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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.”

(daha&helliip;)

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Baku old oil wells

On the historic day of May 28, 1918 Azerbaijan declared independence. Thus, after over than 100 years, national statehood was re-established and Azerbaijan’s government started creating its own state institutions. However, in spite of the energetic steps taken by the government, this process was complicated and impeded by the military-political situation it faced at the same time. Even after the declaration of independence, a diarchy existed in Azerbaijan: the city of Baku and Baku province were controlled by the Bolshevik regime. It is clear enough that the Bolsheviks, led by Shaumyan, were completely controlled and directed by Soviet Russia; this explains the fact that the interests of Baku’s economy and especially the oil industry, were subjected to Russian interests.

On May 1, 1918 The Baku Soviet of Peoples Commissars published a declaration claiming that it would apply all the decrees of the Soviet government in Russia (1). Soviet Russia, covered with the fire of civil war was in great need of fuel. It would have been impossible to achieve the military victory on the Russian fronts without the oil from Baku.

Therefore Lenin characterized the issue of nationalizing of the oil industry as the highest priority from the very first day of the Communist regime. He instructed the Baku Soviet to provide the oil supply. His telegram of May 28, 1918 stated that “…most importantly, the oil production should be secured.” (2) In two weeks he sent another telegram ordering the Baku Soviet to ” take necessary measures to rapidly export the oil products from Baku.” (3)

(daha&helliip;)

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ADR leaders

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.

(daha&helliip;)

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