Precarious Democracy in Genocide’s Shadow: Armenia and Karabakh

                                                                          GUEST ESSAY


Photo Courtesy: EU Neighbours East

By Hans-Lukas Kieser on February 7, 2024


Baku’s military invasion in Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh), an autonomous Armenian district in Azerbaijan, the displacement of more than 100,000 indigenous Armenians and the self-dissolution of the Republic of Artsakh at the end of September 2023 received little attention worldwide. The war in Ukraine, the Hamas pogrom on October 7 and the ensuing war in Gaza are making most headlines. Yet that flash expulsion – ethnic cleansing by a member of the Council of Europe – violates the fundamental values of modern democracy. It was preceded by multiple anti-Armenian threats, racist rhetoric, and acts of military aggression also against the neighboring Republic of Armenia. The threats go on.

From a democratic perspective, the South Caucasus presents a challenge comparable to the situations in Ukraine and Israel-Palestine. Artsakh tells a complex and painful interconnected story of unsuccessful attempts at more democracy, familiar to other places in the greater region. To grasp these connected factors behind the current convulsions from Eastern Europe to the Levant, this essay focuses on the bigger picture. With depth of field, it seeks to clarify the situation in a political geography including Armenia, Karabakh, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Israel. In this historical-political space, party-states, ethnocracies, electoral autocracies, and social-Darwinist “realpolitik” have prevailed after the end of the Ottoman and Romanov empires. Democracy, when it burgeoned, remained precarious. Imperial biases persisted.

To different degrees and in different shapes, the elites of post-imperial, especially post-Ottoman nation-states have evaded the inescapable challenge of homing in on egalitarian social contracts, i.e., a constitutional democratic polity, in their geography that is by default polyethnic and pluri-religious. By putting the old, but topical quest for democracy at its center and taking democracy as the most realist long-term compass for solutions, this essay underlines the high cost of continued politics of anti-democracy even by nominal democracies like, e.g., Israel.


Post-Soviet Karabakh vis-à-vis renewed pan-Turkish brotherhood

Establishing the autonomous district of Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) within the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan was a politically biased solution under Lenin and Stalin in the early 1920s. It was born out of the anti-Western friendship between the new regimes in Ankara and Moscow, which rejected post-Great War peace-making in Paris and the new League of Nations in Geneva. 

Without a referendum among the population concerned, the Bolsheviks ceded Karabakh (and Nakhchivan) to Azerbaijan. Minister Rıza Nur, a member of Ankara’s delegation in Moscow in March 1921, described the transactional nature of the friendship treaty with the Bolsheviks: “They wanted to befriend us in order to use us as a trump card against the British and French. We too used the Russian as a trump card. We knew, when required, we would break the bond.” Thoroughly pan-Turkist, he added: “We still wanted to occupy Baku. The main reason was to open the way to Turan.”[1] For Nur, it was still about realizing the “little Turan” comprising Asia Minor and parts of the South Caucasus. The greater Turan of Ziya Gökalp, the predominant mentor of Turkish nationalism and friend of Talaat Pasha, was out of reach after defeat in the Great War.[2]

Rather a political deal than a sincere solution to a problem, the Soviet dealing with Karabakh led to renewed warfare after the collapse of the USSR. The Armenians pursued the just cause of self-determination, but were also motivated by resentful and fearful ethnic nationalism, thus expelling hundred thousands of Azeris from Artsakh’s neighborhood. In the aftermath of Armenian victory, according to certain Armenian insiders, political maximalism prevailed over wisdom and foresight.[3] Years of binational and multinational efforts therefore failed to turn the 1994 ceasefire to a peace agreement. However, this was also due to the increasingly revanchist stance of Azerbaijan which rapidly turned to a dynastic, autocratic petro-state in need of conflict and enemy images to foster national cohesion.[4]

Despite its violent emergence, post-Soviet Karabakh was never a lawless entity in the three decades of its existence. It became a self-determined and functioning, albeit only self-declared state of mostly indigenous Armenians. All in all, it held regular elections, enjoyed freedom of expression, and implemented the separation of powers. These were democratic features that its neighbors, except Armenia, badly lacked. The right to self-determination is a norm of international law, referenced in Article 1 of the UN Charter. The thorny question is how to harmonize this with the rights of states to territorial integrity. In any case, Azerbaijan had no justification to enforce its claims to Karabakh militarily, nor did it have the right to treat the population of Karabakh inhumanely, as it did. With its war of aggression in 2020 and a blockade of starvation starting in December 2022, it had repeatedly violated the 1994 ceasefire agreement and its international obligations. While the 2020 war could be presented as a liberation of territory outside Artsakh lost before 1994, the 2023 invasion proved that Baku sought maximalist triumph by force, not a law-based solution built on consent toward a peaceful compromise.

In its approach, Azerbaijan’s autocracy enjoyed the pro-active military and political support of Turkey and Israel.[5] Russia, Armenia’s traditional and formal ally, had become itself an anti-democratic aggressor under a cynical president. Putin simply abandoned Armenia after it had begun to orient itself more towards the West in 2018. Similarly, he had made common cause with Ankara, when the Turkish army invaded places of burgeoning plural democracy in Afrin and Rojava in Northern Syria, making them nests of jihadist militias; only the American presence prevented further invasion and destruction. 

By and large, the international community turned a blind eye to Baku’s flagrant and persistent violations of international law, not taking any efficient measure against the violator, a member of the Council of Europe, and against its close Turkish ally, a NATO member. Both Russia and Europe were more interested in functioning relations with the petro-power Baku and the regional power Ankara than in defending Armenian democracy. The West’s dependency on oil and gas paralyzed serious critique and resistance against pervasive corruption and specific anti-Armenian warmongering. In July 2022, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised Azerbaijan as Europe’s key partner in its move away from Russian fossil fuel. She exalted the high potential of the relationship with Baku.[6]

Jewish organizations and Israel – an unfinished post-Ottoman project of democracy at risk to be an ethnocracy – have beaten the propaganda drum for Baku, a strategic ally and weapon buyer with purchasing power. Denial of the Armenian genocide is inbuilt to this kind of propaganda, whose recurrent unscholarly pattern is the rejection of any comparison between Jewish and Armenian experiences.[7] Backed by Israeli diplomacy, this has been a main line of Ankara’s politics of denial since the late 20th century.[8] Distortion of history by denial is far from harmless. It not only injures and insults the victims and their descendants. It also destroys the public credibility of the deniers, thus damaging the fundament of democracy.

Turkish and Azerbaijani leaders vie with each other in invoking their blood brotherhood, Islamic solidarity, and ahistorical claims to “ancestral lands.” They often resort to martial, at times genocidal rhetoric or refer appreciatively to the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide. During a visit to Baku in October 2009, Turkey’s then Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu declared that 72 million Anatolian brothers and sisters were prepared to die – thus also to kill – for Azerbaijan.[9] This happened just a few days after the signing of the Zurich Protocols with Armenia, which were intended to open the door to a normalization of Turkey’s damaged relations with the Armenians, including a reappraisal of history. Davutoğlu wanted to alleviate a crisis with his Azeri brothers because, in the wake of Ankara’s rapprochement with the EU, big brother Turkey seemed to question the common enemy image of Armenia with the Zurich Protocols. 

The mythically elevated ties of race and religion between Turkey and Azerbaijan were instrumental in quickly killing the hopeful Protocols of October 2009.[10] In 2010, a Turkish-Azerbaijani Agreement on Strategic Partnership and Mutual Assistance was concluded. At the same time, EU rapprochement and internal reform zeal began to stagnate in Turkey. Corruption began to torpedo Ankara’s recent constitutional achievements; in Azerbaijan and its foreign relations it was notoriously rampant.[11] EU-turned Turkey’s newly won freedom of expression suffered severe blows. Its descent into autocracy started with R.T. Erdoğan’s appointment as president in 2014. The new president immediately visited Baku, exalted Turkish-Azeri brotherhood and underlined President Heydar Aliyev’s much-quoted slogan of one Turkish nation in two states (a notion that stems from early 20th century pan-Turkism).[12] Ilham Aliyev had succeeded in 2003 his late father Heydar Aliyev – a former Soviet party boss who reinvented himself as a Turkish-Azeri nationalist and who now enjoys a post-humous leader cult that is reminiscent of Ataturk in Turkey.

Since the early 2000s, visitors to the National History Museum of Azerbaijan in Baku find display boards on the “Genocide of Azerbaijanis committed by Armenians” in 1905-1906 and 1918-1920. These events from the early 20th century are placed by official historiography in a line with alleged genocides during the Karabakh war, namely in the city of Khojaly, where Armenian forces killed approximately hundred, perhaps several hundred, civilians in February 1992. Addressing the Armenian genocide in the late Ottoman Empire and the massacre of many thousand Armenian civilians during the Ottoman conquest of Baku in September 1918, on the other hand, is entirely taboo in the mental world of Turkish-Azeri nationalists. 

The common denominator of Turkish-Azerbaijani brotherhood in the 21st century is Armenia and the Armenians. It is a negative denominator of two countries whose autocratic leaders must wage war to secure their rule and national cohesion. Often dehumanized – notably in the propaganda since 2020 that takes up older clichés – Armenians represent the fundamental “others”: the allegedly evil, amoral, weak, and coward nation. Regardless of transactional philosemitic language in diplomacy, anti-Armenian and anti-Jewish clichés are tied together on many levels of Turkish nationalism. Since the early 20th century, they largely correspond to Western anti-Semitism. 

The state of Israel and Jewish interest groups have nevertheless chosen to back “two states-one nation” imbued with an ideology that might turn against Jews and Israel not less than it has done against autochthonous Christians. This reality is reflected by the ongoing fierce anti-Jewish reactions in Turkey related to the Gaza war and the 10/7 Hamas pogrom. The modes of jihadist cruelty in this massacre are notorious from the far worse pogroms against Armenians, which had killed ten thousands of civilians in addition to the 1915 genocide in the late 19th and early 20th century.


Lausanne’s “Near East Peace”: Triumph of anti-democracy

To resume, Ankara’s and Baku’s aggressive brotherhood, Europe’s deep-rooted defeatism when it comes to Armenia, and Israel’s risky opportunism concurred against a small but democratic-minded Armenian islet in fall 2023. They all joined forces with, or connived at, the regionally strong in its war against the weak – regardless of any democratic compass and the long-term challenge of solid peace.

Social Darwinism and cunning but thoughtless diplomatic opportunism underlay these facts, thus recalling the seminal Lausanne Near East Peace Conference, where Minister Rıza Nur was the vice-plenipotentiary and senior diplomat of Ankara’s delegation. Closer looks at the still effective Lausanne Treaty, its eve and context help understand how political matters and relations function in the large political space defined by it. The clearest feature is the lack of democratic social contracts and the repression of beginning democracy, where and whenever its burgeons in this political geography. Closely related to this anti-democratic feature are convictions of racial and religious supremacy which underpin partisan regimes, ethnocracies, and theocratic ambitions.[13]

Revising the 1920 Treaty of Paris-Sèvres, the Treaty of Lausanne completed a series of post-Great War treaties. It left the South Caucasus to Soviet and, to a minor extent, Turkish rule. Rather than a true “Near East Peace,” as it was called, it inaugurated a century of leader-centered party-states. At Lausanne’s negotiating table, Western national-imperial priorities, Turkish-Muslim ultranationalism, and the results of unrepented genocide in Anatolia had the upper hand. While Lausanne ended a decade of war, liquidated the Ottoman Empire and set the coordinates for the post-Ottoman world, the Conference’s darker aspects inspired the Nazis. The Treaty approved demographic engineering and the paradigm of a unitary nation-state, ethnically homogenized by force. Major principles of the League of Nations – including plural democracy, self-determination, minority rights, and law-based international peace – were abandoned.

Thus, faith in democratic coexistence got entirely lost in Lausanne. In contrast to the more democratic designs pursued at and shortly after the end of the Great War, the Lausanne Treaty precluded self-determination of the indigenous peoples in Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Almost all members of Ankara’s new government and its national assembly had been members of or been close to the dictatorial Young Turk party-state, led by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). Gazi Kemal Pasha (Atatürk), Ankara’s supreme leader, had been a prominent CUP general. In common responsibility, but primarily according to Ankara’s will, the negotiators in Lausanne opted for a forced “unmixing” of peoples, i.e., a coercive transfer, which further de-Christianized “new Turkey” in terms of demography and culture. 

In this essay on the recent erasure of Armenian Artsakh, it is particularly important to grasp the racist and exterminatory ultranationalism holding sway in parts of Ankara’s national assembly and its delegation in Lausanne. In the form of an aggressive Turanism, this foundational nationalism anticipated main features of the Nazis’ Aryanism. Dr. Rıza Nur was a prolific author in the field of Islamic Turanism (pan-Turkism). Although he later fell out with the Kemalists, he represented in the early 1920s large segments of Turkey’s political class. Fully rehabilitated by Islamists and the far-right, he does this currently again, posthumously. His unabashedly racist and supremacist language has forcefully resurged among officious propagandists of the recent war over Karabakh and in social media.

Nur stated in his History of the Armenians, an Ottoman manuscript edited in 1923, that Armenians and Jews were wretched, restless and obstreperous people whose “character invites disaster upon them,” i.e., periodic persecutions and massacres. Promoter of an early form of the notorious Turkish History Thesis of the 1930s, he claimed, “We Turanians, we are the pure, unmixed population,” that is, the natives of Anatolia and Eurasia. He declared the Armenians as invaders of the first century BC, who “had remained like a malign tumor in our [Anatolian] body and needed to be removed by a surgical operation.” For him, it was “against nature that a Christian people, which is a minority only, lives in Asia. Such a people is like an alien body in Asia.” Consequently, “For the Armenians, there is no solution except to bow to the unavoidable heavy consequences of this unnatural state; or to convert to Islam; or to disappear.”[14] At Lausanne’s negotiating table, Nur and Ismet Pasha Inönü, who presided Ankara’s delegation, claimed the Kurds to be Turanians who could harmoniously be assimilated to the Turkish nation-state.[15]

The Lausanne Conference sacrificed the right of the surviving Ottoman Armenians to return to their former homes and possessions. The project of an “Armenian Home” on ancestral land was buried, and justice for crimes against humanity was given up. Geneva’s League of Nations had envisioned a free Armenia as a member of the new League. In fall 1920, its Assembly and associates hotly discussed Armenia’s critical situation but they could not act. The Western powers, the main but unconvinced supporters of the League, were not ready to militarily intervene against Ankara’s forces. These attacked the Republic of Armenia from the West, whereas the Red Army entered from the other side. In March 1921, the Treaty of Moscow endorsed the division of Armenia, and thus the main territorial regulations of the previous Turkish-Armenian Treaty of Alexandropol. Though saved from further Turkish onslaught, Soviet Armenia, now territorially reduced, was henceforth excluded from the Western orbit. 

Might not right defined the Treaty of Lausanne, this foundation of the modern Middle East and the birth certificate of the Turkish nation-state. It endorsed the rejection of egalitarian plurality and alterity – the core features of true democracy. The Turkish successor state of the Ottoman Empire was henceforth considered a successful model of West-turned modernization. As a radically nationalist paradigm, it inspired the early Nazi movement in Germany. The young jurist Carl Schmitt, who a few years later became a star lawyer under Hitler, was deeply impressed by “today’s Turkey with its radical expulsion of the Greeks and its ruthless Turkification of the country.” From this example he developed a perverted idea of democracy whose “political power,” he alleged, was “demonstrated by its ability to eliminate or keep out that which is foreign and unequal, that which threatens homogeneity.”[16]

Soviet rule in the Caucasus proved to be an imperial interlude of a bit more than half a century that did not help democratic solutions, i.e., self-determination, civil liberties, and pacified plural societies. Therefore, the early 20th century myths of greatness, blood brotherhood, and religious and racial supremacy including pan-Turkism and pan-Islamism came forcefully back to feed new wars after the Cold War. Aliyev’s “resolution” of the Karabakh conflict by brute military force was in line with the Social Darwinist spirit of Lausanne. But Baku’s and Ankara’s recent joint venture revived also pre-Lausanne anti-Western cravings for power, as incorporated by Enver Pasha, the war minister and army chief of the CUP party-state during the Great War.

In 1918, after the collapse of Tsarist Russia, Enver’s Army of the Islam conquered major parts of the South Caucasus, including Baku. In a telegram to his general there, he declared the necessity to “completely weaken” the Caucasian Armenians (including many ten thousand genocide survivors from Anatolia) and “to leave them in an entirely destitute state so that their deprived life conditions prevent them from organizing themselves.”[17] Enver Pasha, the CUP’s pan-Islamist, pan-Turkist icon, bore together with Interior Minister Talaat Pasha – the number one executive in the party-state, finally appointed grand-vizier – the main responsibility for the Armenian genocide of 1915.

For Turkish ultranationalism, Armenians who had survived in the Caucasus were to be starved and rendered politically entirely impotent. This spirit has been revived in the 21st century. One of the first things Aliyev’s autocracy did after its invasion of Karabakh, was to change the Armenian toponyms and street names. The new “Enver Pasha Street” is prominent among them.[18] Because of defeat at Germany’s side, Enver’s Army of the Islam had to retreat in 1918. Mindful of this “humiliation,” Ankara’s current rulers stand out with imperial nostalgia and revanchist Lausanne Treaty revisionism. At the Lausanne Conference, in contrast, the upcoming Kemalists had renounced territorial pan-Turkism – though not on a pan-Turkish conception of their polity in Asia Minor and of Turkish history as a whole. This persisting mindset crystallized in Atatürk’s so-called Turkish History Thesis and Language Theory, during Kemalism’s totalitarian phase of the 1930s.


The cost of anti-democracy, and of conniving at it

The Lausanne Treaty conceded all power in Asia Minor to Sunni Turks, i.e., the members of the previously ruling imperial class, while confirming Syria and Iraq as temporary mandates, eventually to become Arab states. The Arabs, too, had previously been promised independence after the Great War. Although less extreme than the situation of the small Armenian, Kurdish, and Assyrian nations – the main victims of the Lausanne Treaty – the Great War victors’ treatment of the Arabs amounted to neo-imperial submission under the guise of Geneva’s weakened League.[19] Instead of supporting and promoting democratic self-organization, this treatment invited radicalization. If meant seriously, not as window-dressing, democracy and law-based peace deserve top priority.

The state of Israel was proclaimed twenty-five years after the Near East’s foundational treaty was signed. This took place in a post-Ottoman world still dominated by the spirit of Lausanne, not the lessons of the Second World War that underpinned the UN Charta, the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention against genocide. On principle, Labor Zionist Ben Gurion, Israel’s prominent founding father, agreed with his deceased political adversary, the revisionist Zionist Ze’ev Jabotinsky, on the necessity of an “iron wall,” i.e., the establishment of a strong unmixed Jewish polity against the indigenous Arabs.

Thus, although stemming from a very different background and context, Ben Gurion, too, did by no means prioritize what Ataturk and his predecessor Talaat had a priori precluded: to home in on an egalitarian social contract with the existing population, beyond religious ethnocracy. “The others,” in Israel’s case, are the “non-Jews,” mainly the Arab Palestinians with whom the new polity must inevitably share its living space. At least, as long as the “Turkish recipes,” as Nazis called them,[20] are considered a no-go, that is, genocide, forced eviction (as again in Artsakh 2023), or an obligatory population exchange as in the Lausanne Treaty, when Muslims in Greece were “exchanged” for more than three times as many dispossessed Greek-Orthodox Anatolian Christians.

Although Israel has been closely cooperating with Turkey and Azerbaijan since the late 20th century, and Turkish and Jewish nationalism – both latish currents in the late-Ottoman era – share some common features, there are fundamental differences. The multifarious Zionist movement displays much more democratic will, potential and experience than the state-centered Turkish nationalism. In spite of a few voices in its current striving for civil liberties and constitutional democracy, the cult of the leader, one-party rule, and the dominance of the Turkish Sunnis was inscribed in Turkism from the early 20th century. But it is above all the profound Jewish experience of devaluation, persecution and the Shoah that stands in stark contrast to the claim to supremacy of former imperial elites, the founders of the post-Ottoman Republic of Turkey.

Nevertheless, in the 21st century, the unmet challenge of a genuine democratic social contract, to be coded in an egalitarian constitution, remains the same in both countries. This applies also to the South Caucasus. There, however, Armenia’s democratic-mindedness stands out already. While Armenia has moved from a Soviet and early post-Soviet regime towards democracy and is endangered not least because of this, Israel has been moving away from democracy in the same period. This process has gone hand in hand with its substantial backing of anti-democracy and distortion of history in foreign policy, as described in this essay with regard to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Hoped for by its best insiders and best friends as a ferment of law and democracy, the real Israel has thus driven itself, and been driven, into a corner of self-contradiction.

Most recently, Israeli politicians and opinion makers have dehumanized Palestinians in sweeping ways, repeatedly quoting what Yehuda Bauer has called the “genocide commands” in the Hebrew Bible.[21] Making all Gazans targets of destruction is by no means the official military doctrine. But fact is, in January 2024, the ongoing obliteration of livelihoods in Gaza and the mass killing of civilians in the hunt for Hamas jihadists has been taking place since 7 October 2023. On that day, a dysfunctional far-right government had catastrophically failed in the basic self-protection of its citizens. Its failure was largely due to its pursuit of greater Israel and its fixation on grand strategy against Iran, instead of tackling the elementary homework.

Israeli loss of democratic orientation is most manifest since the Oslo peace process has stalled, but it has begun earlier. One of the main reasons is its role as military overlord over its Arab others in the occupied territories since 1967. Instead of promoting and supporting hand in hand with international agencies constructive actors of Palestinian self-determination beyond the jihadist agents of death, Israeli politics did all to obstruct a successful self-organization of their inescapable Palestinian neighbors. Since Zionism began in the 19th century, there is no clarity regarding the polity Israel can and wants to be. Conflicting ideas of the state oscillate between democracy, Jewish ethnocracy, Torah theocracy, and messianic kingdom. Most of them have a fundamental problem as far as egalitarian coexistence with non-Jews is concerned. Israel has the right to exist and, as this author believes, must exist and be able to defend itself – as does Armenia. After the painful loss of Karabakh and of any residual illusions of a “greater Armenia,” the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, too, can and must straightforwardly tackle their homework: building a watchful democracy. 

Ethnocracy and traditional notions of theocracy fail when it comes to the basic prerequisite for successful democracy: the recognition of and engaging with the given other in a common habitat – under common basic rules and as a matter of principle. There is no other way to avoid a polity based on the suppression of others and the making of scapegoats and enemy images. Examples of partisan states resembling communities in crime, and whose exploitative ideology rests on scapegoat-making, abound in modern history. Whilst a pragmatic management of foreign relations is necessary, particularly for small nations, relations become noxious if detached from, or in denial of, the foundations of democratic life.



1. Rıza Nur, Hayat ve Hatıratım, (Istanbul: İşaret), vol. 3, 167.

2. On Gökalp as pan-Turkist/Turanist and mentor of the CUP government, see H. Kieser, “Europe’s Seminal Proto-Fascist? Historically Approaching Ziya Gökalp, Mentor of Turkish Nationalism,” Die Welt des Islams 61 (2021), 411-447.

3. For detailed recollections and reflections of a former deputy minister of foreign affairs, see Gerard J. Libaridian, A Precarious Armenia: The Third Republic, the Karabakh Conflict, and Genocide Politics (London: Gomidas, 2023).

4. Audrey L. Altstadt, Frustrated Democracy in Post-Soviet Azerbaijan (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center, 2017), 6-47.

5. Eldad Ben Aharon, Between Geopolitics and Identity Struggle: Why Israel Took Sides with Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict (Frankfurt: PRIF, 2023).

6. Statement by President von der Leyen with Azerbaijani President Aliyev:

7. In this vein, on the eve of Baku’s final attack in September 2023, a group of 50 senior leading European Rabbis added insult to injury with an anti-Armenian statement in support of Baku

8. Eldad Ben Aharon, “The Israeli Policy on the Armenian Genocide and the Geopolitics of Memory,” in: Just Memories: Remembrance and Restoration in the Aftermath of Political Violence, ed. Camila de Gamboa Tapias, Bert van Roermund (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 313-340. For more, including late Ottoman background of Jewish and Zionist flirts with sultans and CUP potentates, see H. Kieser, “Histories of denial,” The American Historical Review 127, issue 2, June 2022, 925–928.

9. Enes Cansever: “Bir millet iki devlet’ sözünde değişiklik yok,” daily Zaman, 23 October 2009.

10. Taline Papazian, “Le conflit du Haut-Karabagh dans les stratégies idéologiques et politiques des chefs d’Etat de l’Arménie postsoviétique,” in: Le Sud Caucase: Etats-nations et enjeux  internationaux, ed. Julien Zarafian et Raymond Kévorkian (Paris: Bibliothèque Nubar, 2011), 65.

11. Altstadt, Frustrated Democracy in Post-Soviet Azerbaijan, 97-138.

12. President Erdoğan in Azerbaijan:

13. For more insight into the Lausanne Conference and Treaty itself, see Jay Winter, The Day the Great War Ended, 24 July 1923: The Civilianization of War (Oxford University Press, 2022); H. Kieser, When Democracy Died: The Middle East’s Enduring Peace of Lausanne (Cambridge University Press, 2023).

14. Rıza Nur, Ermeni Tarihi, Ottoman manuscript (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Ms. Orient Quart, 1394).

15. Lausanne Conference on Near Eastern Affairs (19221923): Records of Proceedings and Draft Terms of Peace (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1923), 342-343.

16. Carl Schmitt in the preface to the 1926 edition of his Die geistesgeschichtliche Lage des heutigen Parlamentarismus (Berlin: Duncker und Humblot, 1926).

17. War Minister Enver Pasha to General Vehib Pasha, 9 June 1918, quoted in H. Kieser, Talaat Pasha: Father of Modern Turkey, Architect of Genocide (Princeton University Press, 2018), 366.

18. Aris Nalcı, “Enver sokağı, Karabağ, Ukrayna, Gazze ve seçici ahlaki öfke,” Artı Gerçek, 14 October 2023.

19. See Elizabeth F. Thompson, How the West Stole Democracy from the Arabs: The Syrian Arab Congress of 1920 and the Destruction of Its Liberal-Islamic Alliance (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2020).

20. Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 275.

21. Yehuda Bauer, Rethinking the Holocaust (Yale University Press, 2002), 19–20.




Associate Professor of History, University of Newcastle; Author “When Democracy Died: The Middle East’s Enduring Peace of Lausanne”

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Hans-Lukas Kieser is an Associate Professor at the University of Newcastle and a retired Professor at the University of Zurich. As a historian by training, his research and teaching interests focuses on demise of the Ottoman Empire, social contract, political violence, genocide and history of WWI, Republican Turkey, and Middle East. He is the winner of the Republic of Armenia’s Presidential Prize (2017) for his contributions to the research of the Armenian genocide. His most recent books are When Democracy Died: The Middle East’s Enduring Peace of Lausanne (Cambridge University Press, 2023) and Talaat Pasha: Father of Modern Turkey, Architect of Genocide (Princeton University Press, 2018), also available in German, Turkish, French and Persian.


Hans-Lukas Kieser’s upcoming book is ”Turkey’s Violent Formation: New Social Contracts at the End of the Ottoman Empire” (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2024)