Armenia–United Kingdom relations

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Armenian–British relations
Map indicating locations of Armenia and United Kingdom


United Kingdom

Armenian–British relations are foreign relations between Armenia and the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom recognised Armenia on 31 December 1991. The first Embassy of Armenia in Europe was established in London in October 1992. Since 1995, the United Kingdom has an embassy in Yerevan. The two countries maintain collaborative and friendly relations.



In the late 19th century, Armenia was divided between Russia and Turkey. Tensions began to escalate in Turkey in the 1880s and especially the 1890s, leading to a series of international crises that the British tried to help resolve by putting pressure on the Turkish government. Britain had long been a major friend of the Turkish government, helping it resist heavy expansionist pressure from Russia. In the 1880s, London pushed for reforms, with a special focus on better treatment of Christians across the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman government resisted the pressures, and distanced itself from Britain. Instead, Constantinople turned increasingly to Germany for political, financial and commercial support, leading eventually to its entrance into the First World War as a German ally.[1]

As atrocities mounted against Armenians in Turkey British public opinion was outraged. London tried to coordinate a response from Britain, Russia, Germany, Austria and France. They were unable to agree on suitable sanctions or punishment; historians believe Turkey would have made concessions if threatened with an actual war. Germany wanted to help Turkey; Russia did not want to stir up its own large Armenian community. France wanted to restrict the British role in the region. William Gladstone, a leading Liberal then in retirement, called on Britain to intervene alone. The Liberal Prime Minister Lord Rosebery refused. The crisis weakened Roseberry, who resigned in June 1895. The crisis reached a violent peak in 1896, after bombings in Constantinople led to massive attacks on Armenians living in the city, with thousands murdered. Lord Salisbury, the new Conservative Prime Minister tried and failed to get the Powers to intervene. Nothing was done to help the Armenians.[2][3][4]

First World War[edit]

British policy around 1910 stood in opposition to Russian control of Armenia, and tried to push the Ottoman Empire into improving its treatment of Armenians. [5] When the World War erupted, Britain rejected the idea of forming an Armenian Legion to fight against the Turks. Instead it supported an Armenian Legion under French command that did fight in Cyprus.[6]

As news of the Massacres of Armenians emerged, London worked to demonstrate that its imperial responsibilities included the enforcement of human rights. The Turks responded with a heightened anti-British nationalism.[7][8]

State visits between Armenia and the United Kingdom[edit]

There are various state visits between Armenia and the United Kingdom the latest being the visit of the British State Minister of Europe David Lidington to Yerevan. Additionally President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan have visited the United Kingdom in July 2012.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited Armenia in June 1990 when it was part of the Soviet Union.

Armenian genocide recognition[edit]

Armenian memorial unveiled in Cardiff in 2007.

The devolved governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland recognize the Armenian genocide, however England does not recognize the Armenian Genocide, as it considers that the evidence is not clear enough to respectively consider "the terrible events that afflicted the Ottoman Armenian population at the beginning of the last century" genocide under the 1948 UN convention. The British government states the "massacres were an appalling tragedy" and condemns them stating that this was the view of the government during that period.[9]

Armenian community of the UK[edit]

According to Vered Amit's Armenians in London: The Management of Social Boundaries, published in 1989, around 10,000 Armenians were living in Greater London at the time. The majority were thought to be first-generation immigrants from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Cyprus.[10] They also include Armenians from Ethiopia, India, Egypt, Israel, as well as individuals from other countries.

Manchester has been home to an Armenian population since 1835, with 30 Armenian businesses thought to have been operating in the city by 1862.[11]

Resident diplomatic missions[edit]

  • Armenia has an embassy in London.
  • United Kingdom has an embassy in Yerevan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jeremy Salt, "Britain, the Armenian question and the cause of Ottoman reform: 1894–96." Middle Eastern Studies 26.3 (1990): 308-328.
  2. ^ R.C.K. Ensor. England: 1870 – 1914 (1936) pp 238-39
  3. ^ Roy Douglas, "Britain and the Armenian Question, 1894–7." Historical Journal 19#1 (1976): 113-133.
  4. ^ Andrew Roberts, Salisbury: Victorian Titan (1999) pp 605–11.
  5. ^ Joseph Heller, "Britain and the Armenian question, 1912–1914 a study in realpolitik." Middle Eastern Studies 16.1 (1980): 3-26.
  6. ^ Andrekos Varnava, "The Politics and Imperialism of Colonial and Foreign Volunteer Legions during the Great War: Comparing Proposals for Cypriot, Armenian, and Jewish Legions." War in History 22.3 (2015): 344-363.
  7. ^ Michelle Tusan, "'Crimes against Humanity': Human Rights, the British Empire, and the Origins of the Response to the Armenian Genocide." American Historical Review 119.1 (2014): 47-77.
  8. ^ Akaby Nassibian, Britain and the Armenian Question, 1915–1923 (1984)
  9. ^
  10. ^ Talai, Vered Amit (1989). Armenians in London: The Management of Social Boundaries. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 1. ISBN 0-7190-2927-9.
  11. ^ "Multi-Cultural Manchester: Armenians". Manchester City Council. Archived from the original on 2009-09-07. Retrieved 2009-08-22.

Further reading[edit]

  • Douglas, Roy. "Britain and the Armenian Question, 1894–7." Historical Journal 19#1 (1976): 113-133.
  • Langer, William L. The Diplomacy of Imperialism: 1890–1902 (2nd ed. 1950), a standard diplomatic history of Europe; see pp 145-67, 202-9, 324-29
  • Salt, Jeremy. "Britain, the Armenian question and the cause of Ottoman reform: 1894–96." Middle Eastern Studies 26.3 (1990): 308-328.

External links[edit]