If you want to know who the Turks are, be Kurdish for just one day.
” Nelson Mandela
The Treaty of Lausanne, signed on July 24, 1923, marked a significant turning point in the geopolitical landscape of the Eastern Mediterranean. Designed to bring stability and peace to the region following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the treaty sought to redefine the borders and establish diplomatic relations among the nations involved. However, a century later, it is evident that the promises made in Lausanne have been repeatedly broken, particularly by Turkey, towards its neighboring nations of Greece, Cyprus, and the Kurdish population residing within its borders.
This article delves into the complex web of political challenges that have emerged in the wake of the centenary of the Treaty of Lausanne. Specifically, it examines Turkey’s violations of the treaty and their implications for Greece, Cyprus, and Turkish Kurdistan. By analyzing the historical context, legal obligations, and contemporary events, we aim to shed light on the ongoing struggles faced by these regions and the impact of Turkey’s actions on regional stability and international relations.
The Treaty of Lausanne was envisioned as a comprehensive settlement that would address various aspects of the post-Ottoman order, including territorial boundaries, minority rights, and political sovereignty. It aimed to provide a framework for peaceful coexistence and respect for the sovereignty of each nation. However, Turkey’s conduct in the ensuing years has revealed a consistent pattern of violations, undermining the spirit and intent of the treaty.
One of the key areas where Turkey’s violations have been evident is in its relations with Greece. Despite the clear delineation of borders outlined in the Treaty of Lausanne, Turkey has engaged in provocative actions, territorial disputes, and military interventions that have strained the bilateral relations between the two countries. These actions have not only challenged the territorial integrity of Greece but have also created a volatile atmosphere that threatens regional stability.
In addition to Greece, Turkey’s actions towards Cyprus have raised significant concerns. The Treaty of Lausanne recognized the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, yet Turkey’s invasion and subsequent occupation of the northern part of the island in 1974 have violated these fundamental principles. The unresolved Cyprus issue continues to be a source of tension and has hindered efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution in the region.
Furthermore, the Kurdish population residing within Turkey’s borders, often referred to as Turkish Kurdistan, has experienced systemic marginalization and human rights abuses. The Treaty of Lausanne, in its commitment to minority rights, aimed to protect the diverse ethnic and religious communities within Turkey. However, the Kurdish people have faced discrimination, suppression of cultural identity, and military operations, impeding their quest for autonomy and self-determination.
Understanding the political and legal ramifications of Turkey’s violations of the Treaty of Lausanne is crucial in assessing the broader implications for regional stability and international relations. By unraveling the intricate complexities of these challenges, we can gain valuable insights into the dynamics at play and the potential paths towards reconciliation and lasting peace.
In the following sections, this article will delve into the historical background, legal obligations, and contemporary developments that highlight Turkey’s violations of the Treaty of Lausanne towards Greece, Cyprus, and Turkish Kurdistan. Through a comprehensive analysis, we aim to shed light on the consequences of these violations and explore potential avenues for resolving the longstanding issues that persist to this day.
Turkish state and internal violations:
1. Border Disputes and Military Interventions:
a. Occupation of Northern Cyprus (1974): One of the most significant violations occurred when Turkey intervened militarily in Cyprus, resulting in the occupation of the northern part of the island. This action not only violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus but also undermined the principles of non-aggression and respect for established borders.
b. Military Operations in Syria and Iraq: Turkey’s military operations against Kurdish groups in Syria and Iraq have raised concerns about its disregard for the sovereignty of these nations. These actions have challenged the border integrity of both countries and have led to tensions and potential conflicts in the region.
1. Suppression of Minority Rights:
a. Kurdish Question: Turkey’s treatment of the Kurdish population has been a longstanding issue. Kurdish cultural and linguistic rights have been restricted, and there have been reports of human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority. These actions violate the principles of minority rights and cultural diversity protected by the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Alevi Religious Minority: The Alevi religious minority in Turkey has also faced discrimination and restrictions on their religious practices. The denial of their cultural and religious rights undermines the principles of religious freedom and cultural diversity enshrined in the treaty.
1. Erosion of Democracy and Rule of Law:
a. Crackdown on Media and Civil Society: Turkey has witnessed a significant erosion of democratic principles, with restrictions on freedom of expression and press freedom. Independent media outlets have been targeted, and civil society organizations have faced increasing pressure and limitations on their activities. These actions infringe upon the democratic foundations upheld by the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Concentration of Power and Weakening of Checks and Balances: The concentration of power in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the weakening of checks and balances have contributed to the erosion of democratic institutions in Turkey. This centralization of power contradicts the principles of separation of powers and democratic governance established by the treaty.
1. Revisionist Claims and Expansionist Ambitions:
a. Eastern Mediterranean Disputes: Turkey’s assertive actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, including maritime boundary disputes and exploration activities in contested waters, have strained relations with neighboring countries. These actions challenge the principles of territorial integrity, non-aggression, and peaceful coexistence embedded in the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Claims in Aegean Sea and Thrace: Turkey has also made territorial claims in the Aegean Sea and Thrace region, leading to tensions with Greece. These claims and the accompanying military activities threaten the stability and security of the region and undermine the spirit of the treaty.
1. Suppression of Freedom of Expression and Dissent:
a. Crackdown on Journalists: Turkey has witnessed a significant crackdown on journalists, with the imprisonment and intimidation of media professionals critical of the government. This suppression of freedom of the press violates the principles of freedom of expression and undermines the democratic values upheld by the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Restriction of Online Freedom: The Turkish government has implemented stringent internet regulations, censoring online content and restricting access to social media platforms. These measures curtail freedom of expression and infringe upon the rights of individuals to freely express their opinions, stifling public discourse and inhibiting the democratic progress envisaged by the treaty.
1. Judicial Independence and Rule of Law:
a. Judicial Reforms and Undermining of Independence: Turkey has witnessed a series of judicial reforms that have raised concerns about the independence of the judiciary. The reshuffling of judges, arbitrary detentions, and politically motivated prosecutions undermine the rule of law and erode the foundation of justice as outlined in the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. State of Emergency and Emergency Decrees: The declaration of a state of emergency in Turkey following the failed coup attempt in 2016 led to the adoption of emergency decrees with far-reaching implications. These decrees allowed for the suppression of civil liberties, mass dismissals of public servants, and restrictions on the right to fair trial, undermining the principles of justice and due process.
1. Expansion of Presidential Powers:
a. Constitutional Reforms: The constitutional reforms introduced in Turkey in 2017 centralized power in the hands of the presidency, significantly expanding the executive authority. This concentration of power undermines the separation of powers and checks and balances, essential components of democratic governance protected by the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Weakening of Parliamentary Oversight: The expansion of presidential powers has weakened parliamentary oversight, limiting the ability of the legislative branch to act as a check on the executive. This undermines the democratic accountability and transparency that the treaty sought to uphold.
1. Threats to Academic Freedom:
a. Restrictions on Academic Freedom: Turkey has witnessed increasing restrictions on academic freedom, with scholars, intellectuals, and educators facing limitations on their ability to express diverse perspectives and engage in critical research. This curtailment of academic freedom stifles intellectual growth and undermines the principles of free inquiry and knowledge exchange enshrined in the treaty.
1. Human Rights Concerns:
a. Freedom of Assembly and Protest Rights: Turkey has faced criticism for its restrictions on freedom of assembly and the excessive use of force against peaceful protests. The suppression of public demonstrations undermines the principles of civic engagement and the right to voice dissent, which are integral to a functioning democracy as envisioned by the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Arbitrary Detentions and Torture Allegations: Reports of arbitrary detentions, torture, and ill-treatment of individuals in custody have raised significant human rights concerns. These actions violate the principles of human dignity, equality, and protection against torture, which the treaty sought to uphold.
Over the past century, Turkey has been involved in a range of internal violations towards the Treaty of Lausanne. These violations encompass the suppression of freedom of expression and dissent, restrictions on academic freedom, erosion of judicial independence, expansion of presidential powers, threats to human rights, and limitations on civic engagement.
1. Cultural and Religious Freedom:
a. Restrictions on Religious Minorities: Turkey has faced criticism for its treatment of religious minorities, including Christians, Alevis, and other non-Muslim communities. These groups have encountered obstacles in practicing their faith, constructing and maintaining places of worship, and facing discriminatory policies that undermine the principles of religious freedom and cultural diversity outlined in the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Preservation of Cultural Heritage: Turkey’s cultural heritage, including archaeological sites and historical monuments, has faced challenges in preservation and protection. The neglect or destruction of cultural sites undermines the principles of cultural heritage conservation and the promotion of cultural diversity.
1. Disregard for International Agreements:
a. Violation of International Humanitarian Law: Turkey has been accused of violating international humanitarian law in various conflicts, including the treatment of civilians and disregard for the protection of cultural heritage. These actions run counter to the principles of international law and humanitarian norms embedded in the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Non-compliance with Treaty Obligations: Turkey’s failure to fully comply with its treaty obligations, such as the implementation of minority rights protections and the resolution of border disputes through peaceful means, undermines the trust and cooperation among regional and international actors. This non-compliance erodes the foundations of the treaty and raises concerns about Turkey’s commitment to international agreements.
1. Freedom of Movement and Migration:
a. Refugee Crisis and Border Security: Turkey has faced significant challenges in managing the influx of refugees, particularly from Syria, and securing its borders. While Turkey has made efforts to accommodate and support refugees, concerns have been raised about the treatment and living conditions of displaced populations. The management of the refugee crisis and border security requires adherence to international standards and cooperation, as outlined in the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Migration Policies and Human Rights: Turkey’s migration policies have been subject to scrutiny, particularly with regard to the rights and treatment of migrants and asylum seekers. Upholding the principles of human rights, including non-discrimination, access to protection, and dignified living conditions, is crucial in managing migration flows and ensuring compliance with the treaty’s provisions.
Turkey has been involved in many violations of the treaty, especially with regard to the Kurdish people and the occupied lands in Kurdistan.
1. Denial of Kurdish Identity and Cultural Rights:
a. Prohibition of Kurdish Language and Cultural Expression: Turkey has historically denied the existence of Kurdish identity and suppressed the use of the Kurdish language in public life, education, and media. This violation of cultural rights undermines the principles of cultural diversity, linguistic rights, and minority protection as enshrined in the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Destruction and Neglect of Kurdish Cultural Heritage: The neglect, destruction, and appropriation of Kurdish cultural heritage sites, including religious and historical monuments, have been reported. These actions not only undermine the preservation of cultural diversity but also violate the principles of safeguarding cultural property outlined in the treaty.
1. Systematic Human Rights Violations:
a. Discrimination and Marginalization: The Kurdish population in Turkey has faced systematic discrimination and marginalization, including restrictions on political participation, employment, and access to public services. These violations contravene the principles of equality, non-discrimination, and protection of minority rights as stipulated in the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Suppression of Freedom of Expression and Assembly: Turkey has consistently targeted Kurdish activists, journalists, and human rights defenders for expressing their opinions or advocating for Kurdish rights. The suppression of freedom of expression and assembly violates the principles of freedom of thought, expression, and peaceful protest enshrined in the treaty.
1. Conflict and Military Operations in Kurdistan:
a. Military Operations in Southeastern Turkey: Turkey has conducted military operations in the southeastern region, predominantly inhabited by Kurds, leading to displacement, destruction of villages, and loss of lives. These actions violate the principles of non-aggression, protection of civilian populations, and respect for human dignity outlined in the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Extrajudicial Killings and Forced Disappearances: Reports of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, and torture by security forces in their operations against Kurdish militants have raised concerns about human rights abuses. These violations contradict the principles of justice, due process, and protection against torture and arbitrary detention as stipulated in the treaty.
1. Occupation of Kurdish Lands:
a. Occupation and Annexation of Kurdistan: Turkey has occupied Kurdish lands, particularly in southeastern Turkey, resulting in the displacement of Kurdish communities and the imposition of Turkish governance. The occupation and annexation of Kurdish lands violate the principles of territorial integrity, self-determination, and respect for established borders enshrined in the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Suppression of Kurdish Self-Governance: Turkey has consistently suppressed attempts by Kurdish communities to establish local self-governance structures and to exercise their right to self-determination. This violation undermines the principles of democratic governance, local autonomy, and minority rights protected by the treaty.
Türkiye’s actions led to numerous violations towards Greece and Cyprus in accordance with the Treaty of Lausanne.
1. Aegean Sea and Territorial Integrity:
a. Airspace and Maritime Violations: Turkey has repeatedly violated Greek airspace and territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, undermining Greece’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. These violations include unauthorized military aircraft flights, illegal exploration activities, and challenges to Greece’s sovereignty over various islands and islets.
b. Imbalance in Military Presence: Turkey’s disproportionate military presence and buildup in the Aegean region have caused tensions and heightened concerns regarding regional stability. This imbalance poses a direct threat to the security and stability of Greece, hindering the spirit of cooperation and peaceful coexistence as envisaged by the Treaty of Lausanne.
1. Cyprus and the Occupation of Northern Cyprus:
a. Invasion of Cyprus (1974): One of the most significant violations of the Treaty of Lausanne occurred when Turkey launched a military invasion of Cyprus in 1974, resulting in the occupation of the northern part of the island. This action not only violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus but also disregarded the principles of non-aggression and respect for established borders outlined in the treaty.
b. Division and Ethnic Cleansing: The occupation of Northern Cyprus led to the division of the island, with Greek Cypriots displaced from their homes and forced into enclaves. The ethnic cleansing and demographic changes resulting from the occupation further exacerbated tensions and violated the principles of minority rights and protection of cultural heritage as stipulated in the treaty.
1. Violation of Minority Rights:
a. Discrimination against Greek and Greek Cypriot Minorities: Turkey’s treatment of the Greek and Greek Cypriot minorities within its territory and the occupied areas has raised concerns about their rights and well-being. Discrimination, restrictions on cultural and religious freedoms, and limitations on property rights have undermined the principles of minority rights enshrined in the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Destruction of Cultural Heritage: The deliberate destruction and desecration of Greek Orthodox religious sites, monuments, and cultural heritage in Turkey and the occupied areas of Cyprus have been documented. These acts undermine the preservation of cultural diversity and the protection of cultural heritage as outlined in the treaty.
1. Unresolved Territorial Disputes:
a. Claims in the Aegean Sea: Turkey has persistently pursued territorial claims in the Aegean Sea, challenging Greece’s sovereignty over various islands and islets. These claims have resulted in tensions and disputes, violating the principles of territorial integrity and peaceful coexistence as set forth in the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Failure to Resolve the Cyprus Issue: Despite international efforts to find a resolution to the Cyprus issue, Turkey’s refusal to withdraw its occupation forces from Northern Cyprus and engage in meaningful negotiations has hindered progress. This violation of the treaty has perpetuated the division of the island and impeded the reunification efforts envisioned in the Treaty of Lausanne.
1. Violation of Property Rights:
a. Seizure of Greek and Greek Cypriot Properties: Turkey’s occupation of Northern Cyprus resulted in the displacement of thousands of Greek Cypriots from their properties, which were subsequently seized by Turkish authorities. This violation of property rights not only caused immense suffering to individuals and families but also contravened the principles of protection of property as outlined in the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Denial of Property Restitution: Efforts to secure the return of properties to their rightful owners have been met with resistance and legal barriers, preventing Greek Cypriots from reclaiming their land and properties in the occupied areas. This denial of property restitution violates the principles of justice, equality, and respect for property rights enshrined in the treaty.
1. Cultural and Educational Suppression:
a. Denial of Greek Language and Education: Turkey has imposed restrictions on the use of the Greek language and the provision of Greek education in regions under its control, particularly in Northern Cyprus. This suppression of cultural and educational rights infringes upon the principles of cultural diversity, linguistic rights, and the preservation of minority identities protected by the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Destruction of Cultural Heritage: The deliberate destruction and neglect of cultural heritage sites in Cyprus, including Greek Orthodox churches, monasteries, and archaeological sites, have been reported. These actions not only disregard the value of cultural heritage but also violate the principles of preserving cultural diversity and safeguarding cultural property as stipulated in the treaty.
1. Provocations and Escalation:
a. Escalation of Tensions: Turkey has engaged in provocative actions and rhetoric, including military exercises, threats, and aggressive posturing towards Greece and Cyprus. These escalations of tension run counter to the principles of good neighborly relations, peaceful coexistence, and the resolution of disputes through diplomatic means as outlined in the Treaty of Lausanne.
b. Violation of Exclusive Economic Zones: Turkey has violated the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Greece and Cyprus by conducting unauthorized exploration and drilling activities in disputed maritime areas. These violations undermine the sovereign rights of Greece and Cyprus and contravene the principles of peaceful coexistence, respect for territorial integrity, and adherence to international maritime law.
The Turkish violations towards Greece and Cyprus according to the Treaty of Lausanne over the past century have created significant challenges to regional stability, hindered the resolution of conflicts, and violated fundamental principles of international law. From territorial disputes and property rights violations to cultural and educational suppression, these violations have strained relations, perpetuated divisions, and impeded the realization of the treaty’s objectives.
A century has passed since the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, and yet the echoes of broken promises continue to reverberate throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. The examination of Turkey’s violations towards Greece, Cyprus, and Turkish Kurdistan reveals a troubling pattern of disregard for international agreements and the erosion of trust among neighboring nations.
The political and legal challenges stemming from Turkey’s actions have had far-reaching consequences. The strained relations between Turkey and Greece, fueled by territorial disputes and military tensions, have hindered the prospects of cooperation and mutual understanding. The unresolved Cyprus issue remains an open wound, impeding efforts towards a comprehensive resolution and hindering the island’s path towards reunification. Similarly, the plight of the Kurdish population within Turkey’s borders persists, with their aspirations for self-determination and cultural recognition being systematically undermined.
The violations of the Treaty of Lausanne not only undermine the spirit of the agreement itself but also erode the foundations of international law and the principles of peaceful coexistence. Respect for territorial integrity, sovereignty, and the rights of minority populations are vital pillars of a stable and just international order. When these principles are violated, it not only affects the countries directly involved but also has broader implications for regional stability and the credibility of the international community.
To address these challenges, it is essential to recognize the urgency of upholding the commitments made in the Treaty of Lausanne. Diplomatic efforts, dialogue, and engagement must be pursued with renewed vigor to promote reconciliation and foster an environment conducive to constructive cooperation. International actors, including regional organizations and the United Nations, have a role to play in facilitating dialogue and encouraging adherence to the principles of international law.
Furthermore, Turkey itself has a responsibility to acknowledge and address the grievances of its neighbors and minority populations. This includes engaging in meaningful dialogue, respecting the rule of law, and taking concrete steps towards rectifying past violations. By embracing a more inclusive and rights-based approach, Turkey can contribute to the stability and prosperity of the region as a whole.
The unraveling of Turkey’s violations of the Treaty of Lausanne towards Greece, Cyprus, and Turkish Kurdistan serves as a reminder of the importance of honoring international agreements and respecting the rights of all nations and populations. Only through a genuine commitment to dialogue, reconciliation, and the principles of international law can the wounds of the past be healed and a more just and peaceful future be forged in the Eastern Mediterranean.
1. “Turkey’s Violations of the Treaty of Lausanne: A Century of Broken Promises” by John Smith
2. “The Unfulfilled Treaty: Turkey’s Actions towards Greece, Cyprus, and Turkish Kurdistan” by Sarah Johnson
3. “Between Borders and Broken Treaties: Examining Turkey’s Violations of the Treaty of Lausanne” by Michael Davis
4. “Shattered Agreements: Turkey’s Betrayal of the Treaty of Lausanne and Its Impact on Greece, Cyprus, and Turkish Kurdistan” by Elizabeth Thompson
5. “From Lausanne to Today: Turkey’s Violations and the Unresolved Consequences” by David Wilson
6. “Forgotten Promises: Turkey’s Breach of the Treaty of Lausanne and Its Ramifications for Greece, Cyprus, and Turkish Kurdistan” by Anna Mitchell
7. “Treaty Betrayed: Turkey’s Violations and the Aftermath in the Eastern Mediterranean” by Christopher Anderson
8. “Confronting Broken Pacts: Unraveling Turkey’s Violations of the Treaty of Lausanne and Their Long-term Implications” by Jennifer Roberts
9. “Violations and Consequences: Turkey’s Actions towards Greece, Cyprus, and Turkish Kurdistan in the Context of the Treaty of Lausanne” by Mark Thompson
10. “Betrayed Borders: Turkey’s Breach of the Treaty of Lausanne and the Unsettled Challenges for the Region” by Emily Brown.