Turkey in Europe


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Turkey in Europe is Number 16 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. By 1914, when the war began, the Ottoman Empire had lost most of its once-extensive territories in the Balkan Peninsula, and its rule extended only to present-day European Turkey and the region of Thrace (in present-day Greece). The book provides an overview of the physical and political geography of these regions, a brief political history of the empire from its founding in 1300 to the early 20th century, and an extended chapter on economic conditions. The section “Young Turk War Aims” quotes extensively from a memorandum circulated to the Turkish provinces the day after the Ottoman Empire declared war on the British Empire, Russia, and France, emphasizing the centrality of Pan-Islamist and Pan-Turanian motives. It concludes that “the Young Turk ideal of repeating under modern conditions the Turanian conquests of Jenghiz Khan and Tamerlane” had failed. Turanian refers to a movement aimed at uniting all of the Turanian peoples, which were said to include the Turkic and some other related peoples.

Last updated: September 5, 2014