How the First Armenian Republic Fell – 1920

How the First Armenian Republic Fell - 1920Garegin Nzhdeh has an apt definition: “Having losses per se isn’t as fatal as having losses in vain. That is, not to be able to learn from past mistakes and analyze them is fatal. And even simpler: not having the ability to rethink is catastrophic. Without this, search does not have meaning. And without searching dies not only the thought of the people but also the people themselves.”

The First Republic of Armenia actually lost its independence on December 2, 1920, as a result of cooperative military actions of Kemalist Turkey and Bolshevik Russia.

Interestingly, an official document was preserved in the Armenian archives, testifying to the loss of independence by the Armenian republic.

Let us present this rare historical document dated to December 2, 1920. This is the act “On the transfer of power” adopted in Yerevan by the government of the First Republic of Armenia. This document commenced the self-dissolution of the government of Armenia and the surrender of state independence in favor of Soviet Russia.

The act was signed by Prime Minister Simon Vratsyan, Ministers Arshak Hovhannisyan, Arsham Hondkaryan, Hambardzum Terteryan, Drastamat Kanayan (Dro), and the head of the office Hamlik Tumanyan (son of the great Armenian poet Hovhannes Tumanyan).

Merely a dramatic passage doomed Armenia as an independent state:

“Taking into account the situation in the country as a result of external circumstances, on December 2, 1920, the Armenian government decided to renounce its authority and transfer full military and civilian authority to the commander-in-chief of the army, on the position of which was appointed Minister of Defense Drastamat Kanayan.”

The historical background to this document is as follows. In 1920, the rapprochement of Kemalist Turkey and Bolshevik Russia began. In the autumn of the same year, Armenia reaped the bitter fruits of this rapprochement.

On September 28, the Turkish army, having received substantial financial and military assistance from the Bolsheviks, from the west invaded the Kars region recognized by the world as an integral part of Armenia and then invaded Alexandropol (now Gyumri).

On November 29, the 11th Red Army entered Tavush Province from the northeast of Armenia and proclaimed Soviet power in Ijevan (Karavansara).

On November 30, the authorized representative of Soviet Russia in Armenia Boris Legran presented the government of Armenia with an ultimatum on the immediate and complete transfer of all power to the Revcom (revolutionary committee) located in Ijevan and created by the Russian Bolsheviks in Baku. If refused, the troops of the Turkish-Russian coalition would attack and seize Yerevan and Etchmiadzin within a few hours.

In order to somehow save the people and the country from a complete collapse, the Armenian government was forced to agree with this ultimatum and accept the Act of December 2.

After that, on December 4, Dro handed over his authority to the Soviet Revcom that arrived in Yerevan, after which units of the 11th Red Army entered Yerevan, thus putting an end to the independence of the Armenian republic.

Already in March 1921, as a result of the Moscow Treaty, Armenia finally lost a significant part of its legitimate lands that was transferred to Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Ruben Shukhyan

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