Alexander Melkonyan «From the history of the Kars Oblast' (1878-1918)»



By: Melkonyan A. A., Academician of NAS RA
Historically a part of the province of Ayrarat in Great Armenia, gavar of Vanand had been captured by the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century and was made a part of a large military-governorship known as the eyalet of Kars. During the 19th century, the Kars region-the historic gavar of Vanand-along with other Western Armenian districts, became an important factor in Russian foreign policy.
By provisions of the Russo-Turkish Treaty of San Stefano in February 1878, the districts of Bayazet, Alashkert (Vagharshakert), Kars, Ardahan, and Batum were ceded to the Russian Empire. Although Bayazet and Alashkert had to be ceded to the Ottoman Empire and the Russian army was required to withdraw from Karin-Erzrum as the result of the subsequent European-imposed Treaty of Berlin in July 1878, Kars (including Olti and Kaghzvan), Ardahan (including Artvin), and Batum were retained by Russia.
In 1915, during the Armenian Genocide a great number of refugees from Karin-Erzrum and other Western Armenian areas sought haven in the Kars Oblast'. In early 1918, in the aftermath of the Russian revolutions of 1917 and the Russian army's disorderly abandonment of the Caucasus front. By the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk, March 3, 1918 (Gregorian calendar), between Soviet Russia and Germany and its allies, Russia ceded all of Western Armenia as well as the entire provinces of Kars and Batum to the Ottoman Empire. Consequently, the Turkish armies attacked and captured all of the Western Armenian districts and in April occupied Kars Oblast'. But a few months later, on October 30, the Turks surrendered to the Allied Powers and by terms of the armistice were compelled to withdraw from Kars in early1919.
The province was now rejoined with the Republic of Armenia and remained under Armenian jurisdiction until the Turkish aggression in the fall of 1920.
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