Treaty of Lausanne 1923: The past and future of Turkey (Part 1)

World Contributor
Treaty of Lausanne
Treaty of Lausanne Monument and Museum,monument and museum dedicated to Treaty of Lausanne of 1923. Edirne, Turkey © Ozdereisa |

Expiration of the Treaty of Lausanne by 2023

Turkey claims that the Treaty of Lausanne will expire by 2023. Although, the Treaty itself doesn’t mention any expiry date. However, the fast-approaching much-propagated expiry date of the Treaty has triggered a hot debate among all those interested in Turkish affairs.

There are many speculations. Is Turkey going to revive the Ottoman Empire in the region? What would be the future geopolitical and geo-economic map of the region? Can Turkey regain its regional dominance? There are several other questions that are debated worldwide in political and strategic discussions.

What is the Treaty of Lausanne?

The Treaty of Lausanne officially ended the state of war between turkey and other empires and kingdoms. These empires and kingdoms include the Allied British Empire, the Kingdom of Greece, the Empire of Japan, and the French Republic. It also ended the war between Turkey, and the Kingdom of Italy, Serb-Croat-Slovene, and the Kingdom of Romania. The treaty was signed on 24 July 1923 in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was called a peace treaty.

The Ottoman Empire had also signed “The Treaty of Serves” with allies of world War 1, in Serves, France in 1920. It gave independence to other than Turkish nationalities within Ottoman Empire. It stirred Turkish nationalism and Turks rejected the treaty which led to a brutal war against the allies. Turks achieved victory over Greece in the war of 1922-23.

Therefore, The Treaty of Lausanne was another attempt to create peace after the Treaty of Serves to end the conflict. The Treaty of Lausanne defined the borders of modern Turkey which renounced all the Non-Turkish parts of the Ottoman Empire. Responding to this move the Allies recognized Turkey as a new sovereign state with newly defined borders.

Important features of this Treaty

The treaty comprised of 143 articles in 17 documents including agreement, declaration, charter, and annexes. It addresses conciliation between the parties and the diplomatic relations among signatories to the treaty as per principles of international law.

It also abolished the “Treaty of Serves”. Also, it demarcated the borders of the Ottoman Caliphate Empire which led to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey with its capital Ankara. Islamic caliphate system was abolished and a secular Turkish state was founded. Kamal Ataturk became its first president from 1923 until his death in 1938.

The treaty created laws for traffic rules and navigation and for the use of Turkish water straits. It also specified the conditions of trade, residence, and the judiciary in the Republic of Turkey. The treaty reviewed the changed status of the Ottoman empire and the future of all those areas and territories which were part of it before its defeat in World War I.

It demarcated the borders of Greece and Bulgaria with the Turkish state. Turkey left its control over Libya, Sudan, Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, and the Levant, except cities were located in Syria, such as Urfa, Adana, and Gaziantep, and Kells and Marsh. Also, as of November 1914, the Ottoman Empire had to abandon its political and financial rights over Sudan and Egypt.

This treaty provided protection to the Muslim minority in Greece and the Christian minority in the Republic of Turkey. It upheld the equal rights of all populations before the law irrespective of religion, origin, language, and nationality. Christians in Turkey, and Turkish Muslims in Greece, were exchanged through the Greek-Turkish population exchange signed between the two countries.


(To be Continued)


(Written by Ijaz Ali, a freelance journalist. He holds a Master Degree in European Studies from Germany and can be reached at [email protected])

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