British Ambassador Layard’s March 18, 1878 letter
to the Earl of Derby in which he conveys the attitudes of Archbishop of
Narsis, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople.
London: Public Records Office—F.0.424/68, pp.
Holdwater's Comments Follow.
Armenians ... would appeal to Russia, and would not cease to agitate until they were
annexed to her.
March 18, 1878
By my despatch No. 364 of to-day I have transmitted a letter addressed to your Lordship by
Archbishop Narsis, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. When his Eminence called upon
me to request that I would forward this letter he took occasion to enter very fully into
the position and grievances of the Armenian nation or community. Your Lordship will
remember that last year his Eminence was anxious to persuade me that his people were not
dissatisfied with the Turkish rule, and that they greatly preferred remaining under it to
being transferred to that of Russia. He even declared their readiness to enroll themselves
in the Turkish army, or to be formed into a local force for the defence of the Turkish
territory. His Eminence admitted to me when I saw him yesterday that such had been the
case. But he said that since the Russian success, and especially since it had become known
that Russia had stipulated in one of the Articles of the preliminaries of Peace for
administrative reforms for Armenia, the state of affairs had completely changed. The
Armenians were now greatly irritated against him for having put Russia against them by
giving his support to the Turkish Government, and “threatened to stone him.’ The fact
that a large number of their fellow countrymen had been transferred to Christian rule by
the annexation of a part of Armenia to Russia, and that autonomous Government was about to
be conceded to the Christian populations of European Turkey, naturally led them to demand
the same privileges. Their hatred of Mahommedan rule had been increased by the excesses
committed by the Kurds upon the Armenians inhabitants of the Province of Van and of the
district of Bayazid, for which he had in vain appealed to the Porte for redress. The
Armenians were now determined to assert their rights, and to claim to be placed upon the
same footing as their fellow-Christians elsewhere. If they could not obtain what they
asked from the justice and through the intervention of Europe, they would appeal to
Russia, and would not cease to agitate until they were annexed to her. Already, his
Eminence said, a large portion of the Christian population of Armenia was preparing to
emigrate to the territories ceded to Russia. He trusted, therefore, that the demands of
the Armenians for an autonomous Christian Government would be taken into favourable
consideration at the Congress, and that Europe would insist upon the formation of a
self-governing Armenian province.
His Excellency showed me the copy of a letter which he had addressed to Prince Bismarck,
soliciting his Highness’s protection and good offices for the Armenians. He had sent it
through Prince Reuss, who, as I have had occasion to inform your Lordship, has been in
frequent communication of late with the heads of the Armenian community, with the object,
I am assured, of detaching them from their allegiance to the Sultan, and of promoting the
policy of Russia.
(The Armenian Patriarch) maintained that the Turks ... would
willingly accept a Christian Government which would afford them protection for their
lives and property.
I asked the Patriarch what he understood by “Armenia,”
and what part of Turkey in Asia he considered ought to be included in the autonomous
province that he had in view. His Eminence replied that Armenia should contain the
Pashalics of Van and Sivas, the greater part of that of Diarbekir, and the ancient
kingdom of Cilicia (or the province on the northern boundary of Syria, and extending
to the west from the Taurus range to the sea). I pointed out to his Eminence that
what he asked was a very large slice indeed out of the territories remaining to the
Sultan in Asia Minor, and that in the provinces he had mentioned, I had reason to
believe, a very large majority of the population consisted of Mussulmans. He did not
deny that such was the case; but he maintained that the Turks themselves were
greatly dissatisfied with the rule of the Porte, and would willingly accept a
Christian Government which would afford them protection for their lives and
To a remark that I made to the Patriarch that I did not think it probable that the
Congress would entertain so vast a project as that which he had placed before me,
his Eminence replied that if it did not do so, and did not listen to the just
demands of the Armenians, the country to which he had referred would rise, within a
short time, against Turkish rule, and would annex itself to Russia. He further
observed that amongst the Generals and high functionaries employed by Russia in
Georgia and Armenia were many Armenians, some of whom had greatly distinguished
themselves during the war; that they were in close relations with their brethren in
Turkey, and that whatever his own personal views might be — and he was simple
priest, and had no mundane ambition — his people were determined no longer to
submit to Mahommedan rule, and he could not oppose himself to their wishes.
and insurrections in all parts of the Sultan’s dominions... must inevitably lead,
sooner or later, to very serious results.
I recount my conversation with the Patriarch to your Lordship, as it
tends to confirm what I have ventured to submit in other despatches with respect to the
danger of exciting the hopes and desires of other populations of the Turkish Empire by
according to those of European Turkey autonomous institutions. An encouragement is thus
given to intrigues and insurrections in all parts of the Sultan’s dominions, and to
attempts to throw off his authority and that of his Government which must inevitably lead,
sooner or later, to very serious results. If I am not misinformed such intrigues are now
carried on very actively and extensively for this object. The movement amongst the
Armenians is probably caused by these. It is not improbable that we shall, ere long, hear
of similar movements amongst the Mussulman as well as Christian populations of other parts
of Asiatic Turkey, including Syria. They may take the form in Africa of a demand for
complete independence from the Porte. The falling to pieces and dismemberment of the
Turkish Empire may be in the eyes of some a desirable event, but England ought at least to
be prepared for the consequences. That an autonomous State, such as the “Armenia” of
the Patriarch, could long preserve even its semi-independence, no one acquainted with the
populations which inhabit the provinces it is proposed by sanguine Armenians to include
within its boundaries, could for one moment believe. Autonomy must end in annexation to
Russia, an event which the Patriarch evidently seemed to contemplate. How far would it
suit the interests of England that Russia should extend her dominion over so large an
additional portion of Asia Minor and up to the very borders of Syria? That she will
ultimately do so appears to me one of the results of her annexation of Eastern Armenia as
far south as Bayazid.
The Patriarch requested me to consider our conversation confidential, as he was afraid
that he would compromise himself with the Turkish Government if what had passed between us
came to be known.
I have, &c.
(Signed) A.H. Layard
Elaboration for the Six Vilayets
The area claimed as "Turkish Armenia"
was commonly known as the Six Vilayets -- Van, Bitlis, Mamuretulaziz, Diyarbakir,
Sivas, and Erzurum. In 1912, there were only 870,000 Armenians in the Six Vilayets
as a whole. In some provinces of the Six Vilayets, Muslims outnumbered Armenians six
to one. Moreover, Armenians were settled all over the Ottoman Empire, not simply in
the East. As many Armenians lived in the rest of the Ottoman Empire as in the Six
Vilayets. However, even if all the Armenians of the Empire had come together to live
in Eastern Anatolia, the Muslims would still have outnumbered them by more than two
to one. The impossibility of building a modern state with such numbers is obvious.
Justin McCarthy, Professor, University
of Louisville, "Armenian Terrorism History as Poison and Antidote."
Holdwater: And this is
precisely why Armenians, with the help of the Russians, cold-bloodedly and
criminally murdered or drove out the Muslims who outnumbered them in what is now
present-day Armenia... and repeated such tactics in the early 1990s, in Azerbaijan.
Things Never Change
From the letter above:
...His Eminence replied that if (Britain)...
did not listen to the just demands of the Armenians, the country to which he had
referred would rise, within a short time, against Turkish rule, and would annex
itself to Russia. He further observed ...(Russian) Armenians... were in close
relations with their brethren in Turkey, and that whatever his own personal views
might be — and he was simple priest, and had no mundane ambition — his people
were determined no longer to submit to Mahommedan rule, and he could not oppose
himself to their wishes.
Kevork Donabedian, the editor of The Armenian
Weekly, an ethnic newspaper published in the United States, as quoted in the
November 18, 1980 issue of The Christian Science Monitor:
“As an Armenian, I never condone terrorism, but there must be a reason behind
this. Maybe the terrorism will work. It worked for the Jews. They have Israel.“
Notice how the "simple
priest" removes himself from the potential violence to come, while at the same
time he is obviously very supportive and enthusiastic of such actions. Armenians!
When will they accept responsibility for the things they do, instead of trying to
have it both ways?
As Heath Lowry
masterfully observed in his report, "Armenian Terrorism: Threads of Continuity":
This attitude which may be typified as the “of course we don’t condone
terrorism, but we must understand the deep sense of frustration experienced by these
young men as a result of the great historical injustice done to the Armenians by the
Turks, etc. etc.”, is repeated in the wake of every assassination, by a variety of
Armenian academicians, spokesmen, and religious leaders. What it amounts to is
nothing more than a token distancing of oneself from the actual event with the
almost ritual “of course we don’t condone terrorism,” followed by a repetition
of the same catalogue of charges concerning allegations of “massacres” and “genocide”
against the Ottoman Empire of 1914-1915.
Unfortunately, terrorism is not a topic towards
which one may adopt a ‘lukewarm’ response. You cannot say: “My form of
terrorism is justified, but I don’t approve of terrorism.” It is clearly a ya
hep ya hiç ('all or nothing’) proposition. By failing to openly CONDEMN the
senseless killings perpetrated by Armenian terrorists, both the Armenian Church and
the Armenian Press are giving their ‘stamp of approval’ to these activities.
Bearing in mind that the overwhelming majority of Armenians fail to make their
voices heard on this issue, out of fear, we are faced with a situation where almost
the entire Armenian community of the Diaspora, in one form or another, tacitly
support the activities of Armenian terrorists.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly why Armenians have no one to blame but
themselves for the tragedies that befell their people during the relocations that
were the natural result of the treachery of their terrorist leaders.