political isolation. During the next week
the advancing Turkish armies were defeated by Georgian volunteers on the river of Cholock to
the North of Batumi and by the Armenian army and militia at Sardapat. These military victories of the new-born
democracies prevented total annexation of the Caucasus
by the Turks and saved remaining Armenians from total annihilation.
On June 4, 1918, a peace-treaty
was signed in Batum, according to which
considerable part of South Caucasus was assigned to Turkey, most of Georgia
remained under German protectorate and the Armenian Republic was cut down to
a tiny enclave around the cities of Yerevan and Echmiadzin.
Turkey was also given
carte blanche to act in Azerbaijan. Regardless of the Batumi treaty, some
Armenian troops under general Andranik continued to
conduct guerrilla operations against the Turks from the mountain areas of Karabakh-Zanghezur, where another de-facto independent
Armenian state had been proclaimed.
The end of March 1918 was marked by the establishment of
the Azerbaijani People's Democratic Republic in Ganca
(Elisavetpol). By the end of summer 1918, Turkish
troops supported by the mainly Azeri “Army of Islam” took over the whole
territory of the former Russian Azerbaijan and marched into Baku where they massacred of at least
25,000 Armenians still residing in the city. Baku became the new capital of the new
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The surrender of Ottoman Turkey on
October 30, 1918, and the subsequent end of World War I in November resulted in
evacuation of regular troops of the defeated Central Powers from the Caucasus. The major European powers recognized the new
independent states of Georgia,
Azerbaijan and Armenia.
According to the decisions of the Paris Peace Conference, Turkey had to surrender all of
its previous territorial claims. Moreover, seven eastern provinces (former
Turkish Armenia and Paryadria) were to be ceded to
the Armenian Republic.
Because of temporary crisis
situations in Russia and Turkey, both of which unable to satisfy their
ambitions in the Caucasus at least during the year 1919, the new nations of
South Caucasus had a chance to establish their statehood. Besides the variety
of economic and political problems, the period of nation-building in South Caucasus was marked by numerous territorial
disputes, which caused both financial and ideological exhaustion of the young
nations. The Republic of Armenia claimed the Eastern provinces of Turkey with the cities of Erzerum,
Van and Trabzon.
These territorial ambitions were legally satisfied by the terms of the Treaty of Sevres on August 10, 1920, but the Armenian
Republic was still unable to put the acquired lands under its control because
by that time there were no Armenians left in Eastern Turkey, and local Turkic
and Kurd population took up arms against Armenian administration.
ARMENO - GEORGIAN WAR: 05/12/1918 – 01/01/1919.
At the same period of time, the leaders of the Georgian Republic aimed at the establishment of
Greater Georgia within its historical borders, ignoring the fact that the
ethnic makeup of the area had changed drastically compared to the 13th and
even 18th century. In late 1918, Georgia
claimed control over all former Tiflis and Kutais
provinces, as well as over the two districts of Kars Territory.
Some of the territories under Georgian control, namely Ahalkalaki
and Borchalo duistricts
of Tiflis province, as well as Ardahan and Olti districts of Kars territory, had high percentage of
ethnic Armenian population and were claimed by the Republic of Armenia. From
the point of view of Georgian government and historians, the above
territories were unquestionable parts of Georgia due to the fact that in
various periods of history they comprised Georgian provinces of Gogharena and later – Trialeti,
Javakheti and Tashiri (Ahalkalaki and Borchalo duistricts), Samtskhe (Ardahan district) and Tao (Olti
district). From the point of view of Armenian leaders and intellectual elite
though, the above territories were inalienable parts of historic Armenia due to the fact that some or all of
the above territories were administered by Armenia from 189 BC to 115 AD and
were administered by Armenian governors between 1124 and 1240 AD. Armenians
regarded the disputed territories as Armenian historical provinces of Javakh and Tayk.
The 5th of December
1918, was the beginning of Armeno-Georgian war that
lasted only 26 days but had quite harmful consequences for the two forming
nations. That day Armenian government sent troops to take over Akhalkalaki and Borchalo. The
first clashes between Armenian and Georgian forces started on December 9 and
reached their culmination three days later when Armenians took over the village of Sanain in Borchalo district and were forced to evacuate it on
December 14. Two weeks later the hostilities were ceased under the pressure
of the British mission and an agreement on borders was signed by both sides
in early January 1919 in accordance with which Armenian government officially
dropped their claims over Ardahan and Akhalkalaki districts, while Georgia agreed to the condominium
over Lori canton of Borchalo district. However,
while ending the war the agreement left both parties unsatisfied and ended in
permanent strain between the two governments and severe transportation problem
between the two countries.
THE ESCALATION OF CONFLICT BETWEEN ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN
territorial claims of Armenia
caused the series of brutal and confusing wars between the two nations.
Guerrilla and Semi-Guerrilla operations accompanied by periodical massacre of
civilians in the disputed districts of Kazakh-Shamshadin,
Naxcivan, Zanghezur and Karabakh, began in October 1918 and finally ended only in
1922. One can assume that conflicting views on history should be mentioned were
among the main reasons for most of ethnic conflicts and territorial disputes
of the last hundred years of human history. Azeri-Armenian conflict that is
still far from being resolved does not seem to be an exception.
to Armenian nationalists, reviving Armenian state was to include among other
territories the whole of former Yerevan
province including Naxcivan and Ordubad
districts, as well as the eastern and southern parts of Elisavetpol
(Ganca) province of the former Russian empire.
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Armenian perspective, these territories were historical Armenian provinces of
(Karabakh), and Syuniq (Zanghezur). That point of view went back to the ancient
and early mediaeval periods of Armenian history when the above-mentioned
territories were incorporated in various Armenian states. It was also
supported by numerous examples of ancient Armenian architecture (mostly
churches and their ruins) scattered all over the area.
above made absolutely no sense to the nationalists and pan-turkists of Azerbaijan. According to their
views, there was absolutely no territory in the Caucasus
to which Armenian people had any historical right. The politicians and the
majority of the intellectual elite of Azerbaijan
based their opinions on the fact that Armenian statehood in South Caucasus
ceased to exist in 1081 when it was overrun by the Seljuk Turks coming from Central Asia. The mass migrations of population and
numerous massacres that followed left most of the historical Armenian lands
populated by Turcic-speaking and/or Muslim majority
and run by Muslim/Turcic rulers. The Armenians
became minority in the land they claimed theirs and could boast only
“significant Armenian presence” in some areas of South Caucasus and eastern Turkey.
Azeri nationalists also considered “extreme generosity” the fact that Turkey and Azerbaijan
agreed to “tolerate” Armenian national homeland in Yerevan
and Echmiadzin districts of the former Yerevan province.
As a result of the above
conflicting views, neither Armenia
nor Azerbaijan was
satisfied with the border proposal made in late November 1918, by John Oliver Wardrop, British Chief
Commissioner in South Caucasus. According to Sir Oliver Wardrop, Armenian claims against Azerbaijan should not go beyond the
administrative borders of the former Yerevan
province, while Azerbaijan
was to be limited to the provinces of Baku
and Ganca (Elisavetpol). Armenia was not prepared to drop her claims to
and Karabakh while Azerbaijan was not accepting the
idea of Armenian control over Naxcivan and Ordubad. The fragile peace with an unresolved territorial
dispute a its background did not last long and the
series of Azeri-Armenian wars broke out at the very end of 1918.
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THE ARAXI WAR: 05/1919 - 08/1919.
In December 1918 Japhar-Kouli
khan of Naxcivan declared an ”independent Araxi republic” in Naxcivan and
Ordubad districts of the former Yervan
province assigned to Armenia by the British Chief Commissioner in the South
Caucasus. The government of Armenia
did not recognize that new state formation and sent its troops to the
breakaway area. By the middle if June 1919 Naxcivan
was put under Armenian control together with the whole territory of the
self-proclaimed republic. The fall of the Araxi
republic triggered the invasion of regular Azerbaijani army trained and
commanded by Turkish officers. By the end of July, Armenian troops were
forced to leave the city of Naxcivan to the Azeris. After the series of skirmishes all over the Naxcivan district, the cease-fire agreement was concluded
and lasted until March 1920.