Factors Leading To The Creation Of The Issue

A drastic change was witnessed in Turco-Armenian relations with the decline of the Ottoman Empire towards the end of the 19th century. As a result of activities carried out by instigators infiltrating the Ottoman territories from the West, mostly under a clerical guise, Armenians began to pull themselves away from the Turkish community in the religious, cultural, commercial, political and social fields. Armenians who used Turkish as their language, who conducted their religious sermons in Turkish and even those who had attained high positions within the Empire, such as cabinet ministers, undersecretaries and the like, collaborated with the enemy forces in a bid to attain the downfall of the Ottoman State.

It is during this period that the Armenians began to present themselves as an 'oppressed community' and claimed that their sovereignty rights over Anatolia had been seized by the Turks, this with the aim of securing the backing of the West. States aspiring to attain their goals by exploiting the Armenians, did in fact encourage such propaganda and helped to create public opinion in a drive to have a say in the sanctions to be imposed on Turkey, and to be able to intervene when necessary. Thus, all initiatives with the pretext of supporting the Armenians and safeguarding their rights found serious backing within their own public opinion.

 Once they lost their privileged status, with the Reformation Bill granting equal status to muslims and non-muslims alike, the Armenians asked Russia not to withdraw from Eastern Anatolia, which she had invaded during the 1877-1878 Ottoman-Russian war; that autonomy be granted to these territories, or that reformation be conducted in line with their interests. These stipulations found the partial backing of Russia, and henceforward the Armenian issue began to assume an international dimension with the Yesilkoy Agreement, formerly known as the Hagia Stephanos Agreement, signed at the end of the Ottoman-Russian war and the subsequent Berlin Agreement. Thus, foreign powers aspiring o divide the country, started intervening in Turco-Armenian relations.

Once, efforts to organize Ottoman Armenians to take action against the State, by means of committees set up in Anatolia as a result of activities carried out by missionaries proved futile, it was then decided that Russian Armenians set up such committees in regions outside the boundaries of the Ottoman State. Thus, the moderately militant Hinchak, with socialist tendencies, was set up in Geneva in 1887, followed by the extremist and pro-independence Tashnak Committee set up in Tbilisi in 1890, favouring terror, rebellions and struggle to achieve its goals.

These committees had been targeted at ' liberating Anatolian territory and the Ottoman Armenians'. Attempts to launch a revolt, instigated by the Istanbul-based Hinchaks and aimed at provoking the Ottoman Armenians by drawing the attention of European nations to the Armenian issue, were followed by acts carried out by Tashnaks who had launched a political struggle. These attempts, masterminded by committees outside the Ottoman lands were supported by missionaries positioned in Anatolia.