Dr Vali Kaleji: Iran’s Relations with the Republics of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia in the First Period of Independence

Tuesday 4th June (Please note this talk will be held Online – details to be circulated closer to the time)

Dr Vali Kaleji (University of Tehran/ONGC)

Iran’s Relations with the Republics of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia in the First Period of Independence (1917-1921)

Following the collapse of the tsarist Russian Empire and the communist revolution in October 1917, the Caucasus region was in the turmoil due to its aspiration to independence. Powerful feelings of nationalism and religion pushed the Caucasian nations towards independence, the first result of which was the formation of the “Seim” in February 23, 1918 and also “Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic” (TDFR) in April 22, 1918 that included most of the territory of the present-day Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as parts of Russia and Turkey. Although it was a short-lived state in the Caucasus and according to internal disputes and the effective role of the Ottoman Empire, the Transcaucasian Seim announced its self–dissolution on May 26, 1918. With the collapse of the TDFR, three independent republics of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia were formed in the Caucasus, which is considered a “turning point” in the history of political and social developments in this region. On the other hand, following Constitutional Revolution in 1905, the in the last years of Qajar dynasty, Iran was faced with political instability specially by successive collapse of governments and internal rebellions such as the Jangal (Jungle) Movement, in Gilan. In these circumstances, the Young Turk Revolution in the Ottoman Empire in 1908, the weakening and fall of the Tsarist Russian Empire, the formation of the Soviet Union in 1917, and the formation of the three independent republics of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia in the Caucasus, had important consequences on Iran’s politics and foreign relations. Although with the annexation of these republics by the USSR in 1920 and 1921, Iran’s foreign policy passed through this chaotic and difficult stage, however, after 100 years, the shadow of some issues such as Nagorno-Karabakh, Zangezur Nakhchivan, Pan-Turkism and Pan-Azerism in the Caucasus continues to affect Iran’s foreign policy towards the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia. In fact, although the period of independence of the Caucasian republics from 1917 to 1921 was very short, it had a very deep impact on the political and social life of the Caucasian nations as well as Iranian foreign policy toward the region.

TOSCCA/ONGC Seminar series on the History and Culture of Central Asia and the Caucasus

Tuesdays, weeks 2-8, 5pm in Lecture Room 6, New College.