Erik-Jan Zürcher talks to Ozan Ozavci about the treaties of Sèvres, Lausanne and their legacy in different official histories of Turkey.

Erik is Professor Emeritus in Turkish Studies at Leiden University.

In the 1980s Erik-Jan Zürcher was one of the first historians of Turkey to challenge Kemalist official historiography. His many publications include The Unionist Factor (1984) and Turkey: A Modern History (1993), the finest one-volume survey of its topic. In this conversation, recorded on 3 February 2022, Erik-Jan speaks about the dynamic developments in international history between 1920 and 1923 in the Middle East. Was the Treaty of Sèvres stillborn? How can we locate Lausanne in the history of Turkey and the Middle East in the early 1920s?

Zürcher maintains that Lausanne was neither a diplomatic victory nor a defeat but a “realistic solution.” He also raises the “unspoken truths” about the Greco-Muslim population exchange, and assesses what Sèvres and Lausanne mean in Turkish politics today. When Ozavci asked Zürcher for an image that represented his work, he shared this picture of the Pembe Konak (The Pink Mansion), once the headquarters of the Committee of Union and Progress. More on that to follow, next Friday, in the second part of the podcast.

Episode 12 – Part I: ‘A Realistic Solution’

FEATURE IMAGE: The Pink Mansion in Istanbul, Source:

Podcasts are published by TLP for the purpose of encouraging informed debate on the legacies of the events surrounding the Lausanne Conference. The views expressed by participants do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of TLP, its partners, convenors or members.

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