The Republic of Türkiye, founded by Mustafa Kemal, known as Atatürk, the “father of the fatherland,” celebrates its centenary this year. It came into being partly on the basis of the international treaties following the defeat of the so-called “Central Powers,” to which the Ottoman Empire was allied. The victory by the Entente ended World War I and radically disrupted the old order of the great multinational and multi-ethnic imperial powers, which were the legacy of a glorious historical past, but in a state of decline with the rise of nation-states in Europe and the development of modern technology.
The Ottoman Empire, one of the most extensive up to that time, was already considered by 19th-century European powers to be the “sick old man of Europe” and was experiencing both social and economic crises, despite the institutional reforms enacted by enlightened sultans in the previous century (the so-called Tanzimats). It was kept alive more by the rivalry between the great European powers who could not agree on the division of its still substantial territories (much of the Middle East and the lands of the Fertile Crescent were under nominal Turkish control) – than by any political-economic dynamism that might have animated these important parts of the Empire.