Events of 1918-1920 in Azerbaijan show important historical lessons
On the shelves of French bookstores, an updated and revised edition of the monograph of the Ambassador of Azerbaijan in Paris Rakhman Mustafayev “Azerbaijan between the Great Powers” appeared, which allows you to take a fresh look at the events of 1918-1920 related to the activities of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) and the then European policy Powers in the region. The author of the book considers the autonization of Nagorno-Karabakh, the transfer of Armenia to Zangezur and the exclavization of Nakhchevan to be the result of Azerbaijan’s loss of independence in those years. He is convinced that the scientific and political circles of France, the co-chairing countries of the OSCE Minsk Group, must know the historical truth about those processes.
Rakhman Mustafayev considers what was happening in the South Caucasus after the collapse of the Russian Empire and before the declaration of independence of Azerbaijan; talks about the interests of Soviet Russia, Ottoman Turkey, Germany and the United Kingdom in the region and the foreign policy priorities of the three South Caucasian republics. From the monograph you can also find out in what conditions the formation of ADRs took place, about the attitude of the USA, Great Britain, France and Italy to it. The author explains why the military successes of the Bolsheviks stimulated the recognition of ADRs, but led to increased diplomatic and military pressure on Baku. The book also summarizes the two-year existence of the ADR, during which independent Azerbaijan proved the possibility of creating a parliamentary republic in a traditional Muslim society, successfully combining democracy and Islam within a secular state.
Rakhman Mustafayev told Trend that the book was supplemented by documents from the French archives, which confirmed the findings of Azerbaijani scholars about the connection between the activation of armed Armenian separatism in Karabakh in March-April 1920 and the Bolshevik aggression in April 1920, but only in the French archives did he manage to find documentary confirmation that the Dashnaktsutyun leaders coordinated their aggressive actions in Azerbaijan with the Bolsheviks. “The fact that the armed attacks of Armenian troops on Azerbaijani villages along the entire line of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border began in March and intensified in April is not accidental at all. It is not accidental that two weeks before the occupation of Baku at April 1920 , Transcaucasian Peace Conference, Armenia did not support the proposal of Georgia and Azerbaijan to create a Union of Transcaucasian republics and a common front of resistance to Bolshevism, although, in the opinion of all European and American diplomatic representatives in the region, this was one an opportunity for political survival of the independent South Caucasus. In return for their consent to enter (or just start negotiations on their entry) into the confederate Transcaucasian union state, the Armenians demanded territorial concessions from Azerbaijan. However, the calculations on the weakening of Azerbaijan did not materialize. In December 1920, Armenia also lost independence, having gone to double capitulation - both to the Bolsheviks and to the Kemalists. And in front of the latter on more difficult conditions, "says Rakhman Mustafayev.
Meanwhile, he admits that the Turkish factor saved the Azerbaijani people from genocide, and the young republic from annihilation, but argues that ADR’s relations with Ottoman Turkey were contradictory: "The military and political elites of the Ottoman Empire looked differently at the place and role of Azerbaijan in their foreign policy priorities. On the one hand, the Young Turks looked at him as a state, territory, resources and policies of which would allow them to access the Baku oil and the Caspian, expand the influence of Istanbul to the North Caucasus and Central Asia. On the other hand, the Kemalists and Turkish communists proceeded from the fact that Azerbaijan should connect them with Soviet Russia - an ally from whom they expected help in repelling external intervention. Both of these projects, despite their divergence, converged at one point - they they didn’t allow the possibility of the existence of an Azerbaijani state in the region with independent domestic and foreign policies. "
The author of the book “Azerbaijan between the Great Powers” claims that the establishment of Soviet power in Azerbaijan led to territorial losses. Thus, the transfer of Zangezur district, populated mainly by Azerbaijanis, to Soviet Armenia in 1920 led to the fact that the Nakhchivan region of Azerbaijan became its exclave. As a result, Azerbaijan lost direct territorial ties with Turkey, and Armenia gained common borders with Iran. According to Mustafayev, the creation of Nagorno-Karabakh autonomy in Azerbaijan in 1921-1923 had even more serious negative consequences for the republic, which became apparent after the collapse of the USSR in October 1991 and the revival of its independence - separatism, destabilization of the domestic political situation, external aggression, unresolved conflict and the emergence of a tool of long-term external pressure on independent Azerbaijan by interested regional players. At the same time, the refusal of the Moscow Bolshevik authorities to grant similar autonomy to the compactly living Azerbaijani minority of Armenia (by the way, twice the size of the Armenian population of Karabakh) naturally led to its mass deportation from Armenia in 1947-1948 and 1987 and the transformation of Armenia into a mono-ethnic republic.
According to Rakhman Mustafayev, today, when Russia, Turkey, the United States and European countries have again become foreign policy priorities for Baku, and Azerbaijan is one of the key areas of the regional strategy for them, the lessons from the history of the period 1918-1920 remain relevant.