proceedings or prosecution before a tribunal in Turkey. or in the territory of her allies.

The Turkish Government shall hand over to the Allied Powers or to such one of them as shall so request all persons accused of having committed an act in violation of the laws and customs of war, who are specified either by name or by the rank, office or employment which
they held under the Turkish authorities.


Persons guilty of criminal acts against the nationals of one of the Allied Powers shall be brought before the military tribunals of that Power.

Persons guilty of criminal acts against the nationals of more than one of the Allied Powers shall be brought before military tribunals composed of members of the military tribunals of the Powers concerned.

In every case the accused shall be entitled to name his own counsel.


The Turkish Government undertakes to furnish all documents and information of every kind, the production of which may be considered necessary to ensure the full knowledge of the incriminating acts, the prosecution of offenders and the just appreciation of responsibility.


The provisions of Articles 226 to 228 apply similarly to the Governments of the States to which territory belonging to the former Turkish Empire has been or may be assigned, in so far as concerns persons accused of having committed acts contrary to the laws and customs of war who are in the territory or at the disposal of such States.

If the persons in question have acquired the nationality of one of the said States, the Government of such State undertakes to take, at the request of the Power concerned and in agreement with it, or upon the joint request of all the Allied Powers, all the measures necessary to ensure the prosecution and punishment of such persons.


The Turkish Government undertakes to 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 Turkish Empire on August 1, 1914.

The Allied Powers reserve to themselves the right to designate the tribunal which shall try the persons so accused, and the Turkish Government undertakes to recognise such tribunal.

In the event of the League of Nations having created in sufficient time a tribunal competent to deal with the said massacres, the Allied Powers reserve to themselves the right to bring the accused persons mentioned above before such tribunal, and the Turkish Government undertakes equally to recognise such tribunal.

The provisions of Article 228 apply to the cases dealt with in this Article.



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