Turkey: Successor or Continuing State of the Ottoman Empire?

Oktem E.

LEIDEN JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, vol.24, no.3, pp.561-583, 2011 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 24 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Doi Number: 10.1017/s0922156511000252
  • Page Numbers: pp.561-583


This article explores whether Turkey is the continuing or a successor state of the Ottoman Empire. This is a question that attracts particular attention in the context of the contemporary political debate on 'neo-Ottomanism'. After the analysis of past debates on succession and continuity, the Ottoman Empire's legacy is considered in light of the international case law, especially the 1925 Ottoman Public Debt Arbitration. Arguments of the international doctrine in favour of and against the Ottoman continuity thesis are also explored and tested by reference to comparable cases. The peculiarity of the transitional period from the Empire to the Republic, where two governments and two constitutions coexisted, is crucial to understanding the transmission process of the legal personality. Despite the undeniable ambiguity of the issue, the conclusion tilts towards the continuity argument. Potential positive and negative, as well as legal and political, implications of continuity, including those related to delictual responsibility, are discussed at the end.