Falsifications in the Letter About the First Treaty of Erzurum and the Resultant Problems in Implementing the TreatyEralp Yaşar Azap
The Ottoman-Persian War of 1820-1823, ended in 1823 with both parties signing the Treaty of Erzurum, known commonly in the literature as the First Treaty of Erzurum. The First Treaty of Erzurum resolved the problems between the two states and was in essence based on the terms in the Treaty of Kerden that the two states had signed and agreed upon a century prior in 1746. However, certain disagreements that emerged in the process of composing the terms of the treaty posed a serious obstacle to properly establishing the terms for peace. Both states had a different version of the treaty based on their idea of how it had been composed, and these different versions continue to warrant further discussion. Certain clauses from the Treaty of Erzurum led to even greater problems, and due to the audacity that had been derived from these different versions, the states turned these into problems in the future, problems that occupied the agenda of the Ottomans and Iranians to a great extent. Some of these problems even carried over to 20th century.
I. Erzurum Antlaşması Metninde Yapılan Tahrifat ve Antlaşmanın Uygulanmasında Yarattığı SorunlarEralp Yaşar Azap
1820-1823 Osmanlı-İran Savaşı, 1823 yılında imzalanan Erzurum Antlaşması ile yahut literatürdeki yaygın adıyla I. Erzurum Antlaşması’nın imzalanması neticesinde nihayete erdi. I. Erzurum Antlaşması, mahiyeti itibarıyla devletler arasındaki sorunları, iki ülkenin bir önceki yüzyılda mutabık kaldığı ve 1746 yılında imzalanan Kerden Antlaşması’nın metnine göre çözme temelinde tesis edilmişti. Ancak metnin tesis sürecinde başlayan birtakım anlaşmazlıklar, sulh metninin doğru bir şekilde oluşturulmasına ciddi oranda engel teşkil etti. Tesis edildiği düşünülen antlaşma metninin her iki devlet elinde bulunan ve aralarında farklılıklar olan nüshaları ise, bugün halen tartışılması gereken bir konudur. Devletlerin elindeki bu farklı nüshalardan alınan cesaretle daha büyük sorunlara yol açan bir kısım antlaşma hükümleri de ilerleyen dönemlerde Osmanlı ve İran devletlerini hayli meşgul ederek soruna dönüşmüş ve bu sorunlardan bazıları, XX. yüzyıla dahi taşınmıştır.
The Ottoman-Persian War between 1820-1823 was the last war between the Ottoman and Persian States who had been struggling with one another in the East for centuries and concluded with the signing of the treaty known in the literature as the First Treaty of Erzurum. This Treaty was established based upon the Treaty of Kerden, which both states had signed in 1746. Negotiations over the treaty were conducted in Erzurum, and fierce disputes occurred over the articles of the treaty to be signed. As a consequence of these fierce disputes over the text of the treaty, copies of the letter that had been confirmed by the representatives both states had assigned were sent on July 28, 1823 to both Fath Ali Shah of Persia and the Ottoman Emperor Mahmud II for their confirmation. This study has been prepared with the aim of addressing the falsifications in the letters of agreement that had been sent to the rulers of both states in 1823 and that weren’t even brought up during the treaty negotiations, the consequences of these falsifications, and some of the problems that resulted from them in the Ottoman-Persian relationships that would follow.
Before carrying on with this study, some data were found in the Persian sources regarding these issues. However, these data were not compiled or interpreted by means of comparing and analyzing the Turkish and Persian sources side by side. Research regarding this subject has comprehensively addressed both Ottoman archival documents and major Persian and Turkish resources of the era in attempts to clarify the issue in detail. In this respect, the Ottoman and Iranian states are seen to have attempted to resolve the situation through the envoys they sent one another after signing the Treaty of Erzurum. The Ottoman envoy Necip Efendi was the one who brought the letter of agreement to Persia in the name of the Ottoman Empire and faced an unexpected situation there. The Iranian diplomatic delegation declared that Persia was displeased with the Treaty and had made revisions upon the letter. They infused their revised text into the one to be sent to the Ottoman Empire for acceptance. Afterwards, the Iranian envoy Qasim Khan brought the Persian version of the letter on the First Treaty of Erzurum to Istanbul in the name of Persia and presented a text contradictory to the one that had been agreed upon earlier. The envoy demanded Sultan Mahmud II approve this letter. The Foreign Ministry of the Ottoman Empire recognized that the letter regarding the First Treaty of Erzurum was not the same as the one that had been agreed upon earlier. Thereupon they declared the letter the Persian envoy Qasim Khan had brought to be unacceptable. Once Qasim Khan realized that this circumstance would create a diplomatic crisis, he requested to meet the Chief of the Scribes, the Ottoman Foreign Minister of the time. Representatives from both lands discussed this issue over protracted negotiations. The Ottoman side stated finding this behavior from Persia to be diplomatically improper and inadmissible with regard to international law and therefore they would never present that version of the letter to the Sultan unless the previously agree upon letter was brought to them. Despite the Iranian envoy Qasim Khan seeking to defend his state against these claims from the Ottoman representatives, the issue was resolved in favor of the Ottoman Empire after protracted discussions. The Ottoman Empire detained the Iranian envoy Qasim Khan in Istanbul and provided the emended letter that Persia was to have brought to Istanbul. However, the problem of which letter of agreement that emerged at the end of this process was the emended one could never be settled. The Turkish and Persian letters involving the articles of the First Treaty of Erzurum that exist in the archives, main sources, and other publications of both parties differ from one another. This indetermination that our study places along its main axis as well as the tensions that occurred between the two powers following the agreement, which we assess to have been caused by this circumstance, went on for many years. Issues such as political interventions in the Baghdad region that was under Ottoman possession, efforts at sustaining the problem regarding tribes located along the borderline and ownership of the castles located on the Eastern border that were used with military aims were the first of these problems. Iran had pressured the Ottoman Empire politically over these issues for many years, despite having no rights in terms of the agreement. Although the war had come to an end and the treaty had been signed at its conclusion, Iran continued its interventions into the Baghdad region where, according to the treaty, it had no right to be politically involved. On the other hand, the attempt was made in this regard to exploit the issue of the tribes that had caused the Ottoman-Persian War between 1820-1823. Troubles between the Ottoman Empire and Persia that resulted from the falsifications in the letters of agreement were not just limited to these mentioned issues. The matter of the ownership of Kotur Castle located on the border between Ottoman and Persian lands continued to create a problem, as did the other castles on the border. Even though this matter was brought up at the initiation of Galip Pasha, the Governor of Erzurum of the time, Iran continued to act contrary to the letter of the treaty in these negotiations. The points upon which compromises had been made during the negotiations were not fulfilled by Persia. As a result, political problems arose again between the parties. Although the Russia-Persian war that started in 1826 had cooled the temperature of this issue on the agenda, it maintained itself enough to again create a problem between both states after the Ottoman-Russian war that broke out later on. With regard to the Kotur Issue that had come down from the First Treaty of Erzurum and remained unresolvable through the Second Treaty of Erzurum signed in 1847 between the Ottoman Empire and Persia, no final solution was able to be found in the later years of the century as well. Great Britain saw the heavy results the Ottoman Empire bore from the Treaty of Berlin that was signed in 1878 as a kind of opportunity and added the article to this treaty that the Kotur area was to be included in Persian territory, even though England had not been a party to the war; this made the problem worse. This issue regarding the Kotur area, which the Ottoman Empire seized again after this process, could not be resolved even through the Istanbul Protocol that the Ottoman Empire and Persia signed in 1913, which attempted to identify the borders of both states. This issue even continued into the days of the Republic. The Kotur issue that had come to the fore after the First Treaty of Erzurum and didn’t get resolved until after the boundary treaty the Republic of Türkiye signed with Persia in 1932, which redrew Türkiye’s Eastern borders, was the product of several centuries.
This study has attempted to explain how the problems that arouse during the process of the First Treaty of Erzurum had affected the agreement and its application and drawn out the matter. All the mentioned details did not get finalized through the First Treaty of Erzurum due to the text of the First Treaty of Erzurum being composed of falsified articles and the serious problems the occurred during its application in this respect. Ultimately, today no agreement is found regarding which emended version of the letter regarding the First Treaty of Erzurum is the actual one. In addition, Persia was a party to this treaty and aware of the fact that differences existed between the two copies that were signed at the time. Persia considered this issue a lot and attempted to take advantage of it for a long time in accordance with its political aims and to provide for its self-interests.