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The economic impact of the 1923 Greco-Turkish population exchange upon Turkey

Alpan, Aytek Soner
The Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations signed on January 30, 1923 at Lausanne resulted in the first compulsory population exchange under the auspices of an international organization, namely the League of Nations. The Greco-Turkish Population Exchange marked a turning point for Greece and Turkey with regard to its demographic, social, political and economic effects. Although the multifaceted effects of the Exchange upon Greece have been extensively studied by the scholars of different disciplines, the Turkish scholarship is very limited in terms of documenting and analyzing the role of this event in the history of modern Turkey. The present study aims to fill this gap by assessing the economic effects of this event upon Turkey. This thesis fulfils the above task by examining the transformation of the basic sectors in the Turkish economy during the post-Exchange period. We argue that the Population Exchange had significant effects upon the Turkish economy. For example, in the agricultural sector the capitalist property relations on land were reinforced and the production patterns in certain agricultural crops were subject to a considerable degree of change. As far as the industry is concerned, the production of certain commodities deteriorated due to the rising competition between Turkey and Greece over the manufactured goods. The worsening international economic conditions exacerbated the effects of this competition upon the Turkish economy. Lastly, with the transfer of the Anatolian Greek merchants to Greece, Anatolia’s commercial links with foreign markets weakened much to the detriment of the Turkish economy. The intermediary position of the Greek merchants was gradually substituted by the newly-emerging Turkish mercantile bourgeoisie after the Exchange. This thesis consists of five chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the subject and provides a survey of the related literature. Chapter 2 examines the effects of the Exchange upon agriculture and land tenure system. Chapter 3 is designed to evaluate the transformation of the industrial base inherited from the Ottoman Empire by certain factors including the Exchange. Chapter 4 deals with the effects of the transfer of the Anatolian Greeks and the arrival of the refugees upon the commerce. Chapter 5 presents general and specific conclusions in the light of previous chapters.