The Haunting 100-year Parallel Between Greeks and Armenians

Nov 7 2023
The destruction of Smyrna and the haunting parallels with the erasing of the entire 
120,000-plus Armenian community of Karabakh. Public Domain

2023 marks the centennial of the Treaty of Lausanne, which efficiently ended the last traces of Greeks in Asia Minor and the Armenians in Artsakh.

By Julian McBride

2023 marks the centennial of the Treaty of Lausanne, which efficiently ended the last traces of Greek civilization and Hellenism in Eastern Thrace and Asia Minor. This centennial has brought trauma for many descendants of the Eastern Thrace and Asia Minor Greek communities who suffered from a genocide overlooked by the entire world.

Today, another ancient civilization has ended as Azerbaijan completed its mission with the erasing of the entire 120,000-plus Armenian community of Karabakh along with the few handfuls of Greeks that lived there in Mehmana.

Much to the ire of the international community, Azerbaijan recently conducted a lightning campaign to finish off the remaining Armenian militias in the Karabakh region. The military campaign forced 120,000 plus Armenians to flee, fearing massacres such as sexual assaults and beheadings documented by global NGOs such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and various media organizations.

The fall of Armenian civilization in the Nagorno-Karabakh region marks the end of 3,000 plus years of history in which Armenians endured various empires that often passed through the area from the Assyrians, Greek Macedonians, Romans, Persians, Arabs, Mongols, Ottomans, and Russians.

2023 brings scars to Armenians and Greeks, as the descendants of Hellenes from Eastern Thrace and Asia Minor commemorate a hundred years of forced population transfer under the Lausanne Treaty. In the aftermath of the disastrous Asia Minor campaign, the majority of Greeks in Asia Minor fled in lieu of massacres, which culminated in the Great Fire of Smyrna, known as the final act of the Greek genocide.

The remaining Greeks of Nicomedia, Cappadocia, Smyrna, Adrianople, Caesarea, and other places were transferred to the Hellenic Kingdom in return for the Turks of Crete. Only the Greeks of Constantinople were spared until the Istanbul pogrom of 1955.

Despite claiming to ‘keep the peace,’ the international community and great powers ultimately failed the Karabakh Armenians and Anatolian Greeks.

Russia’s hybrid warfare tactics and disassociating their obligations as ‘peacekeepers’ left the Armenians vulnerable to attack by Azerbaijan with no other true allies coming to aid. As British military support waned, Vladimir Lenin would fuel the Kemalists with Russian weaponry in the Greco-Turkish War.

Western nations have placated Azerbaijan’s genocidal ambitions with gas deals, with examples including the European Union. Likewise, great powers who won WWI, such as the UK, France, Italy, and the US, watched as hundreds of thousands of Greeks were slaughtered in

Smyrna and refused to intervene on their ships to save them because they saw Mustafa Kemal as a new partner in the Western fold.

The Treaty of Lausanne, which replaced the Treaty of Sevres, not only consolidated the Kemalist gains and formed the Turkish Republic, but Greeks were forced to leave regions that weren’t won in the war, such as Eastern Thrace and Northern Epirus.

The trilateral treaty between Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan also sealed the fate of Karabakh Armenians. Armenia was forced to cede districts in Karabakh that weren’t lost in 2020, such as Hadrut, and ultimately, the Artsakh Armenians were left at the mercy of a failing Russian peacekeeping mission and the brutal Azerbaijani state.

Smyrna’s destruction and tragedy represented the cataclysmic end of the Greco-Turkish War and the nail in the coffin of 3,000 years of Hellenism in Asia Minor. Smyrna was one of the starting points of Mycenean migration post Bronze Age Collapse, which started millennia of Greek heritage throughout Anatolia.

The ethnic cleansing of Artsakh also represents millennia of Armenian history in the region. Azerbaijan, internationally condemned for cultural genocide in Nakhichevan, will most likely replicate the despicable acts of heritage erasure in Karabakh.

Turkification and forcible assimilation have played a role in the region, and with Erdogan and Aliyev having a greater geopolitical agenda for pan-Turkism, Armenia is now the sole factor in their way of achieving the final goal.

Akin to the Greek Genocide and destruction of Hellenism in Asia Minor and Eastern Thrace, the world has also glossed over the plight of Armenians in Artsakh, who only wanted to live in self-determination away from a genocidal dictatorship akin to the Anatolian Greeks. Today, we say farewell to Anatolia and Artsakh—two ancient civilizations the world glossed over.