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The short history of the idea of the Common House of Caucasus

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Sunday, 12 August 2007

Krótka Historia domu KaukaskiegoThe region of Caucasus is situated in the borderland of Europe and Asia, and is laid in the basin of  Black Sea and Caspian Sea. The Caucasus is inhabited by over 40 million people representing 128 ethnicity and speaking many different languages and dialects. The Caucasus is traditionally a bridge between Asia and Europe, between East and West, and since the centuries this strategically important region has deserved  a special attention of many political powers. A mosaic of ethnic groups and religious denominations have been the great treasure of the Caucasus. On the other hand, this diversity also, has contributed to intensification of political and ethnic tensions being a main source of conflicts and unrests in the region.

The unstable political situation is  one of the main reasons of slowing down  the economic and social  development. Collapse of the Soviet Union and creation of the new states triggered numerous antagonisms rooted in the complicated history of the region. The two most significant and  damaging  conflicts – the  war in Chechnya and  the struggle over the Upper Karabakh demonstrated nationalistic aspirations, but also  disparities across nations and ethnic  groups. In spite of many obstacles and difficulties, the Caucasus has still continued to live, and now, the beginning of a dialog is a core issue for the future prospect of the region. That is why, the historical idea of integration of Caucasian Nations has been re-established by the  Association “The Common House of Caucasus in Poland”.

The idea of "Common House of Caucasus" is ascribed to M. A. Rasulzade and his activity related to efforts towards integration of the Caucasus in the interwar period. However, the conception had been originated in the 19th century when the theoretical background for this  notion  had been developed. In the year 1915, a new organization was established; “Caucasian committee” lead by Turkish marshal Fuad pasha. The organization purposed to present the idea of independence of the Caucasian Nations  to the international community. Nevertheless,  Turkish patronage, undoubtedly indicates an interest of Turkey for strengthening its influences over the region. In December of the same year the envoy sent by Presidium, visited Berlin and Vienna and presented  the conception of establishing of a confederate state and the notion of "Free Caucasus" to the ruling elite of Germany and Austria – Hungary.

The Red Revolution brought a great changes; In the aftermath of the system  transformation, Transcaucasian Sejm was formed in Tibilisi, and proclaimed independence of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic (February1918 – May 1918), this was a first experiment of consolidation of the Caucasus. The dissimilar interests of the countries and a war with Turkey were a main reason of disintegration of the Transcaucasian Federation. The federation was dissolved when Georgia declared its independence on May 26. Armenia and Azerbaijan followed on May 28. Despite short-lived of the Republic, the experiment showed that regional integration is a precondition for the economic and social development of the South Caucasus. The new born states were invaded by the Red Army and in March 1922, the Transcaucasian Soviet Federate Socialist Republic was established, and existed until 1936 within the structures of the Bolshevik apparatus. Despite the fact that republic was depended on the Soviet State, its creation is important in the context of the idea of consolidation of the South Caucasus. As a result of struggle for independence, the notion of the political unity of the Caucasus had been developed. In 1927, the Committee of Caucasian sovereignty was established in Poland.” Azerbaijan was represented by M.A. Resulzade and M.E. Mehdiyev, Georgia – by N.Jordania, A.Chkhenkeli, A.Asantnani, S.Mdivani, North Caucasus – by M. Sunshev and I.Chumshov. The Caucasian emigrants started publishing a magazine "New Caucasus" which the main purpose was to promote the idea of Caucasian unity.” (Guseynova :4; Baku)

"While thinking over the Caucaus, we imagine the beautiful land between Caspian and Black seas, the rich region pursued by ancient Greeks, a century long struggle of Shamil full of victories and failures, courageous defense of Javad khan and immediate use of chance in restoration of independence, revolts arisen for independence in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Northern Caucasus, sacrifices recall the struggle of Prometey and eagle".(within Guseynova :4 ; Baku)

In 1935 the Council of Caucasian Federation was created including representatives of national organizations of Azerbaijan, Georgia and North Caucasus. The Council had rights to constitute the  legal  matters  regarding Caucasus. The main objective was to establish the Independent Federation of Caucasus in the form of confederation of republics. In the year 1940, Armenia joined to the Council. It was a last experiment creating by the Caucasian emigrants until the resent time.

In order to bring us closer to understanding the issue of conflicts in the Caucasus, it is important to point out the role of Russia in shaping the regional relations. The Russian  policy of fostering antagonisms among nations, favoring some groups and disregarding the other, has become one of the main reasons of escalating nationalistic ideologies after dissolution of the Soviet Union. This factor also contributed to increase disparities among the Caucasian Leaders. The aspirations for independence of the Northern Caucasian Nations have been particularly complicated due to the geopolitical  role of this region which  separates the South Caucasus from Russia.

“In the year 1989 The Assembly of Caucasian Highlanders was established in Abkhazia by the nations living in this country. In 1991 Johar Dudayev transformed assembly into the conference. However, the conference’s strong anti-Russian position discouraged many other nations i.e. Ingush, Nogay, Daghestan Azeris and some other Turkic nations of the Caucasus (Kumik, Balkar, Karachay) boycotted the conference (only Mesheti Turks expressed their will to join the conference) and Association of Turkic Nations was created. As the result of these events, there was a split between the Caucasians and the conference was attended only by Chechens, Kabardins, Adigeys, Abkhaz. (Guseynova :8 ; Baku).

The war in Chechnya held back the hopes for consolidation of the Caucasus. Some time later, this Idea was partly realized by Georgia and Azerbaijan during the conference in Baku, where the appeal for the integration of all Caucasian Nations was presented. However, the political isolation of the North Caucasus and the internal conflicts undermined the idea of consolidation of the Caucasus. The resent aspirations of Georgia and Azerbaijan towards tightening  economic bonds with Europe, could contribute to  rebuilt the regional integration and stability. Due to the various  historical as well as political and social  factors, the Caucasian Nations cannot be isolated from each other.

 

 Anna Cieslewska

 

 the main source of information for the article: Guseynova Hijran "Common House of Caucasus": History and Modernity”

Hijran Huseinova holds a Phd in POlitican Science; she is chairman of the State Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Problems of Family, Women and Children,


 
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