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Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922)
The Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, also called the War in Asia Minor, and (in Greece) the Catastrophe of Minor Asia and (in Turkey) a part of the Turkish War of Independence, was a war between Greece and Turkey fought in the wake of World War I.
The war arose because the western Allies, particularly British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, had promised Greece territorial gains at the expense of the Ottoman Empire if Greece entered the war on the Allied side. These included eastern Thrace, the islands of Imbros and Tenedos, and parts of western Anatolia around the city of Smyrna (current day İzmir), all of which had substantial Greek populations.
The 1920 Treaty of Sèvres, which ended the First World War in Asia Minor and divided the Ottoman Empire, assigned all these territories to Greece. Greek troops had already occupied Smyrna and the surroundings in May 1919 under cover of French, British and American ships. Meanwhile the former Ottoman general Mustafa Kemal (later Kemal Atatürk) had formed a new Turkish nationalist government at Ankara on April 23, 1920, which repudiated the Treaty of Sèvres and prepared for war against the Greeks.
In October 1920, with the encouragement of Lloyd George who intended to increase the pressure on the Turkish and Ottoman governments to sign the Treaty of Sevrès, the Greek army advanced east into Anatolia with the intention of defeating the Kemalist forces before they were ready to attack the Greek perimeter at Smyrna. This advancement was begun under the Liberal government of Eleftherios Venizelos, but soon after the offensive began Venizelos fell from power and was replaced by Dimitrios Gounaris, who appointed inexperienced monarchist officers to senior commands. King Constantine took personal command of the army at Smyrna.
After a Greek defeat on January 11, 1921, allied states proposed to amend the Treaty of Sevrès at a conference in London where both Turkish and Ottoman governments were represented. Although some agreements were reached with Italy, France and Britain, the decisions were defied by the Greeks who initiated another attack on March 27 (Battle of Inonu II), to be resisted and finally defeated by the Kemalist troops on March 30. The unpredictable Turkish victory caused Secretary of War Winston Churchill to withdraw British support to the Greeks.
In June 1921 the strengthened Greek army advanced to the River Sakarya, less than 100 km (62 miles) west of Ankara. Meanwhile, the Turkish government at Ankara appointed Mustafa Kemal as the commander in chief. In August, Kemal counter-attacked, routing the Greeks and cutting off their supply lines at the Battle of Sakarya (August 23 - September 13, 1921). The Greeks retreated in good order and still hoped to defend their base at Smyrna. They appealed to the Allies for help, but early in 1922 Britain, France and Italy decided that the Treaty of Sèvres could not be enforced and should be revised. Parallel to their decision, with successive treaties, Italian and French troops evacuated their positions.
In March 1922 the Allies proposed a ceasefire, but Kemal answered there could be no settlement while the Greeks remained in Anatolia. In August, after preparations on both sides, the Turks launched a new offensive on August 26, defeating the Greeks at the Battle of Dumlupinar near Afyon (August 30, 1922, celebrated as the Victory Day and a national holiday in Turkey). Shortly after their victory, the Turks captured Smyrna (September 9). The city was burned to the ground (by retreating Greeks according to the Turks, or by Turks, according to the Greeks) and all the Greeks who could not escape by sea were massacred. This started a general fleeing of Greeks from Anatolia.
With the borders secured with treaties and agreements at east and south, Kemal was now in a commanding position. The Turks were then able to insist that unconditionally, the Greeks evacuate east Thrace, Imbros and Tenedos as well as Asia Minor, and the Maritza River to be set as the border at Thrace at its pre-1914 position. The majority of the ethnic Greek population of Asia Minor had already fled or been expelled to Greece. Greeks call this the "Asia Minor Disaster".
France, Italy and Britain called Mustafa Kemal to Venice for cease-fire negotiations. In return, Mustafa Kemal demanded negotiations be started at Moudania (Mudanya ) on condition that east Thrace be ceded to Turks immediately. Negotiations at Mudanya began on October 3, with the Turkish delegation lead by Ismet Inonu, and the Greeks represented by the Allies. When the British resisted, at Chanak on the Dardanelles, Kemal dared Britain to enforce the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres, but Lloyd George backed down. The Mudanya Armistice was concluded on October 11, 1922, with the Allies keeping east Thrace and the Bosporus under occupation, but the Greeks evacuating these areas. The agreement came into force starting October 15, one day after the Greek side agreed to sign it.
At the Treaty of Lausanne (July 1923) which concluded the Greco-Turkish War, Greece's withdrawal from Anatolia and east Thrace was formalised. For reparations of the damage caused by the Greek occupation in western Anatolia, Karaagac (a bridgehead in Edirne) was left to Turkey as well (Article 59). To ensure lasting peace, Greece was restricted at some Aegean islands from keeping military forces, similar to Turkey at the straits. In addition, the Italians kept the Dodecanese Islands, which they had acquired from the Ottomans in 1912. There was little to stop Ataturk from claiming western Thrace, which had a large Turkish population, as well. He did not do so because he wished to create a homogenous Turkish state without ethnic minorities; also, this area was lost by the Ottomans before the First World War, and this was defined by international agreements. All non-Muslim Turkish subjects were ensured by the treaty to enjoy equal legal, civil and political rights as Muslims. It was also agreed that all disputes regarding the property and possessions of Turkey and Greece would be in the future settled by an arbitral tribunal at The Hague.
One of the most important social consequences of the Treaty of Lausanne was the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey. More than a million Greeks from Anatolia were expelled to Greece, and about 500,000 Turks moved in the opposite direction. The Greeks of Constantinople and the Turks of western Thrace were exempted from this transfer.
The exchange saw the abandonment of areas where Greeks had lived since ancient times, such as Ionia and Pontus. The Greek genocide (also known as Hellenic holocaust) was halted. Even though tens of thousands of Greeks were massacred and Greek females raped/abducted during the transfers by Turkish authorities and the mob alike, the great majority of Anatolian Greeks escaped with their lives, if little else.
Another result was a violent political reaction in Greece. Military officers seized power in Athens and forced King Constantine to abdicate (see History of Modern Greece). Five senior commanders of the Anatolian expedition were tried for treason and executed. The bitterness engendered by these events lingered in Greek politics for many years.
The war made both Greece and Turkey more ethnically homogenous and reduced (but did not eliminate) the areas of conflict between the two countries. It also ended the Greek dream of recreating an enlarged state with Constantinople as its capital (the Great Idea or Megali Idea) and encouraged Greek politicians to concentrate on domestic issues.
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