Treaty of Sèvres

Treaty of Sèvres

Infobox Treaty
name = Treaty of Sèvres
long_name = The Treaty of Peace Between the Allied and Associated Powers and Turkey

image_width = 300px
caption = Partitioning of Anatolia and Thrace according to the Treaty of Sèvres
type =
date_drafted =
date_signed = 1920 August 10
location_signed = Sèvres, France
date_sealed =
date_effective =
condition_effective = Ratification by Turkey and three Principal Allied Powers.
date_expiration =
signatories = flagicon|France France
flagicon|Italy|1861 Italy
flagicon|Japan|alt Japan
flagicon|United Kingdom United Kingdom
collapsible list |title=Other Allied Powers
flagicon|Armenia|1918 Armenia
flagicon|Belgium Belgium
flagicon|Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia
flagicon|Greece|old Greece|
flagicon|Poland Poland
flagicon|Portugal Portugal
flagicon|Romania Romania
flagicon|Yugoslavia|kingdom Yugoslavia
flagicon|Ottoman Empire Ottoman State
parties =
depositor = French Government
languages = French (primary), English, Italian
website =
wikisource =

The Treaty of Sèvres (10 August 1920) was the peace treaty between the Ottoman Empire and Allies at the end of World War I. The Treaty of Versailles was signed with Germany before this treaty to annul the German concessions including the economic rights and enterprises. Also, France, Great Britain and Italy signed a secret "Tripartite Agreement" at the same date. [ The Times (London), 27. Idem., Jan. 30, 1928, Editorial. ] The Tripartite Agreement confirmed Britain's oil and commercial concessions and turned the former German enterprises in the Ottoman Empire over to a Tripartite corporation. The open negotiations covered a period of more than fifteen months, beginning at the Paris Peace Conference. The negotiations continued at the Conference of London, and took definite shape only after the premiers' meeting at the San Remo conference in April 1920. France, Italy, and Great Britain, however, had secretly begun the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire as early as 1915. The delay was due to the fact that the powers could not come to an agreement which, in turn, hinged on the outcome of the Turkish national movement. The Treaty of Sèvres was annulled in the course of the Turkish War of Independence and the parties signed and ratified the superseding Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.


The representatives signed the treaty in Sèvres, France. [ The Treaty of Sèvres, 1920] Harold B. Library, Brigham Young University]

The treaty had four signatories, Rıza Tevfik, the grand vizier Damat Ferid Pasha, ambassador Hadi Pasha and the minister of education Reşid Halis who were endorsed by Sultan Mehmed VI. The treaty was not sent to Ottoman Parliament for ratification, as it was abolished on March 18 1920 by the British, during the occupation of Istanbul. The treaty was never ratified by the Ottoman Empire. [cite book |last=Sunga |first=Lyal S. |title=Individual Responsibility in International Law for Serious Human Rights Violations |date=1992-01-01 |publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers |id=ISBN 0-7923-1453-0] [cite book |last=Bernhardsson |first=Magnus |title=Reclaiming a Plundered Past: archaeology and nation building in modern Iraq |date=2005-12-20 |publisher=University of Texas Press |id=ISBN 0-292-70947-1]

Of the Principal Allied powers it excluded the United States. Russia was also excluded because it had negotiated the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Ottoman Empire in 1918. In that treaty, at the insistence of the Grand Vizier Talat Pasha, the Ottoman Empire regained the lands Russia had captured in the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), specifically Ardahan, Kars, and Batumi. Sir George Dixon Grahame signed for Great Britain, Alexandre Millerand for France and Count Lelio Bonin Longare for Italy.

Among the other Allied powers; Greece did not accept the drawn borders and never ratified. [] Avetis Aharonian, the President of the Delegation of Democratic Republic of Armenia which also signed the Treaty of Batum on June 4, 1918 was the signature of this treaty.

Aims of the victors

The leaders of France, Britain, and the United States had stated their differing objectives with respect to the Ottoman Empire during the Paris Peace Conference, 1919. The common theme was that the sick man of Europe had come to his own end. However it was a shock to the whole World when the Treaty said that the Allies were in agreement keeping the Ottoman Government of Istanbul, which remained the capital of the Ottoman Empire, though with the reservations of the conditions of the treaty. The Treaty seemed to have accomplished [though on paper] the expulsion of the Ottoman Empire from Europe. The Treaty of Sèvres imposed terms so severe that British policy seemed to have succeeded in strangling the sick man of Europe in his sick-bed in Asia Minor. [ [,8816,718168,00.html Lausanne Treaty - Printout - TIME ] ] This had been the dream of Christianity for nearly five hundred years beginning with the Holy Leagues, the Ottoman Empire put into a condition such that it can never be revived again in its old form. [cite book |last=Shuster |first=W.M. |title=The Century: A Popular Quarterly By Making of America Project |year=1921 |publisher=The Century Co., 1881-1930 |language=English |pages=915 |quote=The expulsion of Turkey from Europe was one of the war aims of the Entente powers.]

United States, having refused the Armenian mandate in its Senate, decided to have nothing to do. [The New York Times April 27, 1920, Tuesday Page 2, 353] United States wanted the creation of a permanent peace as quickly as possible, with financial compensation for its military expenditures. However after the American Senate rejected the Armenian mandate on Wilsonian Armenia, and it could only be included in the Treaty through Venizelos. Wilson called Venizelos the greatest figure among the statesmen of the conference. [Herbert Adams Gibbons "Venizelos" Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 519.]

Treaty terms

The treaty solidified the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, in accord with secret agreements among the Allied Powers.

Kingdom of Hejaz

The Kingdom of Hejaz was granted international recognition. Estimated area of 100,000 square miles, and population of about 750,000. The biggest cities were Holy Places, namely, Mecca, with a population of 80,000, and Medina, with a population of 40,000. It formerly constituted the vilayet of Hejaz, but during the war became an independent kingdom under British influence.


Democratic Republic of Armenia is recognized as an established state by the signed parties. [ARTICLE 88.] This was the first international recognition.

The Armenia assumed financial responsibilities on account of the transfer of the territory. [ARTICLE 90.]

Ottoman Empire

The Allies were to control the Empire's finances. The financial control extended to the approval or supervision of the national budget, financial laws and regulations, and the total control on the Ottoman Bank [currency control through central bank of empire] . The Ottoman Public Debt Administration of the Ottoman Public Debt was redesigned by including only British, French and Italians. Also the capitulations of the Ottoman Empire being restored to prior to 1914. Capitulations were abolished in the first year of the war by Talaat Pasha. The control also extended to import and export duties, to the reorganization of the electoral system, and to the proportional representation of the races within the Empire. Empire was required to grant freedom of transit to persons, goods, vessels, etc., passing through her territory, and such goods transit in transit are to be free of all customs duties.

Future developments of the tax system, the customs system, internal or external loans, or on concessions could not be arranged without the consent of the financial commission of the Allied powers. To forestall the economic repenetration of Germany, Austria, Hungary, or Bulgaria the treaty demanded that the Empire liquidate the property of citizens of those countries in its territories. If public liquidation will be turned over to the Reparations Commission. Property rights in Baghdad Railway passed out of German control.

Military restrictions

The Ottoman Army was to be restricted to 50,000 men; the Ottoman navy could only preserve seven sloops and six torpedo boats; and the Ottoman state was prohibited from obtaining an air force.

The treaty included an Inter-allied commission of control and organization to supervise the execution of the military clauses.

International trials

The treaty required determination of those responsible for the "barbarous and illegitimate methods of warfare… [including] offenses against the laws and customs of war and the principles of humanity". Article 230 of the Treaty of Sèvres required that the Ottoman Empire "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 Ottoman Empire on August 1, 1914." However, the Inter-allied tribunal attempt demanded by the Treaty of Sèvres were eventually suspended.

France (Zone of influence)

France received Syria and neighbouring parts of Southeastern Anatolia, including Antep, Urfa and Mardin. Cilicia including Adana, Kurdistan around Diyarbakır and large portions of East-Central Anatolia all the way up north to Sivas and Tokat were declared a zone of French influence.

Greece (Zone of Smyrna)

The occupation of Izmir, established Greek administration on May 21 1919. This was followed by the declaration of a protectorate on July 30 1922. The Treaty transferred the "the exercise of her rights of sovereignty to a local parliament" but leaving the region under Ottoman Empire. According to the provisions of the Treaty, Smyrna was to administered by a local parliament and, if within five years time she asked to be incorporated to the Kingdom of Greece, the provision was made that the League of Nations would hold a plebiscite to decide on such matters.

The treaty accepted the Greek administiration of the Smyrna enclave, however its sovereignty remained, nominally, with the Sultan.

Italy (Zone of influence)

Italy was confirmed in the possession of the Dodecanese Islands (already under Italian occupation since the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–1912, despite the Treaty of Ouchy according to which Italy was obliged to return the islands back to the Ottoman Empire). Large portions of Southern and West-Central Anatolia (the Mediterranean coast of Turkey and the inlands) including the port city of Antalya and the historic Seljuk capital of Konya were declared an Italian zone of influence.


A Kurdistan region was scheduled to have a referendum to decide its fate, which, according to Section III Articles 62–64, was to include the Mosul Province.

There was no general agreement among Kurds on what its borders should be, due to the disparity between the areas of Kurdish settlement and the political and administrative boundaries of the region. [Hakan Özoğlu, "Kurdish Notables and the Ottoman State: Evolving Identities, Competing Loyalties, and Shifting Boundaries" p. 38. SUNY Press, 2004] The outlines of a "Kurdistan" as an entity were proposed in 1919 by Şerif Pasha, who represented the Society for the Ascension of Kurdistan ("Kürdistan Teali Cemiyeti") at the Paris Peace Conference. He defined the region's boundaries as follows::"The frontiers of Turkish Kurdistan, from an ethnographical point of view, begin in the north at Ziven, on the Caucasian frontier, and continue westwards to Erzurum, Erzincan, Kemah, Arapgir, Besni and Divick (Divrik?) ; in the south they follow the line from Harran, the Sinjihar Hills, Tel Asfar, Erbil, Süleymaniye, Akk-el-man, Sinne; in the east, Ravandiz, Başkale, Vezirkale, that is to say the frontier of Persia as far as Mount Ararat." [Şerif Pasha, "Memorandum on the Claims of the Kurd People", 1919] This caused controversy among other Kurdish nationalists, as it excluded the Van region (possibly as a sop to Armenian claims to that region). Emin Ali Bedirhan proposed an alternative map which included Van and an outlet to the sea via Turkey's present Hatay Province. [Hakan Özoğlu,"ibid" p. 40] Amid a joint declaration by Kurdish and Armenian delegations, Kurdish claims on Erzurum vilayet and Sassoun (Sason) were dropped but arguments for sovereignty over Ağrı and Muş remained. [M. Kalman, "Batı Ermenistan ve Jenosid" p. 185, Istanbul, 1994.]

Neither of these proposals was endorsed by the treaty of Sèvres, which outlined a truncated Kurdistan located on what is now Turkish territory (leaving out the Kurds of Iran, British-controlled Iraq and French-controlled Syria. However, even that plan was never implemented as the Treaty of Sèvres was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne. The current Iraq-Turkey border was agreed in July 1926.

Territorial losses (Cede)

Zone of Straits

Zone of Straits was planned to be established. One of the most important points of treaty was the provision that the navigation was to be open in Dardanelles in time of peace and war alike to all vessels of commerce and war, no matter under what flag. This was internationalization. The waters were not to be subject to blockade, nor could any act of war be committed there, except in enforcing the decisions of the League of Nations.

It included not only the Straits proper but also the Bosporus and the Sea of Marmara.

Free zones

Certain ports were to be declared to be of international interest. The League of Nations were completely free and absolute equality in treatment, particularly in the matter of charges and facilities insuring the carrying out of the economic provisions in commercially strategic places. These regions will be named as the "free zones." The ports were: Constantinople from St. Stefano to DolmaBahce, Haidar-Pasha, Smyrna, Alexandretta, Haifa, Basra, Trabzon, and Batum.


Thrace, up to the Chatalja line, islands of Imbros and Tenedos, and the islands of Marmara ceded to Greece. The sea line of these islands declared international and left to administration of "Zone of Straits."

Wilsonian Armenia

Armenia was given a large part of the region according to the border fixed by President of the United States of America which was referred as "Wilsonian Armenia"; [ARTICLE 89] including provinces which didn't have significant Armenian populations remaining after the Armenian Genocide, such as the Black Sea port city of Trabzon.

British Mandate of Iraq

The details as reflected to the treaty regarding the British Mandate of Iraq was completed on April 25, 1920, at the San Remo conference.

Oil concession in this region was given to the British-controlled Turkish Petroleum Company (TPC) which had held concessionary rights to the Mosul "wilaya" (province). With elimination of the Ottoman Empire with this treaty, British and Iraqi negotiators held acrimonious discussions over the new oil concession. The League of Nations vote on the disposition of Mosul, and the Iraqis feared that, without British support, Iraq would lose the area. In March 1925, the TPC renamed to the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC), was granted a full and complete concession for a period of seventy-five years.

British Mandate for Palestine

In the Treaty of Serves, Palestine was merely an unbounded geographical expression:


The High Contracting Parties agree to entrust, by application of the provisions of Article 22, the administration of Palestine, within such boundaries as may be determined by the Principal Allied Powers, to a Mandatory to be selected by the said Powers.

It eventually comprised territory in modern-day Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [cite book |title="For the Land and the Lord: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel" |author=Ian Lustick |year=1988 |publisher=Council on Foreign Relations |page=37 |isbn=0876090366]

French Mandate of Lebanon

The mandate settled to France at the San Remo Conference. Comprising the region between the Euphrates river and the Syrian desert on the east, and the Mediterranean sea on the west, and extending from the Alma Dagh Mountains on the south to Egypt on the south; Area of territory about 60,000 square miles with a population of about 3,000,000. Lebanon and an enlarged Syria, which were later assigned again under League of Nations Mandate. The region was divided under the French into four governments as follows: Government of Aleppo from the Euphrates region to the Mediterranean; Great Lebanon extending from Tripoli to Palestine; Damascus, including Damascus, Hama, Hems, and the Hauran; and the country of Mount Arisarieh.

French Mandate of Syria

Faisal ibn Husayn, who had been proclaimed king of Syria by a Syrian national congress in Damascus in March 1920, was ejected by the French in July of the same year.

Reaction to the treaty

While the treaty was under discussion, the Turkish national movement under Mustafa Kemal Pasha split with the monarchy based in Constantinople, set up a Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara, successfully fought the Turkish War of Independence and forced the former wartime Allies to return to the negotiating table. Arabs were unwilling to accept the French rule in Syria, the Turks around Mosul were attacking the British, the Arabs were in arms against the British rule in Baghdad. There was also disorder in Egypt.

Subsequent treaties

In course of the Turkish War of Independence, they successfully resisted Greek, Armenian and French forces and secured a territory similar to that of present-day Turkey.

The Turkish national movement developed its own international relations by the Treaty of Moscow with the Soviet Union on 16 March 1921, the Accord of Ankara with France putting an end to the Franco-Turkish War, and the Treaty of Alexandropol and the Treaty of Kars fixing the eastern borders.

These events forced the former Allies of World War I to return back to the negotiating table with the Turks and in 1923 negotiate the Treaty of Lausanne, which replaced the Treaty of Sèvres and recovered large territory in Anatolia and Thrace for the Turks.

See also

*First Republic of Armenia
*Turkish-Armenian War
*Minority Treaties
*Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
*Republic of Turkey


External links

* [ Text of the Treaty of Sèvres]
* [ Armenia and Turkey in Context of the Treaty of Sevres: Aug - Dec 1920] , on "Atlas of Conflicts" by Andrew Andersen.

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