The first independent republic in the east- Azerbaijan
The first independent Republic of Azerbaijan
existed for 23 months, between May 28, 1918, and April 28, 1920. Without a
doubt, the republic existed during the most turbulent, unstable and complicated
period of local history in the 20th century. Ethnic conflicts and continuous
wars with Armenia, aggravated by the collapse of the Russian Empire, communist
coups, civil war in Russia and the consequences of WW I, brought the region of
the Caucasus into complete turmoil. This, in turn, facilitated the occupation
of the entire region by the Soviet Army.
However, despite the unfavorable
historical background, the Azerbaijan
Republic of 1918-1920
became the first secular state in the Orient with the first European-like
Parliament and the first Cabinet of Ministers. It was also the first to adopt
other Western-like institutions, which were implemented for the firs time in
the Moslem World.
The experience of the first Republic
(also known as the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic) seems particularly precious
nowadays, when almost 80 years later, Azerbaijan is trying its best to
create an independent state based on the finest democratic traditions laid in
October 25. Communist (Bolshevik) coup in Petrograd (St.
which brings about the collapse of the Russian Empire.
November 2. Baku Soviet, the
Communist council of the so-called Baku Commissars, led by Stepan
Shaumyan (an Armenian communist), becomes the supreme
authority in Baku.
February 23. Transcaucasian Seym (Parliament)
is established in Tbilisi (Georgia) as the Legislative power
in the Transcaucasus, with Azeris,
Georgians and Armenians holding equal representation.
March. Influence of the Musavat Azerbaijani National Party increases, causing
tensions among the Communist leadership of the Baku Soviet, resulting in ethnic
hostilities and the massacre of about 10,000 Azeris
in Baku. The massacre
is carried out between the Red (Communist) Army and the Dashnak
Armenian armed units. Soviet power in Baku
is completely destroyed.
April 22. The
Federation of the Republic of Transcaucasia names ministerial posts in Tbilisi, which are
distributed between Azeri, Armenian and Georgian representatives. Tensions
within this federation develop due to German support of the Georgians, British
support of the Armenians and Turkish support of the Azeris.
The situation is further aggravated by World War I, and by the Civil War in Russia
between the Red Army of the Communists and the White Army of the Monarchists.
May 26: The Republic of Georgia
declares its independence, causing the collapse of the Transcaucasian
May 28. Azerbaijan and Armenia declare independence. The formation of the first Cabinet of Ministers. Fatali-khan Khoyski becomes Azerbaijan's
first Prime Minister.
June 4. Peace and Friendship
Agreement is signed between Azerbaijan
Republic and Turkey. Establishment of the Turkish Military Mission in Ganja.
June 12. The Second Cabinet
of Ministers is formed by Khoyski in Ganja (which, at
that time, was the capital of the Republic
of Azerbaijan, as Baku was still under control of the Communist
June 16. Military offensive by
the Communist Baku Soviet against the Azeri government in Ganja is repelled
with the help of Turks.
June 27 - July 1. Geokchay Battle. Azeri and Turkish troops defeat the Red
Army and Dashnak Armenian units.
July 31. Fall of the
Soviet power in Baku.
The arrest of the Baku Commissars who, subsequently, were deported to Turkmenistan
and executed by British troops (reportedly). The formation of
the so-called "Central Caspian Dictatorship" in Baku,
supported by British troops from Enzeli (Iran),
whose purpose is to prevent Turkish and Azeri advancements.
July to September.
Ethnic conflicts with Armenians in Nakhchivan,
Zangezur and Karabakh,
resulting in considerable fatalities among Azeri civilians. All Azeris are forced to flee Zangezur
(the strip of land that connects Azerbaijan
to Nakhchivan and which has since become part of Armenia). Counter-attack and further advancement of Azeri and Turkish forces
from Ganja to Baku.
September 9. Azerbaijan
adopts national flag, which includes three stripes: blue (Turkic), red
(sacrifice) and green (Islamic), with a crescent and eight-pointed star.
Beginning in 1920, this tricolor flag is prohibited by the Soviet regime but is
finally restored when Azerbaijan
regains its independence in 1991.
September 15. Victorious
Azerbaijani and Turkish army corps enter Baku. The capital of Azerbaijan is moved from Ganja to Baku. Hostile
ethnic outbreaks against Armenians (in retaliation for the massacres that
Armenians had inflicted against Azerbaijanis in March 1918). The hostilities
are finally brought under control by the Azeri government and by Turkish
military commanders, who publicly execute some of their own soldiers charged
with pillaging. Solid law and order established after a year of anarchy.
September 30. Armistice is
signed between Great Britain
and Turkey in Mudros, stipulating the replacement of Turkish troops in
the Caucasus by British forces. This results
in the removal of the Turkish Army corps in Baku, led by Nuri-Pasha.
November 17. The Azerbaijani
Parliament establishes the provisional legislative body of the Azerbaijan Republic. The Parliament consists of 120
members (80 Azeris, 21 Armenians, 10 Russians, 1 Jew,
1 German, 1 Pole and 1 Georgian. Five seats are assigned to representatives of
various professional groups).
November - December. War
breaks out between Armenia
and Georgia in the Ahalkhalaki and Ahaltshykh
regions in Georgia,
where the population is predominately Armenian. Clashes result in more than
December 7. The opening session of the Parliament of the Azerbaijan Republic,
the first of its kind intheIslamicworld.
December 28. Declaration by British General Thompson, in support of the Azeri
Parliament as the only legal authority within the territory of the Azerbaijan Republic.
January 8. Peace Conference
in Paris Azeri governmental delegation, led by Alimardan-bey
Topchibashev, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, heads
March 14. Formation of the Fourth Cabinet of Ministers by Nasib-bey
the new Prime Minister.
April 25. The Conference
of the Transcaucasian States in Tbilisi
meets to discuss political, economic and financial issues, as well as to settle
May 28. The first anniversary of the Azerbaijan Republic.
Meeting of the Azeri delegation with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson at the Peace
Conference in Paris, where there is a
presentation of a memorandum concerning the establishment of the Azerbaijan Republic.
July 21. Men and women both
guaranteed the right to vote.
General Anton I. Denikin, Commander of the Volunteer
Army to Daghestan, who had been fighting against the
Communists in Russia,
advances into the Caucasus. Increased
tensions between the Azeri and Georgian governments as well as with General Denikin over the proximity of the volunteer army on the
northern borders of Azerbaijan
June 27. Republics of
Azerbaijan and Georgia sign a defensive agreement, intended to prevent further
advancement of Denikin's Army.
Ethnic tensions in the mountains of Karabakh result
in riots. Agreement is between the Armenian community and the government of Azerbaijan regarding the sovereignty of the Azerbaijan Republic in the region.
August 11. Azerbaijan adopts Law of Citizenship.
August 19. Complete
withdrawal of British troops from Baku and Azerbaijan.
State university is established, the first of its kind in the Islamic world.
Professor V.A. Razumovski, from Tbilisi, becomes the first rector of the
university. The first 100 Azeri students are sponsored by the Azerbaijan government to study abroad in Europe. (Many of these students never return to Azerbaijan due
to Soviet occupation a year later.
Charter on Mass Media in the Azerbaijan
Republic is ratified.
Censorship is officially repealed.
November-December. Further clashes with Armenians in Zangezur,
the region between mainland Azerbaijan
and Nakhchivan. Later, this land is given to Armenia, thus separating these two parts of Azerbaijan.
Cease-fire agreement between Azerbaijan
and Armenia, signed in Tbilisi.
December 14. Azerbaijani-Armenian Conference in Baku. Directive is to curb
December 24. Formation of the Fifth Cabinet of Ministers of the Azerbaijan Republic by Nasib-bey
the Republic of Azerbaijan as presented to the Paris
Peace Conference in 1919.
January 12. The
Council of Allied Powers issues the de facto republic of Azerbaijan.
January to March.
Situation at the northern borders of the Azerbaijan Republic
is further aggravated by the advance of the Red (Soviet) Army on General Denikin's Volunteer Army. Note by G. V. Checherin
(Foreign Commissar of the Soviet Russia) is sent to the government of the
Azerbaijan Republic with a proposal to end the military alliance against
General Denikin. Khoyski,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, rejects the proposal.
February 11-12. Foundation of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan's "Fifth
Column" with A.I. Mikoian (an Armenian) as key
figure. Preparation for Communist coup in Baku.
March 22. Dashnak (Armenian) riots in Karabakh
are organized with the intent to distract the Azerbaijan
government from the situation in the Northern Caucasus.
Battle in Askaran.
March - April. Complete
defeat of Denikin's Volunteer Army with concentration
of the 11th Red Army troops at the northern borders of Azerbaijan.
April 1. Resignation
of the Fifth Cabinet of Ministers of the Azerbaijan Republic.
April 27-28. 11th Red Army
troops enter Baku.
The Communist party demands resignation of the Parliament of the Azerbaijan Republic. Soviet power is declared in Baku.
May 20. Soviet Army occupies
remainder of Azerbaijan.
Uprising in Ganja is suppressed. Horrific atrocities occur when the Communists
kill 40,000 Azerbaijanis.
Further dissemination of Soviet power in Azerbaijan.
Fall of the Republic
of Armenia. Soviet
regime is established in Yerevan.
February. Soviet occupation in Georgia.
December 22. Azerbiajan, Armenia
and Georgia become part of the USSR.