November 9, 2020

On Karabagh and Nakhichevan - from the report of FA of the RSFSR to the 8th All-Russia Congress

From the ; Annual report of the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs of the RSFSR to the VIII All Russia Congress of Soviets for 1919-1920

December 22-29, 1920 




This summer, our relations with the so-called elder sister of the Muslim world, Turkey, became the foreground of our eastern policy. Entente imperialism wanted to destroy it by the violent Treaty of Sevres but achieved the point that broad sections of the Turkish masses, embraced by a strong national movement, began a heroic struggle against invasion from outside and foreign oppression. Before the dispersal of the Entente, the Constantinople parliament solemnly adopted the so-called national agreement, or national act, that is, the charter of a new Turkey, for which it vowed to fight to the end. This act contains the proclamation of democratic principles for Turkey itself, the recognition of the rights of national minorities and the rights of other peoples and self-determination. Accordingly, Turkey renounces in this act of domination over Syria and Arabia and turns into a national state of the Turkish people. While in Constantinople Sultan Mohammed VI and the remnants of the old court stratum surrounding him turned into a toy in the hands of the Entente, the whole of Asia Minor was engulfed in a strong Turkish national movement, the central figure of which was Mustafa Kemal Pasha. Its participants at the congresses in Erzurum, Trapezund, Aydin, Usak and Sivas organized and created a government of the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Angora. The Kemalists entered into relations with us through Azerbaijan, where a group of their adherents contributed to the coup and the invitation of the Russian Red troops by the revolutionary Azerbaijani government. The first to arrive in Moscow was the famous commander Halil Pasha, who utterly defeated the British army at Kut-el-Amar and captured General Townsgend. He introduced us for the first time to the aspirations of the new Turkey and the hardships it is going through. After the Grand National Assembly opened in Angora in April, the Greek offensive in Asia Minor began in May and the Greeks occupied Brusa, Eregli and the Adani vilayet, which finally blocked national Turkey. In August, the ghostly government of the Sultan in Constantinople signed the Treaty of Sevres, after which national Turkey began to see in it a treason to the Turkish people. 

The government of the Grand National Assembly, signed by the chairman of the Assembly, Mustafa Kemal Pasha, on April 26, addressed the Soviet Government with a letter, which reached only the beginning of June. Mustafa Kemal stated in it that Turkey undertakes to fight together with Soviet Russia against the imperialist governments for the liberation of all the oppressed, undertakes to influence the Republic of Azerbaijan so that it enters the circle of Soviet states, expresses its readiness to participate in the struggle against the imperialists in the Caucasus and hopes for the assistance of the Soviet Russia to fight against imperialist enemies who attacked Turkey. In a letter dated June 3 to the President of the Grand National Assembly Mustafa Kemal Pasha, Chicherin said that the Soviet Government took note with satisfaction of the main principles of the foreign policy of the new Turkish government, headed by the Grand National Assembly in Angora, namely the proclamation of Turkey's independence, the incorporation of indisputable Turkish territories into the Turkish state, the proclamation of Arabia and Syria as independent states and the decision to grant Turkish Armenia and other territories with a mixed element to enjoy the right to national self-determination; further, the recognition of the rights of national minorities, providing the Black Sea states with a solution to the issue of the straits, the abolition of capitulations and foreign economic intervention and, finally, the abolition of any spheres of influence of foreign states in Turkey. The Soviet Government expressed the hope that through negotiations the borders between Turkey, on the one hand, Armenia and Persia, on the other hand, would be precisely established on the basis of justice and self-determination of peoples, and the Soviet Government expressed its readiness to be a mediator; it offered to immediately establish diplomatic and consular relations between Russia and Turkey; Following with the liveliest sympathy the heroic struggle of the Turkish people for independence, the Soviet Government was happy to lay a solid foundation of friendship that should bind the peoples of Turkey and Russia. The People's Commissar of National Turkey Bekir Sami-bey, in a return radio telegram received by us on July 4, expressed the liveliest joy on behalf of the Great National Assembly regarding the letter of comrade Chicherin on June 3 and expressed his readiness to accept the mediation of Russia to establish borders with Armenia and Persia. 

He reported that in view of the violent actions of the Dashnak government against Muslims in Armenia, the Turkish government had already announced mobilization on the eastern front to occupy the necessary strategic points, but upon receiving the letter from Comrade Chicherin, he reported that in view of the violent actions of the Dashnak government against Muslims in Armenia, the Turkish government had already announced mobilization on the eastern front to occupy the necessary strategic points, but after receiving the letter from Comrade Chicherin, it postponed the implementation of this plan; to regulate relations between Russia and Turkey, even before receiving the letter from Comrade Chicherin, it was decided to send a delegation to Moscow, headed by himself, Bekir Sami-bey. Meanwhile, on July 2, Comrade Chicherin wrote a letter to Mustafa Kemal for the second time through Khalil Pasha, again expressing his desire that the peoples of Russia and Turkey would be bound by close ties of friendship as soon as possible. In a reply letter, Mustafa Kemal said that the workers of Western countries fighting against capital and the oppressed peoples of Asia and Africa will have to understand that they must support each other against a common enemy. 

The delegation that arrived in Moscow consisted of Bekir Sami and Deputy Yusuf Kemal, with the Turkish communist Dr. Fuad Sabit arriving with them. This first Moscow conference worked out the foundations of the Russian-Turkish treaty, and the Turkish delegation, returning to Angora in the fall, took with it the draft for a report to its government. At that moment, the main difficulty in reaching a full agreement was the question of establishing Turkey's borders in the East. Negotiating, on the one hand, with the Turkish delegation and, on the other hand, with the delegation of the Armenian Dashnak government led by poet Leon Shant (May-July), the Soviet Government was forced by force of things to find ways to coordinate the territorial claims of both governments. This task was essentially impossible. At that moment, the Dashnak government had already abandoned the plan put forward by the Entente for Greater Armenia, which was supposed to embrace half of Asia Minor and get access to the sea from Syria itself. 

But the territorial claims of the Dashnak government were still quite significant, embracing Erzurum, Lazistan with Trebizond and several Turkish vilayets. Even during negotiations with Khalilon Pasha, the Soviet Government put forward the principle of an ethnographic border based on national relations that existed before the Great War and proposed mutual resettlement in order to create a homogeneous ethnographic territory on both sides. In principle, this was accepted by the Dashnak delegation, but when trying to concretize this principle, it turned out that the claims of the Dashnaks were still so great that it was not possible to achieve with them an acceptable definition of the borders of Armenia. Leon Shant's delegation left without achieving results. “In negotiations with the delegation of Bekir Sami, the Soviet Government put forward the principle of such a rectification of the old Turkish border, in which lands with a predominant Muslim population, on the one hand, would pass to Turkey, and lands where there was an Armenian majority before 1914 would be transferred to Armenia. But in this case, attempts at a compromise solution to the ethnographic problem were unsuccessful. Moreover, Bekir Sami himself, who differed greatly in his views from the new ruling stratum of the renewed Turkey and who belonged to the old Turkish ruling elite, then used his conversations with Comrade Chicherin on the topic of correcting the Turkish border in order to try to set up national Turkey against Soviet Russia upon returning to Angora. 

At a time when the hopelessness of the attempt to establish a compromise ethnographic border began to be clarified in Moscow, the Turkish government decided to cut the Gordian knot with a sword. The Dashnaks themselves gave a pretext for this  offensive of the Turks. Under the leadership of Kazim Karabekir Pasha, the eastern Turkish army easily overthrew the Dashnak Mauserists, put the poorly welded army of the Dashnak government to flight and, with its quick victory, revealed all the illusory nature of the imaginary power of the Dashnak bourgeoisie. 

Based on what comrade Chicherin on June 3, the proposal for mediation, accepted by Bekir Sami in his reply letter, the Soviet Government proposed to Turkey and Armenia to implement this mediation, but contrary to its previous statements, the Turkish government rejected the mediation of the Soviet Government that it had previously accepted. The Dashnak government, for its part, still hoping for the mercy of its patroness, the Entente, also rejected our mediation. Moreover, on December 2, when the Armenian Soviet Republic was already proclaimed, the Dashnak peace delegation in Alexandropol signed a shameful peace, which turned the remaining independent part of Armenia into a de facto Turkish protectorate. 

One of the most painful issues in the Caucasus is the question of the borders between the Caucasian national republics. From the moment when Azerbaijan became the Soviet Republic and an outpost of the workers 'and peasants' system in the East, its former border disputes with neighboring republics were further complicated by the opposite of the system. Occupying a part of the disputed Zakatala district, Georgia turned the occupied part of it into a base for counter-revolutionary organizations trying to operate in Azerbaijan. The relations between Azerbaijan and Dashnak Armenia became even more aggravated. In Zangezur, Karabakh, in the Nakhichevan district, in the Sharur-Daralagez district, the national struggle between Armenians and Muslims was further complicated by the world struggle between the Entente imperialism, which the Dashnaks became an outpost, and the Soviet world with its outpost - Azerbaijan. In the interests of peace, the Soviet Government decided to occupy the disputed zone both between Georgia and Azerbaijan and between Armenia and Azerbaijan with its own troops. 

The consequence of this was the clash of the Red troops with the Dashnak detachments and the attempts of the Dashnaks to organize uprisings in the rear of the Red troops in the Armenian-populated areas. This armed struggle was ended by a preliminary peace, concluded by our plenipotentiary representative Legrand in Erivan on August 10th. In Erivan itself, the situation was extremely aggravated, and the brutal Dashnak government responded with punitive expeditions to the movements of the Armenian communists or the oppressed masses. Under the agreement on October 28, Armenia renounced Karabakh, but received Zangezur and Nakhichevan, and was promised a loan of 21/2 million. Finally, the Erivan executioners were eliminated by a coup that began at the end of November and ended with the proclamation of the Armenian Soviet Republic.


Printed according to the brochure "Annual report of the NK.ID to the VIII Congress of Soviets (1919-1920)", M. 1921. As manuscript.

Will be in the second Volume of Soviet Foreign Policy Documents
Svitlana M, Erdogan A