We are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the signature of the Treaty of Lausanne. Such meaningful anniversaries come only once in the life of states and should be celebrated in a very special and spectacular way. This was not the case with us. Just as the anniversaries of the milestones of Turkish history of extraordinary importance, such as 19 May, 23 April, the Battle of Sakarya and the like, whose 100th anniversaries are behind us, were almost passed over with simple and ordinary ceremonies… We regret but we are never hopeless; remembering Tevfik Fikret’s poem “Ferda” (Tomorrow):
Young people, all hope for the homeland is now in you
Everything is yours, the homeland is yours, every honour is yours…
What can be said about Lausanne on its anniversary… The Founder of the State said what needed to be said in the most succinct way in the Nutuk:
“This Treaty is a document which declares that a great conspiracy against the Turkish nation, which had been prepared for centuries and which was thought to have been completed with the Treaty of Sévres, has come to nothing. It is a political victory unprecedented in Ottoman history!”
Yes, exactly like this… The country has emerged from a 10-year period of uninterrupted war. The Tripoli War, the Balkan War, the First World War… Then there was the ominous Armistice of Mudros, followed by the Treaty of Sevres. And the War of Independence… How to describe this war, how to start from zero-yes, zero-and bring the “mighty powers” to their knees, let’s leave that to Nazım Hikmet:
“The pashas were behind him.
He asked the time.
The pashas said: ‘three’.
He looked like a blond wolf.
And his blue eyes flashed.
He walked to the top of the cliff, bent down, stopped.
If they had let him, he would have walked on his thin, long legs
And slipping like a star in the darkness
He was going to jump from Kocatepe to the Afyon plain”.
Then came the Mudanya Armistice. The whole of Eastern Thrace was taken back without a fight. The 10-year war was de facto over. Its legal end will be in Lausanne. In the leading role of both of these, a young soldier in his 30s with no experience in diplomacy… İsmet Pasha, the “Second Man” of the Republic. Behind him is a monumental name: Mustafa Kemal… He is only 42 years old. In the troubled days of Lausanne, İsmet Pasha writes to his fateful friend Mustafa Kemal as follows: “Every time I am in a tight spot, you come to me like a speedster. Imagine the torment I have been suffering for four or five days. You are a man who has done great things and had them done. My loyalty to you has increased once again. I kiss your eyes, my dear brother, my beloved chief”.
Meanwhile, while İsmet Pasha was struggling with the British/French/Italians and others in Lausanne, he was also trying to overcome the fierce opposition from the Prime Minister Rauf Bey (Orbay) to every step he took in the negotiations. That Rauf Bey wanted to compensate for the shame of having signed the Armistice of Mudros by going to Lausanne with the title of “Chief Delegate”, but Mustafa Kemal Pasha preferred İsmet Pasha. The discontent of the Prime Minister Rauf Bey was so much that he was going to go out of Ankara in order not to meet İsmet Pasha – despite Atatürk’s request – on his return home after the signature. We should not forget the opposition of the so-called “Second Group” in the Parliament.
The stages of the Lausanne negotiations and the place of Lausanne in Turkish history have been written and explained many times. There is no need to repeat them here. Let us be content with a few brief notes:
İsmet Pasha was the head of the Turkish delegation to Lausanne. The second delegate was Rıza Nur and another delegate was Hasan Bey (Saka, former Minister of Economy). In addition, 21 counsellors, 2 press advisors, 10 clerks and translators travelled to Lausanne to assist the delegation. Among the advisors were Celal Bey (Bayar), Şükrü Bey (Kaya), Yusuf Hikmet Bey (Bayur), Münir Bey (Ertegün), Tevfik Bey (Bıyıklıoğlu), some of whom would later become prominent in Turkish politics and diplomacy. To these names, the famous writer Ruşen Eşref Bey (Ünaydın) and the famous poet Yahya Kemal Bey (Beyatlı) should also be added.
This cadre was selected from among the most skilful and knowledgeable intellectuals of the young Turkish State.
Turkey had not yet recovered from the wounds of the War of Independence. The country was in poverty and distress. A law numbered 279 was enacted regarding the expenses to be incurred by the delegation to attend the Lausanne peace conference. The law read as follows: “An appropriation of 150.000 liras was allocated to the general expenses section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs budget. This appropriation shall be utilised for the following purposes: (1) The head of the delegation shall be paid a salary of 10 British liras, the members of the delegation 8 British liras each, the counsellors 5 British liras each, the interpreters and clerks 3 British liras each, and the sergeants 2 British liras each. (2) The head of the delegation shall be paid a dress allowance of 50 British liras each, and the others 20 British liras each. (3) Those who had previously travelled to Europe and Russia shall not be paid a dress allowance.”
When İsmet Pasha set off, the Government had given the delegation a 14-point instruction for the negotiations in Lausanne. The aim of the instructions was to have the establishment of an independent Turkish state registered in the international arena and to draw the borders of this state, which would also be recognised in the international arena. What attracted the most attention here was the fact that two points were given strict instructions: If the Allies insisted on the establishment of an Armenian homeland within the country and the continuation of the capitulations