А. Дж. Киракосян
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE ARMENIAN QUESTION
(the 90s of the 19th Century)
BY ARMAN J. KIRAKOSSIAN
By the end of the 19th century the status of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire became critical. Between 1894—1896 the government of Sultan Abdul Hamid II organized a mass slaughter of Armenians using as a pretext the Armenians desire to liberate themselves from the centuries-old Ottoman yoke. The ferocity of the Turkish sultan threatened the existence of a whole nation. The attempts of Armenian national parties to ease the fate of Western Armenia by making appeals to European countries were fruitless. In the struggle against the Sultan's violence they set definite hopes on European government's assistance, who were completely occupied with the growing colonial aspirations of the financial-industrial circles of their countries. Having realized the way the Armenian question could affect the politics of these powers,, the Sultan decided to exterminate the Armenian population of the country.
In the Middle East, the interests of Great Britain, Russia, Austro-Hungary and Italy were clashing. The government of the new imperialist predator— the Kaser's Germany— was supporting the anti-Armenian policy of the Sultan's government, because the condemnation of it could threaten the far-reaching expansionist plans of German capitalists in the Middle East. Germany's ally— Austro-Hungary, adhered to the policy of maintaining the status quo towards the Ottoman Empire. The formation of independent slavic states in the place of a destroyed Sultanic empire, could become an incitement to the disintegration of the multinational Austrian power.
For the bourgeois rulers of France, who had invested great capital into the Turkish financial system, the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire was undesirable. The French government, protecting the financial interests of
its capitalists, was carefully maintaining the status quo of the Ottoman Empire and was rather reticent concerning the Armenian question.
The National liberation struggle of the Armenian people was supported by the Russian people, Russia. After the joining of Eastern Armenia to Russia, the peaceful conditions of life of the Transcaucasian Armenians demonstrated Russia's progressive role in the life of Western Armenians, groaning under the yoke of Turkish rule. In spite of the traditionally positive role of Russia in the fate of Armenian people, in spite of great efforts of progressive-minded Russians in helping the long-suffering Armenian people, the reactionary government of Nicholas II responded to Sultan Abdul Hamid II's anti-Armenian policy in 1894—1896 with unusual indifference.
During the Berlin Congress (1878), the British government reduced Russian control over the realization of reforms in the Ottoman Empire and pledged to control the improvement of living conditions of the Christians, inhabiting Turkey. But in the course of fifteen years the English government did nothing to ease the life of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire.
In addition, the British government used the poor living conditions of Armenians to put pressure on the Sultan, obtaining more and more political and territorial concessions. The Ottoman Empire, therefore, was the arena, where London diplomates implemented the "splendid isolation" doctrine of Prime-Minister Lord Salisbury, successfully playing on the contradictions among the European powers.
In the 90s of the 19th century the Armenian question had a great response in the public opinion of Great Britain. The democratic part of the English society was following the aralming news from the Ottoman Empire with unconcealed sympathy. Appearing in the press, social and political figures of Great Britain introduced to the readers the history and cultural life of the Armenian people, telling about the scenes of massacres, criticizing the policy of the British government and the governments of other European powers with respect to the Armenian question.
Though the activity of the British public did not play any considerable role in easing the tragic status of the Armenian people, nevertheless, the close study of the opinions of politicans, publicists, historians and other figures reveals the state of public opinion and their attitude towards the
Armenian people and their national liberation movement. Such study expose the essence of the policy of British government in the Armenian crisis, to define the place, meaning and role of the public in the foreign policy of Great Britain. The anti-Armenian policy of the "Bloody Sultan" was inherited by the Young Turks and climaxed during World War 1, when 1,5 million Armenians suffered the genocide in the Ottoman Empire.
Также по теме:Киракосян Джон, Западная Армения в годы первой мировой войны
Киракосян А. Дж., Ближневосточный кризис 1895-97 гг., Армения и политика США