On August 22, 1922, the Cheka (Extraordinary Commission) of the Azerbaijan SSR, the Armenian SSR and the Georgian SSR received an order signed by the chairman of the Transcaucasian Extraordinary Commission to abolish border outposts, security and control points within 24 hours. From then on, the borders with Turkey and Persia were to be considered the state borders. The borders between the three republics of the South Caucasus have become, for all intents and purposes, administrative.
A note prepared by the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture dated October 22, 1922 provides detailed information on the adjustment of the borders of the Azerbaijan SSR after the Sovietization: “The entire territory of the Azerbaijan SSR was 7,989,105 dessiatins (1 dessiatin = 0.0109 km2—I.N.). Of the indicated total area: a) 379,984 dessiatins of Qazakh Uyezd were given to Armenia; b) 405,000 dessiatins of the former Zangezur Uyezd were given to Armenia; c) 79,600 dessiatins of Borchaly Uyezd were given to Azerbaijan. Thus, the territory of the Azerbaijan SSR is currently 7,283,721 dessiatins.”
After the elimination of the border barriers between the neighboring uyezds of the three republics, disagreements and friction began over the right to use pastures, water sources, etc. For this reason, on February 5, 1923, the Presidium of the Transcaucasian Central Executive Committee (TransCEC) adopted a resolution on the establishment of a special land commission to draw the uyezd borders. S. Kasyan was appointed chairman of the commission, Y. Kochetkov deputy chairman, V. Sturua, S. Yakubov, K. Khomeriki were members. The commission traveled to the neighboring uyezds of Armenia and Azerbaijan to settle the disputes between peasants regarding arable land, meadows, reservoirs, etc. At the end of 1925, a special triumvirate was established under the Azerbaijan Central Executive Committee (AzCEC) to resolve land disputes between Azerbaijan and Armenia and Georgia, consisting of D. Buniyat-zade (chairman), M.J. Baghirov and T. Shahbazi. The AzCEC raised before Transcaucasian CEC the issue of revising all previous border agreements, with the exception of those on which the representatives of Azerbaijan agreed.
Until the end of the 1920s, the most acute border disputes flared up between Qazakh, Gubadli, Jabrayil Uyezds of the Azerbaijan SSR, on the one hand, and Dilijan, Novo-Bayazet, Daralagez Uyezds of the Armenian SSR, on the other. There was much tension over the issue of the lands and forests of Shinikh-Ayrum District between Qazakh Uyezd of Azerbaijan and the Dilijan Uyezd of Armenia. Within this district with an area of 11,659 dessiatins, there were 14 villages and settlements inhabited by 4,124 Azerbaijanis. Besides, within the boundaries of the district drawn on April 28, 1923 by the commission of the TransCEC, there were 48 winter huts (buildings for keeping cattle in winter), of which 30 belonged to Azerbaijan, and 18, according to the commission, to Armenia. In September 1925, after conducting a survey of the district, the land commission of the TransCEC came to the conclusion that the main reason for the misunderstandings and disputes was the looseness of the boundaries established by the commission of the TransCEC on April 28, 1923. At the same time, the Commission’s memo notes that since, according to the protocol of April 28, 1923, the Azerbaijani and Armenian territories in Shinikh-Ayrum District wedged into each other, Armenia proposed that it should get the indicated area of 4,000 dessiatins and in exchange for it agreed to relinquish the plot of the Bashkand community, equal in area and population, surrounded by the territory of Azerbaijan. In the opinion of the commission, if this proposal was implemented, it would be possible to streamline the administrative governance. However, the same memo contains the following paragraph: “The Turkic population of Shinikh-Ayrum District and the Armenian population of Bashkend District flatly refuses to be annexed to the neighboring republic, as can be seen from the appended statements.”
The dispute over the lands and forests of Shinikh-Ayrum District became the subject of extensive discussion at a meeting of the Land Commission of the Azerbaijan SSR on November 30, 1925, during which gross mistakes of individual members of the local land commissions were also revealed. In his speech, D. Buniyat-zade pointed out, “I myself have read the protocol of the commission, where about 4,000 dessiatins of forest indeed wedge a little into Armenia and the same area into Azerbaijan. The forest that goes from Azerbaijan into Armenia is inhabited by Muslims. In this area the forest is very good, but in the other area, where Armenians live, and where the forest goes into Azerbaijan, the forests are bad. The commission brought with it a ready-made project to annex the better area to Armenia and to annex the worse area to Azerbaijan, and thereby create a scandal for us and for the Armenians, because the Armenian population was surveyed as to if they want to be annexed to Azerbaijan, they answered that they did not. The Turks do not want to be annexed to Armenia either. Someone wanted to create a provocation, create conditions so that later these nationalities would be at odds with each other. I think that neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan needs it. And the fact that small plots of land wedge into Azerbaijan and Armenia does not mean anything. Let it remain so, but the sole purpose of this commission, headed by Onanov, whom many comrades call a Dashnak, and in my opinion it is nothing to hide, I think, was a provocation to create some kind of scandal between Armenians and Muslims.”
Mukhtar Hajiyev voiced a firmly negative opinion regarding the work of Onanov’s commission at the same meeting: “Comrade Onanov, who was sent by the TransCEC to Dilijan to clarify the dispute, examined 17 villages in the Aksibara gorge and said that the parts wedging into the borders of Armenia should be given to Armenia. It is as if Azerbaijan is an orphan and need a guardian, which can only be Soviet Armenia. If we give forests to Armenia, these forests will be destroyed and Azerbaijan will be left without water. Their reasoning is that Armenia has 7% of forests and we have 12%, and therefore it is necessary to give more to Armenia. They say it would be good to send your Azerbaijani oil to Armenia too, so that there would be oil there as well.”
Speaking at the meeting, member of the AzCEC commission M.J. Baghirov cited a document that clearly demonstrated the attitude of the TransCEC to issues related to land disputes between Azerbaijan and Armenia. This document, marked as “secret”, dated August 1923, was sent by the clerk of the pasture department of the land commission of the Central Executive Committee Nazaryants from Dilijan to an Oganezov, who worked as a land surveyor in the determination of the borders between Dilijan Uyezd of Armenia and Qazakh Uyezd of Azerbaijan. Nazaryants writes, “At the suggestion of the head of the pasture department, I inform you that, as can be seen from the projects you have presented, you are completely unfamiliar with the policy of the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture of Armenia and do not provide the local population (Armenians—I.N.) with plowed-up and hay lands. You are trying to preserve pastures for non-native nomads (Azerbaijanis—I.N.). From this it appears that you are acting contrary to the interests of the working peasant population, which is unacceptable given the present land shortage of our poor peasants. We must consider the economic situation of the peasants and sometimes independently allocate more than the protocols specify.”
Despite the negative facts revealed by the Azerbaijani side, at the meeting of the land commission of the TransCEC on January 11, 1927, chaired by S. Kasyan, an agreement was reached between the People’s Commissars of Agriculture of the Armenian SSR A. Yerzikyan and the Azerbaijan SSR D. Buniyat-zade, reflecting the proposals of the Armenian government concerning the survey of Shinikh-Ayrum District of Qazakh Uyezd in September 1925. This agreement was approved by a resolution of the TransCEC of February 18, 1929. According to the document, 4,000 dessiatins of land in Shinikh-Ayrum District of Qazakh Uyezd of the Azerbaijan SSR were included in Dilijan Uyezd of the Armenian SSR. As a “compensation”, the Armenian village of Bashkend (3,485 dessiatins) was given to the Azerbaijan SSR, but provided that a strip of summer pastures would be allocated for the village of Bashkend from the southern part of Shinikh-Ayrum District to link this village territorially with Dilijan Uyezd of the Armenian SSR. Thus, the Armenian population of the village of Bashkend was in fact provided with a corridor to Armenia.
Most of the disputes over other areas between Qazakh Uyezd of the Azerbaijan SSR and Dilijan Uyezd of the Armenian SSR were also resolved in favor of the Armenian side. For example, the villages of Soflu, Barkhudarlu and Yukhari Askipara of Qazakh Uyezd with a total area of 3,104 dessiatins and a population of 577 people, which were previously within the administrative borders of Qazakh Uyezd of the Azerbaijan SSR, were cut off from it with an enclaved plot. At the meeting of the local commission of the TransCEC on July 19-20, 1929, it was decided that the only possible and appropriate form of putting an end to the overlapping of lands was to include all three villages in Dilijan Uyezd of the Armenian SSR. By the same decree, the village of Kheyrumli in Qazakh Uyezd was annexed due to the small number of its population (26 households) to the village of Kunen-Kheyrumli (100 households) of Dilijan Uyezd of the Armenian SSR.
The Chomcha plot with an area of 940 dessiatins, contested by the villages of Kulp of Dilijan Uyezd of Armenia and Shikhly II of Qazakh Uyezd of Azerbaijan, was given to the Armenian village by the resolution of the special local land commission of the TransCEC of October 27, 1924 (Protocol No. 19). The Aji plot with an area of 1,002 dessiatins, contested by the villages of Barany, Dilijan Uyezd of Armenia and Koimakhly, Qazakh Uyezd of the Azerbaijan SSR, was divided by the resolution of the land commission of October 31, 1924. Its northeastern part with an area of 612 dessiatins was given to the village of Koimakhly, and the southwestern part of 390 dessiatins to the village of Barany.
The Bagmanchal plot with an area of about 300 dessiatins, contested by the village of Doveh of Dilijan Uyezd and the village of Kamarly of Qazakh Uyezd, was initially left under the jurisdiction of the village of Kamarly by the resolution of the commission on September 28, 1923, but in 1925 the TransCEC adopted a resolution on dividing the plot equally between these villages.
The Karachal plot of 700 dessiatins, contested by the villages of Kotkand, Dilijan Uyezd, and Dashsalakhly, Qazakh Uyezd, was given to the Armenian village by the decision of the land commission of the TransCEC of 1926. Likewise, by the resolution of the special local commission of the TransCEC of November 8, 1924, a plot of 69 dessiatins contested by the villages of Lalakend, Dilijan Uyezd, and Chakhmaly, Qazakh Uyezd, was given to the Armenian side.
The Gunesh plot with an area of 753 dessiatins, contested by the villages of Norashen, Moseskend and Nizhniy Kizil Bulag of Dilijan Uyezd and Hajali and Alibeyli of Qazakh Uyezd, was divided in two by the land commission of the TransCEC in 1925, with 186.5 dessiatins going to Azerbaijan, while the remaining 566.5 dessiatins were given to Armenia. This decision was approved by the resolution of the TransCEC of February 18, 1929.
In total, as can be seen from the 1928 report of the land commission on border disputes between Azerbaijan and neighboring republics, 75,904 dessiatins of usable land and 79,208 dessiatins of unusable land of Qazakh Uyezd of Azerbaijan alone were given to the Armenian SSR. Thus, the population of Qazakh Uyezd lost 50% of the area of summer pastures.
The annexation of the western part of Zangezur to Armenia in July 1921, administrative changes in Karabakh in order to determine the borders of the Armenian autonomy exacerbated the situation with the demarcation of borders between Zangezur Uyezd of the Armenian SSR and certain uyezds of the Azerbaijan SSR. According to archival records, those territorial disputes were not resolved in favor of Azerbaijan. For instance, the report of the head of the land department of Shusha Uyezd Rogozin dated July 26, 1923, says that the border dispute between the nomads of Zangezur and Shusha Uyezds was resolved by giving 20 summer camps to the Armenian side in order to avoid an armed confrontation. “This case was more than abnormal, since because the border issue remains unsettled, malicious elements fish in troubled waters, inciting the population, thereby causing ethnic hostility between Armenians and Muslims.”
At the meeting of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Azerbaijan Communist Party (b) on December 25, 1924, M.B. Kasumov presented a report on the border disputes between Gubadli Uyezd of Azerbaijan and Zangezur Uyezd of Armenia. The speaker cited complaints from residents of 13 Muslim villages (Shahverdilyar, Agbulag, Shirnukh, Shamsus, Kurtkalakh, Farijan, Almalukh, Zar, Takhyan, Goyan, Hajigurbanli, Firidunbeyli, Aktbu), which became part of Zanangezur Uyezd of the Armenian SSR after the commission of the TransCEC had redrawn the borders. By a resolution of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the AKP (b), the peasants’ demand was rejected and it was decided to implement the resolution of the TransCEC.
Alagel or Alagellar summer pastures with an area of about 12,000 dessiatins on the border between Gubadli Uyezd and Daralagez and Novo-Bayazet Uyezds of Armenia also became the object of the claims of the Armenian side, who raised the issue of including them in Novo-Bayazet Uyezds in 1923. In the telegram dated June 23, 1926, to the chairman of the AzCEC, the Central Executive Committee of the Armenian SSR claimed that the Alagellar pasture with an area of 13,170 dessiatins was included in Daralagez Uyezd as far back as in 1921. In response, the secretariat of the Presidium of the AzCEC on July 5, 1926 requested from the secretariat of the ArmCEC the date of the resolution of the TransCEC on giving the pastures of the Alagellar plot to Daralagez Uyezd. This request was reiterated by the secretariat of the AzCEC on December 25, 1926, but no response followed from the secretariat of the ArmCEC. On the other hand, on October 9, 1926, the chairman of the land commission of the TransCEC sent an inquiry to the People’s Commissariat of the AzSSR requesting information on which rural communities of the republic were using the Alagel plot. The People’s Commissariat of Agriculture of the AzSSR, who did not communicate with the land commission of the TransCEC directly, wired the information requested by the land commission to the Azerbaijan Central Executive Committee on December 18, 1926. According to the telegram, in 1925-1926, as well as before that, the Alagel plot was in the use of the nomads of the village of Kabirli of Agdam Uyezd of the Azerbaijan SSR. By the resolution of the TransCEC of February 18, 1929, the entire area of summer pastures in Alagellar was to remain in Gubadly Uyezd of Azerbaijan. Disputes also arose between the same uyezds over 9 plots of Dyg District with a total area of 1,062.25 dessiatins. By a unanimous resolution of the Small Presidium of the TransCEC of November 7, 1928, 361.3 dessiatins of the disputed area were given to the Armenian side, and 703.96 dessiatins to Azerbaijan.
On February 18, 1929, the Transcaucasian Central Executive Committee adopted a resolution on the transfer of the villages of Nyuvedi, Eynadzor and Tugut of Jabrayil Uyezd of the Azerbaijan SSR to the administrative governance of Meghri Uyezd of the Armenian SSR. The same resolution rejected the claims of Zangezur Uyezd of Armenia to 21 Azerbaijani-populated villages of Jabrayil Uyezd.
Contrary to the terms of the Treaty of Kars, according to which the Armenian SSR officially recognized the autonomy and borders of Nakhchivan within the Azerbaijan SSR, the issue of the borders between Armenia and the Nakhchivan region was raised in the telegram of the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture of the Azerbaijan SSR No. 7480 dated December 29, 1923 to the Council of People’s Commissars of the Azerbaijan SSR. The telegram said that the villages of Gurdgulag, Horadiz, Khachik, Agbin, Aghach, Almaly, Dagalmaly, Itgyran, Sultanbey and the adjacent pastures up to the watershed ridge and the village of Gorchevan of the Nakhchivan ASSR were “currently occupied by Armenia.” In 1926, the TransCEC sent an inquiry to the AzCEC asking if there were previously administrative and economic borders between the republics of Armenia and the Nakhchivan region and by what agreement they were established. The AzCEC on December 4, 1926 and the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture of the Azerbaijan SSR on December 29, 1926 responded that the borders between these republics had been established by the Treaty of Kars. At the meeting on March 12, 1927, the AzCEC resolved “to request an order from the TransCEC to establish a clear border between the Armenian SSR and the Nakhchivan ASSR, in accordance with Paragraph 5 and Note III of the treaty between the Azerbaijan SSR, Armenian SSR and Georgian SSR and Turkey.” However, by the resolution of the TransCEC of February 18, 1929, without any grounds and without the consent of Turkey as the guarantor of the status of Nakhchivan, the borders of the latter were changed and the indicated 9 villages, as well as the village of Gorchevan and part of the lands of the village of Kilid in Ordubad Uyezd were given to the Armenian SSR. As a result, as of January 1, 1933, the total area of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was reduced to 5329.6 km2. This constituted a gross violation of the terms of the Treaties of Moscow and Kars on the status and borders of the Nakhchivan ASSR.
Thus, the process of determining the borders between Soviet Azerbaijan and Soviet Armenia in the period after the formation of the Transcaucasian Federation was the result of the contradictory use and combination of ethnic and economic criteria in the absence of a well-thought-out plan and map of the area. As a result, from the very beginning of the delimitation, constant adjustments were made due to the conflict between of local group interests and economic priorities. But in general, the objective prioritized by the authorities was accomplished in this period: the borders between the republics (albeit mostly at the expense of the Azerbaijan SSR—I.N.) were brought into line with the new priorities for the development of the economic infrastructure of the region.
 State Archives of the Republic of Azerbaijan, f. 379, op.40, d.45, l.2.
 State Archives of the Republic of Azerbaijan, f. 28, op.1, d.155, ll.19-20.
 Mamedova Sh.R. Interpretatsiya totalitarizma. Stalinizm v Azerbaydzhane 1920-1930 gg. [Interpretation of Totalitarianism. Stalinism in Azerbaijan 1920-1930] Baku:2004, p.210.
 State Archives of the Republic of Azerbaijan, f.2502, op.2, d.26 l.90.
 Ibid., l.91.
 Ibid., op.1, d. 20, l.71-72.
 Ibid., op.1, d. 20, l.75-76.
 Ibid., op.1, d. 20, l.59-60.
 Ibid., op.2, d.26, l.134(rev).
 Ibid., l.97.
 Ibid., l.138.
 Ibid., l.137.
 Ibid., l.84.
 Ibid., l. 84(rev).
 Ibid., l.98(rev).
 Ibid., l.89.
 Archive of Political Documents of the Administrative Department of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, f. 89, op.1, d.8, l.2.
 Ibid., f.1, op.74, d.139, l. 131.
 State Archives of the Republic of Azerbaijan, f.2502, op.2, d.26, l.86 (rev).
 Ibid., l.97 (rev).
 Ibid., l. 88(rev).
 Ibid., l.98 (rev).
 Ibid., l.87.
 Ibid., l.99.
 Sotsialisticheskoye stroitel’stvo ASSR. Statisticheskiy sbornik [Socialist Construction of the ASSR. Statistical Compendium]. Baku:1935, p.9.