How Armenia helped Turkey

Boston Evening Transcript, Jan 30, 1905

The One progressive element of her population (Arshag Tchobanyan in Armenia)

The Armenians have been one of the chief factors in causing the European spirit to penetrate the Ottoman empire. It was the Armenians who organized printing, journalism and the theatre among the Turks. And it was they again who, after giving their own community a constitutional government, inspired by the principles of 1789 and 1848, induced Midhat pasha to try to change the Ottoman despotism into a constitutional monarchy. In the Turkish schools, for the last half century, Armenians have usually been the teachers of the French language and literature, of political economy, the sciences and mathematics. It was the Armenians who regenerated Turkish architecture, by introducing into the aesthetic principles of the West. Finally they have played a large part in developing the commercial and industrial relations of the Ottoman empire, and of all the Orient.

The Armenians from time immemorial have played this part, as noble as it is thankless and dangerous. That was why in former times they lost their political independence, being constantly attacked and finally overcome by the non-Christian nations of the Orient, who were rendered uneasy and exasperated by their liking for the West; and that is why the Sultan Abdul Hamid, who hates Western civilization, is trying to wipe them out entirely, because he sees in them the “guides and allies of the Franks” and never forgiven them for having appealed for European intervention at the Congress of Berlin.

Europe, which at the Berlin Congress acknowledged the rightfulness of the demands of the Armenians, and expressly pledged itself to watch over application of the reforms which it considered it indispensable to introduce into Turkish Armenia, has never since made any serious effort to get the Sultan to carry out the sixty-first article of the Treaty of Berlin. Up to the present time, that article has only served to exasperate the sultan and to make the position of the Armenians worse.

After the first massacres of Sasoun, England, France and Russia in 1895 presented to the Porte a plan of reforms for Turkish Armenia. Thus Europe pledged itself yet again, and in a still clear manner, to help the Armenians to secure their just demands. But when the time came to act Europe drew back, and the sultan was able quietly, methodically and with impunity to organize and carry out, not the reforms asked for, but the massacre of three hundred thousand Armenians.

Europe in this was guilty once more of an old mistake. It deserted a nation that was struggling to defend not only its own rights, but the higher interests of Western civilization. Europe did not understand that the Armenian cause was “the cause of Europe“, and that to let the Turks crush the Armenians was to let the supremacy of the European spirit to be lost in the Orient. When the Byzantine Empire leaned for support on the Bagratidae of Armenia, when the throne of Byzantium was occupied by emperors of Armenian descent, such as the Zimiskes, Byzantines were able to drive the Saracens out of the whole of Asia Minor. But when the Byzantines, weakened by quarrels among themselves and by their contests with the Latins and animated by a hatred as fierce as it was absurd against the Armenians, permitted and even helped the Muslims to crush them, first in Greater Armenia and then in Cilicia, they were preparing the way for their own downfall. In this way they themselves permitted the Turks to advance aver the ruins of Armenia to the conquest of Byzantium.

Europe has been trying for four or five hundred years to repair the consequences of the first mistake. It has repaired them in part. The Armenian question offered — and still offers — the best opportunity to complete the “revenge” in a definitive manner. With a noble boldness the Armenian people offered themselves as a holocaust to hasten the time of the regeneration of the Orient by the forces of Europe. Every consideration of interest and of duty to defend itself while defending the Armenians.

It is only by accomplishing this great and salutary work that the civilized world can wash itself of the huge blood stain which the crime against Armenia has left upon its forehead: and then the hundreds and thousands of Armenians who have been immolated to this noble cause will rejoice in their graves, for their blood will have borne its fruit.