“Gentlemen, I don’t think it is necessary any further to compare the principles underlying the Lausanne Peace Treaty with other proposals for peace. This treaty, is a document declaring that all efforts, prepared over centuries, and thought to have been accomplished through the SEVRES Treaty to crush the Turkish nation have been in vain. It is a diplomatic victory unheard of in the Ottoman history!”
M. Kemal Atatürk, The Great Speech, 1927
July 24, 2020 | Today marks the 97th anniversary of the Lausanne Peace Treaty. It was through this treaty that Turkey finally gained back its political and economic sovereignty, in the aftermath of what was possibly the most turbulent years of its history. Having witnessed the catastrophic decline of the Ottoman Empire after the superimposed Sevres Treaty and the hardships of the ensuing War of Independence, M. Kemal Atatürk and the Turkish nation saw many of their dreams fulfilled with the signing of Lausanne.
The Lausanne Peace Conference was concluded on July 24, 1923 between the Turkish delegation headed by General Ismet Inonu and England, France, U.S.S.R., Italy, Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Japan, Yugoslavia and Belgium. The Conference saw long days of arduous negotiations which lasted for over 8 months due to Turkey’s unyielding demands for complete independence. Finally, on this day 97 years ago, Turkey emerged triumphant out of the Lausanne negotiations and gained her well-deserved independence, which paved the way for the proclamation of the Turkish Republic 3 months later.
Turkey became the only successor state among the crumbled empires of WWI that did not join the revisionist camp in the 1930s. In other words, out of all the peace treaties signed after WWI, Lausanne became the only one to survive WWII. The success of this treaty and the atmosphere of peace it has been safeguarding for 97 years, owe much to the realistic and equitable balance drawn between the former warring blocs during negotiations.
Wishing all Turkish Americans a joyful Lausanne anniversary!