In the beginning of the 20th century, Americans had a limited understanding of Azerbaijan. Even at the end of the 19th century, when oil was discovered in the area around Baku and the Apsheron Peninsula, Azerbaijan was viewed as a “distant province” of Russia.
The latter half of the 19th century was a time of great economic development for Azerbaijan, based largely on the discovery of huge oil reserves. Considered the birthplace of the modern oil industry, the oil resources in Azerbaijan account for over half of total world oil output. And more than 95 percent of the oil factories in Russia were secured by resources from four major oil fields in Azerbaijan Guneshli, Chirag, Azeri and Kapaz fields.
Baku attracted investors and oil developers from all over the world, among them the wealthy Alfred Nobel and his brothers. Other leading oil firms operating in the Baku area at the eve of World War I included the Primary Russian Oil Company, the English-Dutch company, Shell, and the emerging French firm Rotshild. Toward the end of the wax; however, English, French and German companies controlled the majority of the oil shares in Baku. As this market grew, American oil companies began to show an interest in Azerbaijan.
POST-WAR EVENTS IN TRANSCAUCASUS
The emergence of the United States in the oil industry at the end of the war not only demonstrated the strength of the military doctrines, but also the power of diplomacy. In contrast to its European colleagues, US interests in the Transcaucasus rose, especially alter the October coup-an event which signaled the defeat of the Russian Empire and the creation of the short-lived Transcaucasus Federation that was created in November 1917 by member states Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.
WILSON MAKES “FOURTEEN POINTS” SPEECH
Wilson’s Fourteen Points speech, which was delivered to a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1918, clearly stated that self-determination for Russia included opposition to the detachment of her territory by any of the belligerents, Allied or enemy, and preservation of the right of the Russian people to determine their own government without any outside interference. His speech was enthusiastically welcomed by the Azerbaijani intelligentsia, who considered the address the Solution to quickly ending the war-a war which, they noted, would change the map of the world.
CREATION OF AN INDEPENDENT REPUBLIC
With the collapse of tsarist rule in Russia at the end of World War I, Azerbaijan, along with the other Caucasus nations of Armenia and Georgia, seized the OPportunity to declare independence. On May 28, 1918 the people of Azerbaijan established their own independent state, the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, which was run by an eight-member Azerbaijani National Council. The Azerbaijani intelligentsia, believing that Wilson was the defender of the rights of Oppressed nationalities, anticipated America’s quick recognition of their independence. As Azeri Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ziyadhan then wrote, “The American movement for humankind by her leader Wilson has opened up bright new opportunities for all of humanity.”
At the first meeting of the newly created Azerbaijani National Council, the memorandum of independence was accepted. According to this memorandum, Azerbaijan became a completely sovereign state which would be governed by a democratic form of goverment By the end of 1918, the new government had adopted a law on voting in Azerbaijan, making Azerbaijan the first nation in the region to adopt a democratic form of government Following passage of the law, Milli Share, a member of the National Council, addressed the people of Azerbaijan, noting that “for the citizens, the world war is over; [and] we await the eve of world peace.” Shura also believed that Azerbaijan’s independence would trigger agrand revolution among those people through out the world who demand a return of their legal rights, freedom and justice to follow suit.
External forces-including the Baku Soviet and the Turks-would not reconcile with the newly independent nation of Azerbaijan, and tried to suppress the government many times. Thus, on November 16, the Azerbaijani National Council turned to the US and western nations for acknowledgment of Azerbaijani independence. Alter long debate, representatives of England, France and the United States agreed that, although they did not recognize Azerbaijan’s declaration of independence, each country would establish de facto relations with the government and agreed that Azerbaijan would participate in the Paris Peace Conference.
On November 17, the Allied Forces under the direction of English General Thompson arrived in Baku to protect the interests of the new administration. During the troops’ stay, Thompson would permit the reestablishment of labor unions and other socialist Parties that were suppressed by the Turks, but maintained a militant attitude toward the Azerbaijani people. Thompson later informed a delegation that the Azerbaijani govenment did not reflect the interests of the Population, and that his main task in Baku was to make certain that the city was returned to the Russians and contributed to the war effort of White Army Commander General Denikin.
PREPARATION FOR THE PARIS PEACE CONFERENCE
The first actions of the Council included preparation for the upcoming Paris Peace Conference. The aging Parliamentary council met with representative Han Hoiskii on December 28 to elect a delegation for the conference. The first president of the Azerbaijani National Parliament, Ali Meridian Topchibashev-a man of great intelligence was selected as the leader of the delegation And in January 1919, the delegation would leave for the meeting in Versailles with a rigid program and the certainty that their program would be rightfully accepted if the program and ideas of Wilson would be welcomed by the delegation. And Topchibashev conducted numerous meetings with representatives of various delegations from America, France, Italy, Greece and Japan in Istanbul prior to the conference to explain the history, culture and economic system of Azerbaijan.
TOPCHIBASHEV MEETS US REPRESENTATIVES
The first meeting between Topchibashev and representatives of America convened on December 23, 1918 in Istanbul, due to the unofficial visit of US Ambassador Brown and his military advisors. During the meeting, Brown congratulated Topchibashev as the representative of Azerbaijan, noting, “Ah, Azerbaijan. Does that mean you are from Armenia?”
Brown’s words reflected the US, Armenian propagated perception of the Caucasus. Inorder to dispel Brown’s unflattering remarks, Topchibashev said, “You are correct, in the Azerbaijani Caucasus there are also Armenians, the total of whom is uncertain. The population of Azerbaijan comprises Azerbaijanis-Turkic Muslims. Our founding city is Baku.” Alter explaining this, Topchibashev read the memorandum of the Azerbaijani Republic to Brown, and noted reasons for justifying the existence of the republic, its borders, and its political livelihood.
“We hope that the United States- a country which is lead by a president who proclaims the principles of freedom of all the peoples-will recognize our independence,” Topchibashev said.
In a follow-up meeting on January 6, 1919, Topchibashev met with US Representative Naeks, a gentleman of a different character than Brown. Unlike Mr. Brown, Mr. Naeks was more knowledgeable of the Transcaucasus; prior to January 1918 he lived in Istanbul and
spoke Arabic and Farsi languages. Naeks was very familiar with the memorandum of Azeri
independence. Yet, the idea of a Federation of Peoples of the Caucasus was of great interest
to Naeks, who was already of the Armenian influenced opinion of the dangers of promoting one nation’s interests rather than a unified interest in the Transcaucasus. Naeks and the Allies were supporting the White movement, and feared Possible dissension by supporting the independence of the Transcaucasian countries.
Recognizing that American assistance rested on a defined Political goal of Trancaucasian solidarity, Azeri Council member Alumardan noted that unification of the countries of the Transcaucasus was more important than their deunification, and that the fate of the Transcaucasus People was based on
their necessity to unify.
Yet, the Azerbaijani delegation steadfastly Insisted that the US recognize and help Azerbaijan defend its independence. The Council noted that the US could play a significant role in the oil industry in Azerbaijan Naeks noted his satisfaction with the talks and Promised to forward the memorandum to Washington immediately.
PEACE CONFERENCE BEGINS
On January 18, 1919, the Paris Peace Conference began. It was represented by Azeri
leader Topchibashev; Armenian leader Ali Aharonian, and Georgian leaders Chkheidze
During the conference, US President Wilson initiated a meeting of the “Big Four”, com-
prising Wilson of the US, Lloyd George of England, Clemenceau of France and Orlando of
Italy. The first order of discussion was the Azerbaijani question . Wilson proposed the
granting of the Participation of the Azerbaijani delegation in the Versailles Peace Conference,
and, at the same time, fully recognized Topchibashev as the leader of the Azerbaijani
delegation Though Topchibashev was unable to speak on behalf his independent
still remained unrecognized in the West, his country’s support by the US President at the meeting of the Big Four was indeed a significant moment in the history of American-Azerbaijani. relations.
During discussions, the Allies continued to support the mandate of a unified Caucasus
Federation. The question Surrounding the mandate on the Caucasus stirred an interest among
US representatives during discussions. The American POsition, which was presented in
Versailles, was to understand how the mandate reflected the principles on which the countries
of the Caucasus were founded. With this goal in mind, President Wilson met with the
Azerbaijani delegation on May 28-a day which, ironically, was the day of observance of
the independence of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic.
WILSON MEETS WITH AZERBAIJANI DELEGATION
While in Paris, Topchibashev met with US Ambassador to Turkey and wealthy financier
Henry Morgenthau. Learning about the rich natural resources and industrial potential in
Azerbaijan, Morgenthau spoke of potential American capital investments for the develop-
ment of Azerbaij an’s oil industry. In the second half of the day, the Azerbaijani delegation
met with President Wilson. Their reception with President Wilson was considered a sig-
nificant event, because at that time, Wilson had not met with leaders of other delegations.
Thanking Wilson for supporting his country’s efforts, Topchibashev said; “We turn
to you as the representative of able America and ask you to accept this declaration of our inde-
pendence on behalf of our country, our people, and us personally. And we consider that the re-
ports of uncertainty surrounding Azerbaij an’s independence that have been appearing in west-
ern papers were falsified and were far from the truth,” said Topchibashev. “Yes,” he further ac-
knowledged, “they still know little about us; we are the fist in Europe, but assure you that we
have everything necessary for ensuring an independent life. We hope that the conference will
hear us out, and we will be accepted into the League of Nations. We express our faith in the
fact that your “Fourteen Points” will support our interests, so that our goals will not be chal-
lenged. We assure you that we will not call on Kolchak or Denikin or any other representa-
tive of the defunct Russian Empire, which is trying to seize our country. We support and will
only support our own Azerbaijani parliament and goverment.”
In his speech, Topchibashev noted his support of a possible confederation of Caucasus peoples, and presented Wilson the memorandum of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The memorandum noted the
events leading to its creation; after a short introduction of the events in the Caucasus and Azerbaijan, there was a list of demands for Wilson. The Azerbaijani delegation asked President Wilson to consider six requests:
– recognize the independence of Azerbaijan;
– extend the application of the “14 Points” to include Azerbaijan;
– allow the Azerbaijani delegation to participate in the Peace Conference;
– accept Azerbaijan as a member of the League of Nations;
– provide military assistance to the Republic of Azerbaijan; and,
– establish diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and the United States.
Once these requests were met, the Azerbaijani delegation promised to repay all
its outstanding debts owed to the former Russian Empire. At the conclusion of discussions,
Wilson expressed his satisfaction with the meeting and thanked the Azeri delegation for
Providing such a significant amount of material on Azerbaijan’s history. Wilson is said to
have later remarked during the Paris Peace Conference, “I met with a very dignified and
interesting group of gentleman from Azerbaijan – men who talked the same language that I did
in respect of ideals, in respect of conceptions of liberty, in conceptions of right and justice.”
Despite Wilson’s alleged support of the Azeri government’s initiatives to establish in-
dependence, the question of Azeri independence remained unresolved. Wilson’s relations
with Azerbaijan can be explained by many factors. First, as historians note, Wilson was sup-
portive of the Armenian Political camp and was falsely informed by Armenian missionaries of
the events in the Caucasus. Second, despite historical significance of the President’s meeting
with Azerbaijan, events occurring at the time of the meeting-including the active attempts
of Russian troops under Kolchak, Denikin, Udenicha and others in 1919 to invade the
Caucasus, and the growing dissension among the nations of the Caucasu prevented ongo
mg discussion among the countries in the Caucasus, and, for that matter, action by Wil-
son. At the end of the Paris Peace Conference, the Azerbaijani delegation learned that the at-
tendees did not support the “fragmentation” of the Caucasus into smaller nations, largely due
to their fear of an easy invasion by the Bolsheviks; the League of Nations mandate support-
ing the unification of the Caucasus was welcomed instead.
On June 28, 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, and was later ratified by Germany
(July 7), France (Oct.13), England (Oct 15), Italy (Oct.15), Japan (Oct.30). Wilson considered it a
victory, and, addressing the 66th US Senate on July 8, Wilson noted, “The stage is set, the des-
tiny disclosed. “At the same time, US representative and future president Herbert Hoover, along
with former US Ambassador to Turkey Morgenthau, recommended a candidate, James
Harbord, to lead a mission to Armenia. The Harbord Mission was dispatched by the US gov-
ernment to report on the possibility of establishing an American mandate over Armenia-due
to growing sympathy in the US towards the Armenian government. Harbord was accompanied
by V H. Gaskel, who was named the US representative to the High Commission in Armenia.
In the summer of 1919, the US Mission arrived in Yerevan. Gaskel’s appointment in
Yerevan would only complicate US relations with Azerbaijan. Thus, Gaskel appointed Colo-
nel James Ray as the representative to the High Commission in Azerbaijan-who would be-
come a strong supporter of the Azeri position.
US NEGOTIATIONS PROMOTE NEUTRAL ZONE
Colonel Gaskel first arrived in Baku on August 28. He met with the Premier Minister H.
Josefbeili, the Minister of Foreign Affairs M.Djafarovim and other members of the Cabinet
of Ministers to discuss his proposal on the territorial question. Gaskel Proposed that the
Karabakh and Zangezur districts be recognized as part of Azerbaijan. He also proposed the cre-
ation of a neutral zone to the south of Nakhichevan-an area which was annexed by Russia in I 1828-and Sharur-Daralyaze This neutral zone, which also included the English
province of Batumi, would be united as the province under American governance.
Creation of a neutral zone was an important political strategy for America: from this
location, America could launch not only its policies for Azerbaij an, Armenia, Iran and Turkey,
but also policies for the Middle East and Central Asia. The Armenian government was natu-
rally supportive of the US plan, given that expulsion of the Muslim population from these
territories and the introduction of the Armenian government there would create a mythical
“Great Armenia.” Yet strong opposition by local Muslim populations prevented any of the
fantastical plans of the Armenian government from materializing. Concerned about reaction
from the Muslim people, Gaskel resorted to political action rather than military force to se-
cure his interests in the region, and, meanwhile, promised the Muslim populations that their
rights would be considered by the US Mission.
In October, Gaskel sent a telegram to Foreign Affairs Minister M. Djafarov describing his
meeting with members of the Azeri government. Gaskel expressed concern over the American plan
of a neutral zone and possible opposition from the Azerbaijani people, adding that the Azeri gov-
ernment assured him of their intent to suppress the anger of their people if the declaration of
Azerbaijan’s independence would be raised at the Peace Conference.
In a second attempt to convince the Azeri government of the US proposal, Ray returned
to Baku, where he continued discussions with Azeri officials Yet, Azerbaijanis continued to
express their opposition with the US proposal of a zone of neutrality.
AZERI-ARMENIAN AGREEMENT REACHED
In November 1919, following extensive US mediated talks, an agreement was finally
reached between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Signing on behalf of Azerbaijan was Council
of Ministers Representative Usifbeli, while representative of the Council of Ministers A.
Hatisovim signed on behalf of Armenia. US Representative James Ray and Georgian For-
eign Affairs Minister E. Gekchkori ratified the agreement. Although the agreement called for
a temporary truce, it was short-lived; there were too many conflicting points on both sides. Not
long thereafter, the Americans abandoned the Caucasus as a result of a December conference
which did not produce any results.
In reaction, Gaskel, who was attending the Versailles Peace Conference, sent a letter
to Topchibashev to try to mend the US proposal. In his correspondence, Gaskel noted his
understanding of the difficulties surrounding creation of the Nakhichevan general province,
and concluded that the only solution was the creation of one country in the Caucasus.
Topchibashev answered Gaskel by noting, “You spoke often of the need for law and
order in our country. And you were satisfied with what you saw in Baku; our simple, warm-
hearted people were charming and did not appear as enemies of the Armenian people. And
if there were not Politics involved, then these two peoples could live together in peace. ..You
have answered my question by stating that all the peoples of the Caucasus can live together,
as if in an economic union. But in the begin ning it would be imperative to assist them with
some sort of goverment financial assistance. After a few years every nation would be free
from the mandate and could live independently …But, first of all, the abolition
of the mandate should be controlled by Azerbaijan.”
It should be noted that prior to his next arrival in the Caucasus, Gaskel received a note
by President Wilson announcing the US decision to support Armenia financially. However,
during his stay in the Caucasus, the situation presented itself much more clearly. After meet-
ing again with Topchibashev and others, Gaskel denounced the myth about the suffering of the
Armenians that had been Propagated in the western press by Armenian lobbyists.
“Not long ago the Americans spoke about Armenians as if they were a single, united na-
tion in the Caucasus. Our mission to Turkey and the Caucasus was useful for many Ameri-
cans; now we believe that not all Armenians are as nice as they seem, and not all Turks are
as bad. Due to this, it is Possible to unite all nations under one mandate, but America will
not control them,” Gaskel said.
DEBATE SURROUNDING THE MANDATE
On November 14, 1919, western delegates attending the conference had the chance to hear
Gaskel’s revised proposal of one united Caucasus nation. His Presentation which also
included a brief historical overview of Azerbaijan and Georgia left a significant im-
pact on the audience. Polk proposed adding in formation to the mandate to include the follow-
“US representative Gaskel will lead the Supreme Council of Representatives from the
US, England, France and Italy for the Commission to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.”
His proposal drew strong reaction from English representative Crow, who openly announced
that Great Britain will tolerate the American Commission’s Presence in the Caucasus, but
would not recognize American Colonel Gaskel as the High Commander of the Caucasus.
England’s proposal was supported by France and Italy. Thus, the American Proposal to ex-
pand Gaskel’s Proposal to include the Political interests of Azerbaijan were met with strong
opposition on the part of England.
In conclusion, the group denied the creation of a High Commander of the Caucasus.
The US government, therefore, would maintain representation in Azerbaijan and Georgia
under the jurisdiction of the American Relief Committee of the Middle East.
The American disinterest in supporting the mandate for the Caucasus was based on in-
formation prepared for the President by another mission sent to the Caucasus and Asia Minor
the Harbord Mission. In his comments to President Wilson, Harbord expressed his OPPosition
to the American mandate in the Caucasus, stating that the majority of the inhabitants wanted
to reunite ties with Russia to secure economic and social stability.
On October 16, the American mission guided by Harbord arrived in Paris and pre-
pared a report for US Chancellor of the State Departament Frank Polk. During the meeting,
the issue of Turkey’s invasion in Armenia was presented as one of the main issues to be dis-
cussed. Harbord noted that the territory in dispute was previously inhabited by Turks. Fur-
thermore, Harbord noted, once the Armenian refugees returned home, the majority of the in-
habitants in the disputed territory would again be Turks. Harbord concluded that the US
should not commit any further assistance to Armenia, which was engaged in conflict with
the Turks. The Harbord Mission did not only delay the US claim on the Caucasus mandate,
but also brought a tangible blow to the pro Armenian Position in the US.
By the end of 1919, the negative position of the American Senate toward the Versailles
Peace agreement and the conference itself caused greater rifts among the congressional
members. At the same time, a functioning “American Committee for the Independence of
Armenia” was working to obtain US recognition of Armenia’s independence. The commit-
tee was also a strong lobbying group which promoted opposition against Azerbaijan and
Georgia within US political circles.
Concerned over growing anti Muslim sentiment in the US, the Azerbaijani and Georgian governments signed an agreement with US lobbyist William Chandler to promote their opinions in the West. In September 1919, Topchibashev signed two contracts with Mr.Chandler-a three-month contract with Chandler as a legal advisor to the government of Azerbaij an, and a three-month contract to lobby for US financial assistance to Azerbaijan -for which the sum of US$ 5 ,000 was agreed. And once the US recognized Azerbaijan an, Chandler would receive US$ 50,000.
The issue of US investment in Azerbaijan was not resolved until talks reconvened in
Paris. At that time, US representative Mx Rabinov was appointed to work with the
Azerbaijani delegation to increase the development of US investments in the Azeri oil in-
dustry. Following discussions in September 1919, Azerbaijani and Georgian representatives
signed a six-month agreement with the US for securing the sale of Azeri oil on the interna-
tional market and introducing US manufactured products in Azerbaijan.
Upon returning to the US, Rabinov met with Standard Oil Company Director Tho-
mas-who had also traveled to Baku earlier that year to negotiate the purchase of oil. Tho-
mas readily agreed to collaborate with Rabinov in the short-term contract, and soon signed an
agreement with the Azerbaijani Minister of Transportation H. Melik-Aslanov for the pur-
chase of 12 million poods of kerosine-6 million of which needed to be sold to Standard
Oil prior to January 31, 1920, at 36 dollars per ton. As part of this agreement, Azerbaijan pur-
chased 40,000 tons of wheat at US$2.5 million per pood.
In October, US representative Chandler sent Topchibashev his first correspondence, in
which he described the difficulty in promoting the interests of Georgia and Azerbaijan due to
the fact that these countries were not well known in the United States; the Estonians,
Ukrainians, Latvians and Armenians, however, were in good standing in the US.
“The President’s illness is a definite obstacle for our promotion of Azerbaijan’s inter-
ests in the United States. Governmental recognition [of Azerbajan] depends on the deci-
sion of our Executive Branch. And this means that, first of all, the President should fulfill his
obligation,” wrote Chandler. At the same time, the American Committee for Armenian Inde-
pendence-a committee which was founded by former US Colonel to Berlin, James Gouraud
increased its lobbying activities. Chandler described how the committee used every Possible
source of information on the “suffering Armenian Christians”, the “Christian tortures” and
the need to defend Armenians from their “crafty” neighbors as a means of swaying opin-
ion in the US Congress.
Gouraud appealed to the US Congress numerous times, noting: “Armenia is in dan-
ger of being totally destroyed. Telegrams from Armenian representatives leave me with no
doubt that this is so Armenia implores Christian America to save her. It is not necessary to
restate, that if the Armenian people are destroyed, the Armenian church will be gone for-
ever. We turn to you for help: send telegrams and letters to our President requesting that he
acknowledge these necessary measures for the sake of saving Armenia. Armenia is dying,
America should give its word.”
At a similar meeting, Gouraud was noted to have said, “Give Armenia weapons and you can be assured that the Turks, Kurds and Tatars will not interfere in allowing Peace in Armenia.” Gouraud concluded by demanding that four points be met by the US: recognition of the republic of Armenia; the shipment of industrial goods, weapons, military supplies for her army of 30,000; permission for American-Armenians to form a 10,000 member legion of volunteers and send them to Armenia; receive Senate approval for the creation of the Armenian government which will include Kiliki.
US TALKS ON CAUCASUS RESUME
At the end of 1919, the Caucasus republics requested support by the Allied Supreme Council
in being recognized under the League of Nations mandate. US-governmental talks resumed with
the Soviet government which was created on the territory of the former Russian Empire. Discussing the issue of Azerbaijan an’s independence, US representatives explained that the US was expecting results from the activities of Kolchak, Denikin and Yudenich. They noted, however, that the defeat of the White Army Guards necessarily changed US relations with the Caucasus” governments. The delegation also expressed US support of the independence of small countries, and that US assistance would probably be provided to the people of Russia and Azerbaijan under a
special project by the US President
On January 11, the Supreme Soviet adopted the following resolution on behalf of the recommendation of the Western Allies: “Our Union recognizes the de facto indepen-
dence of the governments of Azerbaijan and Georgia…” In reaction, Japan declared its sup-
port of the resolution. The US, however, declined to recognize the Soviet decree. There
are a few reasons for the US decision: The US government became increasingly fearful of
Great Britain’s control in the Transcaucasus. Moreover, the serious opposition between the
US and its European members prevented any western unified action in the Caucasus.
US SENATE DEFEATS TREATY
On March 19, 1920, following extensive debate in the US Congress, the Treaty of
Versailles was defeated a vote of 49 to 35. Although Congress ended the war by joint reso-
lution, their actions were vetoed by Wilson. And the US proposal for strengthening rela-
tions in the Caucasus, which was worked on between 1919 and the spring of 1920, lost its
strength in the US Congress. Wilson’s Armenian mandate was also defeated by a Senate
vote of 52 to 28.
It seems clear that the issue of America’s non recognition of Azerbaijan was based not
merely on the existence of two opposing views between England and the United States; the
American Senate did not ratify the Versailles Treaty of June 1919, and Wilson’s international
Policies were severely criticized-especially his actions in the Caucasus. All of this made
relations between the government’s of Azerbaijan and the US impossible.
On January 13, US Ambassador to Paris Walleye informed his government of England and France’s defecate recognition of the independence of Azerbaijan and Georgia, and of their
intention to assist them. In response to Walleye, Deputy Advisor Polk informed the US
Embassy in Paris that America approves England’s and France’s measures to assist the
Caucasus’ governments, but that America is scrutinizing their decision to recognize the
countries at a time of division of Russia. Yet, however, its recognitjon of Armenia April 23,
1920 was not considered a factor in the further division of the Caucasus.
At the end of January 1920, an economic agreement between the American Committee
for Assistance to the Middle East and the government of Azerbaijan was signed, whereby
Azerbaijan would agree to provide the Committee with kerosene and oil, while the Ameri-
cans would Provide flour. According to the agreement, one ton offlour, valued at $U52 10,
a ton of kerosine, valued at $U535 dollars, and a ton of heavy oil, valued at $U520 would be
exchanged. US Representative Gaskel signed the agreement with Azerbaijani Representative
to Georgia F. Velikovi. The US Vice Consular to Baku, RandoIf, lead discussions with
Azerbaijan on furthering the economic exchange. In April 1920, the Azerbaijani Parlia-
ment adopted the resolution to establish a diplomatic post in the US.
SOVIET INVASION OF AZERBAIJAN
Not long thereafter, the Bolsheviks again at tempted to invade the Caucasus. In April, 1920,
units of the Russian Bolshevik 11th Army invaded Azerbaijan and overthrew the govern-
ment. With the Red Army occupying its territory, Azerbaijan was forcibly incorporated into
the Soviet Union with the signing of the Treaty of Formation of the USSR on December 30,
1922. Soviet authorities ceded the Azerbaijani territory of Zangezur to Armenia, thus cutting
off Nakhichevan from the rest of Azerbaijan. News of the occupation of Azerbaijan by So-
viet Russia reached Topchibashev and his Azerbaijani delegation during a conference in
San Remo. Through the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the delegation informed all coun-
tries, including the US, about their country’s occupation. This news was received by the US
with indifference. The US advisor, in a note to the Italian Embassy in Paris, noted that his gov-
ernment would have liked to see the renewal and unification of Russia. The Azerbaijani del-
egation expressed their protest and wrote a note of protest to the US advisor in Paris, which
stated that the Azerbaijani people led a heroic struggle against the Bolshevik invaders, dur-
ing which time they suffered great losses; the delegation expressed their belief that the peace
conference and those in America who favor democratic and free ideals will help create an
independent Azerbaijan. Yet neither this note, or the next notes from the Azerbaijani del-
egation were answered by Washington.
For over 70 years Azerbaijan tried to receive US recognition and support of its efforts to obtain independence. Then, in 1990, Azerbaijan declared its sovereignty, and on August 30, 1991, declared itself formally independent. Ironically, America was one of the first countries to recognize Azerbaijan’s independence. Yet the history of international relations between America and Azerbaijan suggests that US representation in Baku will always be based on its self interests in the Caucasus.
by Jamil Hassanov
Jamil Hassanov IS A DOCTOR OF HISTORICAL SCIENCE AND PROFESSOR AT THE DEPARTMENT OF MODERN HISTORY OF AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN COUNTRIES, BAKU STATE UNIVERSITY (BAKU, AZERBAIJAN)