Our Analytics 23 january — 14:03

Great Britain owes dozens of millions to Azerbaijan

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BY ZAUR RASULZADEH

In France, the seemingly long-forgotten theme of 'tsarist debts' for bonds of the Russian Empire, issued a century and a half ago, suddenly appeared. The French holders of these securities made several claims to Russia, and later their children - to the USSR, and then grandchildren and more distant descendants - to the Russian Federation, demanding to return the money spent.

The tsarist government, or rather the Russian railway companies of the time, whose bonds, in fact, these were, regularly paid interest on their incomes. But the Bolsheviks refused to pay anything. However, Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to pay off part of the debt. And now, as the French media reported, 400,000 descendants of the holders of the 'Russian papers' again demanded compensation. Fortunately the French government did not deny that the interstate disputes between the French Republic and the Russian Federation on the issue of 'Russian loans' were liquidated by the signing on May 27, 1997 of an agreement between the two countries, under which France and Russia mutually refuse all financial debts that arose between them until May 9, 1945, and also refrain from supporting the claims of their citizens related to these debts.

By the way, these most scandalous tsarist bonds exist not only in France, but also in Britain and Belgium. And although the financial dispute between them and Russia on this issue seems to be settled, there is no guarantee that the echoes will not be released after a while. In this regard, it would be appropriate to recall that London and Paris themselves owed once considerable sums to different countries. So, official London remained due to the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) 52 million roubles.

According to the Deputy Director of the Institute of History of ANAS, Doctor of Historical Sciences Jabi Bahramov, London must pay this money to the current Azerbaijani government as the rightful successor to the ADR.

Of course, for this we should initiate negotiations at the official level between Azerbaijan and Britain, but the fact remains: London owes us a large sum. In those years, the British government paid 25 million 734 thousand 220 roubles through its representative, engineer Nersisyan, for the delivered Azerbaijani crude oil, without paying another 52 million 150 thousand roubles, of which 26 million 465 thousand 929 roubles 70 kopecks were for the transportation of oil by the Azerbaijan railway. From a historical point of view, Baku has every right to demand this money,' said the historian to Azeri Daily.

Of course, the true size of the oil export from the republic in 1918-1920 is now impossible to establish, but there are approximate figures to estimate the scale of its export by the British.

The then Menshevik government of neighbouring Georgia also owed the ADR. Deliveries of oil there were carried out within the framework of the transit agreement concluded in December 1918 between the two republics on 'temporary rules for pumping oil from the Dzegam station of the Azerbaijan Railway to the Saloglu station of the Georgian Railway.' There is evidence that only from October 1, 1918 to April 1, 1919, 6,168 million poods (101034.8 tonnes) of oil were transported from the Baku station to the Saloglu station, of which more than 3.2 million poods were transferred to the British command and 281.16 thousand poods to Georgia. Significant volumes of oil flowed along the Baku-Batum oil pipeline, which ran along the railway line and through which Georgia received several million poods of oil products.

In exchange for oil supplies, Azerbaijan received payment partly in cash, in part by products and essential goods (mainly charcoal, bread, sugar, cabbage). It is important to note that this agreement was concluded on favourable terms for Georgia, as the Georgian side received a certain percentage when transferring the oil products through its territory. And, despite such easy conditions, Georgia constantly had a large debt to the neighbouring republic for payment. Only by April 1, 1919, its debt to Azerbaijan for oil exceeded 15.9 million roubles.

The British did not reduce the rate of oil supplies from Azerbaijan after their military contingent left the country: in 1920 the British Petroleum Administration in Batum received 15 black oil cars daily by rail. 25% of the petroleum products received was allocated to satisfy the needs of the French and Italian governments.

At the same time, the British representation tried in every possible way to restrict access to the oil flow from Azerbaijan to its allies, France and Italy. This was expressed in the constant monitoring of Azerbaijan's foreign policy contacts and the equally tough economic dictates on the part of Great Britain, which became the main user of Caucasian oil.

Meanwhile, several years ago, the official representative of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Elkhan Polukhov noted that Baku had not forgotten about the debt of the UK to the ADR and that this issue requires a thorough and clear study.

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