Azerbaijan Democratic Republic
|People's Republic of
Azerbaijan Democratic Republic
Azərbaycan Xalq Cümhuriyyəti
Azərbaycan Demokratik Respublikası
"Bir kərə yüksələn bayraq, bir daha enməz!"
The flag once raised will never fall!
March of Azerbaijan
Map of Azerbaijan issued at Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
|Capital||Ganja (until Sep 1918)
|Prime Minister||Fatali Khan Khoyski|
|Speaker||Mammed Amin Rasulzade|
|Historical era||Interwar period|
|-||Independence||28 May 1918|
|-||Soviet invasion||28 April 1920|
|-||1918||99,908.87 km² (38,575 sq mi)|
|Part of a series on the|
|History of Azerbaijan|
The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR; Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Xalq Cümhuriyyəti) was the first successful attempt to establish a democratic and secular republic in the Muslim world (pre-dating the Republic of Turkey). The ADR was founded by the Azerbaijani National Council in Tiflis on 28 May 1918 after the collapse of the Russian Empire. Its established borders were with Russia to the north, the Democratic Republic of Georgia to the north-west, the First Republic of Armenia to the west, and Iran to the south. It had a population of 2 million. Ganja was the temporary capital of the Republic as Baku was under Bolshevik control.
Under the ADR, a government system was developed in which a Parliament elected on the basis of universal, free, and proportionate representation was the supreme organ of state authority; the Council of Ministers was held responsible before it. Fatali Khan Khoyski became its first prime minister. Besides the Musavat majority, Ahrar, Ittihad, Muslim Social Democrats as well as representatives of Armenian (21 out of 120 seats), Russian, Polish, Jewish and German minorities gained seats in the parliament. Some members supported Pan-Islamist and Pan-Turkist ideas.
Among the important accomplishments of the Parliament was the extension of suffrage to women, making Azerbaijan the first Muslim nation to grant women equal political rights with men. In this accomplishment, Azerbaijan also preceded the United Kingdom and the United States. Another important accomplishment of the ADR was the establishment of Baku State University, which was the first modern-type university founded in Azerbaijan.
In 1917, the Russian Caucasus Front collapsed following the abdication of the Tsar. On March 9, 1917, the Special Transcaucasian Committee Ozakom (short for Osobyi Zakavkazskii Komitet, Особый Закавказский Комитет) was established to fill the administrative gap in areas occupied in the course of the war on the Caucasian front in Transcaucasia by the Russian Provisional Government. The Caucasus Viceroyalty was abolished by the Russian Provisional Government on March 18, 1917, and all authority, except in the zone of the active army, was entrusted to the civil administrative body Special Transcaucasian Committee. This administration, which included representatives of Armenians, Azerbaijanis and Georgians, did not last long.
Like many ethnic minorities of Transcaucasia, Azeris aimed at secession from Russia after the February Revolution. In the provinces and districts where they formed a considerable part of the population, local Muslim National Councils (MNC) were formed. On March 27, 1917 delegates of MNCs gathered and elected a central committee, consisting of Mammad Hasan Hajinski, Mammad Amin Rasulzade, Alimardan Topchubashov, Fatali Khan Khoyski, and other founders of the future Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. On November 11, the first government of independent Transcaucasia was created in Tbilisi named the "Transcaucasian Commissariat (Sejm)". Azeris sent 37 representatives to the Transcaucasian Commissariat. The Transcaucasian Commissariat was anti-Bolshevik in its political goals and sought the separation of Transcaucasia from Bolshevik Russia. Following the October Revolution, a government of the local Soviet was established in Baku: the so-called Baku Commune (November 1917 – 31 July 1918). The Commune was formed by 85 Social Revolutionaries and Left Social Revolutionaries, 48 Bolsheviks, 36 Dashnaks, 18 Musavatists and 13 Mensheviks. Stepan Shaumyan, a Bolshevik, and Prokopius Dzhaparidze, a leftist SR, were elected Chairmen of the Council of People's Commissioners of the Commune of Baku. The Baku Soviet was at odds with the emergent Transcaucasian Federation and was supportive of Bolshevik governments in most areas, except the Ottoman Empire, with which it had a peace treaty. An uneasy truce existed between the different factions, until the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk exposed the weakness of the coalition. The Russian Caucasus Army was degrading after the collapse of the Russian Empire and on November 7, 1917, the Russians signed the Armistice of Erzincan with the Ottoman Empire. On February 24, 1918, The Sejm proclaimed Transcaucasia as the independent Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. On March 3, 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (signed by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) marked Russia's exit from World War I. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk exposed the weakness of the coalition, which had held an uneasy truce between the different factions. On March 14, the Trabzon peace conference began between the Ottoman Empire and the delegation of the Transcaucasian Commissariat (Sejm).
In March 1918, ethnic and religious tension grew and the Armenian-Azeri conflict in Baku began. Musavat and Ittihad parties were accused of Pan-Turkism by Bolsheviks and their allies. The Armenian and Muslim militia engaged in armed confrontation, with the formally neutral Bolsheviks tacitly supporting the Armenian side. All the non-Azeri political groups of the city joined the Bolsheviks against the Muslims: Bolsheviks, Dashnaks, Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and even the anti-Bolshevik Kadets found themselves for the first time on the same side of the barricade because they were all fighting "for the Russian cause". Falsely equating the Azeris with the Ottoman Turks, the Dashnaks launched a massacre on the city's Azeris in revenge for the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire. As a result, between 3,000 and 12,000 Muslims were killed in what is known as the March Days. Muslims were expelled from Baku, or went underground. At the same time the Baku Commune was involved in heavy fighting with the advancing Ottoman Caucasian Army of Islam in and around Ganja. Major battles occurred in Yevlakh and Agdash, where the Turks routed and defeated Dashnak and Russian forces.
The Bolshevik account of the events of March 1918 in Baku is presented by Victor Serge in Year One Of the Russian Revolution: "The Soviet at Baku, led by Shaumyan, was meanwhile making itself the ruler of the area, discreetly but unmistakably. Following the Moslem rising of 18 March, it had to introduce a dictatorship. This rising, instigated by the Mussavat, set the Tartar and Turkish population, led by their reactionary bourgeoisie, against the Soviet, which consisted of Russians with support from the Armenians. The races began to slaughter each other in the street. Most of the Turkish port-workers (the ambal) either remained neutral or supported the Reds. The contest was won by the Soviets."
On 26 May 1918, the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic fell and its bodies were dissolved. The Azerbaijani faction constituted itself into the Azerbaijani National Council (NC). The Azerbaijani National Council immediately undertook parliamentary functions and proclaimed the foundation of the "Azerbaijani Democratic Republic" on 28 May 1918 and declared the National Charter, which read as follows:
- Azerbaijan is fully sovereign nation; it consists of the southern and eastern parts of Transcaucasia under the authority of the Azerbaijani people.
- It is resolved that the form of government of the independent Azerbaijani state is a democratic republic.
- The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic is determined to establish friendly relations with all, especially with the neighboring nations and states.
- The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic guarantees to all its citizens within its borders full civil and political rights, regardless of ethnic origin, religion, class, profession, or sex.
- The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic encourages the free development of all nationalities inhabiting its territory.
- Until the Azerbaijani Constituent Assembly is convened, the supreme authority over Azerbaijan is vested in a universally elected National Council and the provisional government responsible to this Council.
The Council was opposed by ultra-nationalists who accused it of being too left-wing. The Council was abolished after the opening of the Parliament on 7 December 1918.
Despite existing for only two years, the multi party Azerbaijani Parliamentary republic and the coalition governments managed to achieve a number of measures on national and state building, education, creation of an army, independent financial and economic systems, international recognition of the ADR as a de facto state pending de jure recognition, official recognitions and diplomatic relations with a number of states, preparing of a Constitution, equal rights for all, etc. This has laid an important foundation for the re-establishment of independence in 1991.
Political life in the ADR was dominated by the Musavat Party, the local winner of the Constituent Assembly elections of 1917. The first parliament of the republic opened on December 5, 1918. Musavat had 38 members in parliament, which consisted of 125 deputies, and with some independent MPs formed the biggest faction. The republic was governed by five cabinets (the 6th was being in the process when Azerbaijan was occupied by the Bolsheviks):
|First||Fatali Khan Khoyski||May 28 – June 17, 1918|
|Second||June 17 – December 7, 1918|
|Third||December 26, 1918 – March 14, 1919|
|Fourth||Nasib Yusifbeyli||April 14 – December 22, 1919|
|Fifth||December 22, 1919 – April 1, 1920|
|Sixth||Mammad Hasan Hajinski||aborted|
All cabinets were formed by a coalition of Musavat and other parties including the Muslim Socialist Bloc, the Independents, Ehrar, and the Muslim Social Democratic Party. The conservative Ittihad party was the major opposition force and didn't participate in the cabinet formations, except its member was State Inspector General in the last Cabinet. The premier in the first three cabinets was Fatali Khan Khoyski; in the last two, Nasib Yusifbeyli. The formation of the next cabinet was assigned to Mammad Hasan Hajinski, but he was unable to form it, due to lack of time and majority backing in the parliament, and also the Bolshevik invasion. The Chairman of the Parliament, Alimardan Topchubashev, was recognized as the head of state. In this capacity he represented Azerbaijan at the Versailles Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
The ADR government remained neutral on the issue of the Russian Civil War and never sided with the Red or White Army. Throughout its existence from 1918 to 1920, the Republic of Azerbaijan had diplomatic relations with a number of states. Among the representation of the ADR abroad were the Azerbaijani Peace Delegation in Paris, consisting of the chair Alimardan Topchubashev, A.A. Sheykh Ul-Islamov, M. Maharramov, M. Mir-Mehdiyev and advisor B. Hajibayov; Diplomatic Representative to Georgia, Farist Bey Vekilov, to Armenia - Abdurahman Bey Akhverdiyev, advisor Agha Salah Musayev; to Persia - Agha-khan Khiatkhan and his assistant Alakpar Bey Sadikhov; in Constantinople - Yusif Bey Vezirov, his financial advisor, Jangir Bey Gayibov; General Consul in Batumi, Mahmud Bey Efendiyev; Consul to Ukraine, Jamal Sadikhov and Consul in Crimea, Sheykh Ali Useynov. Agreements on the principles of mutual relations were signed with some of them; sixteen states established their missions in Baku.
- List of the foreign diplomatic missions in Azerbaijan
|United Kingdom||Vice Consul Gevelke||Kladbisshenskaya Str, 11
(Russian-Asian Bank Depository)
|Armenia||Diplomatic Representative G.A. Bekzadyan||Telefonnaya Str, 5|
|Belgium||Consul Ayvazov||Gorchakovskaya Str, 19|
|Greece||Consul Koussis||Corner of Gogolevskaya and Molokanskaya street|
|Georgia||Diplomatic Representative N.S. Alshibay||Politseyskaya Str, 20|
|Denmark||E.F. Bisring||Birzhevaya Str, 32
(Elektricheskaya Sila company building)
|Italy||Chief of the 8th Mission, Enrico Ensom
Consul L. Grikurov
|Lithuania||Consul Vincas Mickevičius||Pozenovskaya, 15|
|Persia||Consul Saad Ul Vizirov||Corner of Gubernskaya Str and Spasskaya Str|
|Poland||Consul S. Rylsky||Politseyskaya Str, 15|
|United States||Consul Randolph||Krasnovodskaya Str, 8|
|Ukraine||Consul Golovan||Nikolayevskaya Str, 8
(Mirzabeyov brothers' house)
(Nobel Brothers' office)
|France||Consul Emelyanov||Vodovoznaya Str.
|Switzerland||Consul Clateau||Birzhevaya Str, 14|
|Sweden||Consul R.K. Vander-Ploug||Corner of Persidskaya and Gubernskaya streets|
Recognition by Allies
- 1. That the independence of Azerbaijan be recognized,
- 2. That Wilsonian principles be applied to Azerbaijan,
- 3. That the Azerbaijani delegation be admitted to the Paris Peace Conference,
- 4. That Azerbaijan be admitted to the League of Nations,
- 5. That the United States War Department extend military help to Azerbaijan, and
- 6. That diplomatic relations be established between the United States of America and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
President Wilson granted the delegation an audience, at which he displayed a cold and rather unsympathetic attitude. As the Azerbaijani delegation reported to its Government, Wilson had stated that the Conference did not want to partition the world into small pieces. Wilson advised Azerbaijan that it would be better for them to develop a spirit of confederation, and that such a confederation of all the peoples of Transcaucasia could receive the protection of some Power on the basis of a mandate granted by the League of Nations. The Azerbaijani question, Wilson concluded, could not be solved prior to the general settlement of the Russian question
However, despite Wilson's attitude, on January 12, 1920, the Allied Supreme Council extended de facto recognition to Azerbaijan, along with Georgia, and Armenia. Bulletin d'information de l'Azerbaidjan wrote: "The Supreme Council at one of its last sessions recognized the de facto independence of the Caucasian Republics: Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia. The delegation of Azerbaijan and Georgia had been notified of this decision by M. Jules Cambon at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 15th January, 1920".
Furthermore, in the House of Commons the [British] Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Greenwood, was asked on what date recognition had been extended to Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, and whether "in accordance with such recognition, official representatives have been exchanged, and the boundaries of the Transcaucasian Republics defined", Mr. Greenwood replied:
Instructions were sent to the British Chief Commissioner for the Georgian and Azerbaijani Governments that the Allied Powers represented on the Supreme Council had decided to grant de facto recognition of Georgia and Azerbaijan, but that this decision did not prejudge the question of the respective boundaries... There has been no change in representation as a result of recognition; as before, His Majesty's Government have a British Chief Commissioner for the Caucasus with Headquarters at Tiflis, and the three Republics have their accredited representatives in London...
The Allies recognized the Transcaucasian Republics partly because of their fear of Bolshevism, but their activities directed against Bolshevism, at least in Transcaucasia, did not go much beyond words, the strongest of which were status quo, recognition, demarche, and a list of standard diplomatic remonstrances.
Although the proclamation restricted its claim to the territory north of the Araz River, the use of the name Azerbaijan would soon bring objections from Iran. In Teheran, suspicions were aroused that the Republic of Azerbaijan served as an Ottoman device for detaching the Tabriz province from Iran. Likewise, the national revolutionary Jangali movement in Gilan, while welcoming the independence of every Muslim land as a "source of joy," asked in its newspaper if the choice of the name Azerbaijan implied the new republic's desire to join Iran. If so, they said, it should be stated clearly, otherwise Iranians would be opposed to calling that republic Azerbaijan. Consequently, to allay Iranian fears, the Azerbaijani government would accommodatingly use the term Caucasian Azerbaijan in its documents for circulation abroad.
On 16 July 1919, the Council of Ministers [of ADR] appointed Adil Khan Ziatkhan, who had up to that time served as Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, diplomatic representative of Azerbaijan to the court of the Persian King of Kings. A Persian delegation headed by Seyed Ziaed-Din Tabatai came to Baku, to negotiate transit, tariff, mail, customs, and other such agreements. Speeches were made in which the common bonds between Caucasian Azerbaijan and Iran were stressed.
Much like its other counterparts in the Caucasus, the ADR's early years of existence were plagued with territorial disputes. In particular, these included disputes with the First Republic of Armenia (Nakhchivan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Zangezur (today the Armenian province of Syunik), and Qazakh) and the Democratic Republic of Georgia (Balakan, Zaqatala, and Qakh). The ADR also claimed territories of the Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus (Derbent), but they were not as persistent about these claims as they were about the territories they disputed between Armenia and Georgia.
In the summer of 1918, the Dashnaks, together with the SRs and the Mensheviks, expelled the Bolsheviks, who refused to ask for British support, and founded the Centro Caspian Dictatorship (1 August 1918 – 15 September 1918). The CCD was supported by the British who sent an expeditionary force to Baku to help the Armenians and the Mensheviks. The purpose of the British forces (led by Major General Lionel Dunsterville, who arrived from Persia's Enzeli at the head of a 1,000-strong elite force) was to seize the oil fields in Baku ahead of Enver Pasha's advancing Turkish troops (Army of Islam) or the Kaiser's German troops (who were in neighboring Georgia) and to block a Bolshevik consolidation in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The city of Baku only became the capital of the Republic in September 1918.
Unable to resist advancing Turkish troops during the Battle of Baku, Dunsterville ordered the evacuation of the city on September 14, after six weeks of occupation, and withdrew to Iran; most of the Armenian population escaped with British forces. The Ottoman Army of Islam and its Azeri allies, led by Nuri Pasha, entered Baku on September 15 and slaughtered between 10,000 - 20,000 Armenians in retaliation for the March massacre of Muslims. The capital of the ADR was finally moved from Ganja to Baku. However, after the Armistice of Mudros between Great Britain and Turkey on October 30, Turkish troops were substituted by the Allies of World War I. Headed by British general William Montgomery Thomson, who had declared himself the military governor of Baku, 5,000 Commonwealth soldiers arrived in Baku on November 17, 1918. By General Thomson's order, martial law was implemented in Baku.
Fight for survival
The ADR found itself in a difficult position, hemmed in from the north by advancing Denikin forces, unfriendly Iran in the south; the British administration was not hostile but indifferent to the plight of Muslims. General Thomson initially did not recognize the Republic but tacitly cooperated with it. On April 25, 1919, a violent protest organized by talysh workers of pro-Bolshevik orientation exploded in Lankaran and deposed the Mughan Territorial Administration, a military dictatorship led by Russian colonel V.T. Sukhorukov. On May 15, the Extraordinary Congress of the "Councils of Workers' and Peasants' Deputies" of Lankaran district proclaimed the Mughan Soviet Republic. By mid-1919 the situation in Azerbaijan had more or less stabilized, and British forces left on August 19, 1919.
This made the ADR pursue a neutral policy with regards to the Russian Civil War. On June 16, 1919, the ADR and Georgia signed a defensive treaty against the White troops of General Anton Denikin's Volunteer Army who were threatening to start an offensive on their borders. Denikin concluded a secret military pact with Armenia. The Republic of Armenia with its forces formed the 7th corps of Denikin's army and gained military support from the White Movement. This fact increased the tension between the ADR and Armenia. However, the war never materialized as by January 1920, Denikin's army was completely defeated by the XI Red Army, which later started to concentrate its troops on Azerbaijan's borders.
Armenia and Azerbaijan were engaged in fighting over Karabakh for some part of 1919. The fighting increased in intensity by February 1920 and martial law was introduced in Karabakh, which was enforced by the newly formed National Army, led by general Samedbey Mehmandarov.
Sovietization of Azerbaijan (April 1920)
By March 1920, it was obvious that Soviet Russia would attack Baku. Vladimir Lenin said that the invasion was justified by the fact that Soviet Russia could not survive without Baku oil. According to the prevailing opinion in Moscow, Russian Bolsheviks were to assist the Baku proletariat in overthrowing the "counter-revolutionary nationalists."
After a major political crisis, the Fifth Cabinet of Ministers of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic resigned on April 1, 1920. On April 25, 1920, the Russian XI Red Army invaded Azerbaijan, entering Baku on April 27. They demanded the dissolution of the Azerbaijani Parliament (Majlis) and set up their own Bolshevik government headed by Nariman Narimanov. To avoid further bloodshed, the deputies complied with the demand and the ADR officially ceased to exist on April 28, 1920, giving way to the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (Azerbaijan SSR) as its successor state. The Red Army met very little resistance in Baku from Azerbaijani forces, which were tied up on the Karabakh front. The first Communist government of Azerbaijan consisted almost entirely of native Azerbaijanis from the left factions of Hummat and Adalat parties.
In May 1920, there was a major uprising against the occupying Russian XI Army in Ganja, intent on restoring Musavatists in power. The uprising was crushed by government troops by May 31. Leaders of the ADR either fled to the Democratic Republic of Georgia, Turkey and Iran, or were captured by Bolsheviks, like Mammed Amin Rasulzade (who was later allowed to emigrate) and executed (like Gen. Selimov, Gen. Sulkevich, Gen. Agalarov, a total of over 20 generals), or assassinated by Armenian militants like Fatali Khan Khoyski and Behbudagha Javanshir. Most students and citizens travelling abroad remained in those countries, never to return. Other prominent ADR military figures like the former Minister of Defense General Samedbey Mehmandarov and deputy defense minister General Ali-Agha Shikhlinski (who was called "the God of Artillery" ) were at first arrested, but then released two months later thanks to efforts of Nariman Narimanov. Gen. Mehmandarov and Gen. Shikhlinsky spent their last years teaching in the Azerbaijan SSR military school.
In the end, "the Azeris did not surrender their brief independence of 1918-20 quickly or easily. As many as 20,000 died resisting what was effectively a Russian reconquest." However, it has to be noticed that the installation of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic was made easier by the fact that there was a certain popular support for Bolshevik ideology in Azerbaijan, in particular among the industrial workers in Baku.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.|
- History of the name "Azerbaijan"
- Azerbaijan SSR
- March Days
- Mammed Amin Rasulzade
- Democratic Republic of Georgia
- First Republic of Armenia
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