The Congress met at Erzerum on the 23 rd July, 1919
As all the world knows, the Congress met at Erzerum on the 23 rd July, 1919, in a humble schoolroom. On the first day I was elected Chairman.
In my opening speech I informed the assembly as to the real state of affairs and, in a certain measure, the aim we had in view. I emphasis ed the fact that it was surely impossible to imagine that there was one patriot in the country who was not already perfectly well aware of the dark and tragic dangers that surrounded us, and who was not deeply stirred by them.
I spoke of the attacks that had been made against me and of the occupation of the country which had been carried out in total dis regard of the stipulations of the armistice.
I told them that history will never fail to recognise the existence and the rights of a nation, and that the judgment pronounced against our country and the nation would surely not be ignored. I solemnly laid stress on the certainly that the power that will have the last word to say on the subject of the preservation of the sacred rights of our country, and ensure that their resolution and determination shall be respected and honoured, reposes in the undaunted spirit that inspires the national movement and which, like an electric flash, penetrates even to the remotest parts of our country.
To raise the spirits of the assembly, I then proceeded to survey the facts regarding the activity exhibited by all downtrodden nations to maintain their national rights at the present time. I expressed clearly that the will of the Turkish Nation to be master of her own destiny could only spring from Anatolia, and, as a first step, I suggested the creation of the National Areopagus founded on the will of the people, and the formation of a Government that derives its strength from this same will. 5S
The Congress at Erzerum lasted a fortnight. Its labours were confined to the drawing up of regulations and deciding upon the wording of a manifesto in which they were to be published.
Apart from certain views and questions of minor importance, so far as their form and matter is concerned, if we examine the contents of these documents within the limitations of time and environment, we can deduce from them a certain number of governing principles and resolutions which are of the greatest value to us.
With your permission, I shall give you some idea of my opinions at this time about these principles and decisions.