Russia Gave Up on the Armenian Question – A. Amfiteatrov

All these horrors already belong to history, and it is no secret to anyone that in this most unfortunate event, the passive yet decisive reason was the fatal mistake of our Russian diplomacy.

The latter, in a temporary fascination with its pan-Slavic ideals of the eighties, first neglected the Armenian question, disregarding the decisiveness with which the article 61 of the Berlin Treaty revived it. Then, it turned the back on Armenians because Sultan Abdul-Hamid with his characteristic talent of modern Machiavelli had managed to instill in the Petersburg circles his most severe prejudices against the Armenian national ascent, representing his ideas as a branch of the international social revolution. The sad and irreparable error of Nelidov and Lobanov-Rostovsky forced the Russian government to give up on the fate of the Armenians.

A famous phrase – “Russia does not want a second Bulgaria” – was a carte blanche that caused all the minor reforms which the Berlin Congress pointed out for the Armenian people in its autonomy path to be forgotten. And for Asia Minor, an era of terror has opened, unparalleled in European history.

The Sasun horrors of 1894 overshadowed the St. Bartholomew night, the Sicilian Vespers, the Stockholm Bloodbath, and even the Kazanlak massacre of Bulgarians in the Rose Valley after the rash attack and forced retreat of General Gurko.

For the erroneous policy of giving up on a verdict that needed only will, Russia first paid with the loss of political authority and the trust of Christian nations in Asia Minor who had previously considered Russia the only hope for their liberation. Then, it paid for it with the terrible Transcaucasian riots, which, starting with the sporadic robbery of Karimok, Nabi, and Murzakulovs, subsequently turned into a fire that destroyed the Baku oil.

The article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin, which implied the same reforms for Armenia as in article 23 for Macedonia, did not in any way advance the well-being and legal status of the Armenian people.

The fact that article 61 would not leave the theoretical nature and was condemned to become frozen in time was not only a premonition. It was well-known to all those who signed the historical act on July 13, 1878, in Berlin – a symbol of the victory of European diplomacy over Russian weapons.

The hope of reforms was thrown to the Armenians as a moral handout just as false alms to a beggar, whom it was awkward for a charitable person to ignore and pass by without giving anything. But there was no serious desire to help either.

And here, the charitable person put a small coin into the outstretched hand, as if saying: “Take it and leave me alone!” But this “coin” wasn’t accepted in the country. “God sees my zeal to help, but the fact that my alms are not in your favor is not my fault. Your problems are yours – adapt yourself.”

Unfortunately, doing good deeds to Armenians with this unusable “coin”, the powers did not realize the extent and measures to and with which the ill-fated nation had been tormented.

They did not take into account that the drowning man was clutching onto a straw and that the Armenians in their despair would begin to “adapt” in order to squeeze out for themselves any real, practical benefit from the sly theoretical mirage of European aid. The hopes of the oppressed country awakened people’s self-consciousness. The angry conscience of a free man awakened in slaves. Europe beckoned Armenians to freedom, and they rushed to freedom.

First, in the naive hopes of the trustworthiness of the political promise received from the powers, they protested with loud complaints, grumbling, and moaning of national discontent. Then, when they realized that they were crying in front of the deaf and showing their wounds to the blind, armed resistance, partisan insurrection, and the Sasun self-defense lead by Andranik, Vahan, and Kevork became the response to the barbarities of the Turkish arbitrariness.

Read also: Alexander Amfiteatrov’s “The Armenian Question”

An excerpt from the book “The Armenian question” by Alexander Amfiteatrov

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