Ashot A. Melkonyan

In the last decades of the 19th century the majority of the Armenian national-political organizations considered the liberation of Western Armenians as their priority within the framework of the Article 61 of the Berlin Congress of 1878. The Hnchakyan party, established in Geneva in 1887, in parallel with the liberation of Western Armenia from the Ottoman yoke, in their program adopted in1888 set a goal of achieving the freedom of the Armenians living under the rule of Russia and Persia, by creating a single liberal-democratic (Ramkapet) republic.

The analyses of the numerous program documents of the Hnchakyans, and especially the articles published in the “Hnchak” newspaper, as well as the study of the practical steps of the party, testify that the leaders of the party had a thorough understanding of the difficulties regarding the liberation of Western Armenia and achieving the distant goal of creating a socialist society. They perceived the idea of Armenia’s autonomy in the context of state independence.

The evasive behavior of the “Young Turks” in issues vital to the peoples of the empire forced many to refuse close cooperation with them. Moreover, while the bloody regime of Sultan Hamid II was in power, according to many Hnchaks, the idea of an independent Armenia should not have been removed from the agenda.

Although the distrust towards the Young Turks was great, the Hnchak party, after 1908 actually bypassed the program provision about creating of a unified Armenian state in the distant future and continued to adhere to the position of preserving the unity of the Ottoman Empire. However, starting from 1912 on the days of the Balkan war, the relations between the Hnchaks and the Young Turks were interrupted.

On June 15, 1915, during the First World War, 20 famous figures from the Hnchakyans party were hanged in Constantinople by the Turkish authorities on charges of intentions to create independent, autonomous Armenia and to alienate part of the imperial lands.

The Hnchak party warmly welcomed the proclamation of the Republic of Armenia at the end of May in 1918. As it is known, the attitude of the Hnchaks towards Soviet Armenia was never hostile. Regardless of the political system, they continued to perceive the Armenian SSR as their homeland, and its status in the Soviet Union as a national-autonomous state entity.