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The 1923 Lausanne Treaty and the New Imperial Order
The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne may have been the last of the post-World War One peace settlements, but it was very different from Versailles. Like its German and Austro-Hungarian allies, the defeated Ottoman Empire had initially been presented with a dictated peace in 1920. In just two years, however, the Kemalist insurgency turned defeat into victory, enabling Turkey to claim its place as the first sovereign state in the Middle East. Meanwhile those communities who had lived side-by-side with Turks inside the Ottoman Empire struggled to assert their own sovereignty, jostled between the Soviet Union and the resurgence of empire in the guise of League of Nations mandates. For 1.5m Ottoman Greeks and Balkan Muslims, ‘making peace’ involved forced population exchanges, a peace-making tool now understood as ethnic cleansing.
Chapters consider competing visions for a post- Ottoman world, situate the population exchanges relative to other peace-making efforts, and discuss economic factors behind the reallocation of Ottoman debt as well as refugee flows and oil politics. Further chapters consider Arab, Armenian, American and Iranian perspectives, as well as the long shadow cast by Lausanne over contemporary politics, both inside Turkey and out.
‘An important book offering new perspectives on the Lausanne Treaty of 1923. Gone is the positive interpretation of Lausanne as the most ‘successful’ of the treaties ending hostilities in the Great War; in its place is a multi- layered account of exploitation, exclusion, and betrayal of the promise of recovery and development in a region ravaged by war, famine, and genocide. These essays offer a new and important interpretation not only of Middle Eastern history but of international history in the 1920s.’
Jay Winter, Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University
‘Of all the international treaties signed after World War I, only Lausanne remains intact: the founding document of the Turkish Republic. Yet the Lausanne peace process has not attracted the interest it deserves. In the absence of well-grounded research, journalists and Islamist demagogues alike have come up with their own myths, myths that continue to circulate today. Here at last, a century on, we have the definitive work: of interest not only to diplomats, political scientists and historians, but the educated public in general.’
Ayhan Aktar, former Professor of Sociology, Istanbul Bilgi University
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