Between 1918 and 1920, the Republic of Azerbaijan had diplomatic relations with a number of states. Agreements on the principles of mutual relations were signed with some of them; sixteen states established their missions in Baku. The ADR government always remained neutral on the issue of Russian Civil War and never sided with the Red or White Army.
Recognition by Allies
The Azerbaijani delegation attended the Paris Peace Conference, 1919. Upon its arrival in Paris, the Azerbaijani delegation addressed a note to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, making the following requests:
1. That the independence of Azerbaijan be recognized,
2. That Wilsonian principles be applied to Azerbaijan,
3. That the Azerbaijani delegation be admitted to the Paris Peace Conference,
4. That Azerbaijan be admitted to the League of Nations,
5. That the United States War Department extend military help to Azerbaijan, and
6. That diplomatic relations be established between the United States of America and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
President Wilson granted the Azerbaijani delegation an audience, at which he displayed a cold and rather unsympathetic attitude. As the Azerbaijani delegation reported to its Government, Wilson had stated that the Conference did not want to partition the world into small pieces. Wilson advised the Azerbaijanis that it would be better for them to develop a spirit of confederation, and that such a confederation of all peoples of Transcaucasia could receive the protection of some Power on the basis of a mandate granted by the League of Nations. The Azerbaijani question, Wilson concluded, could not be solved prior to the general settlement of the Russian question.
However, despite Wilson’s attitude, on January 12, 1920, the Allied Supreme Council extended de facto recognition to Azerbaijan, along with Georgia, and ahead of Armenia. Bulletin d’information de l’Azerbaidjan wrote: “The Supreme Council at one of its last sessions recognized the de facto independence of the Caucasian Republics: Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia. The delegation of Azerbaijan and Georgia had been notified of this decision by M. Jules Cambon at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 15th January, 1920”.
Furthermore, in the House of Commons the [British] Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Greenwood, was asked on what date recognition had been extended to Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, and whether “in accordance with such recognition, official representatives have been exchanged, and the boundaries of the Transcaucasian Republics defined” , Mr. Greenwood replied:
“Instructions were sent to the British Chief Commissioner for the Georgian and Azerbaijani Governments that the Allied Powers represented on the Supreme Council had decided to grant de facto recognition of Georgia and Azerbaijan, but that this decision did not prejudge the question of the respective boundaries… There has been no change in representation as a result of recognition; as before, His Majesty’s Government have a British Chief Commissioner for the Caucasus with Headquarters at Tiflis, and the three Republics have their accredited representatives in London…”
The Allies recognized the Transcaucasian Republics partly because of their fear of Bolshevism, but their activities directed against Bolshevism, at least in Transcaucasia, did not go much beyond words, the strongest of which were status quo, recognition, demarche, and a list of standard diplomatic remonstrances.
League of Nations
Due to occupation and cessation of the existence of ADR on 27-28 April 1920, the application for de jure recognition and membership in the League of Nations, made on 1 November 1920, was turned down on 24 November 1920.
The decision to use the name Azerbaijan, drew some protests from Iran. According to Tadeusz Swietochowski:
Although the proclamation restricted its claim to the territory north of the Araxes, the use of the name Azerbaijan would soon bring objections from Iran. In Teheran, suspicions were aroused that the Republic of Azerbaijan served as an Ottoman device for detaching the Tabriz province from Iran. Likewise, the national revolutionary Jangali movement in Gilan, while welcoming the independence of every Muslim land as a “source of joy,” asked in its newspaper if the choice of the name Azerbaijan implied the new republic’s desire to join Iran. If so, they said, it should be stated clearly, otherwise Iranians would be opposed to calling that republic Azerbaijan. Consequently, to allay Iranian fears, the Azerbaijani government would accommodatingly use the term Caucasian Azerbaijan in its documents for circulation abroad.
On 16th of July, 1919, the Council of Ministers [of ADR] appointed Adil Khan Ziatkhan, who had up to that time served as Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, diplomatic representative of Azerbaijan to the court of the Persian King of Kings. A Persian delegation headed by Seyed Ziaed-Din Tabatai came to Baku, to negotiate transit, tarriff, mail, customs, and other such agreements. Speeches were made in which the common bonds between Caucasian Azerbaijan and Iran were stressed.