Event Report: Successful Discussion on the 100th Anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne

On October 27, 2023, the Paulus Academy in Zurich hosted a significant event organized by the European Syriac Union Switzerland & Germany to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the historic Treaty of Lausanne. The event attracted around 50 enthusiastic participants and many others followed the live session on the social media platform and proved to be a resounding success, offering a valuable platform for knowledge exchange and reflection. The event spanned an impressive 4-hour duration and featured highly qualified speakers.

The event commenced with an impactful speech by Pastor Kerim Asmar from the Mor Abrohom Church. In his address, he highlighted Turkey's historical disregard for the churches and religious institutions of the Syriac people.

Fehmi Vergili, President of the European Syriac Union, delivered the event's opening lecture, emphasizing the significance of such gatherings and highlighting the importance of the Lausanne Treaty for the Syriac people.

Subsequently, Prof. Dr. Cengiz Aktar, affiliated with the University of Athens, addressed the audience. He stressed that the Treaty of Lausanne was never fully implemented, resulting in the Syriac people not obtaining the minority rights to the extent originally intended. Aktar also pointed out that the West had turned a blind eye to the deficiencies in implementing this treaty.

Johannes de Jong, representing Sallux, established a contemporary connection to the situation of the Syriac people. He emphasized that the European Union does not pursue a specific policy for the Nineveh Plains in Iraq, in contrast to its policy for Israel/Palestine.

Prof. Hannibal Travis from Florida International University delivered a poignant presentation. He underscored the disturbing fact that the Syriac people have experienced various genocides and displacements uninterruptedly over the past 130 years. This highlighted the continuous challenges and tragedies faced by the Syriac people over the decades, despite the original intent of the Lausanne Treaty to protect minorities.

Dr. David Jacob pointed out that the Syriac people have a legally claim to minority rights in Turkey, which is had been also anchored in the Treaty of Sèvres as well as in the later Treaty of Lausanne. This underscores the necessity to promote adherence to international agreements and the recognition of minority rights. However, Turkey does not acknowledge the Syriac people as a minority, even though they legally should undoubtedly be classified as such.

Additionally, the event featured Özlem Yasar and Samuel Schwarz from the Mesela Association, who curated an exhibition on the Treaty of Lausanne. While they highlighted the historical significance of the treaty, criticism was raised during the exhibition, stating that the Syriac people did not receive sufficient attention in their exhibition.

Participants actively engaged in discussions and posed questions, providing comprehensive insights into the historical event and its contemporary implications. The diverse range of participants, including community members, academics, historians, and political representatives, reflected the topic's relevance, demonstrating the extensive interest and significance of the Treaty of Lausanne for the Syriac people.
Discussions revolved around the historical significance of the treaty and its impact on the community, as well as the challenges faced by the Syriac people in today's world. The successful event emphasized the enduring relevance of the Treaty of Lausanne and deepened understanding of historical events and their contemporary consequences.
During the event's closing, the moderator, Mesut be Malke, expressed gratitude to the Paulus Academy in Zurich for providing the venue and for the pleasant collaboration.
We are grateful for the participation and commitment of all involved and eagerly anticipate future events that will expand our knowledge and honor the legacy of the Treaty of Lausanne.

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