Vol. 5, No. 11 (June 01, 2012)

Russian-Turkish relations between the Sovietization of Azerbaijan and the Sovietization of Armenia

Part V (B). 
Azerbaijan’s territorial gifts to Armenia

Jamil Hasanly, Dr.*
Professor of History
Baku State University

In the first days of December, the Revkom formed in Dilizhan did not make an attempt to move toward Erivan before the results of the Turkish-Armenian negotiations in Gumri were announced.  Despite the collapse of the government structures of Armenia, this Revkom preferred a wait and see tactic.  Having only a small number of armed troops, Dro considered appropriate the appearance of the Revkom in Erivan only on December 3, that is, on the day after the expected signing of the peace treaty in Gumri.  Without having waited for the publication of the conditions of the treaty, B. Legran hurried to declare in the name of Soviet Russia the recognition of Soviet Armenia.  The territory of Armenia as recognized by Russia included Erivan gubernia, a part of Kazakh district as defined by the treaty of August 10, 1920, and a part of Tiflis gubernia seized by Armenia before the Turkish advance. [1] B. Legran informed Chicherin about the need before December 3 to refrain from the advance of the formations of the Red Army into the interior regions of Armenia.  Dro was to take measure so that Soviet forces would not meet the resistance of the Erivan government and a number of military units. [2] G. Ordzhonikidze explained the position of B. Legran by saying that the Soviet representative had promised too much to the old Armenian government. [3] At the same time, the command of the Kazakh group of the Red Army was ordered not to advance into Armenia until the political situation was clarified. [4] 
On December 2, 1920, G. Ordzhonikidze reported to V. Lenin and I. Stalin that Soviet power had already been declared in Erivan, that the old government had been disbanded, and that all power before the arrival of the Revkom had been transferred into the hands of the military command under Dro.  The order was given for the army to pass over to the side of the Revkom, which was still in Dilizhan and come to Erivan the following day.  The Revkom already received greetings from Kazym Karabekir-pasha.  “A comrade arriving today from Aleksandropol [Gumri] reports that the attitude among the Kemalists forces is to the highest degree friendly toward us, that the forces wear red badges and consider themselves red army men.  Azerbaijan already declared yesterday in favor of Soviet Armenia the transfer of Nakhchivan, Zangazur, and Nagorno-Karabakh.” [5] One should note that in this telegram, G. Ordzhonikidze on his own adds about the transfer of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, although the documents of the session of the Political and Organizational Bureaus of the AKP (b) of November 30, 1920, to which he refers, there was no reference to this, only about the conduct of a referendum in this oblast of Azerbaijan.  Precisely this text of a telegram falsified by G. Ordzhonikidze was published by I. Stalin in Pravda on December 4.  On the basis of this distorted telegram of G. Ordzhonikidze, an article by I. Stalin devoted to the proclamation of Soviet power in Armenia was published on the same day in the same newspaper.  Thus is the background history of the intentional and, as further events show, provocateur ‘editorial correction’ of the Declaration of N. Narimanov, the chairman of the Azrevkom, on December 1, 1920 by G. Ordzhonikidze and I. Stalin.
Kazim Karabekir-pasha sent an analogous telegram to G. Chichern.  He wrote: “I happily heard about the arrival of red forces in Dilizhan.  In the name of fraternal Turkey which is allied to you, I welcome your arrival in Dilizhan and wish our victory over imperialism in the name of the well-being and happiness of the toiling proletariat.” [6] Inspired by political support from Turkey as contained in the greetings of Kazym-pasha and the well known Declaration of the Azrevkom, the leaders of the Armrevkom, S. Kasyan and A. Nuridzhanyan (Avis) arrived on December 4 as victors in Erivan, the capital of Armenia which had recently been defeated by the Turkish Army.  A day later, the Red Army entered the city. [7] 
On December 2, 1920, a peace treaty between Armenia and Turkey was signed in Gumri, a document that has passed into history as the Aleksandropol Treaty.  In order to avoid misunderstandings, on this same dame Kazym-pasha asked Budu Mdivani that Russian forced located nearby [in Nakhchivan] not cross the line of the front between the Araz station, where Turkish units were dislocated, and the city of Alagyoz. [8] This was done so that talks in Gumri and the signing of the peace treaty would take place in a calm situation.  The first paragraph of the treaty confirmed that the war between Armenia and Turkey was at an end, while the second paragraph defined the borderline between the two states. 
According to this paragraph, Nakhchivan, Sharur and Shakhtakhty, the districts to the south of the mountains of Kuku and Khamasur, the village of Gurdgulag, the Saat mountain, the village of Arpachay, the mountain of Gamarli, the mountain of Saray-bulag, Ararat station, and the territory to the south of the place where the Karasu river joins the Araz remain outside the control of Armenia.  These regions provisionally remained under the protection of Turkey, and as a result, Armenia did not have the right to interfere in the expression of the will of the population by plebiscite regardless of what form the new administration takes.  The final establishment of the border was to be carried on locally by a mixed commission from both sides within two weeks after the signing of the treaty.  The third paragraph of the treaty defined the issues of the referendum, and the fourth concerned the numbers of the army, the, gendarmerie, and the border forces of Armenia and also the amount of military equipment. 
According to the fifth paragraph, Armenia agreed to accept the Political representative of Turkey who was to come to Erivan and carry out an inspection as to how the above conditions were fulfilled.  From its side, the Government of the Grand National Council of Turkey undertook to offer Armenia its military assistance if this was required as a result of an external or internal treat to security and when a request for it came from Armenia.  The sixth and seventh paragraphs concerned refugees, and the eighth confirmed that the sides would refrain from any demands for revenge.  The ninth paragraph expressed the sincere effort of Turkey to provide assistance to the government of Armenia in the development and strengthening of its authority.  In the 10th paragraph, the Armenian government agreed to consider annulled the Sevres Treaty which had been categorically rejected by the government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.  The government of Armenia also undertook the obligation to recall from Europe and America its delegations, which the Entente had made into tools for its own goals.  In the 11th paragraph, the government of Armenia undertook the obligation to guarantee the rights of the Muslim population on the territory of the republic, their religious and cultural development and not to block the free election of muftis and a sheikh-ul-Islam.  In paragraph 12, Armenia abandoned all rights to transit payments concerning goods being carried from Turkey to Azerbaijan, Persia, Georgia and back.  In its turn, the government of Turkey undertook to offer Armenia free transit to Persia and Maku through Sharur-Nakhchivan-Shakhtakhy and Dzhulfa.  According to paragraph 13, the government of Turkey without violating the rights extended to Armenia by the treaty, was to have the right to undertake military measures on the territory of the Republic of Armenia.  In paragraph 14, the government of Armenia annulled all treaties, which had been concluded at the expense of Turkey.  Paragraphs 15, 16, and 17 regulated trade, post, telegraph, telephonic, consular, the exchange of prisoners of war and other issues.  And paragraph 18 established that the treaty was to be ratified within one month. [9]  
The main content of the Aleksandropol treaty and in particular its provisions about borders were already reported to G. Ordzhonikidze in Baku by Decembeer 3.  However, under the pressure of Soviet Russia, the Aleksandropol treaty was not recognized by the Armenian communist powers and the Soviet government.  As soon as the treaty was signed, I. Stalin immediately instructed all responsible officials in the Caucasus to stop supplying arms to the Turks. [10] 
Meanwhile, O. Silin, the representative of Soviet Russia in Erivan; and the Dro government, which was still in the formation process, signed on December 2, 1920, a military-political agreement in order to place before the Turks a fait accompli.  According to the third paragraph of this agreement, Russia recognized the former Erivan gubernia, including the Zangazur district, as a constituent part of the territory of Armenia, as a result of which Azerbaijan was cut off from Nakhchivan and consequently from Turkey.  On this same day, V. Lenin, the chairman of the Sovnarkom of Russia, sent a telegram of greetings to S. Kasyan, the chairman of the Armrevkom.  According to the third paragraph of this agreement, Russia recognizes the former Erivan gubernia, including Zangezur district, as a constituent part of the territory of Armenia, as a result of which Azerbaijan was cut off from Nakhichevan and at the same time from Turkey. On this same day, V. Lenin, the chairman of the Sovnarkom of Russia, sent a telegram of greetings to S. Kasyan, the chairman of the Armrevkom, in which he expressed the hope that the latter would devote all his efforts to the restoration of fraternal cooperation of the toilers of Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan.  However, the very first step of the young Soviet government of Armenia was expressed in a request to G. Chicherin not to recognize the Aleksandropol treaty. [11] On December 10, T. Bekzadyan, the commissar of international affairs of Soviet Armenia appealed to Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Mukhtar-bey and Eastern Front commander Kazym Karabekir-pasha to denounce the Aleksandropol treaty.  In his turn, Ahmet Mukhtar-bey called on the Armenian communist government to join the treaty signed by the Dashnaks. 
In the first days of December 1920, the commissariat of international affairs of Soviet Russia, still not in complete possession of information about the processes taking place around Armenia, nonetheless presented to the Politburo of the Central Committee of the RKP(b) instructions on the Turkish question, which were confirmed on December 4.  The latter read that, “if we do not extend diplomatic assistance to Soviet Armenia, this will disappoint the supporters of Sovietism everywhere.  We unfortunately do not yet now what the Turkish conditions for peace are.  Mdivani must contain the Turks and mollify their demands relative to Armenia.  He must also restrain them from an attack on Georgia in view of the effect that this would have on the Entente, even more after the sovietizaton of Armenia.  The latter forces us to be especially careful in relation to the Entente.  Mdivani could ask for this indirectly and say to the Turks that for a further attack the current moment is not suitable, that taking that step is not timely.  The Turks expect from us further assistance in arms and gold, and we thus have a powerful means of influencing them.  It is clear that they will not receive the arms and money they want from the Entente, at least in sufficient quantities.  We could promise the Turks a renewal of our assistance if they withdraw from Armenia.  One must keep in mind that Kars is the key to Baku.  When we conceded Kars at Brest, military specialists explained to us that this elevated place is needed for the defense of Tiflis.  In the current situation, when it is possible to expect the sovietization of Georgia in a relatively short time and when the future orientation of Treaty is a major question, it is necessary to proceed with these reflections in mind.  A treaty with the Turks must be concluded, but without provisions that would interfere with our agreement with England.  One must not mention, especially on paper, anything about assistance to the Turks.  A written treaty can only include general provisions about friendly relations.  The independence of Armenia must be guaranteed so that we must as before insist on the definition of borders by a mixed commission including ourselves.  It is necessary to guarantee the independence of Georgia, but not the inviolability of its current borders, for there are disputed territories within Georgia on which Turkey has claims and which could be in the course of future events conceded to it.  The independence of a certain part of Turkish Armenia ought as before to be sought, but not in the form of an ultimatum, lest this be an obstacle to fraternal relations with the Turks.” [12] In speaking about disputed territories in Georgia, the Soviet side had in mind Akhaltsykh and Akhalkalak.  G. Chicherin on December 10 sent an instruction to the Soviet mission in Armenia, in which he said that, “if the Turks try to occupy the disputed districts of Georgia, namely Akhaltsykh and Akhalkalak, we will not respond.  We will only insist that they do not advance further, but do not tell them this in advance for the initiative must come from them and not from us.” [13]  

* The article originally appeared, in Russian, in Russia’s Regnum News Agency at http://www.regnum.ru/news/1438182.html#ixzz1Xevxl1D3.


[1] Telegram of B. Legran to G. Ordzhonikidze, 2 December 1920, Russian State Archive of Social-Political History (hereafter RSASPH), f. 85, op. 14, d. 33, l.16.
[2] Telegram of B. Legran to G. Chicherin, 30 November 1920, RSASPH, f.64, op.1, d.21, l.264.

[3] Telegram of G. Ordzhonikidze to V. Lenin, 8 December 1920, RSASPH, f.5, op.1, d.2178, l.35.
[4] Telegram of Bobrishchev to the command of the Kazakh Group of the Red Army, 30 November 1920, RSASPH, f.64, op.1, d.21, l.269.

[5] Telegram of G. Ordzhonikidze to V. Lenin and I. Stalin, 2 December 1920, RSASPH, f.85, op.14, d.33, l.20. 

[6] Telegram of greetings from K. Karabekir-pasha to G. Chicherin, December 1920, Foreign Policy Archive of the Russian Federation (hereafter FPA RF), f.04, op.39, p.232, d.52987, l.61.

[7] Letter of B. Legran to G. Chicherin, 22 December 1920, RSASPH, f.5, op.1, d.2127, l.3. 

[8] Telegram of P. Mdivani, 3 December 1920, RSASPH, f.85, op.14, d.50, l.1. 

[9] Peace Treaty between Turkey and Armenia, Gumri, 2 December 1920, RSASPH, f.85, op.14, d.28, l.5-7. 

[10] Telegram of S. Kamenev to G. Ordzhonikidze, 5 December 1920, RSASPH, f.85, op.3/s, d.7, l.1.  

[11] Telegram of T. Bekzadyan to G. Chicherin, 12 December 1920, RSASPH, f.5, op.1, d.2178, l.40.

[12] Letter of G. Chicherin to the Politburo of the Central Committee of the RKP(b), 3 December 1920, FPA RF, f.04, op.39, p.232, d.53001, l.6.

[13] Instruction of G. Chicherin to the Soviet mission in Erivan, transmitted by radio, 10 December 1920, RSASPH, f.64, op.1, d.21, l.279.