Əsas səhifə > AZƏRBAYCAN, AZƏRBAYCANIN TARİXİ > TWO GREAT ERRORS OF HISTORY

TWO GREAT ERRORS OF HISTORY

The Treaty of Gulistan  was a peace treaty concluded between Imperial Russia and Persia on 24 October 1813 in the village of Gulistan (in modern-day Goranboy Rayon of Azerbaijan) as a result of the first Russo-Persian War. The peace negotiations were precipitated by Lankaran’s fall to Gen. Pyotr Kotlyarevskyon 1 January 1813.The treaty confirmed inclusion of modern day Azerbaijan, Daghestan and Eastern Georgia into the Russian Empire.The text was prepared by the British diplomat Sir Gore Ouseley who served as the mediator and wielded great influence at the Persian court. It was signed by Nikolai Fyodorovich Rtischev from the Russian side and Mirza Abol Hasan Khan Ilchi from the Iranian side.Imperial Russia had just sworn in a new tsar, Alexander I, in 1801 and the empire was very eager to control neighboring territories as the tsar was determined to expand. A few years previously in Persia, Fath Ali Shah Qajar also became the new shah after the assassination of his uncle, Mohammad Khan Qajar in 1797. Mohammad had, during his reign, killed off all of his enemies in the regions of present-day Georgia and Azerbaijan and claimed the areas to rightfully belong to Persia. Simultaneously, Russia had formally annexed the region of Georgia, allowing unrestricted travel and trade between the regions and Russia, furthering its public claim on the land. Persia was trying to align with France in 1801 to better position itself in case of war with Russia, yet those attempts fell through. Ironically, Fath Ali Shah instead brokered a deal with Britain that provided Persia with military support from Indian-British troops in exchange for preventing any European country from entering India.With the alliance, Persia entered into the first Russo-Persian War against a militarily pre-occupied Russia, which was heavily invested in the Napoleonic Wars.Although Persia entered the war mainly for the goal of recapturing the majority of the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, Fath Ali Shah had heard about the atrocities being committed by Russian Commanders in Georgia, the commanders ruling “through massive extortion and maladministration”.Numerically, Persian forces had a considerable advantage during the war: a ratio of 5 to 1 over their Russian adversaries. However, the Persian forces were technologically backwards and poorly trained – a problem that the Persian government did not recognize until a far later juncture. Despite these crippling disadvantages, fighting continued in northern Persia, Azerbaijan and in regions of Georgia. Persia was so enraged at Russia as to declare a jihad upon them, demanding that its people unite to fight the war against them. Persia was actually losing the war and asked for military and financial aid from France’s Napoleon (with which they had a France-Persian Alliance), yet France’s relations with Russia were more important to them after the two countries signed the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, resulting in France leaving Persia unassisted. The Battle of Aslanduz on 31 October 1812 was the turning point in the war, which led to the complete destruction of the Persian army, thus leaving Fath Ali Shah with no other option but to sign the Treaty of Gulistan.Even until today, Iran officially sees this and the succeeding Treaty of Turkmenchay as one of its most humiliating treaties ever signed. The treaty is also regarded by Iranians as the main reason why Fath Ali Shah is seen as one of Iran’s most incompetent rulers in memory. The scholars in Azerbaijan point out that the Karabakh khanate, where the treaty was signed, had pursued independent foreign policy as early as 1795, when “Ibrahim Khalil Khan, the wali of Qarabagh, fearing for his independence, warned Sultan Selim III of Agha Muhammad Khan Qajar’s ambitions to subdue Azerbaijan and later Qarabagh, Erivan and Georgia. In the same year Muhammad Khan, the hakim of Erivan, also wrote the Sultan alerting him to Agha Muhammad’s “aggression” and seeking Ottoman protection.Russian imperial historians maintain that Russia’s absorption of the Transcaucasus territories delivered their population from constant Iranian and Ottoman invasions, and the Christian nations of the Caucasus were liberated from Muslim repression, ushering in the years of peace and relative economic stability.Very vital to the signing of the treaty was the agreement made by Fath Ali Shah with Britain. With their defeat in the Russo-Persian War, the Shah understood that another attack by the Russians was close to inevitable. Britain saw the war as unwinnable for the Persians and used this to strengthen their foreign affairs. Using their new-found diplomatic connections with the British, Persia established the Treaty of Defensive Alliance in 1812. This promised that Britain would “offer a defensive alliance against further Russian encroachments”. It essentially had terms stating that Persia would provide defense against any European army from entering India (which stationed a majority of British troops) and in return, Britain would provide military and financial aid in case of another Russian attack.The treaty did not answer vital questions such as whether the Persian army would be disarmed or be able to regroup. It was known to both sides that Persia would strike again because they considered the regions rightfully theirs and were furious towards Russia’s treatment of the land and people. The war was becoming costly in terms of troops and finance, so the Treaty of Gulistan led to over a decade of nominal peace (1813-1826) between Russia and Persia, mainly for the clause regarding trade: both governments saw much potential with it and used it to their advantage. Permanent diplomatic missions were set up in Persia as well as Russia in order to keep trade open as long as possible.It was a period of tense stability, though, as both countries understood that the treaty was written very vaguely and that nothing was written about provisions to the military mainly to prevent Persia from trying to regain the regions of Georgia or the Caucasus, thus greatly leaving open the possibility of another future war.

The Treaty of Turkmenchay was a treaty negotiated in Turkmenchay by which the Qajar Empire (modern Iran) recognized Russian suzerainty over the Erivan khanate, the Nakhchivan khanate, and the remainder of the Talysh khanate, establishing the Aras River as the common boundary between the empires, after its defeat in 1828 at the end of the Russo-Persian War, 1826-1828.

The treaty was signed on February 21, 1828 by Abbas Mirza, the crown prince, and Allah-Yar Khan Asaf al-Daula, chancellor of Fath Ali Shah, on behalf of Persia, and General Ivan Paskievich representing Imperial Russia. As was the case for the Treaty of Gulistan, Persia was forced to sign the treaty by Russia, as it had no alternative after the crown prince’s defeat. The Russian general had threatened Fath Ali Shah that he would conquer Tehran in five days unless the treaty was signed.

By this treaty:

  1. By Article 4 of the treaty, Persia renounced all claims over the Erivan khanate (most of present-day central Armenia), the Nakhchivan khanate (most of the present-day Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan), the Talysh khanate, the Ordubad and Mughan regions (now also part of Azerbaijan), in addition to all lands annexed by Russia in the Gulistan Treaty.
  2. By Article 6 of the treaty, Iran promised to pay Russia 10 korur in gold or 20 million silver rubles (in 1828 currency).
  3. By Article 8 of the treaty, Iranian ships lost full rights to navigate all of the Caspian Sea and her coasts, henceforth given to Russia.
  4. Iran recognized capitulation rights for Russians in Iran.
  5. By Article 10, Russia gained the right to send consulate envoys anywhere in Iran.
  6. By Article 13, prisoners of war were exchanged.
  7. By Article 10, Iran is forced to sign economic treaties with Russia as Russia specified.
  8. By Article 7 of the treaty, Russia promised to support Abbas Mirza as the heir to the throne of Persia after Fath Ali Shah died. (This proved impossible when Abbas Mirza predeceased Fath Ali Shah.)
  9. Iran officially apologized for breaking its promises made in the Gulistan Treaty.
  10. By Article 15, Fath Ali Shah promised not to charge or persecute any inhabitant or official in the region of Azerbaijan for any deed carried out during the war or during the temporary control of the region by Russian troops. In addition, all inhabitants of the aforementioned district were given the right to move from Persian districts to Russian districts if they wished to do so within one year.

The treaty also stipulated the resettlement of Armenians from Persia to the Caucasus, which also included an outright liberation of Armenian captives who were brought and had lived in Iran since 1804 or as far back as 1795.In addition, the resettlement permitted to compensate the loss of 20,000 Armenians who moved to Georgia between 1795 to 1827.

 

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