Giorgi Mamulia: “If we studied Topchibashi’s legacy earlier, we could avoid conflicts in the Caucasus”

Giorgi Mamulia: “If we studied Topchibashi’s legacy earlier, we could avoid conflicts in the Caucasus”

“The Paris archive (1919-1940)” by Alimardan Topchibashi was presented at ADA University in Baku on December 4th. The books were published by Khudozhestvennaya Literatura Moscow Publishing House with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. One of authors of the introduction and interlinear notes, PhD (History) Giorgi Mamulia told Vestnik Kavkaza about working on the four volumes.

-          How did the idea of publishing Topchibashi’s archive come to you?

-          The idea of working with the materials came to me when I defended my thesis on the history of Caucasus anti-Bolshevik emigration in France and Western Europe in 1921-1945. Topchibashi’s archive attracted my attention from the very beginning as Topchibashi was the leader of Azerbaijani emigration. Importance of the archive is fantastic. Topchibashi was such a significant person that almost all important people of not only Azerbaijani but also Caucasus emigration corresponded with him. His archive contains a lot of documents – correspondence with big figures of not only Azerbaijan but also all Caucasus. I started to work with the archive in 2012-2013. The idea of publishing political materials of Topchibashi’s archive was born when I met dear Ramiz Abutalybov (he is also an author of the introduction and interlinear notes and a translator of the archive’s documents – editor’s note) and we became friends.

-          Did you publish all documents you had found?

-          Of course we didn’t. Topchibashi’s archive is huge. We published no more than 3 per cent of it. These are documents on political activity of Topchibashi, starting in 1919 when he was appointed the head of the Azerbaijani delegation at the Paris Peace Conference and up to 1940. There are a lot of documents on Topchibashi’s personal life, his work before the revolution (they are very important for Azerbaijani and Caucasus historians who study the topic) and up to the 1950s. The most interesting documents are of 1918-1934 when Topchibashi worked in the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic and was the head of the Azerbaijani emigration in Paris.

-          Is it correspondence only?

-          No, it’s not. There are a lot of various documents. We found some documents which we had to translate from French to Russian – these were memorandums, notes, official correspondence between the Azerbaijani delegation and the allies in Paris in 1919-1920. Correspondence with leaders of Azerbaijani and Caucasus emigration organizations proved that Topchibashi was a big person for not only Azerbaijan but also the whole Caucasus. Topchibashi supported the idea of the united Caucasus and stayed in touch with all significant people of Caucasus emigration, including the Armenians, despite difficult relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. According to documents, Topchibashi tried to involve the Armenians to the all-Caucasus cooperation and he succeeded in that from time to time. Unfortunately, it didn’t work always as Armenian leaders not always had a constructive position. The peak of Topchibashi’s work was signing the Caucasus Confederation Pact in July 1934. Actually, he signed a document planning to establish a united Caucasus state after liberation of the Caucasus from the Bolsheviks. Topchibashi died a few months after signing the pact. Mamed Emin Rasulzade witnessed that Topchibashi signed the Caucasus Confederation Pact with trembling hands, being already very ill. Topchibashi believed the pact was the peak of his work.

-          How important are the published documents?

-          The book is significant not only for Azerbaijan but for the whole Caucasus. It contains key ideas which we all should follow, I believe – the Caucasus unity. Topchibashi’s ideas are of current interest. Today, after all the tragedies that took place in the Caucasus in the 1990s, we can see how insightful Topchibashi was, how he could look in the distant future, how he understood threats to the Caucasus – threats of various groundless territorial claims. If we studied Topchibashi’s legacy earlier in the 1990s, probably, we could avoid many tragedies and conflicts in the Caucasus. Today the documents are available and we can study them and make conclusions. It can be a pledge of prospects for the whole Caucasus.