Vol. 5, No. 12 (June 15, 2012)

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

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

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

Acting in correspondence with these documents, the Peoples Commissariat of International Affairs on December 6, 1920, sent the Central Committee of the RKP(b) proposals concerning certain aspects of the treaty being prepared for Turkey.  The latter covered the issues of the recognition of the independence of Armenia and Georgia, the historical-ethnographic context of the definition of the borders with Turkey, Russia’s careful engagement with the Entente, an effort to leave Batumi to Georgia, and the like.  The Peoples Commissariat of International Affairs wrote to the Central Committee that, “Care must be exercised so that mutual assistance against England will not be openly specified in the treaty.  It must in general terms define the future fraternal relations between two states the way this has already been done in our draft with Bekir Sami.  In addition, there ought to be an exchange of secret notes, which also have been worked up with Bekir Sami, containing mutual promises to inform one another in the case of any change in relations to the Entente.  This draft has already been approved by Bekir Sami and will not compromise us before England.” [1] On the same day, the Russian Peoples Commissariat of International Affairs received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey a note clarifying positions regarding Georgia.  Ahmet Mukhtar-bey communicated to Chicherin that the Georgian government had expressed the desire to begin negotiations with Turkey in order to define relations in correspondence with the borders defined by the treaty with Russia of May 7, 1920.  Ahmet Mukhtar-bey asked Soviet Russia to express its views on this issue and send to Ankara the text of the treaty signed with Georgia on May 7, 1920. [2] The Turks had made a similar request through Mdivani on November 22, but that request had ultimately failed to reach its addressee. 
While B. Shakhtakhtinsky was in Gumri, he was able to talk with Kazym-pasha and other Turkish representatives and to discuss the Nakhchivan issue.  Both sides considered appropriate the conclusion of a treaty between Azerbaijan and Turkey.  On December 7, Shakhtakhtinsky wrote to Niza Davud Huseynov, the peoples commissar of international relations of Azerbaijan, that, “The Turks do not deny the possibility of concluding in the future some sort of agreement with the Entente and therefore want Nakhchivan district, part of Sharur-Daralagez district and the Maka khanate to be formed into a self-administering unit, which in the case of the conclusion of an agreement with the Entente must serve as a base for Turkish fighters who will have to continue the anti-Entente struggle in the East.  We suggested that it would be appropriate to select a base for the goal indicated above in Bayazet sanjak and Van vilayat.  This issue remains open, and Moscow and the Turks will solve it.  In order to finally clarify the physiognomy of the Turks, I proposed developing with them a draft agreement with Azerbaijan to which Kazym-pasha give his agreement.  I offered him a draft of an agreement which he accepted and sent on by telegraph to Ankara … Kazym-pasha is certain that Ankara will not have anything against such an agreement … Among all the major Turkish officials, Karabekir clearly stands out, and I have no doubt that we will be able to work with Kazym-pasha and attract him to our side if at some point the National Assembly wants to throw itself into the embrace of the Entente.  He asked me to recommend to him one of the outstanding communist leaders who has taken a close part in the affairs of the East with whom he would like to enter into correspondence and develop the closest friendship.  I indicated Comrade Stalin to whom, it appears, he is drafting a letter.  It is possible that he will head a delegation, which must come to Moscow for the conclusion of a treaty.” [3]
The draft of an agreement between Azerbaijan and Turkey, which Kazym-pasha sent to Ankara and B. Shakhtakhtinsky sent to Baku consisted of seven points.  According to the first point, “Revolutionary Turkey and Soviet Azerbaijan” are obligated to direct all their efforts against the Entente until the complete liberation of the peoples of the East; according to the second point, if Turkey for one or another reason is forced into an agreement with the Entente, it all the same must by secret paths through its emissaries defend the revolutionary East; according to the third point, if Turkey enters into an agreement with the Entente, then it must provide Azerbaijan with a necessary number of fighters, the expenses of which Azerbaijan will bear; the fourth point contained Azerbaijani obligations to support the national-liberation movement only when the population of the revolutionary areas require it; in correspondence with the fifth point, without the agreement of Turkey, Azerbaijan during the entire time of the revolution in the East does not have the right to enter into an agreement with the Entente; according to the sixth point, in the case of an attack by the Entente, Turkey is obligated to help Azerbaijan; and according to the seventh point, during revolutionary times in the East, Azerbaijan is required to supply Turkey with oil and oil products in an amount to be set by a mixed commission. [4] However, following consultations, Soviet Russia considered impermissible the conclusion of a direct agreement between Azerbaijan and Turkey.  G. Chicherin sent telegrams to G. Ordzhonikidze on December 8 and to Budu Mdivani and Kazym Karabekir-pasha on December 9, in which he stated that Azerbaijani representatives were to take part in the Moscow conference as part of the Soviet delegation. [5] The Soviet leaders considered that “the decisive word in Moscow will belong to the Soviet government.” [6] The Turks insisted on conducting negotiations in Baku, but G. Chicherin did not agree citing the fact that as commissar of international affairs he could not remain away from his post for long. [7]  
Even after the Turks gave agreement to talks in Moscow, G. Chicherin was careful with the Kemalists.  He was particularly concerned by “the extraordinarily large power of traditional national-Turkish survivals among the Kemalists.”  In his opinion, these survivals and occupation-prone attitudes on the part of the Kemalists could transform themselves into support of the Musavatists and anti-Soviet elements in the North Caucasus.  He wrote that “our policy has therefore as one of its goals the political strengthening of the left Kemalists against the rightist ones, that is the strengthening of those elements which are clearly oriented towards us in opposition to those who still have strong nationalistic, religious and imperialist tendencies directed against us and connected with the old policy of compensation in the Caucasus.” [8] G. Chicherin instructed Sh. Eliava to defend the Armenians by all means: “The role of mediator which earlier we wanted to take upon ourselves in relations between Turkey and the dashnaks must belong to us to a still greater degree in the case of relations between the Turks and Soviet Armenia.  The basic interests of communist as a world force require that we do not throw to the risk of fate a newly formed Soviet Republic.” [9] In a letter to Turkish Minister Ahmet Mukhtar-bey, G. Chicherin acknowledged that Dashnak Armenia had shown cruelty to the Turkish population and understood the sensitivity and reaction of the Turkish command to this.  At the same time, he wrote that the Soviet government is certain that “the Turkish army will immediately cleanse the Aleksandropol district and all other points located to the north and east of Kars oblast” and finally establish the Armenian-Turkish border. [10] As far as the Georgian question was concerned, G. Chicherin related to Sh. Eliava that, “our policy in relation to Georgia must in these circumstances be even more cautious.  The question about Batumi has special importance for us.  This is a commercial outlet for Baku and is at the same time the strongest base for a possible attack on Baku, so that the question about Batumi is in essence a question about Baku … If Georgia doesn’t conduct an unfriendly policy toward us and does not together with the Entente prepare an attack on Baku or interfere with our supply of Armenia with bread and oil, then the future existence of this kind of a bourgeois Georgia, one at least more or less positively if passively related to us, is an acceptable combination.” [11]  
Following the change of power in Armenia, Soviet Russia devoted much effort to having Turkey denounce the Aleksandropol treaty.  However, Kazym-pasha was categorical in his response: “The Turkish people have suffered so many victims and will never agree to this and will not understand why it is necessary to make concessions to the Armenians who have brought them so much evil.  This is especially impossible now, when it is still not clear what the Armenian Soviet power represents, when the Dashnaks are still not liquidated, and when there are such persons in power as Dro who are hated by the Turks.” [12] Kazym-pasha was of the opinion that the Dashnaks were hiding behind the curtain of Soviet power and that wealthy Armenians were waiting abroad for a time when they could continue their work.  K. Karabekir-pasha considered that as a minimum it was necessary to watch Armenia closely for a year and observe its behavior.  The Turkish side, therefore, did not trust the communist powers of Armenia.  In the middle of December, Budu Mdivani reported to I. Stalin and Sergo Ordzhonikidze that, “the Turks do not believe that the change in power in Armenia will lead to any changes; they think that Dashnaks in Soviet masks will continue their previously effected policies.” [13] In fact, the Turks considered the formation of Soviet Armenia and its friendly relations with Moscow as an obstacle raised by Soviet Russia on the path of Turkey to the Muslim countries of the Caucasus. [14]  
However, despite such distrust, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, several days after the conclusion of the Aleksandropol treaty, announced the composition of the Turkish delegation for travel to Moscow with a view toward concluding a treaty with Soviet Russia.  In the delegation were Economics Minister Yusif Kamal-bey, Education Minister Riza Nur-bey, and Ali Fuad Jebesoy, who had been appointed ambassador to Moscow on November 20.  On December 14, the delegation left Ankara, and difficult talks in the capital of the new Russia awaited it.  Such is the historical truth of the events, which unfolded in Russian-Turkish relations during the period of the Sovietization of Azerbaijan and Armenia. 

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


[1] Letter of the Peoples Commissariat of International Affairs to the Central Committee of the RKP(b), 6 December 1920, Foreign Policy Archive of the Russian Federation (hereafter FPA RF), f. 04, op. 39, p. 232, d. 53001, l. 9. 

[2] Letter of Ahmet Mukhtar-bey to G. Chicherin, 6 December 1920, FPA RF, f. 04, op. 39, p. 232, d. 52987, l. 62. 

[3] Telegram of B. Shakhtakhtinsksy to M.D. Huseynov, 7 December 1920, Russian State Archive of Social-Political History (hereafter RSASPH), f. 85, op. 13, d. 143, l. 1.

[4] Draft of an agreement between Azerbaijan and Turkey, 7 December 1920, FPA RF, f. 04, op. 39, p. 232, d. 53001, l. 78; RSASPH, f. 85, op. 13, d. 143, l. 1 ob. 

[5] See the telegram of G. Chicherin to G. Ordzhonikidze, 8 December 1920, FPA RF, f. 04, op. 39, p. 232, d. 53001, l. 71; RSASPH, f. 85, op. 14, d. 52, l. 1 ob; the telegram of G. Chicherin to P. Mdivani and K. Karabekir-pasha, 9 December 1920, RSASPH, f. 85, op. 14, d. 52, l. 10-10 ob. 

[6] Telegram of G. Ordzhonikidze to V. Lenin, 8 December 1920, RSASPH, f. 5, op. 1, d. 2178, l. 34. 

[7] See The Documents of the USSR Foreign Policy, in Russian, vol. III, Moscow, 1960, pp. 391-392. 

[8] Letter of G. Chicherin to Sh. Eliava, 14 December 1920, FPA RF, f. 04, op. 39, p. 232, d. 52987, l. 65. 

[9] Letter of G. Chicherin to Sh. Eliava, 14 December 1920, FPA RF, f. 04, op. 39, p. 232, d. 52987, l. 66.  

[10] Letter of G. Chicherin to Ahmet Mukhtar-bey, December 1920, FPA RF, f. 04, op. 39, p. 232, d. 52987, l. 83-84. 

[11] Letter of G. Chicherin to Sh. Eliava, 14 December 1920, FPA RF, f. 04, op. 39, p. 232, d. 52987, l. 67. 

[12] Telegram of P. Mdivani to I. Stalin and G. Ordzhonikidze, Copy to B. Legran, 5 December 1920, RSASPH, f. 85. op. 14, d. 50, l. 6.
[13] See the telegram of B. Mdivani to I. Stalin and G. Ordzhonikidze, 15 December 1920, RSASPH, f. 85, op. 14, d. 50, l. 20. 

[14] See the letter of B. Legran to G. Chicherin, 22 December 1920, RSASPH, f. 05, op. 01, d. 2127, l. 05.