Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic

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Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic

Закавказская демократическая федеративная республика
Flag of Transcaucasian Federation
Transcaucasia immediately prior to the formation of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic.
Transcaucasia immediately prior to the formation of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic.
Common languagesOfficial:
GovernmentFederative republic
• President
Nikolay Chkheidze
• Prime Minister
Akaki Chkhenkeli
Historical eraWorld War I
• Federation proclaimed
April 22, 1918
• Georgia declares independence
May 26, 1918
• Independence of Armenia and Azerbaijan
May 28, 1918
CurrencyTranscaucasian ruble
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Transcaucasian Commissariat
Democratic Republic of Georgia
Azerbaijan Democratic Republic
Democratic Republic of Armenia
Today part of Armenia

The Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic (TDFR; Закавказская демократическая Федеративная Республика (ЗКДФР); Zakavkazskaya Demokraticheskaya Federativnaya Respublika (ZKDFR); April 22 – May 28, 1918), also known as the Transcaucasian Federation, was a short-lived South Caucasian state extending across what are now the modern-day countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, plus parts of Eastern Turkey as well as Russian border areas. The state only lasted for a month before Georgia declared independence, followed shortly by Azerbaijan and Armenia.



The 1917 February Revolution saw the demise of the Russian Empire and the establishment of a provisional government in Russia. Grand Duke Nicholas, the Viceroy of the Caucasus, initially expressed his support for the new government, but was forced to resign his post.[1] A new authority, the Special Transcaucasian Committee (known as Ozakom, from the Russian Особый Закавказский Комитет, Osobyy Zakavkazskiy Komitet), was established on March 22, 1917. This was meant to function as a "collective viceroyalty," with members from the various ethnic groups of the region represented.[2] Much like in Petrograd, a dual power system was established, with the Ozakom competing with soviets (councils).[3] With little support from the government in Petrograd, the Ozakom had trouble establishing its authority over the soviets, most prominently the Tiflis Soviet.[4]


Nikolay Chkheidze

In November 1917, following the October Revolution, the first government of an independent Transcaucasia was created in Tbilisi. A Transcaucasian Committee and a Transcaucasian Commissariat (Sejm, headed by the Georgian pro-Menshevik Social Democrat Nikolay Chkheidze) existed for a couple of months. On December 5, 1917, the Committee endorsed the Armistice of Erzincan signed by the Ottoman command of the Third Army.


On March 3, 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk marked the end of Russia's involvement in World War I. The Ottoman Empire regained Batum, Kars and Ardahan. Starting on March 14, the Trabzon peace conference was held between the Ottoman Empire and a delegation from the Sejm. By April 5, the head of the Transcaucasian delegation, Akaki Chkhenkeli, accepted the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk as a basis for more negotiations and urged the Transcaucasian governments to accept this position.[5] The mood in Tbilisi, however, was very different. Instead of being bound by the terms of Brest-Litovsk, the Sejm gathered and made the decision to establish independence. On April 22, 1918, it proclaimed the establishment of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. A state of war between the Republic and the Ottoman Empire was confirmed[5] and, shortly afterwards, the Ottoman Third Army took Erzerum and Kars.

A new peace conference was convened at Batum on May 11.[6] The Ottoman Empire extended its demands to include Tiflis as well as Alexandropol and Echmiadzin, where their leaders wanted to build a railroad to connect Kars and Julfa with Baku. No agreement was reached and, on May 21, the Ottoman forces resumed their advance. The battles of Bash Abarn (May 21–24), Sardarapat (May 21–29) and Kara Killisse (May 24–28) followed.


The republic never had a strong foundation. With the ongoing Ottoman invasion, despite recognising the republic's invasion, as well as disunity between the Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and Georgians, it was impossible to keep it together. A speech by Irakli Tsereteli to the Sejm on May 26 confirmed the latter, in which he told the body that the republic from the start had been unable to operate due the people not being unified.[7] In response to this the Georgian leadership declared an independent state, the Democratic Republic of Georgia, on May 26, 1918.[8] This was followed two days later by both the Democratic Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.[9]


Following the Russian Revolution, the breakup of the Russian Caucasus Army left the Caucasus virtually undefended against the advancing Ottoman Third Army. In response, the Armenians, Georgians and Azerbaijanis attempted to establish a unified military, placing their forces under the command of a "Military Council of Nationalities". These forces consisted of Armenian volunteer units formed during the course of World War I; Georgian forces raised by their Provisional Government; and Azerbaijani troops raised independently.

The Military Council of Nationalities was short-lived. On May 28, 1918, Georgia signed the Treaty of Poti with Germany and welcomed the German Caucasus Expedition as protection against post-Revolution instability and the Ottoman military advance.[10] Azerbaijan, on the other hand, chose to ally itself with the Ottoman Empire.[11]


Akaki Chkhenkeli served both as prime minister and foreign affairs minister for the republic


Portfolio Minister
Prime Minister Akaki Chkhenkeli
Minister of Foreign Affairs Akaki Chkhenkeli
Minister of the Interior Noe Ramishvili
Minister of Finance Alexander Khatisian
Minister of Transportation Khudadat bey Malik-Aslanov
Minister of Justice Fatali Khan Khoyski
Minister of War Grigol Giorgadze
Minister of Agriculture Noe Khomeriki
Minister of Education Nasib Yusifbeyli
Minister of Commerce and Industry Mammad Hasan Hajinski
Minister of Supplies Avetik Saakian
Minister of Social Welfare Hovhannes Kajaznuni
Minister of Labour Aramayis Erzinkian
Minister State Control Ibrahim Haidarov



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, pp. 32–33
  2. ^ Swietochowski 1985, pp. 84–85
  3. ^ Suny 1994, p. 186
  4. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, p. 35
  5. ^ a b Richard Hovannisian, "The Armenian people from ancient to modern times", pages 292-293.
  6. ^ Ezel Kural Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, page 326.
  7. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, p. 120
  8. ^ Suny 1994, pp. 191–192
  9. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, pp. 123–124
  10. ^ Lang, David Marshall (1962). A Modern History of Georgia, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, p. 207-208.
  11. ^ Swietochowski 1985, p. 130
  12. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, p. 107


  • Kazemzadeh, Firuz (1951), The Struggle for Transcaucasia (1917–1921), New York City: Philosophical Library, ISBN 978-0-95-600040-8
  • Saparov, Arsène (2015), From Conflict to Autonomy in the Caucasus: The Soviet Union and the making of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno Karabakh, New York City: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-41-565802-7
  • Suny, Ronald Grigor (1994), The Making of the Georgian Nation (Second ed.), Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0-25-320915-3
  • Swietochowski, Tadeusz (1985), Russian Azerbaijan, 1905–1920: The Shaping of National Identity in a Muslim Community, Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521522-45-5
  • Zürcher, Christoph (2007), The Post-Soviet Wars: Rebellion, Ethnic Conflict, and Nationhood in the Caucasus, New York City: New York University Press, ISBN 978-0-81-479709-9

Coordinates: 41°43′N 44°47′E / 41.717°N 44.783°E / 41.717; 44.783