Armeno-Georgian War of 1918

and Armeno-Georgian Territorial Issue in the 20th Century



By  Andrew Andersen and Georg Egge




The Birth of Territorial Conflict



The fall of 1918 was marked with the second sharp change in the international situation during the last 12 months. It influenced both Europe and East Mediterranean area including the South Caucasus. Exhausted by the war the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey) turned to the policy of cessation of hostilities and looking for the ways to surrender. Between September 29 and November 11, all four above-mentioned countries signed armistices with the Entente Powers. Ottoman Turkey surrendered on October 30, 1918, signing the Armistice of Mudros. In accordance with the provisions of the Armistice Agreements, all the Turkish troops that had been stationed in the Caucasus to be withdrawn to the line of the pre-war Russian-Turkish border of 1914. However, as early as two weeks prior to the surrender, in view of the imminent collapse of the Central Powers, the Turks began gradual evacuation of the territories that had been occupied and annexed in accordance with the Treaty of Batum (04.06.1918). At the very same time, the forces of the Democratic Republic of Armenia acting in coordination with the Turkish command, started to take over the territory of Erivan Province that the Turks were leaving behind. On October 18, 1918 the avant-garde Armenian units entered the strip of Borchalo county of the province of Tiflis to the south  of the river Kamenka that was earlier under temporary Turkish control, and also crossed the demarcation line occupied the station of Kober (Koberi), that was in the Georgian-controlled part of the county, forcing out the German-Georgian garrison of the station[1]. It was at that particular moment when the unresolved question of the future state border between Armenia and Georgia rose sharply for the first time (see Mар 3).






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One should mention though that as early as during the summer of 1918, a few conferences and organized by the government circles of Georgia and Armenia, as well as several publications in semi-official newspapers Erivan and Tiflis, revealed significant differences on the border issue between the two nations. As of the fall of 1918, the territory in dispute between Armenia and Georgia was limited to the southern part of the province of Tiflis, including mainly the two districts - Akhalkalaki and Borchalo[2]. From the viewpoint of the majority of Armenian national-patriots all the Akhalkalaki county and more than half of the county of Borchalo were to be unequivocally incorporated into Armenia[3]. The most radical nationalists though called for the Armenian claims to be extended even further to the northwest up to the port city of Batum in order to secure for Armenia an access to the Black Sea. On the other hand, most of the Georgian leaders as well as the majority of politically active Georgians the southern border of the province of Tiflis was to become an unquestionable border of their country[4]. Among radical Georgian nationalists, there were also advocates of the annexation by Georgia of parts of the Kazakh district of the province of Elisavetpol and Alexandropol county of the province of Erivan[5].


In order to justify their territorial claim the parties of the described conflict adhered to the variety of arguments. The Georgian leadership based their claims on the historical background. The Armenian territorial claims, were based on rather new principle of self-determination of peoples, with an emphasis on the ethnic composition of the disputed territories.


The detailed analysis of both Georgian and Armenian arguments in support of their claims for the two disputed counties will be provided below.










[1] Из истории армяно-грузинских взаимоотноошений, стр. 14

[2] Ахалкакский уезд был аннексирован Оттоманской Империей по Батумскому договору (4 июня, 1918) и должен был быть очищен турками по Мудросскому Перемирию (30 октября, 1918) (Авт.)

[3] M. Varandian, Le conflit armeno-georgien et la guerre du Caucase (Paris, 1919), стр.75.

[4] Из истории армяно-грузинских взаимоотноошений, стр.68.

[5] Из истории армяно-грузинских взаимоотноошений, стр.10

   M. Varandian, Le conflit armeno-georgien et la guerre du Caucase (Paris, 1919), p.75.

   Hovannisian, p. 72.