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Azerbaijan: Determination of Borders and Status
Country Study > Chapter 1 > Historical Background > Within the Soviet Union > Determination of Borders and Status

DETERMINATION OF BORDERS AND STATUS


In late 1921, the Russian leadership dictated the creation of a Transcaucasian federated republic, composed of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, which in 1922 became part of the newly proclaimed Soviet Union as the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (TSFSR). In this large new republic, the three subunits ceded their nominal powers over foreign policy, finances, trade, transportation, and other areas to the unwieldy and artificial authority of the TSFSR. In 1936 the new "Stalin Constitution" abolished the TSFSR, and the three constituent parts were proclaimed separate Soviet republics.

In mid-1920 the Red Army occupied Nakhichevan, an Azerbaijani enclave between Armenia and northwestern Iran. The Red Army declared Nakhichevan a Soviet socialist republic with close ties to Azerbaijan. In early 1921, a referendum confirmed that most of the population of the enclave wanted to be included in Azerbaijan. Turkey also supported this solution. Nakhichevan's close ties to Azerbaijan were confirmed by the Russo-Turkish Treaty of Moscow and the Treaty of Kars among the three Transcaucasian states and Turkey, both signed in 1921.

Lenin and his successor, Joseph V. Stalin, assigned pacification of Transcaucasia and delineation of borders in the region to the Caucasian Bureau of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik). In 1924, despite opposition from many Azerbaijani officials, the bureau formally designated Nakhichevan an autonomous republic of Azerbaijan with wide local powers, a status it retains today.

The existence of an Azerbaijani majority population in northern Iran became a pretext for Soviet expansion. In 1938 Soviet authorities expelled Azerbaijanis holding Iranian passports from the republic. During World War II, Soviet forces occupied the northern part of Iran. The occupiers stirred an irredentist movement fronted by the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, which proclaimed the communist Autonomous Government of Azerbaijan at Tabriz at the end of 1945. The Western powers forced the Soviet Union to withdraw from Iran in 1946. Upon the subsequent collapse of the autonomous government, the Iranian government began harsh suppression of the Azerbaijani culture. From that time until the late 1980s, contacts between Azerbaijanis north and south of the Iranian-Soviet border were severely limited.

Data as of March 1994




Last Updated: March 1994


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Azerbaijan was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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