Ottoman Empire
World War I

Cilicia in the years 1918-1923

During the late Ottoman Empire, Cilicia was largely identical with the VILAYET OF ADANA. In 1919, French troops occupied Cilicia (in Turkish Kilikya; however, in modern sources, the geographical name Cukurova is applied). The area, at that time, was inhabited by ethnic Turks, Armenians, Arabs, Kurds, to name the most important components of the population. The TREATY OF SEVRES, which was to restore peace between the Entente and the Ottoman Empire, allocated Cilicia to France. The Ottoman Empire, however, was being replaced by the Republic of Turkey, the parliament of which refused to ratify the Treaty of Sevres; Anatolia was the theatre of a war that posed Turkey against foreign forces of occupation and nascent nation states on Anatolian soil, such as the Republic of Armenia in the northeast. The Turkish forces defeated the Armenians and, in 1920, moved into French-claimed Cilicia, resisted mainly by pockets of Armenian population; on Oct. 20th 1921, France and Turkey signed the ACCORD OF ANKARA and the French forces withdrew from Cilicia. The see of the Armenian Church of Cilicia, in 1920, was removed from Sis, and in 1938 was reestablished in the Lebanon.
During their presence in Cilicia, the French were on friendly terms with the Armenian population, the political identity of Cilicia being based on the tradition of the Crusade Era Kingdom of Little Armenia, centering on Sis. This policy posed the Turkish Muslim and the Christian Armenian population against each other. Conflicts between both groups, in Cilicia, date back into the later Ottoman Empire, the Armenians having been victims of pogroms in 1894/1895 and again after the Young Turk Rebellion in 1908. The French occupation provided Armenian nationalists with an opportunity to pursue their goal of establishing an Armenian nation state in Cilicia. When Turkish forces occupied Cilicia, the Armenian population, reminiscent of the recent 'relocation' of the population of Greater Armenia, put up stiff resistance, in vain. Many ethnic Armenians fled the area; those who remained within the Republic of Turkey, had to settle in Istanbul.
Note : there are numerous websites and written sources available on the topic of the Armenian Genocide. Unfortunately, the majority of the sites side with either one of the parties in the conflict, and they often are written in inflammatory language; also, the majority of the sources looks at the matter from an Armenian point of view. While the Turkish forces have committed atrocities, and it is a fact that the Armenian population of Cilicia has been killed/expelled/relocated, preceding actions undertaken by Cilician Armenians against ethnic Turks in French-occupied Cilicia remain largely uncovered. Readers are advised to study information on the topic with caution.
The hitherto provisorical Turkish Republic gained international recognition in the TREATY OF LAUSANNE (1923).

Article Cilicie, from yahoo encyclopedie, in French
Les Armeniens en Cilicie : Vingt Siecles de Presence, Deux Siecles de Royaute (The Armenians in Cilicia, 20 Centuries of Presence, Two Centuries of a Kingdom), by Claude Mutafian, posted by Eglise Armenienne, in French
La Situation en Cilicie entre 1919 et 1930, from Souvenirs d'un carriere militaire, celle de Louis Eugene Coustilliere, the text, despite the title, covers the period 1919-1921; in French
DOCUMENTS Article Adana, in EB 1911, sloppy online edition of Britannica 1911 edition; incomplete text
Treaty of Sevres 1920, from World War I Document Archive and from ANN, from WCDP, from HR-net
Map : Asia Minor after Treaty of Sevres, from Univ. of San Diego, History Dept.
Treaty of Lausanne, 1923, from ANN
Map : Europe in 1900, from euratlas, has administrative districts within Ottoman Empire
Map : Vilayet of Adana, from The Treatment of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-1916, report by Viscount Bryce, posted by World War I Document Archive
Map featuring Turkey after Treaty of Sevres (zones of influence), from Kemal Ataturk and Modern Turkey
Accord of Ankara 1921, from Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in French
Souvenirs d'un carriere militaire, celle de Louis Eugene Coustilliere (Memoirs of a Military Career, that of L.E. Coustilliere), in French, contains documents 1919-1930, mainly on 1926
Medaille Commemoratif de Syrie Cilicie, from Medaille Decoration, text in French
Stamps of Cilicie, from Stamps Catalogue 1840-1920 by Evert Klaseboer
Documents on Cilicia 1915-1916, from The Treatment of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-1916, by Viscount Bryce, posted by World War I Document Archive, scroll down for documents 119-129
Adana, from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1888-1890 edition, in German
Archives des ambassades, consultats et anciens protectorats et mandats (Nantes) : Mandat Syrie-Liban ... 1920-1946, posted by France Diplomatie, in French, scroll down for Cilicie
Newspaper Archive, a site which requires login and modest payment; on Oct. 30th 2006 had 504 historical newspaper articles on Mersina, 7764 on Adana, 1005 on Cilicia, 59 on Cukurova

News from Turkey : Adana/Mersina, in "The Great Round World and What is Going on in it", Vol.1 No.57, December 1897, posted by Gutenberg Library Online

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on December 6th 2003, last revised on October 20th 2007

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