The reasons for establishing close contacts with the countries of the Caucasus in 1920 can be found in Józef Piłsudski’s concept of eastern policy. Studying the rules of the Russian Empire, Piłsudski pointed out that a significant percentage of the country’s inhabitants were nationalities that had been subordinated to Russia through conquests or diplomatic efforts, and then subjected to Russification.
He believed that the right way of fighting, leading to Poland’s regaining independence, was to unite the efforts of those nations which were conquered by Russia and at the same time wanted to regain their lost freedom. In a memorial, which he submitted on July 13, 1904 to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the Russo-Japanese War was ongoing at that time), he stated:
“The main decomposition factors of the Russian state are: Poland, Finland and the Caucasus, or rather its two main nations – Georgians and Armenians. It should be also noted that Polish influences are decisive in Lithuania and Catholic Belarus, and Georgians and Armenians may influence the semi-wild mountain tribes in the Caucasus.”
“I have the honor to inform you that the Polish Government is ready to recognize the Georgian Government as an independent de facto organization before the peace conference grants Georgia a status consistent with the will of its people”- wrote the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Stanisław Patek in a special message addressed to his Georgian counterpart Evgeni Gegechkori – “The Polish government expresses its firm hope that the common interests of the peoples of both countries and mutual sympathy will foster the establishment of bonds of friendly cooperation between Georgia and Poland in the near future. To this end, the Polish government would be pleased to receive a representative of Georgia in Warsaw. To document its sympathy, the Polish government appointed a special mission headed by Mr. Tytus Filipowicz, which, in order to establish direct friendly relations, should soon go to Tiflis.”
From the fall of 1919, the Poles intended to send the diplomatic and military missions to the Caucasus. It can be assumed that the recognition of Georgia by the Entente states in January 1920, accelerated this decision. Jodko-Narkiewicz wired to Warsaw, suggesting that Poland should do the same. Like Piłsudski, he saw further opponents of Bolshevik Russia in the countries of the Caucasus and the Ottoman Empire and was an ardent supporter of establishing closer relations with these countries.
“For us, such a settlement of the Turkish question would have the advantage that we would get a real ally in our war against the Bolsheviks, and such a decision would force the enthusiast to enter the path of definitive recognition of small states (Georgia, Azerbaijan would become a battlefield, and therefore they would have to be reckoned with) which is also in the interest of Poland,” he wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in January.
Indeed, on March 24, 1920, Poland recognized Georgia, and a special diplomatic mission, headed by Titus Filipowicz, set off for Tiflis. On March 31, he submitted the letters of accreditation to the Georgian Foreign Minister.
Filipowicz and his companions stayed in the capital of the Republic of Georgia for over three weeks, from March 30 to April 24.
As the newspaper “Sakartvelos Respublika” reports:
“On March 30, a special mission of the Republic of Poland arrived on the Italian ship “Franz-Ferdinand” from Warsaw via the Constantinople-Batumi route. The mission is of diplomatic nature and will visit Republics of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs includes: Smogorzewski, Wlad de Bond, Wiktor Białobrzeński. On March 31, the entire delegation visited the Allied military and diplomatic missions, the Chairman of the Government of Georgia, Noe Zhordania, and Ekvtime Takaishvili, a comrade of the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly.”
The representation of the Republic of Poland – which was supposed to become an Embassy very soon – was located at 7 Ingorokva Street– a place where many initiatives were being worked out that went down in history or were thoroughly erased by the Soviet regime. For example: supply of weapons to Georgia, training of Georgian officers, support of scientists, invitation of bright students to leading Polish universities, trade without taxes, economic assistance for the development of industrial activities in Tbilisi and the regions, organization of joint cultural events, simplified travel, etc. The initiatives were not implemented due to the Bolshevik invasion of Georgia in 1921.
P.S. Special thanks to Paweł Libera, without whose publication it would have been impossible to publish this article.
The opinions and conclusions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Tbilisi or The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.