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The homeland of the disappeared people, the state that lived for 10 months, Atatürk’s “personal case”… |

Yadigar Sadigli

On July 7, 1939 Turkey The Grand National Assembly (TBMM) adopted Law No. 3711 on the annexation of the Hatay territory to Turkey and the establishment of the Hatay province with Antakya as its center within the Republic. Thus, the two-decade-long “Hatay problem” ended in Turkey’s victory.


The Entente countries had already agreed to divide the territories of the Ottoman state with the secret Sykes-Picot agreement signed in 1916. According to that document, the territories of present-day Iraq and Jordan were considered the interests of Britain, the territories of present-day Syria and Lebanon, as well as some territories in the south of Turkey, were considered to be of interest to France. Russia also agreed to the Sykes-Picot Agreement in exchange for the Black Sea straits and territories in the east of Turkey.

The area that would later be called Hatay consisted of the territory of two districts of the Aleppo province of the Ottoman state – Antakya and Iskenderu districts. The French who occupied this place created a territorial unit called Iskander’s sanjag. Although Turks were not the majority in the region, they were the most numerous ethnic group. The San Remo conference held in April 1920 also covered all of Syria, as well as Iskenderun France confirmed his mandate. In 1920, the French added Iskender’s pin to the state of Aleppo.

October 1921 20with the Ankara government France Ankara agreement was signed between The main importance Mustafa Kamal In the agreement with the French recognition of the government led by the pasha, the issue of Iskender was also touched upon. In Article 7, “A special administration method will be established for Iskenderun region. The Turkic population of this region will benefit from all kinds of organizations for the development of their culture. The Turkish language will be the official language there. So, Turkey on the pin in exchange for autonomy France accepted the mandate.

Despite the efforts of the Turkish representatives at the Lausanne conference after the victory of the War of Independence, Iskenderun Turkey it was not possible to join the state. According to the agreement signed on July 24, 1923, the flag remained outside the borders of Turkey.

The area known as “Greater Syria” was divided into six parts during the first period under the French mandate: the State of Damascus, the State of Aleppo, the State of the Alawites, the State of the Druzes, the State of Lebanon, and the Sanj of Iskender, an autonomous part of Aleppo. In 1922, the French united the states of Damascus, Aleppo and the Alawites in a body called the Federation of Syrian Autonomous States. At the end of 1924, the federation was dissolved, the Alawite state was separated again, and on January 1, 1925, the states of Damascus and Aleppo were united to form the Syrian state, and Iskenderun was included as an autonomous region.

Although Ankara did not give up the banner of Iskender, the next 10 During the year, this issue was somewhat put into the background. Atatürk’s government was more concerned with strengthening the international positions of the country. Turkey became a member of the League of Nations in 1932. The coming to power of the Nazis in Germany in 1933 increased the importance of Turkey for both England and France, as well as Bolshevik Russia, and Ankara tried to take advantage of this for its own interests.

In the summer of 1936, Atatürk’s government achieved one of its main goals. July 20According to the Montreux Convention, Turkey’s sovereignty over the Bosphorus and Dardanelles was restored. A short time later, an event happened that made the issue of Iskenderun relevant again for Ankara.

The French-Syrian agreement signed on September 9 envisaged the end of the French mandate over the country, and the transformation of Syria into an independent state after 5 years, in which the Alawite and Druze states were united. The treaty did not mention Iskenderun, which meant that the sanjak would remain part of Syria.

The Turkish government did not agree with this, negotiated with France in the League of Nations, and when no result was reached, it sent a note to France on October 9, demanding that Iskenderun be given independence from Syria. Speaking at the opening session of the Grand National Assembly on November 1, Atatürk said, “Meanwhile, the main big issue that preoccupies our nation day and night is the fate of Iskenderun – Antioch and its surroundings, whose real owner is a Turk. We have to be serious and firm on this,” he said.

One day after this speech, Atatürk used the name “Hatay” for the region. This name is said to be derived from the Hittites, the ancient inhabitants of the region. France on this eve ambassador Atatürk, who met with, already using the name “Hatay”, says: “Hatay is my personal continuation. You should know that it will not be a joke.”

I should note that according to the French assessment in 1936, 220,000 people lived in the province. Turks 85,800 (39), Arabic-speaking Alevis 61,600 (28), Armenians 24 200 (11%), Sunni Arabs 22,000 (10%), Melkites, Greeks and other Christians were 17,600 (8%), and Kurds, Circassians and Jews were 8,800 (4%).

Unable to get a result from the negotiations with France, Turkey turned to the League of Nations to solve the problem, and the organization sent a 3-person mission to Hata in early 1937. When the representatives were in the region, on January 11, many thousands of Turks in Iskenderun rally they spent

Based on the report of the mission, the League of Nations accepted that the Sanjak is “different but not separate” from Syria. Damascus could not change the status of Hatay and send troops to the territory, the official language would be Turkish, and the currency was separate. France and Turkey were the guarantors of the status of the flag. League of Nations also Belgium, Great Britain, commissioned the representatives of the Netherlands and Turkey to prepare the Hatay constitution. This constitution was adopted in May.

The decision of the League of Nations did not go well with Syria. In Damascus protest actions were held. Arabs living in Hatay protest they did. Therefore, the implementation of the status accepted by the League of Nations was considerably delayed. To be held in May parliament elections are not held. In June, the Syrian parliament announced that it did not accept the status of Sanjak. Such uncertainty continued for another year.

In 1938 Europe Atatürk’s heavy to the press sick not at all unfounded reports about his presence began to leak. Concerned that this would affect the Hatay issue, the Turkish president traveled to Adana and Mersin in May to show that the reports were false. military inspected the units. It is observed that Atatürk behaved more persistently and harshly during that period. 30 thousand even to the border of Hatay military by injecting force, he shows that he is ready to fight.

Historian Hikmet Bayur evaluates this visit as follows: “Atatürk is a martyr of Hatay. Because at the time when the problem was at its worst, when the doctors advised him to take rest and almost no movement due to his illness, in May 1938, he watched the pictures of military parades in Mersin and Adana while standing and went on all kinds of wanderings. This attitude shortened his life by one or two years.”.

In Europe, the tension was increasing. In March 1938, Germany annexed Austria, and in May made a territorial claim against Czechoslovakia, creating the First Sudeten Crisis. Political The situation forced Paris to compromise on the Hatay issue. The first manifestation of this was the appointment of Turkish politician Abdürrahman Melek as governor of Hatay in June. According to the Turkish-French agreement signed on July 3, the next day, both countries will send 2,500 people to the region. military injected force.

In the elections held in August, the 40-member Hatay parliament was elected, of which 22 were Turks. Collected on September 2 parliament Tayfur Sökmen announced the creation of the Hatay state the presidentAbdurrahman Malak Prime Ministerwhile Abdulqani Turkmen parliament became the chairman. National anthem of Turkey anthem was accepted as The flag, very similar to the Turkish flag, with a white crescent on a red background and a red star with white stripes, became the national flag. The capital of the state was Antioch.

Two months after these events Mustafa Kamal Atatürk died without seeing the final result of his struggle for Hatay.

In the spring of 1939 Europe was already on the verge of a new world war. Hitler occupied the Czech Republic and Mussolini occupied Albania. At such a time, after several days of negotiations, according to the agreement signed between France and Turkey on June 23, Paris recognized the right of Hatay to join the state it wants. London’s pressure also played a significant role in this matter.

On June 29, the Hatay Assembly convened, put an end to the Hatay state and appealed to Ankara to join the region to Turkey. The Turkish parliament gave a positive response to this request on July 7. Şukrü Sökmensüer was appointed the first governor of Hatay. On July 23, the French military left the region. Thus, the last invading units left the current territory of the Republic of Turkey…

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