By Roza Grigoryan
28 May 1918: Day of declaration of the First Republic of Armenia
One of the major events in the history of the Armenian people took place on this very day. The First Republic of Armenia was declared on May 28, 1918 and existed until December 2, 1920. According to the Armenian Encyclopedia, at the moment of declaration of the republic, the Republic of Armenia had a territory of 12,000 square kilometers, a population of 700,000, and Yerevan was also the capital back then. Referring to various sources, Eritasard.am presents a brief historical background of May 28th and the First Republic of Armenia.
How the Armenian nation reestablished statehood
The declaration of the First Republic was preceded by the heroic battles of Sardarapat, Bash-Aparan and Gharakilisa, which helped the Armenian nation restore statehood after 543 years.
On May 26, 1918, the day of disbandment of the Transcaucasian Seym, Georgia declared its independence, followed by Azerbaijan on May 27. On May 28, the Armenian National Council of Tbilisi adopted a proclamation stating the following:
“Due to the disbandment of political integrity in Transcaucasia and the new situation created as a result of the declaration of independence of Georgia and Azerbaijan, the Armenian National Council declares itself a supreme and sole power of the Armenian provinces.”
On May 28, 1918, the Armenian people de facto restored their independence with the victory that they achieved in the battles in Gharakilisa, Bash-Aparan and Sardarapat.
The following message was promulgated in early June 1918: “The Armenian National Council, based on the rights by which it is authorized by the people, on May 28, decided to declare the independence of the Armenian State and established the Democratic Republic of Armenia”.
Before the government officials left Tbilisi for Yerevan, the power of the executive branch was exercised by the National Council of Yerevan under the direction of Aram Manukyan.
First treaty with Turkey
On June 4, 1918, the newly established state was compelled and signed its first treaty with Turkey in Batumi. By that treaty, Turkey recognized Armenia’s independence, Armenia gave up not only Western Armenia and the Kars province, but also several regions of Eastern Armenia. The First Republic of Armenia was only left with 12,000 square meters. Armenia was also told to disarm the armed detachments in its territory.
Formation of the Council of Armenia
On July 19, 1918, the National Council finally arrived in Yerevan. The legislature (Council of Armenia and later the Parliament) was formed and included members of various political parties, as well as non-partisan members of national councils and representatives of national minorities. The members of government were announced on July 24. Hovhannes Kajaznuni was Prime Minister, Aram Manukyan — Minister of Internal Affairs, Alexander Khatisyan — Minister of Foreign Affairs.
International recognition of the First Republic
The new period of international recognition of Armenia began in 1920. On January 23, the Entente decided to recognize the de facto independence of Armenia at the Paris Conference. On April 24, 1920, the U.S. also recognized Armenia’s independence. Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran and different international companies established their representations in Armenia.
The First Republic of Armenia existed for two-and-a-half years. Finding itself in the focal point of international controversies, losing to Turkey, always being subject to pressure from Soviet Russia and without any help from the West, the First Republic of Armenia ceased to exist and was succeeded by the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic.