On October 27, 1916, in London, an agreement was signed between Mark Sykes (England),GeorgesPicot (France) and the Chairman of the Armenian national delegation Pogos Nubar, on the formation of the Armenian Legion, which, as part of the French army, was to take part in military operations against the Ottoman Empire on the Syrian-Palestinian front. In return, France promised to grant autonomy to the Armenians of Cilicia.
In November 1916, the principles of volunteering were established by the French government: only Armenians and Arabs could be legionnaires, French officers could be commanders, and the French government would bear the costs of the legion.
The Eastern Legion received its first baptism of fire in Palestine on September 19, 1918 in the battle of Mount Arara, then as part of the Anglo-French troops, it participated in the battles for Syria and Lebanon. In mid-October 1918, the 4th battalion was formed in Beirut, and the number of Armenian soldiers of the legion reached 5000. In November-December 1918, the Legion, which was already called Armenian, entered Cilicia, took important strategic points and took part in it defense.
According to the Armistice of Mudros, concluded at the end of World War I, on October 30, 1918, in the port of Mudros (Lemnos Island) between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire, it was envisaged:
- Clause XVI: “Surrender of all garrisons in Hedjaz, Assir, Yemen, Syria, and Mesopotamia to the nearest Allied Commander; and the withdrawal of troops from Cicilia, except those necessary to maintain order, as will be determined under Clause V”.
- Clause XXIV: “In case of disorder in the six Armenian vilayets, the Allies reserve to themselves the right to occupy any part of them”.
According to the Arbitral Award of the 28th US President Woodrow Wilson, after November 22, 1920, the Turkish armed forces were obliged to leave the four regions of Western Armenia and the territories adjacent to them. The questionof the territories determined by the Arbitral Award in the Peace Treaty of Sèvres is formulated as follows:
“Turkey and Armenia as well as the other High Contracting Parties agree to submit to the arbitration of the President of the United States of America the question of the frontier to be fixed between Turkey and Armenia in the vilayets of Erzerum, Trebizond, Van and Bitlis, and to accept his decision thereupon, as well as any stipulations he may prescribe as to access for Armenia to the sea, and as to the demilitarisation of any portion of Turkish territory adjacent to the said frontier”.
However, as in the case of the above-mentioned decisions, so in the case of the agreement on granting autonomy to Armenian Cilicia, the practice of circumventing the Armenian issue and neutralizing of the already taken decisions is beginning to take effect.
In this case, the following explanation is given: after a drastic change in the Eastern policy of France, when it began to approach the Kemalists, the Armenian Legion was completely disbanded in August 1920. Despite the heroic resistance against the superior and well-armed Turkish bands, the Armenian people was again forced to leave Cilicia.
Later, according to the Treaty of October 20, 1921, France transferred Cilicia to the government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
In such a crisis situation, the Cilician Armenians on August 4, 1920 adopted the Declaration of Independence of Cilicia, signed by the Representative of the United Armenia Migran Tamatyan and the Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Adana GevorgArchimandrite Arslanyan.
The Declaration is an important document against all kinds of illegal behind-the-scenes agreements, deals and occupation of Armenian territories. This is an important document for restoring the independence of Cilicia.
Cilicia is Armenia.
The independence of Cilicia will be restored through the exercise and realization of the rights granted to the Armenian people in 1918-1920.
Prime Minister of the Republic of Western Armenia (Armenia)