File No. 701.67m51/2

The Ambassador in France ( Sharp) to the Secretary of State

No. 5500

Sir: Referring to my telegram No. 2144 of this date [June 2], I have the honor to enclose a communication from Dr. Herbert Adams Gibbons,2 together with letters written, in triplicate, by [Page 792] Nubar Pasha—one addressed to you for your personal information, one to the Honorable Henry Morgenthau and another to Dr. van Dyke.

On account of your telegram No. 2294 of the 29th ultimo in reference to the question of Armenian representation in Paris, I have, in transmitting Dr. Gibbons’ letter, made reference as above to my telegram No. 2144.

I have [etc.]

W. G. Sharp

The President of the Armenian National Delegation ( Boghos Nubar) to the Secretary of State

The Armenian Question at the Peace Congress

1. After the recent massacres and deportations it is impossible to leave the Armenians, with their consent, under Turkish domination. Besides it would amount to keeping alive a source of disorders and conflicts that could not fail again to disturb European peace.

2. Nor can there be any question at this time, as in 1913, of merely granting reforms to the Armenians. For the Turks have again given conclusive proof that they cannot be trusted to keep their promises, by tearing up the Reform Act of February 8, 1914, which would have then settled the Armenian question if carried out in good faith. So there is no solution left but to free the Armenians from the Turkish yoke.

3. At this date, after the Russian revolution whose Government has declared it wishes neither conquests nor annexations, we are confronted with the one solution that will realize the Armenians’ national aspirations, the constitution of an autonomous Armenia exclusively composed of all the Armenian territory in Asiatic Turkey. For it must be well understood that the Armenian provinces that have suffered from Turkish oppression are alone concerned and that none of the Armenian regions in Persia and Russia comes into consideration.

This autonomous Armenia would consist of the six vilayets of Erzerum, Bitlis, Van, Diarbekir, Mamuret-ül-Aziz and Sivas, together with Cilicia and the ports of Mersina and Alexandretta on the Mediterranean and of Trebizond on the Black Sea, which are the natural outlets needed by the Armenians to develop the commercial and economic conditions of their country and rebuild their national life.

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4. The autonomous Armenia thus constituted would be placed under the protectorate of the powers.

The question here arises: Shall one power be entrusted in the protectorate and, if so, which? Or will the protectorate be jointly exercised by all the powers?

Under the old régime, it was part of Russia’s plan to annex or at least assume alone the protectorate of a part of Armenia; but with the advent of the new régime, the only solution left for consideration is that which provides for a joint protectorate of the powers. Again, this joint protectorate, which would be tantamount to a neutralization of Armenia, would be warranted by the international interests involved in those regions of Asia Minor.

5. That solution alone would gratify the national aspirations. It would at the same time fulfil the war aims of the Allies, which are the principle of nationalities and the liberation of oppressed peoples.

The powers themselves would also find manifold advantages therein, for, an Armenia so constituted, with equal rights offered to all the powers, would open to them a field for their commercial, economic and educational activities. It would further be a factor in pacification, forming a buffer between the Turkish state of Anatolia, Russia, Persia, Mesopotamia and Syria.

As for the Bagdad Railway, concerning which the powers will no doubt arrive at a special agreement, it would be given at the ports of Mersina and Alexandretta two terminals in neutral territory which would guarantee to all the powers free traffic with Persia and India.

6. There will necessarily be a first period of organization for the term of which the peace congress might delegate one of the protecting powers to assume the duty of restoring the social life of Armenia. That mandate would last 10 or 15 years and come to an end when financial, economic, executive and political conditions are fully organized, as was done by the United States in Cuba and will be done in the near future in the Philippines.

The delegated protecting power would, for the purpose, have at its disposal a loan guaranteed by the powers, independently of an indemnity fund which will no doubt be allowed by the peace congress to compensate the victims of massacre and deportation. It would be empowered to send to Armenia, there to restore order and safety, a sufficient armed force which it would undertake gradually to withdraw before the expiration of its mandate and which would be replaced by an Armenian gendarmerie, as fast as that corps is organized.

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7. A national assembly elected by all the resident population would be called in the course of the last year of the delegated power’s mandate. And as Armenia should rule itself at the end of the organization period, the government would then be transferred to the national assembly upon which should rest the duty of enforcing and maintaining, under the joint protection of the powers, the final organic law of autonomous Armenia framed to that end.

8. It is well to refute in advance the argument used by the Turks in their press to oppose any autonomy plan. They would lead one to believe that there are not enough Armenians left in Turkey to form an autonomous nation. This is but specious reasoning.

Before the war the Armenian population of the Turkish Empire amounted to about 2,100,000. The population of Cilicia formed 407,000, that of the six vilayets 1,163,000 of that total. In the six vilayets, where are the bulk of the Kurd people and a good many various races, the Armenians were nevertheless in the majority, numbering 40 per cent of the total, and they outnumbered the Turks and Kurds together anyway.

If on the other hand the situation is viewed from the standpoint of economic and moral importance, it is found that the Armenians held from 69 to 86 per cent of the trade, industries and various occupations. Their schools, which are all supported by the communities exclusively, represented more than 80 per cent of the whole number.

Finally the Armenians, who only numbered 2,100,000 in the aggregate population of 20,000,000 of the Empire, handled 60 per cent of the import trade, 40 per cent of the export trade and 80 per cent of domestic trade.

Notwithstanding the large number of victims of massacre and deportation, the greater part of the Armenians were able to escape or survive the attempt at extermination. According to the Blue Book, published by Lord Bryce who drew his information from the most trustworthy documents, an estimate of 1,500,000 for the number of survivors would not be far off the truth.

9. We must not forget either that the number of Armenians in the whole world exceeds 4,000,000 and that a large number of those who to escape persecution emigrated in the last 30 years to Europe, Egypt and America would hasten back to their native land when autonomy would make them sure of a peaceful and industrious life under laws of justice and liberty.

It is not amiss to mention in conclusion that there were barely 400,000 Greeks in Greece when the Kingdom was established, and from 600,000 to 700,000 Serbs or Bulgarians when Serbia and Bulgaria were set up as principalities.

Boghos Nubar
  1. American lecturer for French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; communication not printed.