Historical formation of the Azerbaijani political culture and national consciouness
Azerbaijan is a state located in the eastern part of the South Caucasus. It borders with the Caspian Sea on the east (Xazar in Azerbaijani), Georgia on the northwest, Republic of Armenia on the west and southwest, Dagestan, an Autonomous Republic within the Russian Federation, on the north, and Iran Islam Republic on the south. Azerbaijan is split into two, with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic  separated from the main part of Azerbaijan proper by the territory of the Republic of Armenia. Through Nakhchivan the Azerbaijan Republic shares border with Turkey.
Azerbaijan has a total area of 86,600 sq.km, population of 8,02 mln. (2000). However, about 20% of its territory was occupied by the Armenian Armed Forces, brutal ethnic cleansing was conducted against the Azerbaijani civilians, and more than 700 000 Azerbaijanis turned into internally displaced persons.
But even under such difficult conditions, the Azerbaijani people are full of resolve to defend its independence gained in 1991. It should be emphasized that the People (Democratic) Republic of Azerbaijan, a sovereign state, which was the first Republic in the Muslim east, was also declared in 1918. It survived until the invasion by the Red Army forces in 1920. The country, for the next 70 years, was governed under Soviet rule.
The processes of the USSR collapse broken out in the late 80s, which were followed by the paralysis of the Communist Party and loss of its ideological monopoly, served as stimuli for national revival of the USSR peoples. Thus, the Azerbaijani people began to clearly express its aspiration for free development on the basis of its own priorities not rules and directives of Kremlin.
An interest for study of the ancestors’ historical legacy and restoration of traditions, which were trampled and forcibly eradicated in the Soviet era, sharply increased.
In Azerbaijan, a tendency of rehabilitation of religious values humiliated by an atheist bolshevik ideology, which approved overall during the period of the USSR collapse, brought to the revival of Islam. Subjected to a brutal pursuit in the Soviet Union, Islam started to recur to a social life and conscience of separate citizens as a moral guide, measure of good and evil.
At that time, a genuine renaissance of Turkism began in Azerbaijan. Restoration of Turkic attributes in an ethnic basis of the national identity of Azerbaijanis is demonstrated in the transfer of the Azerbaijani alphabet from Cyrillic into Latin. Another bright event in this regard became a ceremony dedicated to the 1300th anniversary of epos “Dada Gorgud”, which was held at the state level.
In parallel and together with the awakening in the spheres of religious and ethnic self-conscience, large-scale movement for political democratization and economic liberalization spread out. The Azerbaijani people declared about this as its will and historical option.
Yet, the above-mentioned difficult and complex mental changes, where totalitarian Communist ideology was replaced by something very different, occurred not so easy. Nevertheless, it should be noticed that as a result of them, a principle of pluralism was affirmed. And it, in its turn, provided the basis for the formation of democracy.
Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic, adopted by the National Referendum on November 12, 1995, confirmed the democratic principles of freedom, equality, and pluralism. Resolution of the Azerbaijani people to establish a democratic, legal, and secular state found its reflection in this Constitution.
The legislative system of the independent Azerbaijan is based on the above-mentioned priorities. Creating a complex of democratic principles, rules, and procedures, it establishes favourable conditions for activity of all social subjects and actors to formulate, explain, and realize their interests and visions.
The filling of these formal frames common for all democratic nations with concrete content, as known, isn’t the same in all countries, and depends on many factors determined by geo-political situation, history and culture of each of them, etc. And the Azerbaijan Republic isn’t exception to these universal rules.
But to perceive what the modern Azerbaijan is and where it looks to, it’s necessary to have a short cultural-historical look at its past. And special attention here should be paid to factors defined the formation of a social (including political) conscience of the Azerbaijani people.
Today’s Azerbaijani citizens are the heirs to a rich history and culture. Located on the western coast of the Caspian Sea, the modern Azerbaijan Republic occupies only a part of the historical Azerbaijani lands, which have always been one of the most important strategic crossroads between East and West.
Azerbaijan with its favourable nature, a rich fauna and flora, and a mild climate was among the birthplaces of mankind. It was here that the Azikh cave, one of the earliest human habitats on Earth dating back 1-1,2 million years ago, was found.
In the third millenium BC, different tribal entities like Aratta (early 3rd mil. BC), Lullubum and Kutium (2nd half of the 3rd mil. BC) had emerged on the territory of historical Azerbaijan, which was one of the ancient centers of civilization. Prototurks, on the basis of which an ethnogenesis of the Azerbaijani people formed, had been living here in the 3rd-2nd mil. BC.
The first states established on Azerbaijani lands were Manna (early 1st mil. BC) and Midiya (8th c.-550 BC). They had struggled against Assyrian military expansion. Manna could achieve substantial results by the period of rule of Aza, its king; but the final victory was gained by Midiya, which, in alliance with the Babylon, defeated Assyria, and put an end to its existence. Still, in the 6th century BC, Midiya fell under the influence of Ahamanid Empire.
After the crusade of Alexander the Great, Ahamanid Empire falled; as a result, two states were established in the territory of historical Azerbaijan: the state of Adarbaygan  (Atropatena) in 323 BC on the south, which is a part of Iran now, and the state of Caucasian Albania  in the 4th-3rd centuries BC on the north, which is the Azerbaijan Republic now. These states had for centuries struggled for existence against Iran, Rome and Bizantine states, as well as Huns and Khazars.
During that period of time, Zoroastrian religion dominated in Azerbaijan, and Qazaka, capital of Adarbaygan, was the spiritual center of Zoroastrian priests. In the 1st-2nd centuries, Christianity, brought by enlightener Elisey, had been spreading in the Caucasian Albania, and Churches were laid up. Two of these Albanian Churches, saved hitherto on the outskirts of Shaky and Kalbajar , belong to the most ancient ones in the Caucasus. In the 4th century, Christianity became a principal religion in the Caucasian Albania. It should be emphasized that an autonomous Albanian Apostolic Church , established in the same century, had a great influence on all fields of a public life.
The 6th century marked considerable changes in all spheres for a region stretching from Caspian to Mediterranian; Bizantine, under Emperor Justinian, reinforced military and political power, but the Sasanid Empire, which emerged in the 3rd century, and covered all provinces and countries from Indus to Tigres and Euphrates, as well as Adarbaygan, subjected to chaos.
Its reason was the religious and political movement of Mazdakids. Mazdak, its founder and leader, was mobedan-mobed; i.e., a supreme priest of Zoroastrism, a state religion under Sasanids. But this didn't hinder him to retreat from centuries-old dogmas and declare his own religious teaching. It combined syncretic provisions of Zoroastrism, Manikheyism, Christianity, and so forth. Mazdakizm seemed very attractive at the first sight; it promised to get rid of sufferings, and become happy in a short period of time. The number of Mazdak's followers was increasing, and Sasanids appeared to be divided into two confronting parts: supporters and opponents of the new teaching. Although the movement of Mazdakids was kept down after the persistent struggle, it dealt an irretrievable blow both to the state of Sasanids and its official religion, Zoroaztrism, which couldn't pick itself up after this blow.
Adarbaygan, which was a heart of traditional Zoroastrism for centuries and a spiritual centre under the pre-Mazdakid Sasanids rule, lost its significance. Adarbaygan, like the Empire of Sasanids as a whole, dipped into religious uncertainty and a crisis of belief.
For that reason, it is not suprizing that Arabs, coming out against Sasanids in the mid-7th century, could fought over them easy. Islam, brought by them, spread during a short period of time.
Islam returned the people lost belief. The Holy Koran, sent from Allah, became an explicit and bright edification of Lord on the way of eternal values of Truth, Justice, and Good. And the cause of the mondiality of Islam was in its universal nature.
Ancestors of the Azerbaijani people could by a proper way assess, perceive and receive dignity and advantage of Islam, which spread on historical Azerbaijani lands in the 7th-8th centuries and replaced Zoroastrism on the south, Adarbaygan, and Christianity on the north, Caucasian Albania. In fact, conversion at the same time from different believes into Islam was not accidental, and not just one evidence proves Azerbaijan to be a part of the Caliphate, united Muslim state, from the 7th to the 9th centuries. It was conditioned by the aspiration of the Azerbaijani people's ancestors for consolidation. The Azerbaijani Turks both from the north and south were in need of common religion, and they got it by the help of Allah.
Conversion into Islam stimulated the process of integration of relative and close peoples in the form of united Azerbaijani people, which are Turkic for ethnic basis and Muslim for religion. So was the emergence of the Turkic-Islamic identity of Azerbaijanis.
By the 9th century, in Azerbaijan like in other countries within the Arab Caliphate, a tendency of gaining independence and recognition of Caliph as just a supreme spiritual leader was going up. The Caliphate gradually weakened and lost its influence due to the longest revolt in its history, the Azerbaijani-based uprising of Khurramittes in the 9th century.
The 9th century saw the formation of independent feudal states like Shirvanshahs, Sajies, Salaries, Ravvadies, and Shaddadies. The most stable among them was the state of Shirvanshahs which could eliminate almost all threats to its independence until 1538.
In the 11th century, Empire of Great Seljuks was formed and Azerbaijan became one of its most important parts. It should be mentioned that the process of formation of the modern Azerbaijani people, which began in the 7th-8th centuries, ended with the mix of Turkic aborigines with Seljuks and Qibjaqs in the 11th-12th centuries. The immigration of Turkic tribes further strengthened the ancient and already dominant Turkic presence in Azerbaijan.
The process of formation of Azerbaijani language occurred simultaneously with that of ethnogenesis. Multi-genre and extremely multiform works of folklore were created in this language. The biggest among them was the epos "Dada Gorgud" of 1052, the first written monument in Azerbaijani.
On the ground of political changes took place in the Near East, in the 30s of the 12th century, the state of Azerbaijani Atabays (Eldagizes) was established. The territory of this state was nominally a part of the Seljuk Empire. This state was covering the most part of the historical Azerbaijani territories on the south of the Kur river, as well as in Iraq and Iran. Later, Iraq Seljuk Empire, in fact, fell under the rule of Azerbaijani Eldagize dynasty.
The 12th century also marked the ''age of the Muslim renaissance'' in Azerbaijan. This «renaissance» owed its glory, among others, to the literary genius of Nizami Ganjavi, which wrote «Khamsa» («Fiver»): «The Treasure of Secrets», «Khosrov and Shirin», «Leyli and Majnun», «Seven Beauties» and «Iskandarnama» (story about Alexander the Great, conqueror of a half of the world), poetess Mahsati Ganjavi, poets like Abul Ula Ganjavi, Falaki Shirvani, Khaqani Shirvani, and the architect Ajami Nakhchivani. Azerbaijani literary and architectural masterpieces became an outstanding contribution to the world's cultural heritage.
Furthermore, Bahmanyar ibn Marzban (11th c.), distinguished Eastern philosopher-peripatetic and pupil of Abu Ali bin Sina, and Muhammad Nasraddin Tusi (13th c.), who founded the Maragha observatory, and many other Azerbaijani thinkers made a great contribution to the development of science in the Muslim East.
In the early 13th century, Mongols invaded Azerbaijan and seized the power. They established the state of Hulakids, centre of which became Azerbaijan. At the end of the 14th century, Azerbaijan, like other Near and Middle East countries, was occupied by Tamerlan. Most part of Azerbaijan was conquered, but the stronghold of Alinja in Nakhchivan demonstrated 14 year heroic resistance and, just after serious attempts, invaders could take it.
After the death of Tamerlan in 1410, the state of Garagoyunlu dynasty was established in the main territories of historical Azerbaijan (excluding the state of Shirvanshahs on the north from the Kur River), and was replaced with the dynasty of Aggoyunlu in 1468. Uzun Hasan, its ruler, established contacts with Europe, including Venice, Rome, Germany, Poland, and so on. Sara khatun, Uzun Hasan's mother, was an outstanding diplomat woman, which made a peace with the Turkish Fateh Sultan Mehmet II.
The period from 1501 to 1736 marked the period of Safavid dynasty in the history of Azerbaijan. Shah Ismayil Khatai, a founder of the state and a grandson of Uzun Hasan, consolidated all Azerbaijani territories, and ruled Iran and other neighbouring countries. An official language was Azerbaijani, diplomatic correspondences were conducted in this language.
From the period of Azerbaijani Atabays’ (Eldagizes) rule in the 11th-12th c. to that of Safavids rule in the 16th-18th c., Azerbaijani language was in constant progress. It reached such a level that Nasimi (14th c.) and Fizuli (16th c.) wrote their immortal works of genuine philosophy in poetry in this language.
Masterpieces of material and moral culture of the 14th-16th c., created by the Azerbaijani people, enriched the world’ art treasure. Graphic miniatures of Sultan Muhammad’ Tabriz school, as well as Shirvan, Tabriz carpets gained world prominence. By the way, "Sheikh Safi", the most famous Azerbaijani carpet of the 16th c., has been keeping in London so far.
The end of the Safavid dynasty in the early 18th century meant the end of the state founded by it. After its fall, internal wars were waged in its territory. Despite the efforts made by Nadir Shah Afshar (1736-1747), it was impossible to re-unify its territoties, so independent and semi-independent feudal states like Shaky, Garabagh, Guba, Darband, Shamakhi, Baky, Salyan, Javad, Nakhchivan, Iravan, Ganja, Tabriz, Sarab, Ardabil, Khoy, Maku, Urmiya, Garadagh, Talysh, and Maraga, and 5 sultanates like Gazakh, Shamshaddil, Ilisu, Arash and Gabala were established in the form of 20 khanates. As seen, the khanate of Karabakh with the capital in Shusha and the khanate of Iravan with the capital in Iravan (now Erevan, the capital of the modern Republic of Armenia) were among them.
Russia' invasion of Azerbaijan began in 1722 with Peter I' Caspian crusade. It was his first attempt, but not so successive one. Russian troops returned to Azerbaijan in 1796. After the annexation of Georgia in 1801, Russia began the process of occupation of the Azerbaijani khanates, and under the Treaty of Goulistan in 1813 and that of Turkmanchay in 1828, Azerbaijan was split into two parts. The northern portion is what would become modern Azerbaijan.
Since the mid-19th century, the oil industry had been flourishing in northern Azerbaijan. The first industrial oil well was drilled in 1848. In the late 19th–early 20th centuries, Baky (Baku) was producing 95% of Russia' and about 50% of the world' oil production. Westerners such as Nobels and Rotchshilds were among the oil magnates of Baky, and made a great income. Capital of Nobels was made largely due to income came from the Azerbaijani oil.
2nd half of the 19th - early 20th c. was also a period of national culture' progress in Azerbaijan; for example, in 1907, Uzeyir Hajibayov, famous Azerbaijani composer, wrote his «Leyli and Majnun», the first opera in the Muslim world. In general, Azerbaijan's music culture was so developed that Azerbaijan was called as ''East' Conservatoria'' or ''East's Italy''.
Considerable uplift and real national awakening were seen in other spheres too. Thus since the mid-19th century the ideas of masses’ enlightenment have been in an active spread. To that end, “Azerbaijan” newspaper was issued by the efforts of national intelligentsia in 1858 in Tabriz, southern Azerbaijan. It was the first one in Azerbaijani and published under different names for some years.
In northern Azerbaijan, in 1875-1877, newspaper of “Akinchi” (“Ploughman”) was published under the guidance of the outstanding enlightener Hasan bay Zardabi. Historic achievements of “Akinchi” include, first of all, the struggle for enriching the native language and its propaganda.
There should be mentioned the literary and enlightening activities of Mirza Fatali Akhundov, Mirza Alakbar Sabir, Jalil Mammadguluzadah, Jafar Jabbarli, Firudun bay Kocharli , Ahmad Javad, and many others. Moreover, the national professional fine arts, architecture, theater, and cinematography were in substantial progress.
Above-mentioned rapid cultural-ideological processes also made a great influence on political institutionalization and the consolidation of the Azerbaijani society. Azerbaijanis lived within Russia were among the pioneers of the Empire Muslims’ democratic movement for their rights. So besides Ismayil Gasprili and Yusif Akchura, the representatives of the Crimean and Kazan Tartars, Alimardan bay Topchubashov, distinguished Azerbaijani statesman, became one of the founders of “Ittifaqi Muslimin” (“Union of Muslims”). It was established in order to represent and pursue the Turkic-Muslim peoples’ interests in the Empire authorities in 1905. In general, the Azerbaijani representatives took an active part in this movement striving for the common aims of oppressed Muslims in the Czarist Russia.
Talking about the considerable progress in the sphere of the political consciousness in the early 20th century, it’s impossible not to notice visions of pan-Turkist Ahmad bay Agaoglu, and Ali bay Huseynzadeh, who shaped the Azerbaijanism idea, consolidating the nation in a moral level, as a synthesis of traditional Islamic and Turkic priorities with the modern ones.
Late 19th - 1st half of the 20th c. also marked activation of political consciousness of Azerbaijanis lived in southern Azerbaijan. Movements of 1905-1911 for the limitation of Shah’ absolutism - headed by the Azerbaijani national heroes like Sattar khan and Baghir khan - for the first time brought the democratic forms of political culture and institutionalization to then Persia, which was under the rule of Gajar dynasty. The brightest page of this struggle was the revolt of 1908-1909 in Tabriz, the main city of southern Azerbaijan, where power during the period of the uprising was in the hands of anjuman.
A direct public-political result of the 1905-1911 developments became the movement under the guidance of Sheikh Khiyabani broken out in Tabriz in 1919. Establishment of parliament and government in 1945 in southern Azerbaijan indicates of the rise of political culture of Azerbaijanis lived in the Shah Iran to the higher level of development. Thus southern Azerbaijan became a heart of all democratic processes in Iran in the late 19th- 1st half of the 20th c..
Northern Azerbaijan, when the Czar’s rule ended in Russia as a result of World War I and the Revolution of 1917, seized the opportunity to get free from the colonial oppression, and declare its independence. On May 28, 1918 — a date still celebrated as the Day of Republic — the Azerbaijani people established their own independent state, which was the first Republic in the Muslim East. The international community recognized the sovereignty of the new country. Azerbaijan became one of the first nations in the region having adopted a secular, democratic form of government.
The young state, emerged on the ruins of the Romanov Empire, at the same time faced many problems. Extremely difficult foreign situation, World War I and Civil War in Russia also established undesirable ground for the formation and consolidation of the People (Democratic) Republic of Azerbaijan [P(D)RA].
However, during almost two years of its existence, P(D)RA could settle many problems such as building state institutions, including Parliament and military forces, which in spring 1920 rebuffed the Armenian aggression in Karabakh; bloody turmoil - raised by Dashnaks  and bolsheviks of Saumyan - was stopped; fundamental rights and freedom of citizens, irrespective of national, religious or other confessions they belonged to, were instated.
At the conclusion of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was said to have remarked that the Azerbaijanis he met “talked the same language that I did with respect to ideals, and the concepts of liberty and justice.”
Mammad Amin Rasulzadah, Fatali khan Khoiski , Alimardan bay Topchubashov and others, founders of AP(D)R, paid great attention to the profound study of the Azerbaijanism ideas combining human values and national particularities. "Sayavush of our century" by M.Rasulzadah is the most representative example of this synthesis, where its historical roots were analyzed, and priorities were defined for the future.
In its foreign policy, P(D)RA declared an adherence to the course of building relations with other peoples on the basis of respect for their sovereign rights and neighbourhood. Close and mutual fruitful contacts between Georgia and Azerbaijan in 1918-1920 can be example to it. Bilateral agreements were signed between Azerbaijan and Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Persia, Poland, Rumania, USA, Ukraine, Finland, France, Sweden, and Estonia. In other words, an experience of P(D)RA with full decisive proved an ability and a desire of the Azerbaijani people to have a sovereign democratic state that forms its international relations on the basis of cooperation and peace.
The domestic policy of P(D)RA is characterized by tolerance, aspiration for a social compromise, consideration of interests of all groups and classes of population, and adherence to the legal parliament means in solution to problems. This indicates of a true democratism of the Republic.
Here we approach to the very important provisions which lay on the idea-political sphere. First, at the beginning of the 20th century, when the totalitarian conceptions, holding out promises of happiness through a class (bolshevism) or national violence, were dictating on the minds of millions of people, it was sought to establish a state, avoiding violence and supporting civil peace in society in Azerbaijan.
Second, a wisdom and moral level of P(D)RA leaders didn't allow them to make a tough distinction between politics and moral; they were determining the first one with the basic principles of the second one. Until recently it has appeared to be the following: such a position is altruistic and politically unproven. But in the modern world, people has mainly begun to understand impossibility of solution to the world's global problems without support of moral imperatives. Activities of the United Nations played a role in making these issues actual, and formulation of them as factors predetermining a destiny of civilization. In general, contribution of the UN to the humanisation of the international life is difficult to overestimate; i.e., it fixes, in its Chapter, aims and obligations that are the essence of international peace and cooperation for the sake of joint solution to problems emerging.
The founders of the first Republic of Azerbaijan could foresee, anticipate the order of historical progress at the very beginning of the 20th century, and follow it; isn't this an indication of great humanism idea potential detected by them but misperceived, unfortunately, by that epoch under the region's circumstances or more widely - by whole revolutionary Russia?
Still, advantage of leading ideas over others is that they go sooner or later through barrier of misunderstandings and ignorance, and create a new life, which changes the image of the world and flow of the history.
So the legacy of P(D)RA became favourable ground for the development of the modern independent Azerbaijan following the way of the first Republic to the triumph of liberty, humanism, democracy, and progress. And overcoming difficulties on its way ahead to meet a future, the modern generation of Azerbaijanis not only adopts richest world experience, but also relies on democratic and moral-humanist traditions left by the ancestors.
As seen from the above-mentioned descriptions, Azerbaijan, going through milleniums and resisting foreign occupations from the period of the ancient Assyria up to-day, could survive as a country.
The Azerbaijani people, shaped throughout the history and lived for centuries at the crossroads of East and West, created the richest all-round culture, making not a small contribution to the world's cultural heritage; it's enough to remember genii of poetry like Nizami Ganjavi, Mahammad Fizuli and Mirza Shafi Vazeh, works of whom published repeatedly in many European languages; Ajami Nakhchivani, genius of architecture, who set monuments, tiles' enameles of what haven't darkled for eight centures now; mugam, peak of the traditional Azerbaijani and Eastern music; outstanding composers like Uzeyir Hajibayov, Gara Garayev and so on.
National spirit of the Azerbaijani people, which is the reflection of the past and looks to the future, has also been shaping throughout the history. As mentioned, Azerbaijanis have a Turkic-Islamic identity. The Turkic component gives the Azerbaijani national spirit a permanent aspiration for liberty while the Islamic one serves as a religious outlook and moral basis. And just this very factor has determined a combination of the eternal struggle of the Azerbaijani people for the maintenance and restoration of its independence with tolerance, peace, and aspiration for building friendly and mutually acceptable relations on equal rights with other countries and peoples.
And the modern Azerbaijan Republic established in 1991 due to the National Liberation Movement against Kremlin, which pursued anti-Azerbaijani colonial policy, adheres to these priorities.
The Azerbaijani people, restoring its state independence after 70 year existence as a part of the USSR, got a chance to impove its national life not on the strength of Moscow's orders but own interests and attempts.
Free control over its natural resources gave the Azerbaijan Republic a chance of blustery economic development and rapid integration into the world economy. An engine of development became the oil and gas exploitation fields, where 19 production sharing agreements were signed from 1994 to 2000. In the near future, the Azerbaijan Republic will turn into one of the biggest oil producers and exporters.
Considerable achievements in the transfer from the past Soviet command-administrative system to the market one were also gained in other spheres of economy. So enterprises and lands are privatized, and substantial foreign investments are attracted to the building, transport, and communication fields. All these processes point to the transformation of the economic structure of the Azerbaijani society, and its liberalization.
With the restoration of the state independence, national moral values revived in the country. Citizens of Azerbaijan recurred to the richest legacy of their ancestors after decades of prohibition by the totalitarian Soviet regime, which tried to remove the historical memory of Azerbaijanis. Attributes of Turkic-Islamic identity of Azerbaijanis revived too. Novruz, traditional holiday symbolizing spring' coming and the beginning of a new life, is celebrated at the state level in the country. Ramazan bayrami (Eid ul-Fitr) and Gurban bayrami (Eid ul-Azha), religious Muslim holidays, return back from the Soviet atheist amnesia, and Mosques are being laid up. Attention to national literature and art is increasing: ceremonies dedicated to the 500th anniversary of Muhammad Fizuli, a genius of the Eastern poetry, and the 1300th anniversary of the epos «Dada Gorgud», are held under the patronage of UNESCO.
Traditions of the Azerbaijani people and sense of integrality and continuity of its cultural historic past and conscience come to the foreground. In Azerbaijan, such a perception is set that any national development is impossible without honour to fundamental conditions of replacement of epochs and stages. Indeed, only a society, which meets these requirements, is able to exist harmonically. Deriving strength from experience gained by the previous generations, it overcomes zigzags and difficulties of progress, and thereby improves dynamically, and meets a future. It means that traditionalism here is a fulcrum, reliable rear, which has with what people move forward and develop. This, if possible to explain so, is a positive traditionalism - roots of nation, its life-giving source. And Azerbaijan, gaining its independence, returns to this source.
It is necessary to mention that free development of the Azerbaijan Republic, from the very moment of restoration of its state independence, faced many challenges, the major among which was the aggression of the Republic of Armenia with the purpose to cede Karabakh region from Azerbaijan.
It should be noticed that the modern Republic of Armenia is situated in the historical Azerbaijani lands of Iravan (now Erevan, capital of the Republic of Armenia), Zangazur, Goyja (now Sevan), Upper Qazax. Mass of Armenians was placed in these territories after their occupation by Russia in the early 19th century. Official statistics of the Russian Empire proves these. They should have served, by the intention of the Czarist Russia, as an instrument of Russia’s colonization policy in the South Caucasus. After overthrow of Czar in 1920-1921, Bolsheviks also occupied the Caucasus, and established here Socialist Armenia. Azerbaijanis, indigenous population, subjected to the ethnic cleansing and deportation from their own lands during the Soviet rule. The process of their expulsion (1920, 1948-1951, and 1960) was conducted stage by stage, and completed in 1988, when more than 200 000 persons - last Azerbaijanis remained in the Soviet Armenia - came, escaping from the bloody atrocities, to the Soviet Azerbaijan as a refugee.
At that time, in 1988, after completion of the ethnic cleansing in Armenia SSR and creation of a practically mono-ethnic formation there, Armenian nationalists made claims to Karabakh, which was a part of Azerbaijan SSR. The Union leadership in Moscow covertly supported their aims, and took a course of overt trampling on the rights of the Azerbaijani people to live on their land in safety. So develops the current Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, which passes into the phase of an open military aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Azerbaijan Republic. Having been supported by their historic patrons in the face of then Russian leadership, Armenian aggressors occupied the Karabakh region, and drove more than 700 000 Azerbaijanis out of their own territories.
Thus the total sum of refugees from the Republic of Armenia and internally displaced persons comprises to 1 mln. people, i.e. one eighth of the all population of the country. One fifth of the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan is under occupation, including Shusha, one of the historical centres of the Azerbaijani culture; this is a native city of a poetess Khurshudbanu Natavan, composer Uzeyir Hajibayov, founder of the Azerbaijani symphonic music, combined the Eastern colour with the European form of explanation, and many other famous sons and girls of Azerbaijan.
It is impossible not to say that the Armenian aggressors try to somehow justify their actions in the public opinion of the West’ leading powers. So they seek to introduce conflict, which, in fact, emerged because of their claims, as a segment of clash of civilizations, Christianity and Islam. An opinion, which is met and circulated very often, according to which Islam is conservative and retrograde for its essence and inhibits social progress, also plays into their hands. In the frame of these views, the nature and roots of political extremism under disguise of religious fanatism are “completely clear”. They, in a reactionist essence, are the basis of them. But this is just a stereotype to be pale and not to reflect realities by scheming a difficult complex of historically defined processes.
Indeed, Islam can be interpreted in favour of substantiation of monarchism and dictatorship of spiritual leaders on the one hand, identification of Caliph’s power with people’s rule and “Islamic democracy”, and with republicanism, parliamentarism, and national statehood resulting from this identification on the other. Question is that which of these interpretations will become dominant and define a social-political life.
Don’t we meet anything similar in the Christian civilization, where one glance at it - through prism of “Protestants’ ethics” – brought to the modern western democracy, but another one - through Bizance holism - justified the Russian autocracy?! Thus, as we see, it is clear that every great world civilization, central hinges of which are relevant religious traditions, includes many alternatives. As concerns a political sphere, it’s possible to find in each of them both substantiation of high democratic values and principles trampling which restrict them.
And Islam here isn’t exception to all regularities. Political systems, where democratic principles are distorted or completely rejected, can be laid on its base. But a model of open societies can also emerge.
Heydar Aliyev, President of the Azerbaijan Republic, also points to that: “We should use religious moral values for the development of our modern life. Religious moral values shouldn’t draw us back, but should take us ahead by all means.”
Azerbaijan has big chances to seek for considerable results on its way to progress. There is no insuperable sacramental obstacle here because of belonging to a civilization different from the West (Protestant-Atlantic). A success of democratic formations will, first of all, be defined by a degree of introduction of fundamental principles of freedom, equality, and pluralism, which mean tolerance and respect for different interests, opinions and values in a social consciousness.
It is mentioned that Turkic-Islamic identity of Azerbaijanis includes just humanist ideas of freedom, equality, and tolerance, so the Azerbaijani people adopt democracy as a system, which meets the character of the national spirit. Moreover, only under democracy, it can fully develop both itself and its potential.
Tolerance and respect for different one are features of the Azerbaijani national spirit combining Turkic and Muslim ethic dignities. The Azerbaijani people keep up one of the main postulates of Islam, what implies that there is no compulsion in religion, and adhere to the Turkic principle of respectable attitude to freedom, both own and alien. Thus favorable conditions are ensured for the ethnic and confessional minorities living in Azerbaijan.
Jews, Udins, Dagestan peoples, Talyshes, Kurds, etc. live with Azerbaijanis side by side for centuries. In the 19th-20th centuries, Azerbaijan became a home to hundreds of thousands of Germans (deported by Stalin), Russians, Ukrainians, Polishes and so on. Now Synagogues, Churches, cultural societies that unite representatives of ethnic minorities, function without any impediment. They have civil rights and state support. All of these indicate of the Azerbaijani people’s external, unostentatious adherence to the ideals of democracy: freedom, equality, and pluralism.
Tradition, as known, is a valuable experience revealed throughout the history, so traditions of the Azerbaijani people don’t contradict but mean democracy. Being not a crusty complex of old rules but a flexible system, procreation of the mobile national spirit of Azerbaijanis, they, leaning on the historical legacy, look to the future.
There, in essence, is not any contradiction between modernism and positive traditionalism. On the contrary, there exist universal values that aren’t just western but are provided for the whole mankind. The West divides them as a part of the world, which has a free choice. If others have such a liberty, they will also feel beauty of free, local, own, and special one.
The Azerbaijan Republic goes exactly by the way of realization of ideas of freedom, for which the Azerbaijani people strove throughout the history.
Heydar Aliyev, the President of modern independent Azerbaijan, clearly perceiving the order of the historical progress and relying on the richest experience of the ancestors and basic democratic values, works in the direction of democratization in the current stage of the Azerbaijani people’s modern history.
Just the activities of such kind in the fields of both establishment and strengthening institutions of the independent Azerbaijani State, and achievement of peace in the Caucasus-Caspian region indicate of the Azerbaijani people’ high political level.
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Thus, proceeding from the above-mentioned provisions, we can make some generalizations, and substantially answer the question raised at the beginning about what the modern Azerbaijan Republic is, and how it wants to see its future.
The Azerbaijan Republic is the historical product of realization of centuries-old idea of the independent Azerbaijani statehood. Political culture, rich legacy and openness of the Azerbaijani people to perceive the world experience found its reflection in its creation and structure.
The Azerbaijan Republic, proclaimed as a democratic, secular and legal state, ensures an equality of all its citizens irrespective of religious, ethnic, sexual, or any other belonging.
Apart from these circumstances common for all nations sharing democratic values, the Azerbaijan Republic, coming out as a guarantee of its free development and self-cultivation, at the same time contains the national spirit of the Azerbaijani people. And on the basis of this national spirit lays the Turkic-Islamic identity.
As a whole, situation in the modern Azerbaijan can be introduced as a model of cutting circles: Turkic world, Islam, and the modern Western civilization. All of these three dimensions make an influence on the development of processes in different fields of the Republic’s public life.
These dimensions are represented in a symbol of the independent Azerbaijan, on its three colour flag, where green one means Islam, blue one Turkism, and red one European civilization.
It should be emphasized that they are not just in a mechanical co-existence, but in an active dynamic interaction. It, in its turn, gives a birth to an organism of a new quality, the Azerbaijan Republic, where takes place a process of building of a democratic legal state, and civil society of the Azerbaijani people.
Azerbaijanism shaped due to the concentration of features belonging to the above-mentioned Turkic, Islamic and European components in the national spirit of the Azerbaijani people, characteristic of which is an adherence to the ideals of freedom, humanism, and tolerance.
The Azerbaijan Republic faced many challenges, and major among them is the aggression of the Republic of Armenia, which violated, occupying Karabakh region, its territorial integrity. Despite all of them, Azerbaijan, demonstrating its free will, supports a peaceful solution to the conflict. This is the centuries-old aspiration of the Azerbaijani people for peace, which is conceived as an eternal value.
Centuries-old history of Azerbaijan with its all evidence demonstrated that only peace is able to bring happiness and prosperity to peoples, but war is an extreme method, and brings sufferings in every case.
Perceiving this, Azerbaijan seeks to defend its territorial integrity, establish peace in the region, and to build democracy. It means that just in this case, the Azerbaijani people are able to realize its potential, and achieve happiness of future generations.
Such a situation brought to a transport and communication blockade of Nakhchivan by the Republic of Armenia.
The name of modern ''Azerbaijan'' is related just to the ancient ''Adarbaygan'' notion, the root of which ''adar//adir'', according to a tractate, meant ''mountain chain'' in the Turkic toponymy, but another meaning is «fire». There is also such a conviction that the name of «Azerbaijan» originates from Azer, father of prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), mentioned in the Holy Koran.
''Alp//alb'', the root of ''alban'' notion, meant ''brave, courageous'' in the ancient Turkic.
At the present moment, Kalbajar and a number of other districts of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan are under the Armenian occupation.
The Saint Sinod of the Russian Empire revoked the long-held autonomy of the Albanian Christian Church in 1836.
Armenians killed him without any inquiry in 1920 in Ganja.
Dashnaks are the members of the Armenian National Socialist Party of Dashnaktsyutun, which uses terrorist methods of struggle.
Armenian terrorists killed him in 1920 in Tbilisi.