CHAPTER 14 THE ESTABLISHMENT OF SOVIET POWER IN TRANSCAUCASIA. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE KARABAKH AND NAKHICHEVAN ANNEXATION TO AZERBAIJAN (1920-1923)

Staling himself officially confirmed this step, taken by Narimanov and declared that the age-old conflict between the neighbours had been settled. But the situation was far more complicated. The discrepancy remained unresolved. It was seen from the course of the further events that Azerbaijan had given up neither Karabakh, nor Nakhichevan. The apparent about face on the part of Narimanov, later proved to be a tactical device. Soviet Armenia didn’t hurry to enter Karabakh and Nakhichevan and the delay turned to be fateful. Narimanov’s declaration gave rise to a wave of protest in Baku. The musavatist B. Shahtakhtinski regarded it as treachery and called on the Muslims of Nakhichevan to turn to Ankara.16 Russia’s special envoy B. Legrand informed G. Chicherin that Turk Veissal Bek had declared himself as the Provisional Special Commissar of Turkey in Nakhichevan, awaiting the real masters of the region to arrive from Turkey.17

The historians of Baku school have mentioned for several times and are trying to prove that the appearance of the name “Karabakh” in the declaration was a mistake, a misprint, ignoring Orjonikidze’s and Stalin’s telegrammes. But in fact Narimanov was just trying to mislead the Armenian Bolsheviks for a short time to prepare new tactical methods.

It was planned to hold a Russo-Turkish conference in Moscow in early 1921, to sign an agreement between the two countries. February 9 telegram of Orjonikidze from Baku informed Lenin that after staying in Baku for several days, the Turkish delegation had left for Moscow on February 6. Orjonikidze on his part advised Lenin to treat them with great respect and “hurry with the agreement as Chicherins claims to Mush, Van and Bitlis to be attached to Armenia – may result in Mustafa Kemal’s agreement with the Entente.” Orjonikidze considered that the settlement of the Armenian question was the regard of Anatolia, a fact very important for the Soviets, as in case of “Ankara inclination towards Entente, eastern Anatolia will remain with us.”19 On the copy of Orjonikidze’s telegram Stalin wrote his own explaination; “Comrade Lenin, only yesterday I was informed that Chicherin has made a stupid demand to the Turks, about Van, Mush and Bitlis (Turkish provinces, with a majority of Turkish population) to be attached to Armenia. That Armenian – imperialist demand can’t be supported by us. It is necessary to forbid such claims, dictated by the Armenian nationalists.” Soon an article was published in the newspaper of People’s Commissariat of Nationalities under Stalin “Nationalities life”, written by the correspondent of the newspaper A. Stachko, which explained Russia’s leadership’s attitude to the Armenian question. “The forthcoming conference of Soviet Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, the active fighter against imperialism, is of exceptional importance, in the history of internatioanl revolution. The author explained that as Turkey had chosen the path of the revolution, being followed by the whole of the East, then they are obliged support and encourage him, or else it would give up revolutionary activity and join the Entente, which would be a serious blow to the development of the eastern revolution, which in its turn will result in the eternal prolongation of the western revolutionary process.” The writer of the article (Scachko or Stalin?) concluded that “Armenia has nothing else to do but sacrifize its territories and its population of Turkish Armenia on the alter of international revolution. Armenia is obliged to give up not only its territories of Turkish Armenia, but also those of consisting the Soviet Armenia for that great cause.” This was the Lenin – Stalin nationality policy, which was adopted by the Soviet government and who acted as the carrier of the nations’ will for seventy years. Narimanov who had had preliminary talks with the Turkish delegation, in a letter to Lenin wrote that he never suspected that the Kemalists earnestly wanted to tie their future with them, opposing England and that in his opinion the Armenian question was complicating the situation as the Kemalists had tried hard to make the better use of it and to gain from its settlement. He added; “In the talks about Batum and Akhaltskala they let me know that the Armenian issue is a matter of “to be or not to be” for them, they won’t make concessions to anybody as the masses won’t follow them…”

Narimanov advised Lenin make concessions themselves, otherwise the Turks would embrace the opportunity of joining England.21

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