In Turkish public discourse, “Sèvres Syndrome” refers to the looming legacy of the agreement signed in a suburb of Paris in 1920 which envisioned carving up the crumbling Ottoman Empire. Although it gives off an impression of being conspiratorial at first blush, political leaders in Turkey do have a basis in bringing up the notion of foreign powers planning to dismember the country. For over a century, the Eastern Question was on the agenda in the corridors of power in London, Paris, Vienna, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere. Geopolitical rivalries about this and other matters came to a head with the First World War, with mixed outcomes for all the empires involved. The Republic of Turkey – forged out of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 – has far less reason to suspect aspirations regarding its territory today, Kurdish separatists notwithstanding.
A sovereign Armenian state was foreseen by the Treaty of Sèvres, to include vast swathes of modern-day eastern Turkey. By contrast, Lausanne did not even involve any Armenian delegates during its negotiations, given the inroads made by a resurgent Soviet Russia and the consequent collapse of the infant Armenian republic in the Caucasus next door. As a result of the tumultuous first quarter of the 20th century (among other eras), hindsight and the notion of “historical justice” and “the restoration of historical justice” is ingrained in Armenian public discourse, even featuring in the country’s declaration of independence from the USSR. Nothing could be more emblematic of such a sentiment than Sèvres, which, unlike in Turkey, is shorthand for a missed opportunity alongside insufficient support or intervention from any of the Great Powers, the United States, or the West in general.
Türk kamuoyunda “Sevr Sendromu” 1920 senesinde Paris’in bir banliyösü olan Sevr’de imzalanan ve yıkılmakta olan Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nu parçalara bölmeyi tasavvur eden antlaşmanın gerçeğe dönüşmesinden duyulan korkuyu tanımlar. Her ne kadar ilk bakışta bir komplo teorisi olarak görünse de Türkiye’deki siyasi liderlerin dış mihrakların ülkeyi bölme planlarını gündeme getirmelerinin tarihsel dayanakları vardır. Yüz yılı aşkın süredir Doğu Sorunu Londra, Paris, Viyana, St. Petersburg gibi merkezlerdeki güç odaklarının gündeminde bulunmuştur ki Birinci Dünya Savaşı ile jeopolitik düşmanlıklar doruğa ulaşmıştır.