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The Armenian question
The Reawakening was also the period during which, after a certain stasis early in the century, the Armenian question re-emerged and suddenly became more bitter, under the impulse of many different factors.

Among these were for example, the precarious and sometimes desperate situation of the masses, the peasant classes above all, in the internal eastern provinces; the new national conscience of the young intelligentsia that formed after the examples set by the Italian Risorgimento and the insurrectionary movements in the Hapsburg and Russian Empires; the gaining of freedom by the Balkan peoples, formerly subjects of the Ottoman Empire; and the competition between the great powers, which was accompanied by empty and sometimes deceitful promises, to exploit the situation of the Armenians for their own end.

The need for reform was ever more pressing, and was spurred also by a certain local autonomy that was later to burst out into a demand for independence.

The Congress of Berlin (1878) marked the official ingress of the Armenian question into modern international diplomacy.

This formed the first bitter disappointment for the Armenians.

The comment made about that occasion by Krikor Odian, one of the more illuminated spirits of the time and counsellor to Mithad Pasha when the first Ottoman constitution was drawn up, has remained famous: "We have worked hard to obtain this article (article 61, which speaks of the Armenians) and we must now work just as hard and even harder to forget it."

Article 61 was of little use to the Armenians, being no more than a pretext for suspicion and the sultan"s exertions against them.

In the short period between 1885 and 1890, the three main Armenian political parties of the times were founded: armenakan (1885, Armenian); hntchakian (1887, socialist); and dashnaktsakan (1890).

The latter was the revolutionary confederation that initially promoted the idea of establishing a confederation consisting of the already existing parties and the various revolutionary movements.

The project did not work, and the dashnaktsakan party became another party alongside the others. All three parties were active within the framework of the great socialist ferment of the end of the century.

But they were very nationalistic, in that the common objective of all three was the autonomy or independence of Armenia.

Then, in 1908, the ramkavar (popular) party was founded: it was tendentially liberal-democratic and shared the national objective with the other three.

Obviously, the methods and strategies employed by each of these parties distinguished them from one another.

Finally, Lenin"s ideals of socialist revolution made great strides in those years, especially among the young intelectuals of the Caucasus, and the Armenian Communist party was eventually founded.

This brief account of Armenia"s history does not permit us to go into the details of the tragic affairs that led to the total uprooting of the Armenian people from their native Anatolian land where, for more than 2,0000 years, they had lived, worked and built.

In recent history, it is perhaps a unique case, certainly singular, of a land that has been completely emptied of its most ancient and culturally advanced ethnic group.

It is generally estimated that between a million and a million and a half people died in the massacres and about as many survived in the hell of exile.

Some of the survivors were to form one of the more consistent nuclei of the new Armenian Republic, while the rest were scattered over the world in the more recent Armenian diaspora.

References: “History of Armenian people” by Levon Zekyan
 
 
 
Writer: Hasmik Muradyan
Editor: Eugenia Melkonyan
 
 
 Date Added: Wednesday August 02, 2006 07:59:24 
 




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