Greek-Turkish Exchange of Population

Term Paper, 2010

11 Pages, Grade: A



A. The historical framework

B. The exchange
B.1. Who were exchanged
B.2. The consequences in Greek State
B.3. The consequences in Turkish Republic

C. Realistic solution or violation of human Rights?

D. Conclusion


A. The historical framework

The Treaty of Moundros, which was signed on 30th of October in 1918, formed the starting point of the end of the First World War. The defeated Central Powers, which were consisted by Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria had to accept the stipulations laid down by Entete Powers consisted by France, United Kingdom, Russia, Italy, United States and Greece, which entered the war in 1916 under the leading of Entete-friend Eleftherios Venizelos.

One of the treaties signed after the war was the Treaty of Sevres on 10 th of August in1920, which was indisputably concerned as a victory of Greek diplomacy and Venizelos’ policies. According to Sevres Treaty East Thrace (until the borders of Constantinople) and the islands Imbros (Gokfeada) and Tenedos (Bozcaada) were ceded to Greece while at the area of Smyrna Greece had the ability of administration and the people after five years could decide- via referendum- their union with Greece or not.

The nationalistic concept of Great Idea (Msyak^ Idea) [1] , which was broadly and enthusiastically adopted by the whole Greek society after this Treaty could materialized. Greece of “five continents and five Seas” could come in to reality. On the other hand Ottoman Empire after the Great War was being collapsed and Turkish national movement was being established under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk. The Treaty of Sevres, which was signed by the Ottoman Parliament, was never ratified by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and Kemal that also refused to recognize the Ottoman government. Under the support of Entete Powers Greek army came in to Smyrna on 2nd of May in 1919 in the name of the greek dream of Great Idea.

Moreover the Turkish Revolutionaries annulled the Treaty of Sevres and drew up against the Greek army in the course of the War of Independence. The result -for Greece- was the Asia Minor Catastrophe and the trigger point for quitting the Great Idea. The result -for newly established Turkey- was the liberation of Smyrna and the trigger point for excluding of the old Ottoman state-structure and the establishment of Turkish Republic with one state, one religion, one language(bir ulke, bir din, bir dil) .

In conclusion the Treaty of Lausanne (July 24, 1923) was a peace Treaty that annulled the Treaty of Sevres, put an end into the Greek-Turkish war of 1919-1922 and established the borders of Turkey. According to this Treaty East Thrace and the islands Imbros and Tenedos were ceded to Turkey and the area of Smyrna as well. In addition was signed the compulsory Greek-Turkish exchange population in order to solve both countries the problem of minorities and also to secure the stability of the area.

B. The exchange

B.1. Who were exchanged

In 1923 the discussion for the exchange between Greece and Turkey was not new. The mutual exchange had been firstly introduced in 1914 after the Balkan Wars and in Paris Conference in 1919. Besides that the same policy had been implemented with Bulgaria for both countries except that in that case the exchange of population was voluntary or at least “forced” voluntary because of the ill-treatment on minorities by all sides. The case of Greek-Turkish exchange was unique because it was the first time that the international community accepted and enforced the compulsory exchange of population even though it had already unofficially begun.

The Treaty of Lausanne stipulated for the establishing of Turkish Republic and its borders with Greece as well. Actually it made an effort to fulfill the idea of “pure national state” for both countries. Fridtjof Nansen, the Norwegian mediator of the League of Nations, supported the idea:” [...] to unmix the populations of the Near East will [...] secure the pacification of the Near East.”[2] Lord Curzon, the British mediator was also convinced that was the best solution. So, Greece and Turkey signed the Treaty of Lausanne under the support of League of Nations, which enforced the compulsory transfer of Greek-Orthodox, who lived in Turkish territories with Muslims that lived in Greek territories. As a direct result of the Treaty 360.000 Muslims of Greece abandoned their properties to move in Turkey and 900.000 Orthodox of Turkey to move in Greece. In total from 1918 until 1923 1.220.000 Orthodox moved in to Greece and more than 500.000 Muslims were transferred in Turkey with no right to return and to keep both nationalities as well. From the exchange were excluded the Greek-Orthodox, who lived in the prefecture of Constantinople before the 30th of October of 1918 and these who lived in Imbros and Tenedos. On the other hand the Muslims of West Thrace were excluded as well.

The only criterion of the exchange was the religion “rather than the language or national consciousness”[3]. Both countries wanted to establish a homogeneous state in which national security was dominant and would be realized via effacement of minorities, which ere considered as the domestic “enemy”. Additionally the exchange was considered as the only realistic way of solving the antagonism between Greece and Turkey.

B.2. The consequences in Greek State

The end of the War in Anatolia brought in Greece not only a disastrous defeat with a material loss but also the painful feeling caused by the “loss” of the greatest dream after the independence. After the Asia Minor Catastrophe Greece had to redefine every field of its existence. Especially when its population -after the exchange- increased dramatically. In a country of 4.5 million people, which many years of continuous wars had weakened it, more than 1.2 million people were added. The sequel of that mass inflow of people was enormous and diachronic in Greek State.


[1] Smith Llewellyn, M.,(1998), Ionian Vision: Greece in Asia Minor 1919-1922, C Hurst and Co Publishing Ltd, pp.4,”The Great Idea in the mid-nineteenth century came to contain at least three different strandsf ..]it was a romantic dream of a revival of the Byzantine-Greek Empiref ..]it was the aspiration for Greek cultural and economic dominance!. ..]could be interpreted in terms of the modem nation state[...].

[2] Clark, B., (2007), Twice a stranger, Granta books, pp 93.

[3] Clogg, R.,(2002), Concise History of Greece, Cambridge University Press, pp.99

Excerpt out of 11 pages


Greek-Turkish Exchange of Population
University of Flensburg
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
432 KB
Greek-Turkish, Exchange, Population
Quote paper
Stavroula Chrisdoulaki (Author), 2010, Greek-Turkish Exchange of Population, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Greek-Turkish Exchange of Population

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free