A Short History and Background of the Period

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İzmirin işgali

At the end of the First World War, the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire found themselves defeated by the Allied Powers, led by Britain and France. Despite numerous victories on the battlefield, the Ottoman Empire had no other option but to sign the Mudros Armistice on 30 October 1918, an agreement which granted the Allied forces the right to occupy the territories of the defeated nations. Under the pretext of this agreement, Anatolia was divided up amongst the victorious powers and a gradual occupation began.

The Mudros agreement led to armed groups springing up around the Aegean and Black Sea regions in response to occupying Greek forces. These disparate groups soon united under the banner of the Kuvay-i Milliye, the Turkish National Movement. On 19 May 1919, despite English opposition, Mustafa Kemal landed in Samsun as the opening salvo to the national resistance movement, which began in earnest with the release of the document known as the Amasya Circular. Subsequent to the congresses of Erzurum and Sivas, the foundations of the new Turkish state were laid on 23 April 1920 with the opening of the Grand National Assembly. The Western Front and the struggle against the invading Greeks in western Anatolia was the critical arena which determined the outcome of the war. The Greek army was routed at the Battle of Sakarya and on the 9th of September, 1922, the advancing Turkish forces reached Izmir, thus ending the Greek occupation.

After the victory in Izmir, the Turkish Cavalry Corps, commanded by Fahrettin Altay, began the march to Istanbul. Altay issued an ultimatum to the French and English forces stationed at the Straits of Canakkale to allow his forces free passage through the straits. Despite the withdrawal of the French forces, the English, under Prime Minister Lloyd George’s orders, refused to retreat, and threatened the Ankara government with war. Alarmed at the prospect of another war, the Conservative Party and the English public opposed this decision by Lloyd George. The impasse, known as the Chanak Crisis, was thus brought to an end and on 3 October 1922, negotiations between the Allied Powers and the Ankara Government began in the building in which you are now standing.

The Turkish liberation of Izmir on 9th September 1922 after a series of military victories took the Great Powers by surprise. The announcement by the Turkish armed forces that they would not stop until they had liberated Thrace led to the Allied Powers’ request for talks. Appointed by the French government and endorsed by the Italian and English authorities, Henry Franklin-Bouillon was received by Mustafa Kemal at the Uşakizade Palace in Izmir. The result of these talks was the decision to hold a conference between Turkey and the Allied Powers of Britain, France and Italy in Mudanya. The conference began at 3 o’clock on the 3rd October 1922.

The conference was attended by İsmet İnönü, representing the Turks, General Harington, representing Britain, and General Charpy and General Mombelli, representing France and Italy respectively. In having General Harington seated to his right, Charpy to his left and Mombelli facing him, İsmet İnönü gained a tactical advantage at the outset of the conference, his opponents unnerved at having their place at the table dictated to them. Throughout the proceedings, General Harington spoke in English, with Colonel Heywood translating for him into French. Despite having no official capacity, Franklin-Bouillon, was also present, seated in the corner. Having a direct interest in the outcome of the talks, the Greek delegation arrived on the second day but did not attend the conference, staying aboard their ship anchored off the coast of Mudanya.

The Greek delegation consisted of General Mazarakis and Colonel Sariyanis. The reason for their absence from the conference was the Greek refusal to relinquish Eastern Thrace, which meant a de facto rejection of Turkish demands at the conference. The Greeks fully expected and wished for a failure in the negotiations as any stalemate between the British and the Turks over the status of the Istanbul Straits would lead to a renewal of hostilities between the two countries, which in turn would provide the Greeks with an opportunity to recover territories they lay claim to in western Anatolia.

Although appearing amiable to Turkish demands, the French and the Italians were fully supportive of the British proposals regarding the Straits and Eastern Thrace. Under increasing pressure, the Ankara government stated that they were willing to use the military option if necessary.

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