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Highlights by: Hande SUBASILAR
The Impact of the Lausanne Peace Treaty in the World
A Celebration for the 90th Anniversary - High Level Panel
||“From the coming into force of the present Treaty, the state of peace will be definitely re-established between the British Empire, France, Italy, Japan, Greece, Romania and the Serb-Croat-Slovene State of the one part, and Turkey of the other part, as well as between their respective nationals. Official relations will be resumed on both sides and, in the respective territories, diplomatic and consular representatives will receive, without prejudice to such agreements as may be concluded in the future, treatment in accordance with the general principles of international law..”
–LAUSANNE PEACE TREATY, PART I,
POLITICAL CLAUSES. ARTICLE: I – 1923
General Secretary and UN Representative of The Light Millennium
The Light Millennium and the Columbia University Turkish Student Association jointly organized a High Level Panel on “The Impact of the Lausanne Peace Treaty in the World – A Celebration for the 90th Anniversary” at the Columbia University, Lerner Hall Room 555, on Thursday, November 14, 2013.
Concept of the High Level Panel developed by The Light Millennium for its 14th Anniversary Celebration which was inspired by the 90th Anniversary of the Lausanne Peace Treaty (LPT). It is jointly organized and presented by the Columbia University Turkish Students Association.
The High Level Panel began at 7:00 p.m. following the reception provided by Mr. Orhan Yegen; owner of SipSak Restaurant in New York City.
Mr. Erman H. Sener, Vice President of the Columbia University Turkish Students Association and Youth Representative of The Light Millennium to the United Nations, opened the panel with welcoming remarks. He also thanked distinguished panelists and guests. Mr. Sener mentioned that the Lausanne Peace Treaty deserves to be celebrated by all parties for it has succeeded to open a new page in Turkey’s relationship with the outside world and it is successful in terms of the sustainability of peace.
He ended his words with a quote from the diary of by the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey (1927-1932), Joseph Clark Grew, who also observed the negotiations at Lausanne, to mark how good it feels to make peace: “When it finally appeared that a solution was in sight, the psychology of human nature took its natural course and the air of solemnity changed immediately into one bordering on actual hilarity...Venizelos and Ismet, calling each other mon cher ami, had their hands on each other’s arms, laughed like school boys and appeared to be on the point of actually embracing. Rumbold, the Englishman, showed his wild enthusiasm by a contraction of the facial muscles which amounted to a smile, and the Jap beamed benevolently through his glasses as though he had just eaten a most excellent dinner and felt at peace with the world.”
After his welcoming remarks, Mr. Sener gave the floor to Ms. Bircan Unver, Founding President and Permanent Representative to the UN DPI/NGO of The Light Millennium, to proceed on her speech about the concept of the high level panel.
Ms. Ünver stated that the Lausanne Peace Treaty is the birth certificate of the modern Turkish Nation and explained that the 90th Anniversary of the Turkish Republic and also of the Lausanne Peace Treaty is the inspiration and concept of this High Level Panel; developed by the Light Millennium for its 14th Anniversary Celebration.
With the opportunity to have access to the United Nations as an NGO, we are able to hear from various countries that are developed, developing or undeveloped. We all know that the world is not in a perfect place in terms of peace. In every level of the UN, and during certain conferences, panels, meetings, and General Assembly gatherings, the current problems have been discussed on a regular basis. But it has taken too much time to resolve anything in the past decade or in several decades for that matter. She said there is a UN Resolution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which lasted over 45 years (in 1967), and that the problem has not been resolved yet! Thus, the Lausanne Peace Treaty is one of the most transformational treaties in the world especially in the 20th century that was implemented shortly after its initial signing (July 17, 1923; Turkey’s official formation: October 29, 1923). In terms of Global Partnerships for Peace and Sustainable Development, there is no better example than the Lausanne Peace Treaty that it could be draw some ideas for international peace that is the core of the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. This is the initial concept that brought us here. Afterwards, she thanked to Erman H. Sener and the Columbia Univeristy Turkish Student Association for their collaboration, and to the speakers of the High Level Panel for their participation.
After Ms. Ünver’s speech, H.E. Mr. Carlos Enrique Garcia Gonzales, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the UN and President of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee during 68 UNGA), moderator of the panel, welcomed and introduced all the panelists and gave the floor to H.E. Dr. T. Hamid Al-Bayati, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Iraq to the UN from April 2006 to April 2013 (and Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University), for his speech titled: “Lausanne Peace Treaty and the New Middle East.”
H.E. Al-Bayati provided a historical background of the Lausanne Peace Treaty, in particular from the Treaty of Sévres' perspective. He mentioned that the Treaty of Sévres between the Ottoman Empire and its Allies at the end of World War I, was a death sentence for the Ottoman Empire. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk objected to every aspect of the Treaty of Sévres (August 10, 1920.) After the Turkish Independence War, Allied Powers agreed to sign the Treaty of Lausanne, which formed modern Republic of Turkey.
He also mentioned that the Treaty of Lausanne had an impact on the relationships between Turkey and Iraq; hence the problem of Mosul. Mosul is a Kurdish providence in Northern Iraq. The Treaty of Sévres had promised Kurds to build a Kurdish State between Northern Iraq and Turkey. H.E. stated that there is no article about the Kurds in the Peace Treaty of Lausanne. The Kurdish population in Mosul was a problem at that time and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk decided to go to a referendum and let the inhabitants of Mosul decide the region’s future. The people of Mosul decided to be a part of Iraq. Years after the referendum, Saddam's regime in Iraq tried to crush the Kurdish population. When Saddam's regime collapsed, there was only one solution to erase the impact of his regime and that was to give the Kurdish region their federalism. H.E. Al-Bayati also mentioned that Turkey had some progress recently when it took action to solve the Kurdish problem.
The panel continued with Mr. Ali Çinar, President of the Federation of Turkish American Associations and Advisory board Member of Turks Abroad Committee, Prime Ministry Republic of Turkey, speech. Mr. Çinar expressed the "Historical importance of the Lausanne Peace Treaty". He stated that this treaty was a victory that not only ended the war but also formed the new country; a victory against Western Imperialism. The Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 was also a diplomatic victory despite all negative conditions at the time several individuals who considered Turkey as a country who was losing WWI.
Professor Christopher Vasillopulos of the Political Science Department of Eastern Connecticut State University, gave his speech titled “European Turkey, Asiatic Greece.” Professor Vassilopoulos expressed his opinion by stating that Ataturk was a great leader and that no Greek leader or prime minister has ever created a secular democracy in Greece; mainly because the Greek Orthodox Church has a major impact on the government. He stated that Turkey is probably one of the most secular countries. He stressed that he has been accused of criticizing Greeks but he also said that ancient Greek philosophy started that way. Greeks still think that they have inherited western Turkey from Byzantium. If we are going to look at it that way, we must also consider what we have inherited from Alexander the Great. You have to call it an end, this is what peace treaties are supposed to do; just like the Lausanne treaty.
He also shared some anecdotes about the late Northern Cypriot President, Rauf Denktas, within the context of his support on the Annan Plan. Over 74% of Turkish Cypriots supported the proposal by voting but it was almost the same amount of Greek Cypriots who voted against it. Professor Vassilopoulos extended his comments further on the late President Denktas and stated that Denktas is the second best world leader after Ataturk.
Afterwards, the floor was opened to interactive session.
Q- Ibrahim Kurtulus question to H.E. Al-Bayati: Do you feel that there is a movement for establishing a Kurdistan from those regions?
A- Kurds have always dreamed of their own state but this is not possible for regional reasons. For the unity of Iraq, we needed to give them regional federalism. Although there was no article regarding Kurds on the Lausanne Treaty and that only the Treaty of Sevres gave rights to Kurds to establish their own state. As a historical fact, the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish Government at that time, was established by Ataturk, which was formed after Turkey’s War of Independence (1918 -1922), was against the Treaty of Sevres and a victory of the LPT. Recently, there has been movement in Iraq, Syria and Turkey, to unite all the Kurds. I do not think there will be a state of Kurdistan but Iraq has already given the right to establish a Kurdish Federation; Syria is working on it. We need to show tolerance to solve the problems. In the end, we all come from Adam and Eve and that make us brothers and sisters.
Q- Bircan Unver: Professor Vasillopulos, could you elaborate on the remarkable transformation, in particular, between Turkey and Greece, follow by the Peace Treaty of Lausanne?
A-When Ataturk was establishing the new government, he didn’t go to the East because his vision was a European Turkey; so he went to the west which is where parliamentary democracy's leaned towards. He gave rights to women. He believed in the common people. When you want to build a nation you build it on people.
Q- From the audience: To the best of my knowledge, the US congress has never recognized the Lausanne Peace Treaty. Am I right?
A-H.E. A-Bayati: The United States was only an observer at the time the treaty was signed.
Mr. Ali Cinar: The Lausanne Peace Treaty is not a business of the US Congress, which has never been a part of it. Just as the Armenian issue was not the business of congress; it was the business of historians. No one should bring Turkey or any other country’s history to congress; it is not their concern.
Ms. Ünver’s comment: The U.S. lent its support to Turkey for reaching an agreement on the Lausanne Peace Treaty but the U.S. Congress did not “ratified” it. There was an agreement between Turkey and the U.S. to establish relations in between two countries (Treaty of Commerce and Navigation Between the United States of America and the Turkish Republic, 1930). However, the U.S. Senate has never been ratified the Lausanne Peace Treaty nor “recognized” it.
Q-Columbia University Student: How do you see the recent government of Erdogan’s policy in comparison to neighboring countries?
A-H.E. Al-Bayati: I think the policy of Prime Minister Erdogan has been facing some difficulties in the region. He realized that he needs to change some of his policies because of the demonstrations against his government. We all are human and no one is perfect. But a good leader would learn from his mistakes unlike Saddam, where his policy destroyed everything in his country. I hope that Turkey, which could play a very important role on an international level, will go with wisdom.
Professor Vassilopoulos added that during Prime Minister Erdogan's government, Turkey has developed economically and now the goal of Turkey is to be in the top ten of economies until 2023. Turkey has had 7% in growth.
Omer Soykan made a comment about the last question. He said that Prime Minister Erdogan is the only prime minister who does not make reference to Ataturk. That is the strongest indication of the direction they are going in.
Q- Omer Aladdinoglu added his comments to the last discussion: Turkey needs to grow 13% every year in order to be in the top ten economies until 2023, which is impossible. Furthermore, the average %7 growth rate is during Erdogan’s governments not much higher than prior governments in Turkey.
Following the questions and answers, the moderator H.E. Ambassador Garcia gave his brief concluding remarks. He stated that the panel stressed the importance and impact of the Lausanne Peace Treaty and Turkey in the region. Ambassador Garcia also mentioned that there are 7 billion people on this planet and there is no other way but to show tolerance to each other.
|[Left to right] Müjgan Hedges, Prof. Abdullah Tansel, Noyan Sungur, Omer Alaadinoglu, Prof. Christopher Vasillopulos, H.E. Amb. Jim McLay, Bircan Ünver, H.E. Amb. Dr. T. Hamid Bayati, H.E. Amb. Carlos E. Garcia Gonzales, Ibrahim Kurtulus, Ali Çinar, Erman Hakan Sener and Hande Subasilar.
H.E. Jim McLay, Ambassador of New Zealand to the United Nations, Ibrahim Kurtulus, Advisory Board Member and Hakan Karalok, Vice President of the Federation of Turkish American Associations; Professor Abdullah Tansel, Baruch College; Ozgur Tastan, Anatolian News Agency; Noyan Sungur, President, and Omer Aladdinoglu, Vice President of the Columbia Turkish Students Association, Mugan Hedges and Hande Subasilar, Board of Directors and UN Representatives of The Light Millennium along with several academicians both within and outside of Columbia University, students and non-governmental and civil society representatives, attended the High Level Panel.
The event had about 45-50 attendees.