• Markhulia – “Dashnaktsutuni”
“Dashnaktsutuni” and Restoration of Georgian Independence
During its whole history Armenia managed to restore its independence from time to time and immediately started to have territorial claims on Georgia. But at the beginning of twentieth century Dashnaks’ claims became sharper. They demanded on dividing the South Caucasus with the principles of proportion and ethnic as well. The struggle for dividing the South Caucasus by administrative order probably would finish (end) with the victory of “Dashnaktutsuni’ and the national interests of Georgia would be lost, if no 1917 year events in Russia.
As a result of counter-revolution of October 1917 the “Bolsheviks” came into power. The political parties of Transcaucasia didn’t recognize the “Soviet” government and instead of “special committee” they established the new government- the commissariat of Transcaucasia with the head of Georgian “Menshevik” E.Gegechkori. (Unexpectedly) With the irony of fate, Russia Came out of the World War One and Russian troops left the occupied territories. As a result hundred of thousands of Armenians left Turkey and settled in Georgia. On the 20-ieth of November, in 1920 the State Communist Union of Petrograd announced (stated) “the treaty about dividing Turkey and taking out Armenia from it, is cancelled and torn. And after military actions the Armenians will be given the right to determine their future freely”. The declaration was agreed with Germany, so Soviet government practically refused the idea of creating the “Great Armenia”, but also rejected to depend (protect) Armenians of Turkey. Bolshevik overturn in Russia and its policy towards Armenians made Dashnaks and whole Armenian society disappointed. Having lost the hope from Russia, Dashnaks addressed Georgian political circles and asked for help and patronage.
Giving help to Armenians wasn’t quite new for Georgians, because during the history the Armenians always found needful guardianship in (among) Georgian people and kings. But this time the Armenian leaders asked to free (liberate) Georgian historical territories in Turkey and give them to Armenians and then they wanted to work on enlargement of Armenian territories to Mediterranean. In such conditions Turkey suggested the committee of Transcaucasia to stop military actions and make peace. But Dashnaks demanded to continue war. In spite of this on December 18,1917 in Erzinjan the peace treaty was signed between Turkey and Caucasus government. The military actions were stopped on the Caucasus front and demarcation line was ascertained. Having desire to continue war, Dashnks were pretty unpleased with such development of the events. On the purpose of breaking Erzinjan Treaty, the armed troops of Dashnaks under the general Anrdanick Ozanian invaded Turkish villages and murdered ethnically Turkish population brutally. Only in the village Katrangh the Armenian bands burnt1400 children alive. The Turkish army moved to this place to protect its population. The soldiers of legendary General Andranick were running away shamefully. They were brave only to kill unarmed population: children and old people. Military actions continued. Dashnak’s army praised by the Armenians left the battlefields disgracefully. The Turkish army entered Ernijan in 1918,February 1. This kind of actions by the Dashnaks in the indistinct military-political circumstance prevented Georgian political leaders from establishing relations with Turkey and taking Transcaucasia out of the military actions.
On the 3-rd of March, 1918 the soviet Russia signed the peace treaty in Brest-Litovsk with Germany. According to this Russia let Turkey (the allied to Germany) have Ardagani, Batumi and Kharsi in Transcaucasia. The government of Transcaucasia didn’t recognize this treaty and tried to make treaty with Turkey in respectful conditions. But it couldn’t make Turkey on Trapizon conference agree with the idea to refuse getting the territory of Transcaucasia. On the contrary, the delegation of Transcaucasia was constrained to recognize the Brest Agreement. Later Dashnaks considered A. chxenkeli and other Georgian members of delegation to be betrayers because of that. But from the protocol of session of Transcaucasian delegation (March 26 and 28, 1918) it is quite clear that Chkhenkeli and other Georgian members of delegation didn’t recognize the conditions of Brest agreement. On the contrary the Dashnak members of delegation O.Karaznuni and A. Khatisiani insisted on to recognize the conditions of Brest agreement. Because of their behavior, they were betrayers of their own nations, they were afraid of anger of the nation, which was looking for responsible for their misfortune. So Dashnaks blamed Georgian people in betrayal against Armenians in order to make their own fault hidden.” What could we do when Georgians diplomatically ceded territory to Turks and rejected the resistance from our side?”… So Dashnaks held responsible Georgians shamelessly and encouraged Armenian nation against Georgians.
The demand from Turkey to declare the independence of Transcaucasia was satisfied, but it couldn’t stop advance of Turkish army. Turkey gradually occupied the territories having got(gained) by the agreement of Brest and continued to occupy the other territories of Transcaucasia. The aggressive plans of Turkey towards Georgia and the whole Caucasus caused sharp diplomatic battle on Batumi conference between Germany and its allied Turkey. Turkey as the allied of Germany in the World War One (1914-1918) couldn’t resist Germany openly because of Georgia in spite of Geo-political resistance. This circumstance was used by Georgian political leaders and asked government of Germany to take Georgia in the patronage. German government agreed with this suggestion. Georgian Socialist-Democrats having lost the hope of restoration of Democratic Russia began preparation to declare the independence of Georgia. The existed circumstance made the Dashnaks really disappointed,because they couldn’t stand the course ( policy) of Georgian Socialist-Democrats and also didn’t have any hope of help from Germany.
The Dashnaks couldn’t establish good ethnical basis-the territory for independent “ Great Armenia”. That’s why they asked Georgians to continue struggle (fighting). The leader of Dashnak delegation A. Khatisiani had stated to the leader of Georgian Socialist-Democrats in Batumi “ if we’re getting in trouble, we’ve to be together”. Georgia didn’t want to put the end to its existence. In such conditions Socialist-Democrats realized the necessity of declaration of independence that actually was aspire of Georgian national movement during the period of 19-20-ieth centuries.
After 117 years Georgia declared its independence on the 26-th of May in 1918.
This act made Armenian political activists fill (inflate) with indignation. They blamed Georgian Socialist-Democrats for leaving Armenians alone and not supporting them in the struggle for creating the “ Great Armenian” state. The circumstance was more strained by the ultimatum (demand) from Turkey- “to check” the borders- or in other words to let Osmal Empire have the territories that were meant for Armenia. But from the existed political situation Turkish government was constrained to correct (change) its plans according to Armenia. The Armenians were allowed to establish the independent state on the part of territory of Erevani province. On May 28,1918 the Musavats declared the independence of Azerbaijan. After that the Dashnaks were constrained to declare the independence of Armenia. On the same day, late evening the Armenian national union existed in Tbilisi declared independence of Armenia after 873 years.
The great tragedy of great goal
What political circumstance was appropriate to establish the idea of restoration of the Armenian national idea-”Great Armenia”? The establishment of the Armenian nationalist parties began at the 80-ies of the 19-th century. The Armenian movement with this tendency (direction) was connected with international situation and conditioned (determined) by (with) the foreign political factors of Russian Empire. As the result of the war between Russia and Turkey in 1877-78years according to San-Stefano treaty Turkey was losing the big part of Balkan- Serbia, Rumania, Bulgaria, would become autonomous principality. Besides that the South Be sarabia , Ardagani, Baiazeti, Batumi and kharsi went into possession of Russia. Exactly by this time Armenian movement began in 1878,when Russian troops went into the depth of Anatolia and occupied Kharsi, Arzrumi, they liberated Bulgaria on Balkan front and became dangerous for Constantinople The Armenians thought it was the right time to implement their national idea. The Armenian deputation with the leadership of Armenian patriarch of Constantinople- Varjabediani was accepted by Caucasus vicegerent, the great sovereign Michael Romanov (the son of Nikholoz). At the same time the Armenian patriarch Nerses asked for patronage with the name of Armenian nation from Russian government. Because of this initiation of Armenians in San-Stefano treaty there was added the paragraph number 16-th, according to what Turkey took obligation on the territories (vilaiets) where the Armenian population was densely settled (populated) to make transformation (reforms) that meant to own self-governing. Such actions of Armenians significantly complicated relations between sultan government and the Armenian population of Turkey.
When was Armenian nationalist party- Dashnaktutsuni established and what were its goals?
In such situation in 1890 in Tbilisi the Armenian nationalists Kh.Mikaeliani, S.Zoriani and others established the Armenian nationalist party Dashnaktutsuni that means connection. The full name of the party was “the union (federation) of the Armenian Revolutionists”. Sometimes, Dashnaktutsuni was translated as the Armenian revolutionary-federation party. The first official convention of Dashnaktutsuni was held in Geneva in 1892. 33 Delegates were participating in the convention. There was accepted the first program of the party, according to what Dashnaktutsuni wanted to achieve establishment of independent republic of Armenia in Turkey’s Armenia. There were also shown the ways to achieve this goal, concretely: the armed revolt of Armenians in Turkey, terror, to rob the offices of the government and etc. From the very first document of Dashnaktutsuni it is clear that it was aggressive military-political organization and its leaders couldn’t select the methods and forms of fighting for realization their goal. On the first stage of its existence Dashnaktutsuni shared the idea of liberation of Turkey’s Armenians. The party intended to unite so-called Turkey-s and Russia’s Armenia and to establish the entire homeland. And the program-maximum was to establish the “Great Armenia” from sea to sea.
To create this kind of state was possible only at the expense of neighboring states and at the expense of blood of the people who accepted the Armenians long ago and allowed them to settle on their own territory. To achieve their old, national goal they even assimilated formally and got Russian, Georgian, Azerbaijan surnames. A lot of Armenians got Georgian surnames in Georgia that ended on – shvili or dze. In muslim regions the Armenians became Usuf-Baks, Ibraghim- Khans and etc. The surnames also appeared in Russia not only with Armenian roots (basis) – Krasilnikovs, Sapojnikovs, Lisicins, and others. To influence on the opinion of society the Dashnaks needed to work on periodical press. Armenian bourgeoisies successfully did the commission of Dashnaks. According to one witness Transcaucasia press without any exception was under Armenian influence. Dashnaktutsuni established the press that was considered to be for all readers: with national sign-for Armenians, Georgians, Russians; with social sign or workers, peasants, intelligence, capitalists’ with political ideology for liberals, conservators, socialists, democrats, nationalists, internationalists and etc. All kind of reader was provided with pro-Armenian ideas and conformable pack. The national-political activity of Dashnaktutsuni in the South Caucasus wasn’t noticeable by official government. At the end of 90 years of 19-th century it was decided to make Armenian refugees go back to Osmal Empire. But Caucasus administration considered that realization of this decision was impossible. On June 19, in1898 according to the order of Nicholoz the second before the new instruction, the exile of Armenians has stopped. In spite of that since this time the distinct distrust had appeared between the Armenian nationalists and royal government, the both sides had suspicion to each other.
How did ethnic basis (picture) in the South Caucasus and in Turkey as well support the Dashnaks to achieve their goal?
Since that time Dashnaktutsuni began to realize its program. On the first phase for the most important, “the state of Great Armenia” they had to prepare the ethnical ground, because they didn’t represent majority in any of regions of the South Caucasus, even in Erevani province the 70 percent of population was Muslim ( Azerbaijan population). The ethnic picture was changed only after Armenian population immigrated from Persia and Turkey. On February 7, 1905 the members of terrorist organization” Dashnaktutsuni” murdered about hundred civilians in Baku just to create disorder(disturbances). On May 11, 1905 in Baku five Armenian terrorists killed Georgian prince M. Nakashidze and G. Takhaishvili who were standing on the position of friendship of Caucasian nations. From the memories of the witness P. Shubinsksi it becomes vivid that in the spread proclamation about this murder it was noticed that it happened by Armenian terrorist organization “ Dashnaktutsuni”. With other tidings one of the murderers was Drastamat Kanaian. On October 3,1905 in Sirkavendi region the Armenian terrorists brutally murdered about thousand of Azerbaijan population, including the old, women and children. The organizators of this event were the party “ Dashnaktutsuni” and the goal was to liberate the territory for the state of “Great Armenia”. On November 5,1905 in Tbilisi and its suburbs the fighters of the Armenian terrorist organization “ Dashnaktutsuni” made the most bloody murders of Georgians in the history of Georgia. According to the witnesses of this event the Armenian bands (criminal groups) liberated the places for Armenians to come and settle. They murdered Georgian population in suburbs, also Georgian orthodox peasants in the villages around Tbilisi. They murdered all including the children, women and the old. This fact is less studied in Georgian historiography and needs additional research and strict evaluation.
The leaders of Dashnaks guessed that preparation of ethnic basis for the future independent “Great Armenia” with terrorist acts wasn’t enough. They required creating historic basis (ground). So Armenian Maecenas from different countries of world began to concern about creating particular ‘special history” of Armenia. This result of this concern was announcement of Armenians as the descendant of Biblical Noel.
Such actions of Armenians Maecenas and “history creators” were directed to restore the abased (humiliated) reputation of Armenians nation and also to attract the attention of European countries (states) to the Armenian issue (subject). The writers and historians hired by the Armenians Maecenas enlarged the borders of Armenia so much that even Maecenas didn’t believe the existence of Armenia in such borders in old times and in the future as well. In spite of this they still tried to persuade the whole world that those territories were Armenian. For this goal they brought (inculcated) the concept (notion) of “ Great Armenia”, “Western Armenia”, “ Turkey’s Armenia”, “the plateau of Armenia”, “ the Armenian Issue”, and etc. To their mind such political or geographical concepts had to prove the territorial claims to neighboring nations. The leaders of Dashnaks asked the royal government to make a new administrative reform and to create the Armenian province of Alexandropoulos from Borchalo to Akhalkhalakhi regions. (In order to prepare ethnic territory). The royal government could make administrative-territorial reforms and pass the part of Georgian territories to Armenia but because of closeness of the world war, the strained situation in the South Caucasus wouldn’t be reasonable. That’s why Russian government pointed out the Armenian nationalists to the Eastern region of Osmal Empire. We have to notice that diplomacy of Russia and Europeans states inspired the Armenians that their conditions in Turkey is heavy, but it is possible to escape from this situation (for their own geopolitical goals). Besides, as a result of work of Armenian publicists “liberation’ of Turkey’s Armenians was popular in Armenian population. The leaders of Armenian nation knew they couldn’t manage to liberate so-called “ Turkey’s Armenia” with peaceful ways. So it became necessary to organize the armed rebellion. On February 21, 1914 the Armenian bands murdered 30000 ethnical Turks in Kharsi. They took the infant babies from the mothers and put them into the fire. One of the organizers of this slaughter was the deputy of Turkey – Stephen Ter-Danielian. In spring of 1915 when Russian troops began counter attacks the emissary of Dashnaktutsuni”took the tactics of liberating the territories, they began large-scale armed revolt in Vani Vilaieti in the epicenter of military operations. The Armenian volunteers under leadership of Dashnaks used the existed circumstance and murdered innocent, peaceful population. Thousands of Turks (ethnically) were murdered in the villages having taken (occupied) by Armenians. They drowned the Turks in the rivers, threw them into the wells and then covered with stones. Such actions of Armenians made Turkish government on April 24,1915come to a decision to deport Armenian population from Turkey.
So the dreams of Dashnak emissary to occupy the part of Turkish territory and establish “Great Armenia” from sea to sea were ended with deportation and genocide of Armenian population of turkey.
If Dashnak’s program was changed after this tragedy
In spite of this tragedy they continued to achieve their goal in the south Caucasus and insisted on reforming according to ethnical principles. But because of 1917 year events in Russia, solution of this issue couldn’t be implemented.
After declaration of independence Dashnak government of Armenia appeared with territorial claims to Georgia and demanded that Akhalkhalakhi, Akhaltsikhe and Borchalo had to be in the borders of Armenia. Georgian government made clear that above mentioned territories were in the borders of Georgia and became very strict to protect Georgian interests. Armenian government was displeased because of Georgian position, The Armenian government again made territorial claims on the whole Eastern Georgia and announced Tbilisi as the centre of Eastern Armenian civilization. Without any respect to Georgian nation and state on December 7, 1918 Dashnaks began war against Georgia, but they were defeated and couldn’t achieve the goal. Dashnaktutsuni factually had a tragic, negative role in Armenian national aspiration and was forced to move out in the shade temporarily.