History of the City
Primary information about Batumi appeared in works of the fourth century B.C. Greek philosopher Aristotle. He named the city situated by the Black Sea in Colcha -‘Batusi’. The same name was known for Roman writer Plinius Senior and Greek geographer Phlavius Ariane. ‘Batusi’ is a Greek word and means ‘deep’. Indeed, Batumi, after Sevastopole, has the deepest and the most convenient harbour.
Archaeological activities performed at the entrance of the city, within the territory of the Qorolistsqali river, declared that people were inhabited there in the first-second millennium B.C. and had close trade relations to neighbours. The hill called Tamari Citadel was considered the center of Batumi. That was economic and cultural center in the Qorolistsqali gorge.
In the second century A.D. there was the Roman garrison in the reign of Emperor Adriane in Batumi. In the fifth century King Vakhtang Gogrgasali joined it to his estate.
In the sixth, seventh, eighth centuries Governors of Egrisi and Abkhazia governed Batumi and its lands. There was the village-type settlement around the Batumi castle in the feudal epoch.
Epoch of Ottomans domination
After unification of the Georgian nation and establishment of Georgia’s Kingdom Klarjeti included the city and entire Adjara and was governed by a nobleman.
Afterwards lands of Batumi were owned by the Gurielis’ patrimony. At the end of the XV century in the reign of Kakhaber Gurieli Turks achieved to capture those territories. But soon Rostom Gurieli banished them from the Georgian lands. Turks seized Lazeti and nearby territories after his death (1564). They built fortress in Battogan, present Batumi. In 1609 Mamia Gurieli destroyed Turkish armies.
Nevertheless Turks captured Lazeti and Batumi again at the end of the XVII century. They turned Batumi into a main city of Liva (Sandjaqi). Sadjaqi of Batumi included lands from the Chorokhi-Adjaristsqali creek to Tsikhisdziri. After the Ottomans’ domination Mohammedanism strengthened in Adjara.
In 1873 Batumi was the main city of Lazeti, which was governed by the head of Sandjaqi- Mutesarif. He obeyed Trabzon Vale (Governor-General).
Return to Borders of Georgia
From the beginning of the XIX century the Russian Empire started annexation of Georgia and bit by bit its borders getting close to Adjara. In 1877-78, during the Russia-Ottoman war, interests of Russia and occupied Georgian nation coincided in a certain extant. Emancipation ancient lands from the yoke of Ottomans were of the utmost importance.
Establishment of troops began actively in Kartli, Imereti, Kakheti, Samegrelo and Guria. Under the flag of Russia more than thirty thousands of Georgians struggled in the Russia-Ottoman war. March 3, 1878 in San Stephano the belligerents signed a peace treaty. The Ottoman Empire paid monetary contribution together with certain territories. Inter alias, historic Georgian lands Kola-Artaani, Shavshet- Imerxevi, Artanuji, Olthisi, Taoskari, Machakheli, part of Lazistan and Adjara.
At the Congress of Berlin (June 13 – July 13, 1878), taking into account a revision of San Stephano peace treaty, Russia managed to maintain main territorial acquirement. In this way Adjara was returned to Mother- Georgia.
In August 25, 1878 under the guidance of General Sviatipolk Mirski the Army of Russia entered Batumi and at the ceremony of reception – accompany on so called Azizie square accepted city key from Devrish Pasha.
Three okrugs: Batumi, Artvini and Adjara were united in Batumi region. Batumi was declared ‘Porto- Franco’. The idea belonged to England, which demanded the city to be declared ‘Porto Franco’ and achieved this on the Berlin congress.
Status of ‘Porto- Franco’ brought certain goodness to Batumi. Since Batumi has been extended significantly and bit by bit turned into a modern European city. Though social conditions of local inhabitants worsened. National industry couldn’t compete with surplus European goods. At the same time other defects appeared – contraband, bribery and so on. The given situation was one of the main reasons, which encouraged banishment of inhabitants in Turkey (so called Muhajirianizm). ‘Porto-Franco’ was abolished in 1886.
June 12, 1883 on the base of the decision of Russian Emperor’s State Council Batumi region was canceled and joined to Kutaisi province. Concerning position of assistant to Military Governor was confirmed. Assistant to the Governor governed directly Batumi okrug.
There was no self-governance that hampered its normal development. In 1885 inhabitants of Batumi appealed to the head of the Caucasus civil part.
In 1885 about 90 inhabitants made an appeal to the head of Caucasus civil authorities, to award Batumi status of municipal self-governance. 28 April, 1888 Batumi was awarded status of self- governance. The same year election of voters’ deliberative assembly was held.
From 1903 Batumi region was separated from Kutaisi Province.
At the beginning of the XX century Batumi and the whole southwestern Georgia was one of the prosperous regions according to economics with developed city economy. Batumi as the thick municipal center, with its first class port, played the leading role in the trade of Caucasus and middle Asia transit trade. Before the world war the first Batumi had got the face of an European city that was the result of progressive activity of self-governance and purposeful use of city incomes.
Negotiation between Russia and Turkey
Before the World War I, political situation had changed in the Caucasus. Instability caused by 1917 revolution in the Russian Empire and serious anarchy resulted from October coup d’etat brought about the devastation of the Caucasus Front and the split of the southwestern part from Georgia again.
As it is known in compliance with IV article of the Brest peace treaty signed by Bolshevik Russia and Germany in March 3, 1918 Batumi, Qarsi and Artaani regions had to come out from the domination of Russia and restore 1877 state borders of Russia –Turkey. It is obvious that such development of situation was absolutely unacceptable for the Caucasus. The discussion of Batumi region issue was urgent at Trabzon treaty conference, which was on from March 14 till April 5, 1918. The aim of the Caucasus delegation was to maintain borders of Russia- Ottoman until 1914. The Ottomans’ delegation demanded Brest treaty decision to be recognized by Russia. The negotiation completed without any result.
On April 14, 1918 heads of the Ottoman and the Caucasus delegations agreed to consider existing situation as a rest in working process of conference. Unfortunately that agreement was broken. The same day the Ottoman army annexed Batumi.
The first Republic and return of Adjara
Certain continuation of the Trabzon Conference was Batumi treaty negotiation, which was held on two stages (from May 11-26 and May 31- June 4,1918). At first- between the Federal republic of Caucasus and the Ottoman Empire, on the second stage independent republic of the Caucasus and the Ottoman Empire. On the first stage of conference treaty delegation (the head A. Chkhenkeli) has already attempted negotiation to be based on the peace treaty of Brest. Ottomans demanded new terms of the peace treaty. There were such immense territorial pretensions from their side that even their allies, Austria and Hungary, protested.
The way out from existing situation was deemed realization of an idea of independence of Georgia. Eventually act of restoring Georgia independence was worked out in Batumi and was confirmed in Tbilisi on May 26.
June 4, 1918 on the conclusive stage of Batumi peace treaty conference Ottomans threatened newly established Republic of Georgia, besides Batumi and Artaani, considered in the Brest treaty, to cede Akhaltsikhe and Akhalkalaki.
The Ottoman Empire established its governing in southwestern Georgia. In spite of that fact the self- governance of Batumi, which was characterized by democratic traditions, was not abolished.
Defeat of Germany and its allies in the World War the First terminated six months occupation regime of Ottomans in Batumi region.
In 1919 Batumi region and city of Batumi was occupation zone of Antanta winner states. Commander-in-Chief of England occupation forces appointed Kuk Kolis as the governor of Batumi region and city of Batumi.
At the first stage Englishmen created structure of municipal administration - governing council of Batumi region, which consisted of representatives of Russian National Council. The Council was guided by Cadet P. Maslov, who had a sharp anti-Georgian character. 14 April, 1919 the council was declared as decomposed according to the order of the governor.
May 7, 1920 a peace treaty was ratified between Russia and Georgia. Though Russia recognized independence of Georgia day by day was getting obvious preparation for conquering Georgia.
In 1921 February Soviet Russia started battle against Georgia. On the first stage of the war a scanty Georgian army won several battles but eventually on February 25, 1921 the army of Russia occupied Tbilisi.
The Ottoman Empire took an opportunity to occupy Ardagan-Arthvini within Battles between Russia and Georgia. One of the Ottomans, battalions entered Khulo and Keda on the 10th of March. On the 12th of March Turks appeared in Batumi. The additional forces entered on March 15-16. According to the version of Turkish authority the aim was to oust Russians from Georgia. Though on March 17 the Ottomans army occupied the Post Office of Batumi and other strategic objects. That fact confirmed that the aim was annexation of the region.
The head of the Government of Georgia-Noe Zhordania and other members of the government emigrated from the Batumi Port on the 17th of March. Retreated Georgian army from east to west Georgia stood to capitulate. However the commanders made decision to perform the last duty and return territories occupied by Ottomans to Georgia. Volunteers from different parts of Georgia were joined the army.
Struggling for Batumi under the commandment of General George Mazniashvili was begun on the 18th of March. On March 21 Georgians ousted Ottomans from Batumi and maintained Adjara. Heroes died in struggling for the country independence were buried in “Azizie Square”, present Liberty square.