136-I spoke about the Pontus question

I spoke about the Pontus question

I spoke about the Pontus question. Everybody can read the requisite information about it in the documents concerning it. As, however, this question has done us a great deal of harm I will refer once more to several points which I consider it necessary to mention.

Since the year 1840, that is to say, nearly three-quarters of a century ago, there were some Greeks who were engaged in reviving the old forms of Hellenism on the Black Sea, between Rize and the Bosphorus.

A Greek monk named Klematios, who had emigrated to the United States and had returned, founded the first institution on a hill that is to-day called Monastir (convent) at Ineboli, which served as a meeting place of the adherents of the Pontus persuasion.

The members of this institution appeared from time to time in the form of separate bands of brigands. During the general war the Greek villages in the neighbourhood of Samsoon, Tsharshamba, Bafra, and Erbea had nearly all been turned into arsenals containing rifles, ammunition, bombs and machine-guns, which had been sent from foreign countries and distributed among them.

After the Armistice had been concluded, the Greeks, impelled by the Hellenistic ideal, assumed an arrogant and provocative attitude nearly everywhere.

Prepared morally by the propaganda of the “Ethniki Hetairia” and the American institutions at Mersifun, and encouraged materially by the foreign countries who supplied them with arms, the mass of the Greeks, on the other hand, began to cast amorous glances in the direction of an independent Pontic State. Led by this idea, the Greeks organised a general revolt, seized the mountain heights and began to carry on a regular programme under the leadership of Yermanos, the Greek Metropolitan of Amasia, Samsoon and the surrounding country.

On the one hand, Tokanidis, the leader of the Greek Comitasjis of Samsoon, who was manager of the Tobacco Regie in that town, began to get into touch with Central Anatolia. Certain foreign Powers promised to aid in the erection of a Pontic State and collected the Armenians and the Greeks living in Russia at Batum with the intention of sending them into the district of Samsoon to reinforce the ranks of the Greek population.

After equipping these individuals with the arms taken from Turkish troops in the Caucasus, which had been stored at Batum, they proceeded to land them on our shores. In this manner several thousand Greeks were collected at Sochum with the intention of committing robberies, and a certain Charalambos was put at the head of them. Those who had been assembled at Batum were taken to Charalambos to reinforce his band.

The whole of this rebel band was under the protection of some foreign representatives at Samsoon who were also busy arming these men.

After the members of these bands had been landed on our shores they were provisioned and equipped by certain foreign Powers under the pretence that steps were necessary for the provi sioning of the emigrants. On the other hand, it was perfectly clear that the foreign officers who had arrived with the deputations of the Red Cross had been ordered to form organisations and undertake the military instruction and training of the members in short, to lay the foundations of the future Pontic State.

In a leading article on the 4 th March, 1919, the newspaper “Pon- tus,” which made its appearance in Constantinople, announced that the aim of their endeavours was the erection of a Greek Republic in the Vilayet of Trebizond. On the 7 th April, 1919, the anniversary of Greek Independence, meetings were organised to be held everywhere in the country and especially at Samsoon. The insolent intrigues of Yermanos completely revealed the Greek plans. The Greeks living in the district of Bafra and Samsoon continued to hold meetings in their churches, augmented their organisations and supplemented their equipment. On the 23 rd October, 1919, Constantinople was proclaimed to be the centre of the movement for “Eastern Thrace and the Pon- tus.” Venizelos, postponing the settlement of the question of Con stantinople, held that all efforts should be directed to the foundation of a Pontic State and had given instructions to this effect to the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Simultaneously Alexandros Simbrakakis, who was commissioned with the organisation of the secret Greek police in Constantinople, had sent a Greek corps of officers to Samsoon on board the Greek torpedo- boat Eiffel with instructions to organise the gendarmerie at Pontus. At the time that this was taking place in Turkey, a Greek Govern ment under the name of the “Greek Pontic Government” was formed on the i8 tjl December, 1919, at Batum, which on its side also under took the formation of organisations. A congress of the Greeks of the Black Sea, the Caucasus and Southern Russia took place on the 19 th July, 1919, at Batum to discuss the Pontic Question. The memorandum drafted at that congress was sent by a member of it to the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantionple. Towards the end of the year 1919, the members of the Pontic organisation redoubled their activities and began to work quite openly, thereby compelling us to take decisive steps.

The Pontic organisation which had been formed in the mountains was composed in this manner:

The Pontic organisation which had been formed in the mountains was composed in this manner:

A. Of bands of armed men under the command of a number of leaders.

B. Of elements capable of production among the Pontic popula tion, whose occupation was to provision them.

C. Of administrative and police organisations and transport columns, whose duty it was to transport provisions from the towns and villages.

The bands were operating in different zones. At first each band comprised six or seven thousand men. Augmented by adherents streaming in from all directions this number subsequently rose to about twenty-five thousand men. Divided into small parties, these bands entrenched themselves in different localities. The work of this mob of brigands, who occupied themselves with burning down Mo- hamedan villages and committing indescribable cruelties against the Turkish population, was nothing but the work of bloodthirsty brigands.

Kemal Pasha 34 As soon as we had landed in Anatolia we warned the Turkish population to be attentive and watchful, and confined ourselves to taking precautionary steps against the threatened dangers. The III rd Army Corps, with its headquarters at Sivas, devoted itself exclusively to the persecution and annihilation of these bands, whose activity had been observed in different districts.

The Eftalidi band and that of “Kioroglu,” who were ranging about in the district of Trebizond, as well as some others, were fol lowed and suppressed one after another by the XV th Army Corps, which was in garrison at Erzerum. In addition to this, the population was armed and national forces formed in the districts infested by these bands.

Besides the internal upheavals which, as you are aware, took place at Yosgad and north of Sivas, other incidents of a similar kind occurred in different districts at the end of the year 1920. Adventurers like Kutshuk Aga, Deli Hadji, and Ainaji Ogulari fostered unrest at Sileh in the centre of Anatolia; KaraNasim and TshopurYussuf did the same in the neighbourhood of Erbea, whilst Deli Hassan and Kudshuk Hassan and the bands that had been formed by the Circassians at Yosgad and Tshai Osu operated elsewhere. In the beginning of the year 1921 Haidar Bey, one of the leaders of the tribe of the Kotshiri at Diarbekr, had also risen in revolt at the instigation of Seid Abdul Kadir and with the secret co-operation of Alishan, Naki, Alisher and other kinsmen of the latter. At the same time our troops were engaged in the suppression of these upheavals and the movements of the Greek bands.

You will remember that after the first Greek offensive, Nureddin Pasha had expressed himself in inappropriate and senseless terms, which fact prevented us from appointing him to a command. He had also told us in a letter that he could no longer work with us and had gone to Tash Kupri on leave.

Five months later some persons for instance, His Excellency Fewsi Pasha apparently influenced by him, had appealed to us in his favour and had offered to guarantee on his behalf that he would per form his duty in a spirit of devotion and sincerity if we would entrust him with any appointment. Considering that it would be well on our part to amalgamate the troops which were destined to restore quiet and order in the interior of Anatolia under the order of an officer of superior rank, we resolved on the 9 th December, 1920, to disband the III rcl Army Corps at Sivas and to transfer its duties to a newly-formed “Central Army” and to give the command of it to Nureddin Pasha. Nureddin Pasha was in command of the central districts for about a year.

However, we soon received complaints from deputies pointing out that Nureddin Pasha had abused his authority and interfered with the rights of the population. At the instigation of the Ministry of the Interior, who had found that the complaints of the population were justified, Nureddin Pasha was recalled from his command at the be ginning of November, 1921, by demand of the Assembly.

The Assembly resolved to bring Nureddin Pasha before a Court of Law, and this led to a disagreement between myself and the Council of Ministers. I did not approve of the Pasha being treated in this manner. His Excellency Fewsi Pasha shared my opinion. The dis agreement thus brought about between the Council of Ministers and ourselves was laid before the Assembly. I took Nureddin Pasha s part and saved him from being exposed to this humiliating treatment.

We shall see Nureddin Pasha eight months later at the head of the I st Army.

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