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

Of course the Armenian Bolsheviks “with their sense of internationalism” and out of hatred of Dashnaks did not do their best to achieve a positive solution of the problem, but couldn’t be expected much as everything was decided beforehand, as demanding the problem to be submitted to the Central Committee, Narimanov already was sure to be backed by Lenin, Stalin and others…. The fact is, that all the powers, dominating Transcaucasia, conducted the same policy; Turkey, Britain, Russia, giving Baku preference over Armenia. Of course the main reason for such an attitude was the Baku oil. The local Tatars, both Musavatists and Bolsheviks were inclined to pan-Turkism and aware of the benefits that could be provided by the oil. As a main source of economic development Baku radiated its influence on state that came in touch with it. As to Turkey, conscious of its retreat of “leaving” the Transcaucasian Tatar population within the Soviet structure, it never ceased to follow the development of events in the region, always preserving its role of a patron. It was through Azerbaijan that Turkey hoped to fulfil its pan-Turkic cause. The Turkish leaders realized at once that the Bolsheviks backed and continued their policy concerning the Iranian Azarbaijan and the Soviet Azerbaijan. If the Russians never succeed in seizing the Iranian territory of attacking it to Soviet Azerbaijan, than Turkey has nothing also to do but wait for a favourable moment to occupy both.

Though the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia formally protested against the decision made by the Caucasian Bureau on Karabakh, no results were achieved. It was to take a good three years to realize the decision concerning the autonomous status of the region due to the fact that the leadership in Baku were not united in their plan for “a large degree of autonomy” on the other hand, that solution was found to be unsatisfactory by Nagorny Karabakh. On 21 October 1920 the conference of Karabakh leaders decided that “it was inexpedient to separate Mountanous Karabakh as an autonomous region.”

The United Politbureau and the Organizational Bureau of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan formally requested the Caucasian Bureau of the Communist Party to reconsider its declaration and to disregard territorial autonomy. At the beginning of December 1922 the Committee of the Russian Communist Party for the Transcaucasian region (on March 12, 1922 the Transcaucasian Federation consisting of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia had been formed) set up a Central Commisssion for the affairs of Nagorny Karabakh at the Council of the Peoples’ Commissars in the Azerbaijan Soviet Republic and another such a committee in Karabakh, which fulfilled government duties concerning particular issues in the territory of Karabakh. The special commission led by A.G. Karaev was ordered to determine the new borders of the autonomous Republic of Karabakh on June 27, 1923.30 On July 7, 1923 the Central Executive Committee of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic published the decree “On the formation of the Autonomous Region of Nagorny Karabakh” which stated;

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