Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic

ISBN (identifier) Doi (identifier) S2CID (identifier)
Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic

Закавказская демократическая федеративная республика
Transcaucasia immediately prior to the formation of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic.
Transcaucasia immediately prior to the formation of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic.
Common languagesOfficial:
GovernmentFederative republic
• President
Nikolay Chkheidze
• Prime Minister
Akaki Chkhenkeli
Historical eraWorld War I
• Federation proclaimed
April 22, 1918
• Georgia declares independence
May 26, 1918
• Independence of Armenia and Azerbaijan
May 28, 1918
CurrencyTranscaucasian ruble (ru)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Transcaucasian Commissariat
Democratic Republic of Georgia
Azerbaijan Democratic Republic
Democratic Republic of Armenia
Today part of Armenia

The Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic (TDFR;[a] April 22 – May 28, 1918), also known as the Transcaucasian Federation, was a short-lived South Caucasian state extending across what are now the modern-day countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, plus parts of Eastern Turkey as well as Russian border areas. The state only lasted for a month before Georgia declared independence, followed shortly by Azerbaijan and Armenia.



The South Caucasus had been conquered by the Russian Empire early in the nineteenth century, with the last annexations taking place in 1828.[1] Over the next several decades the administration of the region was variously modified in order to consolidate Russian control over the region, and a Caucasian Viceroyalty was permanently established in 1845 (similar roles had existed since 1801).[2] Tiflis (now Tbilisi) was the seat of the viceroy and the de facto capital of the region.[3] The South Caucasus was overwhelmingly rural: aside from Tiflis the only other city of significance was Baku.[4] Baku grew in the later part of the nineteenth century as oil began to be exported from the region, and became a major economic hub.[5]

With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the Caucasus became a major theatre, with the Russian and Ottoman Empires fighting in the region.[6] While the Russians managed to win some early battles, the authorities were concerned that the local population, which had a large portion of Muslims, would turn and join the Ottoman forces, as the Ottoman Sultan was also the caliph, the spiritual leader of Islam.[7] In a similar vein, both sides wanted to use the Armenian population to their advantage.[8] However military defeats led the Ottoman to turn against the Armenians, and by 1915 launched the Armenian Genocide, in which an estimate 1.5 million Armenians were killed.[9][10]

The 1917 February Revolution saw the demise of the Russian Empire and the establishment of a provisional government in Russia. Grand Duke Nicholas, the Viceroy of the Caucasus, initially expressed his support for the new government, but was forced to resign his post.[11] A new authority, the Special Transcaucasian Committee (known as Ozakom, from the Russian Особый Закавказский Комитет; Osobyy Zakavkazskiy Komitet), was established on March 22, 1917. This was meant to function as a "collective viceroyalty," with members from the various ethnic groups of the region represented.[12] Much like in Petrograd, a dual power system was established, with the Ozakom competing with soviets (councils).[13] With little support from the government in Petrograd, the Ozakom had trouble establishing its authority over the soviets, most prominently the Tiflis Soviet.[14]


Nikolay Chkheidze

In November 1917, following the October Revolution, the first government of an independent Transcaucasia was created in Tbilisi. A Transcaucasian Committee and a Transcaucasian Commissariat (Sejm, headed by the Georgian pro-Menshevik Social Democrat Nikolay Chkheidze) existed for a couple of months. On December 5, 1917, the Committee endorsed the Armistice of Erzincan signed by the Ottoman command of the Third Army.


On March 3, 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk marked the end of Russia's involvement in World War I. The Ottoman Empire regained Batum, Kars and Ardahan. Starting on March 14, the Trabzon peace conference was held between the Ottoman Empire and a delegation from the Sejm. By April 5, the head of the Transcaucasian delegation, Akaki Chkhenkeli, accepted the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk as a basis for more negotiations and urged the Transcaucasian governments to accept this position.[15] The mood in Tbilisi, however, was very different. Instead of being bound by the terms of Brest-Litovsk, the Sejm gathered and made the decision to establish independence. On April 22, 1918, it proclaimed the establishment of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. A state of war between the Republic and the Ottoman Empire was confirmed and, shortly afterwards, the Ottoman Third Army took Erzerum and Kars.[15]

A new peace conference was convened at Batum on May 11.[16] The Ottoman Empire extended its demands to include Tiflis as well as Alexandropol and Echmiadzin, where their leaders wanted to build a railroad to connect Kars and Julfa with Baku. No agreement was reached and, on May 21, the Ottoman forces resumed their advance. The battles of Bash Abarn (May 21–24), Sardarapat (May 21–29) and Kara Killisse (May 24–28) followed.


The republic never had a strong foundation. With the ongoing Ottoman invasion, despite recognising the republic's invasion, as well as disunity between the Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and Georgians, it was impossible to keep it together. A speech by Irakli Tsereteli to the Sejm on May 26 confirmed the latter, in which he told the body that the republic from the start had been unable to operate due to the people not being unified.[17] In response to this the Georgian leadership declared an independent state, the Democratic Republic of Georgia, on May 26, 1918.[18] This was followed two days later by both the Democratic Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.[19]


Following the Russian Revolution, the breakup of the Russian Caucasus Army left the Caucasus virtually undefended against the advancing Ottoman Third Army. In response, the Armenians, Georgians and Azerbaijanis attempted to establish a unified military, placing their forces under the command of a "Military Council of Nationalities". These forces consisted of Armenian volunteer units formed during the course of World War I; Georgian forces raised by their Provisional Government; and Azerbaijani troops raised independently.

The Military Council of Nationalities was short-lived. On May 28, 1918, Georgia signed the Treaty of Poti with Germany and welcomed the German Caucasus Expedition as protection against post-Revolution instability and the Ottoman military advance.[20] Azerbaijan, on the other hand, chose to ally itself with the Ottoman Empire.[21]


Akaki Chkhenkeli served both as prime minister and foreign affairs minister for the republic


Portfolio Minister
Prime Minister Akaki Chkhenkeli
Minister of Foreign Affairs Akaki Chkhenkeli
Minister of the Interior Noe Ramishvili
Minister of Finance Alexander Khatisian
Minister of Transportation Khudadat bey Malik-Aslanov
Minister of Justice Fatali Khan Khoyski
Minister of War Grigol Giorgadze
Minister of Agriculture Noe Khomeriki
Minister of Education Nasib Yusifbeyli
Minister of Commerce and Industry Mammad Hasan Hajinski
Minister of Supplies Avetik Saakian
Minister of Social Welfare Hovhannes Kajaznuni
Minister of Labour Aramayis Erzinkian
Minister State Control Ibrahim Haidarov



See also



  1. ^ Russian: Закавказская демократическая Федеративная Республика (ЗДФР), Zakavkazskaya Demokraticheskaya Federativnaya Respublika (ZDFR)


  1. ^ Saparov 2015, p. 20
  2. ^ Saparov 2015, pp. 21–23
  3. ^ Marshall 2010, p. 38
  4. ^ King 2008, p. 146
  5. ^ King 2008, p. 150
  6. ^ King 2008, p. 154
  7. ^ Marshall 2010, pp. 48–49
  8. ^ Suny 2015, p. 228
  9. ^ de Waal 2015, p. 31
  10. ^ King 2008, pp. 157–158
  11. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, pp. 32–33
  12. ^ Swietochowski 1985, pp. 84–85
  13. ^ Suny 1994, p. 186
  14. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, p. 35
  15. ^ a b Hovhannisian 1997, pp. 292–293
  16. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, p. 109
  17. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, p. 120
  18. ^ Suny 1994, pp. 191–192
  19. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, pp. 123–124
  20. ^ Lang 1962, pp. 207–208
  21. ^ Swietochowski 1985, p. 130
  22. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, p. 107