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Capitulations Need to Be Abolished for Full Independence

Capitulations Need to Be Abolished for Full Independence

The decision of the Ottoman administration to unilaterally abolish the capitulations was a rational, albeit a delayed one. Almost two months prior to the decision, world war had broken out in Europe and could have spread to the Ottoman territory at any moment. The states that had been given capitulations previously were too busy to object to the decision. Indeed, the declaration to eliminate capitulations received joyous welcome from the vast majority of the Ottoman Empire. The Empire was finally getting rid of this heavy burden on its shoulders.

Even though European ambassadors particularly raised objections to the abrogation of the capitulations, the Ottoman Empire didn’t back down. Of course, certain new regulations were made in line with the requests of the ambassadors, but they were not like the capitulations. This was an important milestone for the Ottoman Empire as it began to be released from her chains. However, the joyous atmosphere didn’t last long. The Empire had to enter WWI, was subsequently defeated and on October 30, 1918, once again had to endure the imposition of other states. Unsurprisingly, the victors immediately brought back the capitulations.

During the years of the Turkish War of Independence, Mustafa Kemal took the issue of capitulations very seriously and showed his clear stance in favor of full independence during the congress meetings. During National Pact sessions at the Ottoman Parliament (January 22-28, 1920) capitulations were once again on the agenda. The 6th article of the decisions made there was briefly as follows:

… Ensuring full freedom and independence to complete our national and economic development, like every other country, is essential for our future. For this reason, any factors that hinder our political, judicial, commercial or financial development should be eliminated…(SOURCE)

For this reason, Mustafa Kemal strictly instructed the delegation that went to Lausanne that there could be no compromise on capitulations.

Of course, European countries were preparing to reinstate the capitulations at Lausanne. That’s why the new Turkish Republic was well prepared to deal with the issue without any compromise of its independence. Yet once again Britain, the only country that didn’t recognize the independence of the new Turkish Republic, proved the biggest obstacle.

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