At the beginning of 1918 the Transcaucasian Commissariat decided to stop its activities, instead decided to create a representative body that would deal with solving many problems inside Transcaucasia. In the first place was the peace negotiations with the Turkish government. Receiving the telegram from the Turkish side, the Commissariat promised to respond within three weeks, and the final decision had to be taken by the newly formed Transcaucasian Seim.The first session of the seim was convened in 1918, on February 10. Deputies were elected and distributed according to the principle of parties and associations. The largest among them was Social-Democratic Menshevik faction, which had 32 deputies. In second place was "Musafat and the group of non-partisans" with 30 members. Armenians had 27 deputies: Rostom, Kosti Hambardzumyan, Hamo Ohanjanyan, Hakob Zavryan, Hovhannes Kajaznuni, Simon Vratsyan, Alexander Khatisyan, Khachatur Karchikyan and others.
In the second session of the Seim, on February 13, Nikolay Chkheidze was elected president, and then Gegechkor made a speech. After talking about the complications that appeared in the period of administration of the commissariat, Gegechkori touches on the issue of reconciliation. "I have a document in my hands regarding the ceasefire and reconciliation.Terrible dark clouds are approaching us.
How to disrupt lightning Seym will decide. In any way , the primary issue is the reconciliation. Apparently, for the problem it can be solved quite beneficialy" for Transcaucasia.” The "democratic reconciliation" with Turkey meant to achieve primarily through Armenians, because during the war the Russian army appeaed in the territory of Western Armenia.
Peace without anexasion.
In a regular sitting of seym on February 15, the majority
believed that it was necessary to make peace with the Turkish government,however, by the same principle that the Bolsheviks were guided by, without annexation, without war fines and on the basis of the right of people for self-determination.The representatives of "Musafat" and the leader of the Mensheviks, Noah Jordan, were against to this approach.According to him, "Transcaucasia cannot make a shameful peace with Turkey. it would be better to die with honor.'
Jordan's speech also contained remarkable episodes regarding the territorial problems of the peoples living in Transcaucasia
He stated that the only way to avoid from the ethnic conflicts in Transcaucasia is the equality of all nations.
“Every nation in order to have an opportunity to self-determination, shall have demand of territory. However, in the Transcaucasus, almost no nationality can get such a flat territory, not consisting another nation in it. In this case, then it s possible that everywhere the national majority will persecute the national minority, that is, the very issue that needs to be resolved, the national issue, will remain unresolved," said Jordania. Confederation puts out of order the question of ending the war and concluding peace by the principles announced by Russia's revolutionary democracy, peace without confiscation and without war fines, on the basis of peoples' self-determination.On our front, this principle should lead to the creation of the autonomy of Turkish Armenia
Most troubling was the point stated that Turkey should give back the territories lost during war against the monarchical Russia. It means that ,In other words, the "democratic reconciliation" with Turkey was achieved first through Armenians, because during the war the Russian army appeared in the territory of Western Armenia. As for Western Armenia, the Armenians and Assyrians there could get autonomy.
In addition, the approach put forward by Seym, that a final peace should be concluded with Turkey, meant that all the hopes of the Armenians that the Armenian issue could be resolved through international agreements or with the support of the allied states. Newspaper
“Horizon" was more optimistic. First, he recorded that the unanimous decision of the reconciliation commission in Sejm and the start of negotiations with the Turks meant that Transcaucasia was acting as a separate state. By this step, the Transcaucasia should stop playing the role of a state entity and takes on one of the functions of a sovereign and independent state is foreign relations."-wrote newspaper. Representative of the Kadet Party, deputy Semyonov announced in the Seims "Separating Transcaucasia from Russia,
you will go further you will have to separate Azerbaijan and Georgia from Transcaucasia, Armenia from Transcaucasia…
After declaring independence, either you will enter the Turkish orientation, or you will unwillingly become a part of Turkey, or dependent of it, or under its patronage. You will fall into the group of states that are at war with England, France and Russia."
Later, Vratsyan wrote that Semyonov correctly presented the situation. "Transcaucasia was rapidly moving towards Turkey. Armenians fought against it, and due to their opposition, the resolution of independence was delayed." The unanimous vote of all deputies of the Seim, including Muslims, in favor of the self-determination of the Western Armenia , raised the hope that the people of Transcaucasia understood that without a solution to this issue, it is not possible to establish peace in Transcaucasia.This initiative belonged to Noah Jordan and Muslim deputies of the Seym.The main argument was that in case of declaring independence, the Turks will back down from demanding Batumi and Kars states. Before that, the Turkish side had already agreed to start negotiations with the Transcaucasia representatives
Vehib Pasha tried to hold the negotiations in Tiflis and then in Batumi, but the Transcaucasian Seym chose Trabzon for the meeting with Turks.
To Be Continued