Hatay State

Hatay Devleti
Hatay State

1938 – 1939

Enlarge picture
Flag of Hatay

Flag

Anthem
İstiklâl Marşı
CapitalAntakya
Language(s)Turkish
GovernmentNot specified }}
Head of StateTayfur Sökmen
Prime ministerAbdurrahman Melek
Historical eraInterwar period
 - IndependenceSeptember 7, 1938
 - Union with TurkeyJune 29, 1939
Area
 - 19384,700 km² (0 sq mi)
Population
 - 1938 est.234,379 
     Density0 /km  (0 /sq mi)
CurrencySyrian pound, Turkish lira


Hatay State (Turkish: Hatay Devleti, Arabic: لواء الإسكندرونة), also known informally as the Republic of Hatay was a transitional political entity that formally existed from September 7, 1938 to June 29, 1939 in the territory of the Sanjak of Alexandretta of the French Mandate of Syria. The state was annexed by the Republic of Turkey on June 29, 1939 and transformed into the Hatay Province (excluding districts of Erzin, Dörtyol, Hassa) of Turkey.

Background

Formerly part of the Halab province of the Ottoman Empire, the Sanjak of Alexandretta was occupied by France at the end of World War I and constituted part of the French Mandate of Syria. Turkey under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk refused to accept the Sanjak of Alexandretta to be part of the Mandate and, in a speech on 15 March, 1923 in Adana, claimed that it was "a Turkish homeland for four centuries" that "can’t be a captive at the hands of enemy"[1]. Turkish politics aimed incorporating the Sanjak of Alexandretta when the French mandate of Syria would expire in 1935. Local Turks initiated reforms in the style of Atatürk's, formed various organisations and institutions in order to promote the idea of union with Turkey.

In 1936 Atatürk coined the name Hatay for the Sanjak of Alexandretta, and raised the issue of Hatay (Turkish: Hatay meselesi) at the League of Nations. On behalf of the League of Nations, representatives of France, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey prepared a constitution for Hatay, which established it as an autonomous sanjak within Syria. Despite some inter-ethnic violence, in the midst of 1938 an election to the local legislative assembly was conducted and it was convoked.

1938 elections

According to the official parliamentary elections on July 22, 1938, there were 57,008 voters in the Sanjak, belonging to the following ethnic groups: The parliament was not divided among party lines but along those of ethnicity. The 40 seats of the parliament were distributed as follows:
  • Antakya: 14 Turks, 7 Alawis, 2 Armenians, 2 Arabs, 1 Orthodox Christian
  • İskenderun: 3 Turks, 2 Alawis, 1 Armenian, 1 Orthodox Christian
  • Kırıkhan: 5 Turks, 2 Armenians
  • Total: 22 Turks, 9 Alawis, 5 Armenians, 2 Arabs, 2 Orthodox Christians

Allegations of electoral fraud

From the July 3, 1939 issue of Time:
“Hatay is a melting pot of Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Alaouites, Greeks, Circassians and Turks. Of these, the Turks are most numerous, constituting 40% of the population. Taking a leaf from Führer Hitler's book and even improving on his methods, the Turks first asked for (and got) minority rights for their nationals in Hatay, next autonomy for the region, next ‘independence,’ with Turkish and French troops jointly ‘keeping order.’ At one time the late President Kemal Atatürk backed up his demands by massing troops along the Syrian border. At another time a League of Nations plebiscite was to be held in the district, but when most of the non-Turks banded together and it became obvious that the Turks could not win, the obliging French invited the League Commission to leave.”[2]


Robert Fisk alleged in a 2001 article for The Independent that “The Turks trucked tens of thousands of people into the sanjak for the referendum and, of course, the ‘people’ voted to be part of Turkey”.[3]

Proclamation of independence

On September 6, 1938 the constitution was adopted. It resembled strongly the constitution created by the League of Nations for the Sanjak of Alexandretta. The constitution defined the territory as an independent state called "Hatay Devleti" (Hatay State), divivded into four districts (Antakya, İskenderun, Ordu (Yayladağı), Kırıkhan and Reyhaniye). Turkish was declared the state language, while French retained a status as a secondary language. Schools teaching Arab should continue to do so.

On September 7, 1938, the Hatay adopted a flag sketched by Kemal Atatürk. On February 6, 1939 the Hatay legislative adopted all Turkish laws, and on March 13, 1939 made the Turkish lira the official currency.

Turkish annexation

On June 29, 1939, the Hatay State was annexed by the Republic of Turkey after the Hatay parliament voted in favour of such a move. The territory was transformed into Turkish province called Hatay Province.

Syria never recognized the Turkish annexation of Hatay. The issue was a source for problems in Syrian-Turkish relations for many years. However, the Hatay question has decreased in prominence after 2000, under Syrian president Bashar Assad.

References

1. ^ History of Hatay (In Turkish)
2. ^ Semitic Friends. Time Inc. (1939-07-03). Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
3. ^ Fisk, Robert (2001-06-02). Why exiled Armenians blame the French for their dreadful secret. The Independent. Retrieved on 2006-12-03.

Sources

  • Sökmen, Tayfur: Hatay'ın Kurtuluşu İçin Harcanan Çabalar, Ankara 1992, ISBN 975-16-0499-0
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Antakya (Arabic: انطاكية, Greek: Ἀντιόχεια Antiókheia or
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Turkish (Türkçe, ]
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government is a body that has the power to make and the authority to enforce rules and laws within a civil, corporate, religious, academic, or other organization or group.[1]
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Events

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Motto
Yurtta Sulh, Cihanda Sulh
Peace at Home, Peace in the World
Anthem
İstiklâl Marşı
The Anthem of Independence
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