The period of the short-lived Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic (TDFR) or Transcaucasian Federation was from the Armenian perspective a traumatic one, defined by the military threat coming from the Ottomans and by the complicated relations with the other major ethnic groups of the region. The Armenian political elite and “common Armenians” were caught off-guard by the Russian revolution. The Turkish advance of the Caucasus Front was seen by Armenian political forces as an existential threat, yet this assessment was not necessarily shared by counterparts in the Transcaucasian Federation, especially the Muslim (Azerbaijani) political forces, leading to bitter divisions within the emerging Transcaucasian institutions. These two factors determined the Armenian perspective on the Transcaucasian Federation. The Armenian political entities (first and foremost the Dashnaktsutyun) were opposed to the creation of the Transcaucasian Federation, as they saw its emergence as the result of Ottoman pressure. Yet they were equally reluctant when it came to the transition from the Transcaucasian Federation to independent nation-states. This attitude was reflected in the fact that the Armenian National Council lagged behind its Georgian and Azerbaijani counterparts when it declared itself to be the central body of power in the Armenian-inhabited lands.
Deciding how to relate to the Soviet past is a key question in the politics of memory for the societies and political elites of the post-Soviet countries. Throughout the post-Soviet decades Armenian political and intellectual elites tried to form a complex attitude to the Soviet past, neither rejecting, nor appropriating the Soviet legacy completely, but assimilating it within the paradigm of national history. Within this paradigm Soviet Armenia is viewed as a stage in the development of Armenian nationhood, as “the second republic”, which links the first “attempt” at building a nation-state, “the first republic” of 1918–1920, to the “3rd republic”, i.e. the post-Soviet state of Armenia. This paradigm, in which the Soviet past is neither completely rejected, or accepted, but certain elements of it are integrated into the national history narrative, is optimal for post-Soviet Armenia, given both the peculiarity of Armenia’s historical experience (particularly the role played by Russia/USSR in the context of Armenian-Turkish relations), as well as the current geopolitical setting, in which Armenia and Russia are formal allies. This attitude, which can be described as “mnemonic ambiguity”, allows the assertion of an independent and sovereign Armenian state as legitimate, while at the same time avoiding a confrontation with an ally in the realm of memory politics.