Today, we would like to talk about the miraculous country of Azerbaijan with its unlimited natural resources, centuries-old culture, history, and ancient people, whose lifestyle presents a unique and harmonious combination of the traditions and ceremonies of different cultures and civilizations.
Azerbaijan is a geographical name. On the one hand, this name is linked with the population, which lived in this region for thousands of years before our era, and who were mostly fire-worshippers. The local population considered that fire was their God and so they worshipped the fire. "Azer" means fire. The Turkic name "Azer" was used for this territory for a long time. The word "Azer" consists of two parts — "az" and "er". In Turkic languages, "az" means a good intention and a fate of success. Thus, the word "Azer" means "a brave man", "a brave boy", "the fire keeper". The word "Azerbaijan" originates from the name of an ancient Turkish tribe, which resided in those territories.
Azerbaijan is one of the most ancient sites of humankind. Humankind was present here at every stage of their historical development. There were living settlements in Azerbaijan even at the earliest stages of humankind. Azerbaijan made its own contribution to the establishment of the current culture and civilization, progress, and dialectics.
The time kept a range of ancient archeological and architectural monuments for us. The ancient headstones, manuscripts, and models of carpets, preserved to the present times from the ancient ages, can provide much information to those who can and want to read them. If you wish to understand Azerbaijan and to know everything about it, you need to look at this country and its people with a friend’s eyes.
Azerbaijan is a country of ancient culture. The Oguz tribes which moved here and stayed for ages have found a deeply rooted culture and in their turn enriched it with Turkic national traditions. The talented and creative powers of our nation are personified in such epic monuments as “Kitabi-Dede Gorgud”, “Oguzname” “Koroghlu” and many others.
This fertile, generous, and friendly land was the home of many thinkers, philosophers, scientists, poets, architects, musicians, and artists. A legend tells that Zardusht was born in this land. Azerbaijan also enriched humankind with such geniuses as Nizami Ganjavi, Khagani Shirvani, Bahmanyar, Nasimi, Fuzuli, Nasreddin Tusi, Shah Ismail Khatai, Mullah Panah Vagif, A. Bakikhanov, M.F. Axudov, M.A. Sabir, J.Mamedguluzade, Huseyn Javid, J.Jabarli, Samed Vurgun, Aliagha Vahid, Rasul Rza.
The country of Azerbaijan was immortalized by such talented painters as Sattar Bahlulzade, Tahir Salahov, Togrul Narimanbeyov, Mikayil Abdullayev, and many others.
Our national music — mugam — inspired such outstanding composers as Uzeyir Hajibeyov, Muslim Magomayev, Gara Garayev, Fikrat Amirov, Niyazi, Arif Melikov, and others to create their masterpieces, which are still known today throughout the world. It also gave inspiration to such wonderful vocalists as Bulbul and Rashid Behbudov.
It seems that the famous Azerbaijan carpets are the incarnation of all colors of nature and of all signs of history. Today, these carpets magically pass the borders of time and space and travel from Azerbaijan to foreign countries far away.
The models of decorative art made by Azerbaijan craftsmen from the metal, ceramic, silk, and woods are kept in many museums of the world.
Science and the enlightenment in Azerbaijan have a centuries-old history. The Baku State University was founded in 1919; the institutes of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan play an exceptional role in the scientific, educational, and cultural development of Azerbaijan. Local scientists are currently studying such important issues as the depths of the Caspian Sea, space exploration, and the secrets of the human brain.
The existing educational system of Azerbaijan is made up of dozens of higher educational institutions and technical schools, thousands of high schools, colleges, and lyceums.
One of the most important problems which are currently solved by local scientists is the environmental protection of the Caspian Sea and different regions of Azerbaijan. Such natural reserves as Gizilagach, Shirvan, Zagatala, Aggol, Girkan, and others, were established due to the efforts of Azerbaijani scientists.
Through the decades, the local industry was successfully represented by oil producing, petrochemical, and oil processing enterprises. The agricultural industry is famous for cotton-growing, viticulture, vegetable-growing, and cattle-breeding.
If one compares the economy of Azerbaijan with a living body, it becomes evident that oil flows in the veins of Azerbaijan. The oil and gas resources of Azerbaijan have made this place famous in every part of the world from ancient times.
Azerbaijan has always been famous for its sources of eternal fires — the atashgehs. There is a place called Yanardag (blazing mountain) in Absheron and thermal springs in some parts of Nakhichevan, Kelbejar, Masali, Lenkoran, Babadag.
In Surakhani, there is an eternal fireplace. From ancient times the fire-worshippers from remote places and even the Indian priests were coming to Absheron in search of fire and finding it here. They built their main temples here in Surakhani and Ateshgah.
The word Azerbaijan brings its main wealth — oil – before the eyes. Oil is not only the wealth but the fame as well. People were coming to Azerbaijan from distant places for this specific taste and colored puddle under the ground. Throughout the centuries, camelcades carried waterskins of oil in both eastern and western directions. The Azerbaijani oil is not used exclusively for electricity production, but also as a valuable medicine for a variety of diseases. There has been an increasing demand for oil throughout the centuries.
From the beginning of the 19th century, the continuous industrial development around the world caused an unprecedented growth of the demand for oil. It was at this time oil turned from every day means into an industrial product. Oil become the most important problem in the world in the 20th century — the century of science and technologies. Oil-producing countries have acquired special oil policies and oil strategies in this connection.
Azerbaijan is currently involved in the implementation of huge energy projects. Oil and gas projects are successfully implemented in the Azeri Caspian sector. Azerbaijan is a country, which plays an extremely important role in the Caspian and Caucasian regions, particularly in the development of transport infrastructure in the Caucasus and the implementation of energy projects. It was the region’s first country to explore the huge energy potential, to form an absolutely new economic model in the regional development, and to expand political and economic relations between Europe and Asia.
Although Armenia implemented military aggression (In the 1990s, Armenia invaded Nagorno-Karabakh and its seven regions outside its administrative borders. 1.2 million people from 10 million of the country’s population became refugees. Azerbaijan restored its territorial integrity after 44 days of the Patriotic War.) and it resulted in terrible consequences for Azerbaijan, our country now is located in the list of democratic countries. Azerbaijan continues to overcome complex and difficult obstacles, builds a democratic, legal, secular state and civil society by taking important and decisive steps.
Azerbaijan has membership in the United Nations (UN), Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Council of Europe (CE), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), GUUAM, Organization of Islamic Conference, Black Sea Economic Collaboration (BSEC), Organization of Economic Cooperation (OEC). Azerbaijan also actively cooperates with the European Union, NATO, International Monetary Fund, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Islamic Development Bank, and other organizations. It accedes to the new joint documents and international agreements.
AREA OF AZERBAIJAN
Territory – 86.6 thousand square km (forests 12%, water basins 54.9%, including 31.1 % pastures and hayfields, 31.4% other lands). The country extends between longitude 44°, 52 ° east, latitude 38 °, and 42° north. Baku situated at the parallel of 40°. Distance from Baku to North Pole is 5550 km, to the equator 4440 km.
Neighbours – It borders with Iran (765 km) and Turkey (15 km) on the south, Russia (390 km) on the north, Georgia (480 km) on the north-west and Armenia (1007 km) on the west. The length of the largest area of Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan sector is 456 km.
Big lakes, km2
Sarysu – 65.7
Agh gol – 56.2
Boyuk Shor golu – 16.2
Aghzıbyrchala – 13.8
Jandargol – 10.6
Hajygabul – 8.4
Boyuk Alagol – 5.1
Ashyq-Gara – 1.76
Goygol – 0.79
Garachug – 0.45
The world’s biggest lake – Caspian Sea
Area – 400000 km 2; depth – 1025 m.
The highest peak
Bazarduzu – 4466m.
Big islands, km 2
Pirallahy – 14.4
Chilov – 11.5
Khere-Zire – 3.5
Boyuk-Zire – 1.4
Big rivers, km
Kur – 1515
Araz – 1072
Ganykh (Alazan) – 413
Gabyrry (Iori) – 389
Samur – 216
Terter – 200
THE POPULATION OF AZERBAIJAN
As of September 1, 2019, the country’s population increased by 53,894, or 0.5 percent, to 10,035,351 people.
The population was 116 people per square kilometer.
52.8% of the total population lives in cities and 47.2% in rural areas.
49,9 percent of population are males, while 50,1 percent are females.
Number of population (at the beginning of the year)
Total number of population,
Percent, of total population
|5 273.9||4 707.6||52.8||47.2|
Birth, death and natural increase
Per 1000 population
|138 982||57 250||81 732||14.2||5.8||8.4|
Distribution of population by age groups (at the beginning of the year)
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE POLITICAL SYSTEM OF THE REPUBLIC OF AZERBAIJAN
The political system of the Republic of Azerbaijan reflects the characteristics of the national and historical profile. Its establishment was and still is influenced by a variety of factors. Another important factor is the political culture of the population.
The structural formation of Azerbaijan’s political system was completed by way of the acceptance of the new Constitution of Azerbaijan on November 12th, 1995. The constitution established Azerbaijan as a democratic, constitutional, secular, and unitary republic. The Republic of Azerbaijan is ruled by the people. The sovereign duty of the people of the Republic of Azerbaijan is to determine its future fate and the form of independent and free ruling. The power in Azerbaijan is divided into legislative, executive, and judicial powers. Each of them acts in accordance with the constitution and legislative acts. The president is the head of the state.
The legislative power is held by Milli Majlis. Executive power is carried out by the president, while judicial power is held by the courts of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The Republic of Azerbaijan has specific unitarity due to the status of the state authority in the autonomous republic of Nakhchivan. The constitution defines the autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan as an autonomous state within the Republic of Azerbaijan. Its legislative power is held by the Supreme Majlis of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, executive power — by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, and the judicial power is vested in the courts of the autonomous republic of Nakhchivan. The chair of the Supreme Majlis of Nakhchivan is the senior official of the autonomous republic.
Self-governing municipalities also play an important role in the political system of Azerbaijan.
Like all contemporary political systems, the political system of Azerbaijan is characterized by pluralism – the existence of more than one political party. The political parties participate in political life through representatives in the legislative and local self-governing bodies.
According to the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic, the sole system of executive power consists of upper, central, and local executive power bodies. This system covers the main majority of state bodies and employees and is entitled to wide rights. Implementation of laws is the major function of the executive power.
The executive power of the Republic of Azerbaijan is held by the President of the Azerbaijan Republic. Presidents must be the natural citizens of Azerbaijan of higher education, residing in Azerbaijan for not less than ten years, eligible to vote and not charged with any grave crimes, and without any previous commitments to any other country. The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan is elected for a 7-year term by way of universal, common, and equal suffrage, by free, personal, and secret ballots. The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan may declare the early presidential elections. The President is the head of state according to the political system of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan provides expand powers for the President. He has the power to appoint and release the first vice-president and vice-presidents of the Republic of Azerbaijan. He also has the power to appoints and release the Prime Minister by agreement of Milli Majlis. The President dismisses the Cabinet of Ministers and appoints and releases members of the Cabinet Ministers. The President of the Azerbaijan Republic introduces the state budget in the Milli Majlis for approval. The President of the Azerbaijan Republic regulates directly the work of the government.
The President of the Azerbaijan Republic presents the candidates for positions of judges of the Constitutional Courts, the Supreme Court of the Azerbaijan Republic, and the Court of Appeal of the Azerbaijan Republic; appoints judges of other courts of the Azerbaijan Republic; appoints and releases the Prosecutor General of the Azerbaijan Republic by agreement of the Milli Majlis of the Azerbaijan Republic. The President signs laws introduced to him within 56 days. If the President does not agree with a law, he does not sign it and may return it to the Milli Majlis of the Azerbaijan republic along with his protest within the same period of time.
The President signs international interstate contracts. Intergovernmental agreements which are different from the Republic of Azerbaijan`s laws, President send them to the Milli Majlis for approval or annul the contract; signs certificates.
The President of the Azerbaijan Republic establishes the Security Council and governs it. The head of state issues a decree on the military or emergency state and introduces it in the Milli Majlis within 24 hours. Under the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic, the President of the Azerbaijan Republic settles all other issues not related to the functions of the Milli Majlis of the Azerbaijan Republic and judicial bodies of the Azerbaijan Republic.
The President of the Azerbaijan Republic has wide power as for international political activity. The President is the plenipotentiary representative of the Republic in official visits and international talks. Moreover, the President of the Azerbaijan Republic receives the credentials of the diplomatic representatives of foreign countries, appoints and withdraws the country’s diplomatic representatives in foreign countries and international organizations.
The legislative power of the Republic of Azerbaijan is exercised by single-chamber Milli Majlis. Parliament, which is formed through elections by the population of the country, is an inseparable institute of democratic state structure representing the legislative power, one of the important branches of state power. Its activity and status of authorities are realized in two major directions: first, Milli Majlis defines the common rules for a range of issues. The legislative power builds its activity in accordance with these rules. Second, Milli Majlis can directly resolve a number of problems. The Milli Majlis is empowered to dismiss the President by means of impeachment. Deputies of Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan Republic are elected through the common, equal, and direct elections in the base of the majority election system by means of free, private, and secret voting. Every citizen of the Republic of the Azerbaijan who has the right to participate in elections can be elected as deputies of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan, as stipulated by law.
The Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan is a unicameral (single-chamber) body composed of 125 members elected for five-year terms through direct common voting. Milli Majlis has the power of approving and regulating the state budget.
The Milli Majlis of the Azerbaijan Republic develops constitutional laws, acts, and orders on issues within its power. The laws and orders of the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan may not include definite instructions to executive power and judicial bodies.
Issues decided by the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan:
1) Organisation of work of Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
2) Establishment of diplomatic representations of the Republic of Azerbaijan upon the submission of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
3) Administrative-territorial division;
4) Ratification and denunciation of inter-state agreements and of those intergovernmental agreements that contain rules contradicting the laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
5) Approval of state budget of the Republic of Azerbaijan upon the submission of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and supervision over its implementation;
6) Election of the Human Rights Commissioner of the Republic of Azerbaijan, upon the submission of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
7) Approval of the military doctrine of the Republic of Azerbaijan, upon the submission of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
8) Approval of decrees of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in cases specified in the present Constitution;
9) Giving consent to the appointment of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan, upon the submission of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
10) The appointment of judges of Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Courts of Appeal of the Republic of Azerbaijan, upon the submission of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
11) Giving consent to the appointment and dismissal of the General Prosecutor of the Republic of Azerbaijan, upon the submission of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
12) Dismissal of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan by means of impeachment, upon the submission of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
13) Dismissal of judges of the Republic of Azerbaijan, upon the submission of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
14) The resolution of the issue of confidence in the Cabinet 0f Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
15) The appointment and dismissal of the members of the Governing Board of the Central Bank of the Republic of Azerbaijan, upon the submission of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
16) Giving consent, upon the submission of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the use of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan for performing tasks not related to their assignment;
17) Giving consent to declaration of war and conclusion of peace, upon the appeal of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
18) Calling of referendum;
20) Hearing of the municipality reports.
The Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan establishes its operating procedures and sets up its relevant bodies, including the election of its Chairman and his deputies, the organization of committees and commissions, and the establishment of the Accounting Chamber.
The Milli Majlis shall assemble for two ordinary sessions (spring and autumn sessions) every year. The first sitting of Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan is summoned no later than one week from the day of confirmation of the office of 83 deputies of Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan. If the offices of 83 deputies have not been confirmed by the 10th of March after the election of deputies to the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan, then the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan shall determine the date of the first sitting of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
According to the Constitution of Azerbaijan, the Judicial system of the Azerbaijan Republic consists of all the courts acting in the Republic and united under the sole duties, organizational and activity principles of the judicial power. The structure of the judicial system of the Azerbaijan Republic has been determined by Law dated 10 June 1997 of Azerbaijan Republic ‘On courts and judges’.
The judicial power of the Azerbaijan Republic is exercised only by courts through fair judgment. The judicial power of the Azerbaijan Republic rests on the Constitutional Court of the Azerbaijan Republic, Supreme Court of the Azerbaijan Republic, the Court of Appeal of the Azerbaijan Republic, common courts of the Azerbaijan Republic, and other specialized courts of the country. Judicial power is exercised through civil and criminal courts and by other means determined by the law. Citizens of the Azerbaijan Republic are eligible to vote, having higher legal education and at least five years of work as a lawyer may be appointed the judge. Judges are independent and adhere only to the Constitution and the laws of the Azerbaijan Republic and not to be replaced through their term.
The Constitutional Court of the Azerbaijan Republic consists of nine judges, appointed by the Milli Majlis on the introduction of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic. The judges of the Constitutional Court of the Azerbaijan Republic are appointed by the Milli Majlis on the introduction of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic. The Constitutional Court has the power to examine the conformity of laws of the Azerbaijan Republic, decrees and orders of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic, resolutions of Milli Majlis, legal acts of executive bodies to the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic. Moreover, the Constitutional Court of the Azerbaijan Republic controls the activity of different state bodies and officials.
The Constitutional Court settles problems related to power separation between executive and judiciary powers. The resolutions of the Constitutional Court of the Azerbaijan Republic are mandatory on the territory of Azerbaijan.
The Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan shall be the highest judicial body with respect to civil, criminal, and other cases falling under the jurisdiction of the general and specialized courts of law; shall administer justice as a court of cassation instance; and shall provide clarifications on the issues related to the judicial practice.
The courts of appeal of the Republic of Azerbaijan shall be courts of the higher instance with respect to cases falling under their jurisdiction according to the law.
The Courts of Appeals hear cases on the appeals and appeal protests made from the decisions taken by the courts of the first instance assigned to their territorial jurisdiction as an appeal instance. The Court of Appeals is comprised of a civil board, administrative-economical board, criminal board, and military board.
The Administrative and Economic Courts handle administrative disputes between individuals, regardless of their administrative or other background or subjection, regardless of their economic or legal status, who engage in entrepreneurship without the creation of a legal entity and who obtain individual ownership status under the law.
Military Courts hear cases that do not pose a significant public threat or are less serious crimes against war and military service, as well as those that do not pose a significant public threat or are less serious crimes committed by military servicemen within relevant territorial jurisdiction (if the crimes indicated are committed with the participation of a person who is not military servicemen, his/her case will also be heard by the military court).
The court on Grave Crimes hears cases related to serious and especially serious acts of crimes in accordance with the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan within the relevant territorial jurisdiction, as well as settles the issue of handover (extradition) of the persons who have committed crimes as specified in the legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
District (city) Court hears cases related to civil, criminal, administrative offenses, and other cases within the territorial district as a court of the first instance.
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF AZERBAIJAN
The Constitution was adopted in 1995 – the first such document for independent Azerbaijan. The first independent Republic of Azerbaijan – the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan – existed only 23 months from 1918 to 1920 and had no such a sweeping legislative document. As a result, the history of Azerbaijan’s constitution dates mainly back to the country’s time as a Soviet republic.
Azerbaijan adopted its first constitution on May 19, 1921, at the All-Azerbaijan Soviet Congress. A new version of the Azerbaijan SSR Constitution was adjusted to the Soviet Constitution in 1921, which was adopted at the Fourth All-Azerbaijani Soviet Congress on March 14, 1925. The final Azerbaijan SSR Constitution was adopted on April 21, 1978, and fitted to the Soviet Constitution.
A necessity arose to develop a new constitution after Azerbaijan gained its independence. To this end, a commission was established under the guidance of former President Heydar Aliyev. A draft document was submitted via referendum and independent Azerbaijan’s first constitution was adopted on November 12, 1995. Ever since Azerbaijan celebrates November 12 as Constitution Day.
The first constitution of independent Azerbaijan was the basis of the country’s foundation after the fall of the Soviet Union. The document composes of 5 sections, 12 chapters, and 158 articles.
Amendments and additions to the Constitution were first made via referendum of August 24, 2002, and most recently March 18, 2009. In 2002, 31 additions and amendments were injected into 22 articles of the Constitution and 41 additions and amendments to 29 articles in 2009.
Continuing the centuries-long statehood traditions, taking as a basis the principles expressed in the Constitution act “On the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan”, desiring to provide prosperity and welfare of the whole society and each individual, wishing to establish freedom and security, understanding the responsibility before the past, present, and future generations, using the right of its sovereignty declares solemnly its following intentions:
– to protect the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
– to provide a democratic system within the frames of the Constitution;
– to achieve the establishment of civil society;
– to build a law-based, secular state to provide the command of law as an expression of the will of the nation;
– to provide a worthy life level for everybody in conformity with just economic and social order;
– to remain faithful to universal human values, to live in peace and freedom with all the nations of the world, and co-operate with them for this purpose.
Having in mind the above-enumerated sincere intentions the Present Constitution is adopted through the general poll of population referendum.
The three-colour national flag of Azerbaijan was accepted by the government of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan on November 9, 1918. After the collapse of the Democratic Republic on April 28, 1920, and the establishment of the Soviet regime this flag was relinquished in Azerbaijan.
Yet the flag was restored by the order of the Supreme Majlis of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic and was declared the national flag of the Autonomous Republic on November 17, 1990. At the same time, the Supreme Majlis of Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic petitioned the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR for recognition of the three-colour flag the national flag of Azerbaijan.
The Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan Republic considered the petition of the Supreme Majlis of Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic and approved the three-colour flag the national flag of the Azerbaijan Republic on February 5, 1991.
The national flag of the Azerbaijan Republic consists of three equal strips. The upper strip is of blue colour, the middle of red, the lower is green. The blue strip designates the Turkish origin of the Azerbaijan Republic, the red colour-its intention to create a modern state and develop democracy, the green strip-its relation to the Islam civilization. In the middle of the red stripe on both sides of the flag, there is a white-colour crescent and an eight-point star. The relation between the width and the length of the flag is 1 to 2.
THE NATIONAL EMBLEM
The government of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan declared a competition on the national emblem of Azerbaijan on January 30, 1920, and made a decision to present the emblem model in May of the same year. However, due to the collapse of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic On April 28, 1920, the emblem was not approved.
The Supreme Majlis of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic discussed the issue connected with the national emblem and raised petition in the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR on the declaration of a new competition on the national emblem of Azerbaijan on November 17, 1990.
The competition was declared by the decision of the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan Republic on February 5, 1991. Tens of projects of the emblem were presented during the competition of 1991-1992 and it was also proposed to approve one of the projects developed in 1919-1920.
By the Constitutional Law of the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan Republic, approved on January 19, 1993, one of the projects, developed in 1919-1920 with certain alterations was confirmed the national emblem of the Azerbaijan Republic.
The National Emblem of the Azerbaijan Republic symbolizes the independence of Azerbaijan. The national emblem is the image of an oriental shield and a semicircle formed by the branches of an oak-tree and ears resting on it. The shield contains the image of a fire in the centre of an eight-point star against a background of the colours of the National flag of Azerbaijan.
The salient description of the National emblem:
It is attached to:
THE NATIONAL ANTHEM
The Council of Ministers of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic carried out a decision on the development of the national anthem of the Republic on January 30, 1920, and for this purpose, the Ministry of National Education declared a competition. Yet the collapse of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic on April 28, 1920, prevented this process.
The Parliament approved a law “On the national anthem of the Azerbaijan Republic” on May 27, 1992. The law approves the “Anthem of Azerbaijan”, created by prominent composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov and poet Ahmed Javad in 1919, the national anthem of the Azerbaijan Republic.
|Music: Uzeyir Hajibeyov|
Text: Ahmed Javad
Azerbaijani language is the state official language of Azerbaijan and the mean of linguistic communication of the population of the country.
Besides, Azerbaijani is also spoken by 30 million Azerbaijanis residing in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Several millions of Azerbaijanis reside in Russia, the USA, Turkey, and Western Europe. Regardless of their current country of residence, Azerbaijanis still can understand each other easily. There are over 50 million speakers of Azerbaijani at present in the world.
Genealogically, the Azerbaijani language belongs to the Turkic group of languages and, together with closely associated Turkish, Turkmen and Gagauz languages, forms the southwestern group of Turkic languages.
From the traditional-morphological and typological point of view, the Azerbaijani language belongs to the group of agglutinative languages. Unlike inflexional languages, all words of Azerbaijani, as well as other agglutinative languages, are lexically and grammatically independent units: grammatical meanings and grammatical relations are built by monosemic inflexions which follow the stem and the root of a word.
The Turks who make up the ethnic foundation of the Azerbaijani people appeared in the territory of present Azerbaijan long before our century and in the early first millennium along with other numerous tribes were the ancient residents of these lands. The appearance of a nation of Turkish origin and speaking the Azerbaijani language and the transformation of this language to a means of communication was a long process, covering several centuries. With the increase in the number of Turkish tribes as well as their economic, political and cultural influence the language was enriched, and thus ethnic groups, that manage to preserve their ethnic and anthropological peculiarities even nowadays, united into a nation with a unique culture and language.
The Azerbaijani language is one of the languages that had passed a long path of development. Regarding the epos Kitabi Dede Gorgut as the unwritten pattern of our literature, the age of the language serving the people as a means of communication can exceed 1300 years. Some materials point out that the history of the written literary language of Azerbaijan commences with the 13th century.
Through the 800 years of its development, the Azerbaijani literary languages had passed through two main periods. The old period covers the 13th up to 18th century, while that one referred to as a new one started since 18th century and continues up to present times.
The first stage is notable for a vast area of the usage of the Azerbaijani language. The palace and military Azerbaijani language used by Djelairids, Qaraqoyunlus, Aggoyunlus, and Sefevi states was the literary language of Asia Minor. The Azerbaijani language of this period differed from that of the new period, not by its extra-linguistic and linguistic properties.
The vocabulary of the language of the first period was distinguished by the predominance of words of Arabic and Persian origin. The styles of the language of that period, especially the predominant genre of poetry and various stylistic devices caused the inflow of a great number of loan words in the literary Azerbaijani language. The establishment of schools of realism and realistic literary method and the formation of the latter as a leading creative caused disappearance of the loan words that did not join the vocabulary of the language.
Moreover, the words of the Azerbaijani language, derived from the Osmanli language (shimdi (now), shoyle (such), shu (this, that), kendi (oneself) abandoned the language in the new period. That resulted from the full completion of the process of Turkish language differentiation.
The language of the two periods differs by its phonetics. Thus, the new period was marked by the stabilization of the system of phonemes in the literary Azerbaijani language. The interchange of vowels o//a, and consonants//x peculiar of the first period resulted in winning of the first (o and h) in the second period.
Similar processes occurred in grammar. The interchange of inflexes of accusative case -yi, -yı, -yu, -yü///-ni, -nı, -nu, -nü typical of the literary language of the first period disappeared in the second period. The inflex of the future tense of the verb -isər was replaced by the inflex -acaq//-əcək.
In the old Azerbaijani language word combinations mainly built on Arabia and Persian syntactic models: fəsli-gül (gül fəsli, blossoming season), tərki-təriqi-eşq (eşq təriqinin (yolunun) tərki, abandonment of the path of love), etc. In such constructions, the attribute preceded the determinate. The second period is characterized by quite opposite process: the determiner is always used before the defined.
In the first period the complex composite sentences with a subordinate clause, placed within the principal one, while in the second period such kinds of sentences were replaced by participle constructions.
Both periods are themselves divided into a number of stages
The first period of the development of the Azerbaijani language passed two stages:
1) formation of the literary language(13th-14th cc)
2) flourish of the classical language of poetry (15th-18th cc)
The second period covers three stages:
1) nationalization of the literary language (18th century)
2) establishment and development of the national language (19th-early 20th cc)
3) present-day stage (20th-early 21st cc)
New period. The second period was marked for the flourishing of the Azerbaijani language especially within the stage of the establishment and development of the national language. Along with poems the language was used in creating literary works, publishing newspapers and magazines, and even in a number of official documents and scientific research. At that time foreigners, Russian and Germans displayed great interest in this language and some of them started learning it. These were Russian poets Lermontov, Bestujev-Marlinski, German oriental scientist Bodonshtedt. The latter learned the Azerbaijani language from the Azeri poet Mirza Shafi, translated his poems to German, and published them in a separate book. Though the dictionaries of the old Azerbaijani language were compiled and grammatical researches were conducted in the Middle ages, scientific works and textbooks began to appear in the 19th century. The most famous of them is the work “General grammar of Turkish-Tatar language” by Mirza Kazymbey. The text-books by M.Vezirov, L.Buqagov, Q. Makarov, M.L.Mamedov, S.M. Ganiyev related to the Azerbaijani language were also written in Russian. L.Budaqov also compiled a dictionary in two volumes (Сравнителный словар турецко-татарских языков). The valuable work “Fənni-sərfi-türki” (“The grammar of Azerbaijani language”) by M.Ashrafly is also written in Azerbaijani.
The 20th century was the flowering as well as the problematic period in the development of the Azerbaijani language. At that very time, the Azerbaijani language faced a great problem. Since the beginning of the century, three trends emerged in the literary Azerbaijani language. These are mainly related to the language of literary creations and the press.
1. The first trend attempted to bring the literary language as closer to the colloquial language as possible. This is proven by the creative activity of Molla Nasreddin magazine and its collaborators (Dj. Mamedguluzade, A.Haqverdiyev, and others). These creations do not differentiate between literary language and colloquial language and dialects. Such language is more understandable to ordinary people.
2. The trend mainly focusing on the establishment of a literary language resting on the traditions of the oil Azerbaijani language and the language of Osmanli Turks. This trend was mainly adhered to by a number of magazines and newspapers as Fyuzat and Heyat and mainly by their collaborators (A.Guseynzade, Sabribeyzade, and others). Yet, the people do not find it easy to understand such a language. This language almost did not differ from the old Turkish language.
3. The trend, which propagandized the establishment of a literary language based on the norms of a literary language and understandable by everyone. This language was not influenced by any dialect. It was created by such writers and poets as A.Shaig, Dj.Djabbarly, S.Guseyn, A.Sahhat. This situation lasted from the early century till the 1930th.
The third stage of the development of the Azerbaijani language was marked by the attachment of the status of the state language to it.
The national leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev played a great role in the declaration of the Azerbaijani language the state language of the country. It is well known that Heydar Aliyev commenced his activity in the sphere of the state language with his first day of ruling the country (1969).
Heydar Aliyev who had a profound knowledge of literary and colloquial Azerbaijani language, of its rich vocabulary, and easily used its grammatical capacities, delivered brilliant speeches at a number of meetings as the celebration of the 50th jubilee of the Baku State University, the party conference of the same higher school and at other meetings held at a high level, thus gaining great respect and love. He was perfectly aware of the fact that the respect and love he gained excited to love and respect to the state language of Azerbaijan. All that created the atmosphere leading to the establishment of a state language.
In 1977-1978 the leadership of the country faced a number of problems. As we know the new Constitution of the USSR was approved in 1977. That very Constitution had to be an example to the new constitutions of all the countries and in fact, it did. Yet the constitution did not contain an article on a state language. The newly approved constitutions of the different republics did not cover this issue either.
The situation in Azerbaijan was quite different. Heydar Aliyev continued his struggle for the Azerbaijani language to be declared the state language. The country leader could not bear the fact that the language is not incorporated into the constitution. Attracting the intellectuals and the entire population to the struggle, he put all efforts into it and overcame all obstacles with brevity.
On April 2, 1978, Heydar Aliyev, making a report at the seventh session of the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR, devoted to the draft constitution of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (the basic law) and the results of the national discussion, proposed the following amendment to the 73rd article: “Azerbaijani language is the state language of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic”.
Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic provides for the use of the Azerbaijani language in the State and social bodies, educational institutions, and other establishments of Azerbaijan and promotes its comprehensive development.
The constitution of 1978 proves that Heydar Aliyev really cared about his nation and his native land.
The Constitution of independent Azerbaijan, accepted through national voting confirmed the Azerbaijani language as the state language of the country. According to Article 21 of the Constitution, the state language of the Azerbaijan Republic is the Azerbaijani language. Azerbaijan provides for the development of the Azerbaijani Language.
Heydar Aliyev, who always attached great importance to his native language and had a profound knowledge of it, considering the situation, created at the turn of the new period of the state language development, signed a decree “On the perfection of measures for the use of the state language” on June 18, 2001.
The said decree, along with reflecting the achievements of the language through the history of its development also determined existing problems of the language and pointed out the ways of their resolution.
Some of these ways have already implemented successfully. The decree of President of the Azerbaijan Republic Ilham Aliyev signed on January 12, 2004 “On the publishing of mass media in Latin alphabet in Azerbaijani language undoubtedly, settled all the problems connected with the alphabet.
Each of the three stages of the second period had its own peculiarities. As mentioned above, at present, the Azerbaijani language is used not only in Azerbaijan but also in Iran and Iraq. Folklore creations testify that the languages used by Azerbaijanis residing in these countries, do not differ much. However, the difference lies in literary languages and it’s mainly reflected in printed literary creative works, newspapers and magazines, radio and TV programs. The difference is caused by historical and social reasons.
A war between Iran and Russia resulted in signing two agreements Gulustan (1818), Turkmenchay (1827) which divided Azerbaijan into two parts. Thus, for nearly 200 years, two parts of one nation live separately and in quite different conditions and environments. Both Iran and Russia did not admit the relations between the two parts of the nation. After Azerbaijan gained independence in 1991, certain relations began to be established in this area.
The 3-4 centuries gap between Azerbaijanis and Iraq Azerbaijanis, remoteness of areas, and disconnection caused the literary language to step on quite different paths. The literary language of Iraq Azerbaijanis is much influenced by the language of the present-day Turks.
The modern Azerbaijani Language as one of the Turkish languages has specific grammatical and phonetic properties. Due to the existence of the law of harmony in this language, front vowels (i,ü,e,ə,ö) and back vowels (I, u, a, o), differing by the place of formation can not be used within the same word. (except for words like işıq, ildırım beginning with vowel i): at the same time the front vowels cannot be used with velar consonants (k,q,ğ,x), while back vowels cannot follow dorsal consonants (g, k).
The Azerbaijani language consists of 15 vowel and 25 consonant phonemes. These 40 phonemes are marked with 32 letters of the Azerbaijani alphabet.
There are 9 short (i,ü,e,ö,ə,a,o,u,ı) and 6 long (i:,e:,ö:,ə:, a:,u:) vowels in Azerbaijani language. Long vowels are not typical of this language and are mainly found in loan words. As a rule, the phonetic accent falls on the last syllable. Phonemic accent does not depend on the lexical meaning of a word: ‘alma (an apple)-alma’ (don’t take).
The vowel “I” and consonant “ğ” are not used at the beginning of a word in the Azerbaijani language.
The morphological system of the Azerbaijani language includes notional parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, numerals, pronouns, adverbs, verbs) and secondary (postpositions, conjunction, particles, modal words, interjection).
Nouns are characterized by the categories of number, possession, case and can be used as a predicate. These categories are typical of other substantiated parts of speech.
The category of the case consists of 6 cases (nominative, possessive, dative, accusative, ablative, prepositional). The verb has five tenses (the past indefinite tense, past declarative tense, present tense, future suppositional tense, future complete tense) and 6 forms of mood (order, wish, condition, necessity, importance, predicate).
Depending on the relations between subject, object, and predicate, verbs can be used in five grammatical voices (active, passive, reflexive, causative, interaction).
According to the syntactical rules of the Azerbaijani language, the subject is used at the beginning of a sentence, predicate at the end, while the attribute precedes the word it modifies. In Azerbaijani language words are forming by using morphological methods: (dəmirçi (a blacksmith), üzümçü (Vine-grower), təbliğatçı (propagandist); dəmirçilik (the profession of blacksmith), üzümçülük (vine-growing), təbliğatçılıq (propaganda); dolça (a can), qazança(a pan) otluq(grassland), meşəlik (woodland) qaldırıcı (lifting), endirici (drawoff) ; sevinc (joy), gülünc (smile); yavaşca (slowly, carefully), indicə (just) and syntactical ones (otbiçən (hay-maker), vaxtamuzd (time work), boyunbağı (necklace), gündoğan (east), sarıköynək (oriole), əlidolu (with the hands full (of), adlı-sanlı (celebrated, famous), qırxayaq (centipede), beşaçılan (rifle having five charges), etc).
To date, Azerbaijan uses the Azerbaijani alphabet, established on the basis of Latin letters.
Depending on the areas of usage of literary Azerbaijani language, it combines four main styles: official style, publicist style, belles-letters, and the style of scientific prose. To date, all the styles are highly developed.
Great changes occurring in the political, scientific, cultural life of the country caused the rapid increase of terms in the vocabulary of the Azerbaijani language. This process is observed in all styles, especially in official and scientific styles and in some way in the publicist style.
The dialects of the Azerbaijani language consist of four groups: 1) eastern group (Baku, Quba, Shamakhi, Lenkeran , Mugham dialects; 2) western group (Ganja, Qazakh, Karabakh and Ayrym dialects); 3) northern group (Sheki, Zagatala-Qakh dialects); 4) southern group (Nakhichevan, Ordubad dialects).
The peculiarities of the historical development of Azerbaijan, its geographical position, and the national composition of the population created favorable conditions for the spread of different religions in the country. Such religions as heathenism, Zoroastrism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and others managed to spread over the country in different periods of time, interacted with one another, and established the specific religious life in the country.
Heathenism established on the basis of primitive religions as a totality of all polytheistic beliefs. The heathenism beliefs of the population of Azerbaijan date back to antiquity and cover different national faiths beginning from animism, fetishism, the religion of totem, shamanism up to beliefs in the single God. Philological and ethnographic researches make it possible to create the picture of Heathenism on the territory of the country. Archeological digs discovered big stone idols in Khynysly, Daghkolany, Shyraghly, anthropomorphic statues in Ismayilly, clayey monuments in Mingechevir. One can come across the patterns of beliefs in God in the epos of Dede-Gorgut.
The ceremonies connected with Heathenism were mostly presented in the form of synthesis that is the beliefs did not differ much, influenced one another, and participated conjointly in the formation of the system of moral values of the local population, through supplementing each other. The worshipping of dead forefathers, rocks and trees (maple, oak, etc), natural phenomenon, and celestial bodies were strong in ancient Azerbaijan. Strabon reported on Albanian’s worshipping of the Sun, the Moon, the Sky. The oak tree best known as Tanry khan (the ruling God) was worshipped and sacrificed horses. Movses Kalankatvasi reports that Albanian rulers called for a struggle against heathenism for spreading Christianity and cut away the trees which served as idols.
Like other eastern countries, the beliefs in the constituency of the Universe of four main elements- ground, air, water, and fire were widely spread among ancient Azerbaijanis. Fire-worship was also established on the basis of such beliefs. The fire was thought holy and worshipped by most people residing in Azerbaijan.
People believed in the ability of fire to destroy meanness and lowness and to purify people. The fire ceremonies that survived up to the present along with the holiday of Novruz show the strength of traditions of fire-worship in Azerbaijan.
A temple of fire is the praying house of fire-worship. The temples of fire-worshippers existed in the religious centers of Atropatena-Gazaka, Baku, Shemakha, and Lenkoran. A temple of fire locating in Surakhany was erected in the 18th century for fire-worshippers coming from India.
Though persecuted by Christianity, the fire-worship of the Caucasus Albania managed to survive. With the appearance of Islam in Azerbaijan the fire-worship gradually lost its importance and sank into oblivion.
Though based on the fire-worship, Zoroastrianism emerged as an independent religion. M.Bors pointed out that Zoroastrism had been the most ancient among the prophetic religions. The Holy book of this religion Qatas that was part of Avesta was sent down to Zoroaster, a religious teacher, and prophet (6th century B.C.). According to some sources Zoroaster’s father came from Azerbaijan. According to Zoroastrism, the world lays on two components-the Good and the Evil, which lead to the constant struggle with one another. The world of the Light, Goodness, and Justice is embodied in Hormuzd (Ahura-Mazda), the world of the Darkness, the Evil, and Tyranny in Ahriman (Ahura-Manyu). The struggle will be finally won by the Good and the active followers of Ahura-Mazda in his struggle against Evil and Tyranny will meet with the happiness of eternity. The ideas of the happiness of eternity, sins, and good deeds prove the maturity of Zoroastrism. Zoroaster urged people to be juster and purer and to struggle against any meanness.
Fire occupied an important place in the Zoroastrian beliefs therefore Zoroastrians were often considered fire-worshippers. Zoroastrians thought corpses nasty and therefore did not bury them into the ground but kept them in special places in the mountains for birds and worms to eat. Only after that they gathered the purified bones and buried them.
The Zoroastrian beliefs acquired the form of dogma in the 3rd century B.C. Zoroastrianism spread on the territory of Azerbaijan till Derbend due to the military and political progress of Sasanians. Iranian Zoroastrians were moved to the country for spreading the new religion. At the same time, Zoroastrianism adopted local features in Azerbaijan. The Caucasus Albanians buried jewelry and kitchen utensils together with their dead owners. It is also known that after the purification of the bones of dead people, they were placed in a big pot-like coffin and thus buried. The dead people were also buried in the ground, pottery coffins, underground tombs, hollow graves.
Constant wars between Sasanis and Byzantines for expanding their areas of influence in Azerbaijan resulted in the strengthening of either Christianity or Zoroastrism. In such conditions, Islam found a way to the most intensive and peaceful spreading in the country.
Since the Middle Ages Zoroastrism could not react to the cultural and political requirements of the time thus losing its actuality.
Historically Judaism has been represented by the mountain Jews. Movses Kalankatvasi refers to the arrival of mountain Jews in the Caucasus to the 1st century B.C, while researchers have a different views upon this issue.
According to one source, mountain Jews which are the most ancient Jewish communities generate from the people of Israel, driven away from Palestine by the shahs of Assyria and Babylon, and settled in Midia. Their ancestors were the first to establish Judaism and resided apart from Palestine and did not participate in the persecutions of Jesus Christ at the beginning of their formation as a single community. In Midia they formed mixed communities with tats. Thus, mountain Jews spoke the language of tats, which is the dialect comprising Perian arami and Hewish words.
Other research consider that mountain Jews were moved to the East Caucasus by Sasani ruler Khosrov Anushirevan the first (531-574). The ruler built towers in the Caucasus and settled Persians and Jews, removed from Mesopotamia to these cities. The tat language spoken by mountain Jews also survived since that period.
At least it is known that mountain Jews came to Azerbaijan fifteen centuries ago as a result of the policy of Sasanies, were settled in the borderline districts for ensuring the security of the country, and though being in close relations with local inhabitants they preserved their religion, traditions, lifestyle and the way of thinking.
Christianity influenced Azerbaijan by means of the Caucasus Albania in the first years of the new era in times of Christ’s apostils. The inflow of Jews to the Caucasus intensified after the overthrow of Jerusalem. The newcomers told about the wonders that had been demonstrated by Jesus. The first Christian communities established under the influence of such propaganda. The first stage of spreading Christianity was called the period of apostils in connection with apostils Varfolomei and Faddey. One of the progenies of apostil Faddey started to spread the new religion by the benediction of the first patriarch of Jerusalem Yegub reached the land of Agvan and erected a church in Kish village. This church had been constructed before the first Christian church of Armenia. Later Yelisey moved to Chola (Derbend) and passing the river Samur continued to propagandize the religion and was killed by one of the idolaters of Helmes village and thrown to a hole. Later Yelisey’s corpse was lifted from the hole by the instruction of Albanian melik Vachagan and buried in Khug village, and a small temple was erected over the hole.
When the Roman emperor Constantine lifted veto from the practice of Christianity in 313, Albanian ruler Urnayr declared Christianity the state religion. A new stage in the spread of Christianity called the period of pro-Greek emerged in Azerbaijan since that time. Academician Ziya Bunyadov points out that Urnayr, Vache the second, and Vachagan the third fought for spreading Christianity in the country. The priesthood and church hierarchy formed in the 3rd-4th centuries. Feudal lords allotted special areas for churches on their lands by the instruction of the Catholicon. Churches were built in the region and religious books were translated from Syrian, Arami, and Greek language to Albanian. The book “In Albanian script and Albanian language is considered the most ancient public reader of the world Christianity.
At a session in Khalkidon church in 451, Albania preferred monophysitism and the fight between monophysites and solipsists strengthened in the country in the 5-6th centuries. Albanian church accepted diophisitism in the late 6th-early 7th century.
The residence of Albanian Catholicon located in the Gochay city and it moved to Barda in 552. After the overthrow of Albanian meliks the role of Christianity weakened in the country the prayers were conducted in the Armenian language in the churches, the Albanian language was oppressed and led out. Albanian church restored its status of the autocephaly church during the formation of independent states on the territory of Azerbaijan in the 8th-9th centuries. Eastern Christianity managed to retain its influence on the region in the 10th-11th centuries. This state lasted till the 18th century. Albanian church was abolished by instruction of Synod in 1836 and the whole property of the church was delivered to the Armenian church of Echmiadzin. The Albanian church was once more restored in the 1980-1990s. The Albanian-Udi Christian community was registered by the government in 2003, following the restoration of the Kish church in Sheki. The church of Nich village is currently being restored in Gabala district.
Christianity was represented by orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism and by a number of sectarian communities in Azerbaijan. Five Armenian-Gregorian communities have been registered in the country.
Orthodoxy was imported to Azerbaijan in frames of the policy of resettlement led by the Russian tsarist regime in the early 19th century. The first orthodox church of Baku started operating in 1815.
Sectarian Christians were driven to the Caucasus to avoid the hard consequences of separations occurring in the Russian Orthodox Church. The first Russian migrants set up AltyAghadj village in Shamakhy in 1834, Vel village in Lenkoran in 1838, Borisi-Russian village of Yelizavetpol in 1842, and Slavyanka village in 1844. Baku province accounted for 21 sectarian villages with a population of 13 thousand people in 1868.
Catholicism. The Roman Catholic Parish was created in Baku due to the resettlement of military Catholics to the Caucasus by Russian Army in the 1850s. The parish was under the military Roman-Catholic parish of Tetri-Skaroda (Georgia). The Baku parish became independent in 1882. The church in glorification of the Immaculate Conception of Saint Maria was erected in 1895, the church of the Holy Cross was constructed in the Baku cemetery in 1903. The new church of the Immaculate Conception of Saint Maria which is considered the most beautiful architectural monument of Baku was built in a gothic style in 1909-1912. However, during the Soviet period, the church was devastated by the Bolsheviks in 1934. In 1999, the Roman-Catholic community restored in Baku, and in 2007, a new church was built in Baku in memory of Saint Maria church.
Former Roman Pope John Paul the second paid an official visit to Baku on May 22-23 of 2002.
In October 2016, Pope Francis, who was on a trip to our country, attended a mass religious ceremony in the Catholic Church in Baku and was welcomed by President Ilham Aliyev.
Baptism. The followers of the Lutheran church arrived in Baku along with German industrialists taking part in the development of oil fields in the second half of the 19th century. The visit was mainly caused by political and religious unrest that took place in Germany in the early 19th century. At that time people rumored that the West is nearing the Apocalypse only the East may save everyone. The population and especially the sectarians tried to run away from the questions about the Apocalypse to Russia and the Caucasus. 209 German families resided in Azerbaijan in early 1819. The Lutheran community was established in Baku in 1870. The community members constructed their temple-circa (currently the hall of Organ and Camera Music) in Baku in 1899. The circa had been built even earlier in Yelendorf (present-day Khanlar). The priests of the Lutheran church along with representatives of other religious communities were sent into exile and executed by shooting in 1937. The Lutheran community resumed its activity in Baku in 1944.
Islam, which emerged in the Arabian peninsula in the early 7th century soon managed to cover the biggest part of the world. Azeri population was converted to Islam by the early representatives of this religion in the 18th year of the Muslim era (639). Marzban of Azerbaijan Isfandiyar bin Farrukhzad was defeated by Arabs and concluded the contract in the same year. Arabs occupied Ardebil, Tebriz, Nakhichevan, Beylagan, Barda, Shirvan, Mugan, and Arran thus reaching Derbend across the Caspian seashore. The fortifiers of the town resisted Arabs which attached the city the name “Bab al-Abvab”. Historian Belaruzi reported that the majority of Azerbaijan’s population accepted Islam in a period of the ruling of khalif Ali bin Abu Talyb (656-661). This process lasted a bit longer in the North. Arabs imposed taxes on the population of the occupied lands, continued invasions after striking the peace agreement, and later returned back. They resumed invasions as the local population refused to pay taxes.
Some regions were converted into Islam peacefully while others were made to accept the religion forcefully. The idolaters were suggested to accept Islam, those who did, had to pay zekat and kharaj and did not take part in battles together with Muslims; those participating were granted some of the captured materials; while those not accepting the religion had to pay jizya and were under the protection of Muslims, and those refusing to accept the religion or pay jizya had to fight against Muslims. Borderline settlements-ribads were inhabited only by Muslims. Muslims were moved to these regions from different provinces of the Caliphate to consolidate these regions while those who had not accepted Islam were driven to remote places called `rebed`. Peace agreements struck by such Arabian commanders as Huzeyfe bin al-Yeman, Utbe bin Ferged, Velid bin Ugbe, Selman bin ar-Rabia al-Bahili, Bukeyr bin Abdullah, Surage bin Emr, Mesleme stipulated for the inviolability of the life, property, and religion of the population.
The form of converting Azerbaijan into Islam is difficult to speak on as this matter has not yet been studied properly. However, it’s possible to single out some of the stages of this process.
The first stage which lasted from the mid 7th century till the early 8th century was the period of the progress of Islam. This stage ends with the overthrow of Albania and the loss of independence by the Albanian church in 705. According to academician Z.Bunyadov, Islam dominated Azerbaijan at the end of this stage and state officials accepted this religion unconditionally to preserve their privileges. The new religion spread among merchants and artisans as Arabs granted privileges to this strata. Mosques were not built at that time and ancient temples and churches, which became useless as a result of the spread of Islam, the predominance of tribal consciousness over religious consciousness was preserved.
The second stage covers the period from the 8th century to the reign of Buveyhiles in West Iran and Iraq. The Independent states of Shirvanshah Mazyadis and Sadjis were established in Azerbaijan. Idolatry and Zoroastrism lost their actuality, Judaism managed to survive, the independence of Albania was restored, yet due to its weak influence the praying ceremonies were held in the Armenian language and their followers were armenified. The consciousness of belonging to Islam strengthened at that period yet the ideas connected with the ethnic roots had not yet been completely lost. This can be observed in the shuubism movement which was launched within the first years of the ruling of Abbasies. Babek’s (816-838) rebellion is the brightest example of that process. The theosophy of Islam developed in the borderline regions. Radical Shiism intensified in the mountain regions.
The third stage embraces the period of the Buveyhivs’ ruling (935-1055). Neutral Shiism was formed in Azerbaijan and reached Derbend at that time. Shiism and Sunnism were the principal religious trends. Sufism was also quite widely spread among certain groups of people. One of the most beautiful monuments of Sufism was the cloister for dervishes on the Pirsaat river of Shirvan.
The fourth stage coincides with the times of Seldjugs (the mid-11th-mid-13th centuries). Sunnism strengthened while the position of Shiism weakened. Shafiism became the leading trend at that time and the sects of Sufism were widely spread. The Atabeys and Shirvanshahs managed to protect Islam from the pressure of Christianity.
The fifth stage covers the period of Mongolian invasions (the mid-13th-mid-15th century) Sufism was widely spread at that time and hurufism strengthened its position. It was founded by Fazlullah Naimi (who died in 1394). Abulhasan Aliyyul and poet Nasimi (who died in 1417) were the most influential representatives of this trend. The second old man of the secret sect of Sufism Seyyid Yahya Shirvani Bakuvi KHelveti (died in 1464) was famous at that time. One of the brothers of Aggoyunlu ruler Uzun Gasan was the follower of the sheikh of the sect Dede Omar Rovsheni (died in 1487). Ibrahim bin Mohamed Gulsheni (who died in 1534) founded the trend of Gulshaniyye as one of the branches of the said sect in the second half of the 15th century. Later a number of trends in Sufism as negshbendiyye spread to Azerbaijan and the North Caucasus through Azerbaijan.
The sixth stage is connected with the ruling of Sefevis (1501-1786) and Osmanlys since the 16th century (1281-1924). Sefevis propagandized Shiism and put on turbans with twelve red strips in the glorification of the 12 imams of Shiism. Therefore they were called Gyzylbashs. Osmanli which defeated Sefevis in the battle at Chaldyran spread Sunnism in Azerbaijan.
The period of Azerbaijan’s annexation to the Russian Empire can also be regarded as a new stage in the religious life of the country. This period is notable for the attempts of the government to subdue Muslim priests through the policy of establishing the religious structure of Islam similar to that of the Christian church. The letter that was sent to the Senate by the Russian Tsar on November 29, 1832, proposed to work out the statute on the department for work with Transcaucasia Muslims. However, none of the prepared drafts was approved. The official of the Minister of Foreign Affairs M.Khanykov by the instruction of knyaz Volontsov worked out the draft statute on the formation of Mohamed’s clergymen in 1849. Though the draft was fully approved, it was not implemented due to the commencement of the Crimea war. A new commission was established to continue this work in 1864 and local representatives of Shiism and Sunnism were also involved in the it. Prepared regulations controlled the positions of Muslim clergymen, rights and privileges, and relations with the secular government. Only “Şeyhülislam” and Mufti got wage from the government till 1867 while other Muslim clergymen started to get it beginning from this year. The regulation on the department for Islamic Sunnite and Shiite clergymen of Transcaucasia, introduced by the State Council was ratified by the Tsar of Russia on April 5, 1872.
The department was mainly based on the structure of the Orthodox church. Two Muslim administrative bodies-the Sunnite Religious departments leaded by the Mufti and the Shiite Religious Department chaired by “Şeyhülislam”-were set up in the Caucasus. Each of these two departments locating in Tiflis was composed of the chair, three members of presidium, two assistants along with the secretary, dragoman, clerk and registrar. Both two departments included four Assemblies in Tbilisi, Yerevan, Yelizavetpol (Ganja), and Baku provinces. The Sunni department included 16 confessors and Shiite-20 of them. The departments acted under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and reported directly to the governor. Provincial clergymen were controlled by the local government bodies.
The religious affairs of the Caucasus Muslims had been regulated by these two departments until the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (1918-1920). “Şeyhülislam” Mohamed Pishnamazzade sent into resignation on December 11, 1918. Akhund Agha Alizade was appointed `Şeyhülislam` by the decree of Musa Rafibeyov, the Minister of Social Insurance and Religious Conviction of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan. This period was notable for the strengthening tendencies which aimed at rationing and modernizing Islam.
Following the establishment of the Soviet government in Azerbaijan in 1920 the Ministry of Religious Conviction and “sheikhulislamism” was dismissed on May 15, Muslim clergymen were persecuted, most of the Mosques were closed down. The creation of the Religious structure of Transcaucasia Muslims was considered advisable for the use of religion in the struggle against German fascism in 1943.
The first session of the Transcaucasia Muslims was held in Baku on May 25-28 and the Religious Department for Transcaucasia Muslims was established in this city. Akhund Agha Alizade was appointed `şeyhülislam`. He is the first elected “sheykhulislam” as those preceding him were appointed by the government. Moreover, dualism was abolished in the religious organizations of the Caucasus Muslims in 1944. The Religious Department of Transcaucasia Muslims became a common center that was controlled by “Şeyhülislam”, Mifli was considered the first deputy chair of the Department and regulated the problems of Sunnites.
Currently, this department acts as the Caucasus Muslims Department and is the center of all other religious communities of Islam.
RELIGIONS IN PRESENT AZERBAIJAN
The religions of Azerbaijan comprise different religious trends spread among the people and ethnic groups residing in the country. There are several confessions in Azerbaijan.
Article 48 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan ensures the liberty of worship to everyone. Everyone has a right to choose any faith, to adopt any religion or to not practice any religion, to express one’s view on the religion, and to spread it. According to paragraphs 1-3 of Article 18 of the Constitution the religion acts separately from the government, each religion is equal before the law, and the propaganda of religions, abating human personality and contradicting the principles of humanism is prohibited. At the same time, the state system of education is also secular.
The law of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On freedom of faith” ensures the right of any human being to determine and express his view on religion and to execute this right.
İslam is one of the largest divine religions in the world. Although Azerbaijan is a secular country, the majority of the population is Muslim. Traditions of Islam are widespread in our country. Over the centuries, Azerbaijan has been one of the main centers of Islamic civilizations. Azerbaijanis achieved great success in the formation of Islamic culture, played a special role in terms of the spread of Islam and the establishment of the Muslim Renaissance. All of these processes contributed to the evolution and tangible and intangible heritage of Islam in the territory of Azerbaijan from the earliest times.
Today, the number of mosques is over 2,000, compared to only 17 mosques functioning in our country during the Soviet period. More than 300 of these mosques are protected as historical and cultural monuments. The policy of caring for Islamic values and Islam’s historical and religious monuments was founded by National Leader Heydar Aliyev and is successfully continued by President Ilham Aliyev today. As a result of this care, the Bibiheybat, Tazapir, Ajdarbay, and Shamakhi Juma mosques and the Imamzade complex in Ganja underwent an overhaul, and the Heydar Mosque, the most spectacular temple in the South Caucasus, was built in our capital city.
However, the sad truth is that when our territories were under occupation, hundreds of our religious monuments became the victims of Armenian vandalism over the 30 years period of time and it was humiliation against our religious monuments. After the liberation of our occupied territories, it became obviously clear that when these territories were under the occupation of Armenia, more than 60 mosques and 44 temples were destroyed in the territories where cultural cleansing and numerous war crimes were committed. Currently, the restoration of our religious and historical monuments in the liberated territories continues.
After the fall of the Soviet Empire, hundreds of new Muslim religious communities began functioning in our country, and the Caucasian Muslims Office was established on the basis of the Transcaucasian Muslim Spiritual Administration. The Muslim religious communities functioning in the Republic of Azerbaijan are united under the umbrella of this historical religious center and are subordinate to it in organizational matters.
During the period of independence, a favorable environment was created in Azerbaijan for the scientific study of Islam and the establishment of appropriate educational institutions. In 1992, the Faculty of Theology was established at Baku State University (BSU).
The relations of the state-religion are regulated by the State Committee for the Work with Religious Associations of Azerbaijan established by the decree of President Heydar Aliyev in 2001.
On February 9, 2018, the Azerbaijan Institute of Theology was founded under the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations by the Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The theology faculty of BSU was incorporated into the structure of the new institute. Also, secondary religious education institutions and courses within religious communities were opened in different regions of our country to teach the doctrines of Islam.
The above-mentioned facts are an indication that, in modern Azerbaijan, the state provides ample opportunities for the preservation of traditional Islamic values.
Establishing and developing relations with the Islamic world is a priority area of the foreign policy of our state. It is no coincidence that the Organization of the Islamic Conference (ed.: renamed as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2011) was the first international institution joined by Azerbaijan.
After the restoration of independence, our state was the first post-Soviet country to apply for membership of the OIC, and, consequently, Azerbaijan was admitted as a full member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference during the Sixth Islamic Conference held in Senegal’s capital Dakar on December 8, 1991. Azerbaijan was also elected as a member of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) in 1991. It should be noted here that the Organization of the Islamic Conference was the first international organization to openly condemn the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan.
Within a short span of time, the state of Azerbaijan became an active member of the influential international Muslim organizations, OIC and ICESCO. For instance, at the initiative of our country, new entities such as the OIC Youth Forum, the OIC Labor Center, and the Journalists Association of OIC Member States have been established.
Our country`s relations with ICESCO developed more in 2006. This year, Mehriban Aliyeva who is the first vice-president of the Republic of Azerbaijan, granted the title of Goodwill Ambassador of ICESCO.
During the years, Azerbaijan cooperated with ICESCO over numerous international projects. Baku and Nakhchivan cities selected the capital cities of Islamic culture in 2009 and 2018 respectively. In 2009, Islamic countries` ministers of culture meeting, 12th session of ICESCO general conference in 2015, and Executive Department`s 36th meetings held in Baku. ICESCO is one of the main partners of the `Baku Process` which is the initiative of President Ilham Aliyev and adopted by the United Nations.
Today Azerbaijan makes great contributions to the enhancement of solidarity in the Islamic world. Our state’s efforts in this area are highly appreciated by the Muslim world. A good example of this appreciation was Baku’s announcement as the capital of Islamic culture in 2009 with the support of ICESCO, followed by the bestowment of this honorable title to Nakhchivan, another ancient city of our country, in 2018.
Among the important initiatives and measures implemented by the Azerbaijani state to establish peace and unity in the Muslim world, we can mention President Ilham Aliyev’s announcement of 2017 as the “Year of Islamic Solidarity” or the “Baku 2017” Fourth Islamic Solidarity Games held in our capital city on May 12-22, 2017.
The announcement of 2016 as the “Year of Multiculturalism” by order of Azerbaijani President Mr. Ilham Aliyev also contributed to the enhancement of Islamic solidarity. On January 15, 2016, all Muslims, regardless of their sectarian background, came together at the Heydar Mosque in Baku to perform the Friday salat (prayer) in one place. The observance of this religious ceremony called the “Salat of Unity” has great historical importance. Performance of the salat of unity in Azerbaijan — a country considered one of the main centers of tolerance and multiculturalism in the modern world — and its evolution into a traditional prayer observed also in other mosques of our country is, in fact, a message of peace and solidarity sent out by our people to the world. The fact that the salat of unity was first performed at the Heydar Mosque has a symbolic meaning. Because it was National Leader Heydar Aliyev, who raised tolerance and multiculturalism to the level of state policy in Azerbaijan. Currently, this policy is successfully continued by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
As we can see, Azerbaijan, which has been one of the main centers of the Islamic civilization for centuries, continues to hold an important position in the Islamic world today. It is no coincidence that the green color, one of the three colors on our state flag — an important symbol of our national sovereignty — signifies the Azerbaijani people’s belonging to the Islamic civilization.
It is difficult to imagine the morality and lifestyle of the Azerbaijani people without Islamic values. The exclusive, unifying, and progressive role of Islam in the destiny of our country and the fate of our people is an undeniable historical fact. Deeply etched in the genetic memory of our people, Islam has strongly influenced Azerbaijanis’ transformation into a unified people and the formation of their national identity, statehood tradition, and culture.
Belonging to the Islamic civilization, the Azerbaijani people also uphold universal, civil, secular, tolerant, and multicultural values. In this sense, having opted for democratic, rule-of-law, and secular state-building and moving confidently towards the establishment of civil society, Azerbaijan stands out in the Islamic world for its uniqueness. Because serving as a bridge between the Eastern and Western cultures, our country makes important contributions to the development of interfaith and inter-civilization dialogue and the establishment of peace and harmony in the world and offers a unique co‑existence and exemplary multiculturalism model. Azerbaijan demonstrates a commitment to both universal and national moral values, including the high moral principles of Islam, which have played a progressive role in its history.
Christianity is represented by Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism as well as a number of sectarian communities in Azerbaijan. Five Armenian-Gregorian communities have been registered in the country.
Orthodoxy is currently represented by Russian and Georgian Orthodox churches in Azerbaijan. The Russian Orthodox churches that were founded in 2000 are report to the Eparchy of Baku and the Caspian region. The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest Christian confession in Azerbaijan by the number of adherents. The establishment of this church in our country dates back to the early 19th century.
Azerbaijan also accounts for eleven Malaccan communities related to the old rituals of orthodoxy. These communities do not have any church; their dogmas are fixed in a special book of rituals. They oppose the church hierarchy which has a special power.
Albanian-Udi Church. Though the number of people belonging to the Albanian-Udi Christian religious community differs from that of others yet it’s distinguished for its nature, content, religious and political importance. To date of 6000 of 10 000 people of the Udi ethnic community live in Azerbaijan including 4400 people compactly residing in the Nich village of Gabala district.
The udis which originated from the Turkic tribes of the fourth century B.C. resided on the territory of Karabakh and Caspian seashore, later accepted Christianity and spread this religion in the Caucasus Albania. The church of Kish (the Kish village of Sheki district)-the first Christian church-was considered the forefather of the Christian churches.
Tsarist Russia, incited by Armenians, resettling to Karabakh signed a decree which abolished the Albanian church in 1836 and transferred Albanian praying-houses, all equipment, and documents, belonging to the church to the Armenian apostolic church. Under such conditions, the udis would either accept the Gregorian religion thus turning to Armenians, or become lonely dervishes. However, they had remained truthfully devoted to their faith, traditions, and historical motherland through displaying great courage for over 180 years did not turn into Armenians on the contrary they tried to remove the historical injustice initiated from 1836. With the restoration of the Albanian-Udi Christian community, the theoretically proven historical facts were materialized and the rights of just Udis were partially restored.
Armenians, who tried to tamper with and destroy everything that reminded them of Caucasian Albania and the Albanian Apostolic Church, could not fully implement their insidious plans. After the restoration of state independence by the Azerbaijani nation, two Albanian-Udi religious communities were registered by the state: the Albanian-Udi Christian religious community of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Albanian-Udi Christian religious community of Oghuz city.
With the support of the Government of Azerbaijan, the church of the `Yelisey Temple` which is located in the village of Kish, Sheki region and also known as the “mother of churches” in the Caucasus, was restored. In 2006, Albanian Church “Chotari” was officially opened in the Nij settlement of the Gabala region, that the only place where Udis live compactly and considered their historic Homeland. In 2020, another historical church – the holy church of Saint Maria which is located in Nij town, was thoroughly restored by Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
Furthermore, on July 14, 2013, the tradition of baptism, which had been forgotten for more than 80 years, was revived in the Albanian-Udi religious community. On August 3, 2013, a ceremony was held with state support to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the revival of the Albanian-Udi church and the 1700th anniversary of Christianity’s adoption as the official religion in Caucasian Albania. It is also a reality that the Udi people living in our country are surrounded with full attention and care by the state of Azerbaijan.
The state of Azerbaijan carries out important work aimed at studying the ancient and rich history of Caucasian Albania, discovering the real scientific and historical truths, and exposing the Armenian falsifications. Because it is confirmed by undeniable historical facts that the only successor of the magnificent tangible cultural heritage of Caucasian Albania is Azerbaijanis.
Historical Albanian churches met with their true owners after the liberation of our territories which were under occupation for almost 30 years. Each of them is visiting by community members. Rafiq Danakari who is the chairman of the Albanian Orthodox Church was appointed a preacher at the Khudavang monastery in the Kalbajar region.
Catholicism. This trend in Christianity was represented by the Roman Catholic community in Baku.
After the Azerbaijan Republic gained its independence, there were good conditions for the revival of Catholicism. On the basis of the high diplomatic relationship between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Vatican, the catholic community is thoroughly supported with government assistance.
It should be noted that the Catholic community was first registered by the State Committee for Work with Religious Associations on January 31, 2002. The most memorable event in the history of Catholics in our country took place in May in the same year. So, Pope John Paul II made an official visit to our country, with the invitation of Heydar Aliyev. The pontiff`s visit was a new page for the fate of Catholics in Azerbaijan.
A Catholic Church was built in the center of Baku in February 2007. On 28 September 2008, the Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Catholic religious community.
One of the examples which show the high diplomatic relationship between Azerbaijan and Vatican is the Pope Francis` visit to our country on 2 October 2016.
Protestantism. Currently, Protestantism is represented by different branches in our country. The following are the protestant communities registered in Azerbaijan: “New Life Christian Bible” religious community, Baku religious community of Savior Evangelical Lutherans, “Word of Life” Christian religious community, “Word of Life — 2” Christian religious community of Sumgait, “Agape” religious community of Baku Evangelical Christian Baptists, “Seventh-day Adventists” religious community of Narimanov district of Baku, “Seventh-day Adventists of Ganja city” Christian religious community, “Vineyard Azerbaijan” Christian religious community, and “Alov” (Flame) Christian religious community of Baku.
There are three communities of Jews-Mountain Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, and Georgian Jews Azerbaijan. Nearly 16 000 Jews reside in the country. Of the 11000 people are mountain Jews, including 6000 people living in Baku and 4000 in Guba while a thousand people live in other cities. Ashkenazi Jews are 4.3 thousand in number. Most of them live in Baku and Sumgayit. There are 700 Georgian Jews in the country.
Mountain Jews currently dominate the whole Jews Diaspora of the country.
A number of synagogues of Mountain Jews exist in Baku, Oghuz, and Guba. `Gyrmyzy Gasaba`of Guba is the only place of compact residing of mountain Jews on the whole post-Soviet area. In the town, there is a `mikveh` for the three synagogues and rituals.
After Azerbaijan had gained independence, the Jewish community of the country intensified their activity, strengthened relations with international Jewish organizations, and created their religious schools-yeshivas, cultural centers (as the cultural center of the Jewish community), societies (as the women’s society Eva, Hesed-Hershon charitable society), clubs (as Alef, Kilel youth clubs, Mishpaha video clubs), newspapers (as Az-Iz, Bashnya, Amishav). The Jewish agency Soxnut, Jewish committees Joint and Vaad-I-Hetzola operated for preserving Jewish traditions among the Jewish Diaspora, assisting to synagogues and conducting various cultural arrangements.
A new Jewish synagogue, which became the biggest synagogue in Europe was opened in Baku on March 9, 2003. The first Jewish school has been operating in Azerbaijan since September of 2003.
Currently, the Jewish communities in our country are surrounded with attention and care by the Azerbaijani state. A new synagogue for the Mountain Jews religious community was built in Baku in 2011.
At the same time, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the `Ohr-Avner` international Foundation have built the `Chabad Ohr Avner` Education Center for Jewish children living in Baku.
The late 20th century was marked by the collapse of socialism, alterations in the political map of the world, and the appearance and deterioration of a number of problems related to different spheres of public life. Due to the lack of attention to moral and ethical values along with economic, ecological, and demographic problems, the problems of morality even deteriorated. Besides the theory of the clash of civilizations based on religious differences emerged and found its supporters at that time. Some separatist groups used religious dogmas for proving themselves right in their activity.
Under such conditions, the establishment of a dialogue between nations and cultures was important for the protection of various cultures of humanity. The experience of countries and regions rich in the traditions of tolerance and patience could serve as an example in this connection. The peaceful coexistence of a number of nations and religious confessions in Azerbaijan is a unique pattern of tolerance.
These traditions come from ancient times: the Jews running away from the Jewish kingdom, ruined as a result of the occupation of Jerusalem by Babil ruler Novukhodonosur the Second (586 B.C.) found refuge on the territory of Azerbaijan. According to the historical data, Babil captured nearly 40 thousand prisoners.
The first followers of Christianity settled in Azerbaijan in the first century A.C. and laid a foundation of the Albanian autocephaly church that later was set up there. The traditions of tolerance even strengthened with the spread of Islam on the territory of Azerbaijan. The Muslim tolerance bases on the suras and citations from the holy book Koran. According to historians Muslims displayed tolerance and patience to Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrian trends in the 7th-8th century.
The common fate of numerous ethnic and religious groups residing on the territory of Azerbaijan played a great role in the establishment of strong contacts between them. Peoples residing in Azerbaijan through the whole of its history repeatedly fell under the dependence on other strong states and the established situation obliged them to get closer despite differences in views.
The collapse of the Soviet Union turned into a hard ordeal for traditions of religious tolerance in the region. As a result of this process, the peoples of the former union republics gained liberty of faith along with independence. Since the beginning of 1992th, during the 30 years, the Armenian occupation caused death to thousands of innocent people and making millions of our compatriots flee their houses, threatened the tolerance peculiar of Azerbaijan. Though the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict did not have a religious ground the religious leader of Armenia Vazgen the First was in fact one of the inciters of the separatist movement.
The irreconcilable Armenians tried to spread a myth in the international arena that Islam in Azerbaijan threatens peace. On the other hand, some forces tried to convert the Muslim population of the republic into Christianity for spreading anti-war and even pro-Armenian tendencies. No doubt that such a movement did not serve the strengthening of a dialogue between religions. Yet these processes could not have a decisive negative impact on relations between religious confessions. These relations improved after Heydar Aliyev had come to power.
At the international symposium on the Islamic civilization in the Caucasus President Heydar Aliyev said: “There are a number of religions in the world and each of them occupies its own specific place. We Azerbaijanis being proud of our Religion-Islam, have never displayed a negative hostile attitude, towards other religions, never been at enmity, and never obliged other nations to practice our religion. On the whole, Islam is notable for tolerance to other religions and coexistence in conditions of mutual understanding with other religions. This process has been registered both in Azerbaijan and in the Caucasus. Christianity and Judaism existed and currently exist in Azerbaijan along with Islam. We consider people of any religion or nationality should respect other cultures, religions, and moral values and be patient with unpleasant traditions of other religions.
All religious confessions are equal before the law and have the same status in frames of the model of state-religion relations of present-day Azerbaijan. Along with ensuring the rights of Muslims constituting the majority of the country citizens, the government of Azerbaijan takes care of other religions spread in the country as well. Thus, the building of the head church Djen Mironosets, shutdown in 1920 was delivered to the Russian orthodox church in 1991. All-Russia and Moscow patriarch Alexei the second, staying on visit in Azerbaijan, declared this temple holy and attached the status of the cathedral church to it on May 27, 2001. Moreover, another orthodox temple-the head church of Saint Maria was restored in the capital city in 1999-2001.
The Catholic community of our country is also attached a great deal of attention by our state. After Azerbaijan’s restoration of state independence, the Catholic community was able to resume its activities. On April 2, 1999, the Roman Catholic religious community of Baku was registered by the state. Also, by order of National Leader Heydar Aliyev, an area was allocated for the construction of a Catholic church in Baku. Consequently, a Catholic church was erected in honor of Mother Mary in the most attractive part of the country’s capital in 2007. And in 2011, the religious organization Apostolic Prefecture of the Catholic Church in the Republic of Azerbaijan was registered by the state.
In our country, Catholicism comes after Orthodoxy and Protestantism by the number of followers. Despite its small size, the Catholic community in our country takes an active part in public life and engages in charitable activities. A homeless shelter named after Mother Teresa, the Mary Education Center, and other charitable facilities operate under the Apostolic Prefecture of the Catholic Church in the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Currently, there are eight places of worship (five churches, two chapels, and one prayer house) administered by the Baku and Azerbaijan Eparchy. Four of them are located in Baku, and the rest are situated in Ganja, Sumgayit, Khachmaz, and Lankaran.
The cultural heritage of the country’s Jewish community which has ancient traditions is also attached a great deal of attention by the government of Azerbaijan. The organization for relations between Azerbaijan and Israel and the society Soxnut had been operating in the country since 1990.
When speaking about the history of Mountain Jews in our country, it is necessary to mention the Girmizi Gasaba (Red Settlement) in the Guba district. Because this settlement is considered a place in the post-Soviet space densely populated by Mountain Jews. Located on the left bank of the river Gudyalchay, the Girmizi Gasaba was founded in the 18th century during the period of Guba Khanate. The settlement, which was earlier called the “Jewish settlement”, was once famous even as the “Jerusalem of the Caucasus”
As for the situation of the Jews in modern Azerbaijan, it should be noted that they live mainly in Baku, Ganja, and Sumgayit cities, as well as in Guba and Oghuz districts. The Jewish communities present in our country are surrounded with attention and care by the Azerbaijani state. The construction of a new synagogue for the Mountain Jews religious community of Baku at the initiative of President Ilham Aliyev is a good example of it. The synagogue, whose foundation was laid in 2010, was made available for believers in April 2011. In addition, every year the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan congratulates the Jewish community of our country on the occasion of the Jewish New Year, i.e. Rosh Hashanah holiday.
The Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Ohr Avner Foundation have built the Chabad Ohr Avner Education Center for Jewish children living in Baku within the framework of the project “Azerbaijan: Address of Tolerance”. The foundation laying ceremony of the Center was held with the participation of Mehriban Aliyeva, the president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, on May 31, 2007. The construction of the Education Center was finished in 2010. On October 4, 2010, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, his wife Mehriban Aliyeva, and Lev Leviev, the President of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS and the Ohr Avner Foundation, attended the grand opening of the Education Center.
Furthermore, the Hebrew language is taught at Baku State University, as well as a secondary school No.46 named after Agabey Novruzbeyli in classes consisting of children of Jewish origin within the Russian department of the school.
It should also be noted that today the Jewish communities in Azerbaijan actively participate in public life through the Azerbaijan-Israel Friendship Society, the Jewish agency Sochnut, the major Jewish charities Joint and Vaad-I-Hetzola, the Humanitarian Association of Azerbaijan’s Jewish Women, Jewish religious schools (yeshivas), the Azerbaijan-Israel Cultural Relations Society, the women’s society Eva and other Jewish NGOs operating in the country.
According to the official website of the State Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan for the Work with Religious Organizations, there are seven synagogues and eight Jewish religious communities in the country.
Thus, in the modern age, Jews in Azerbaijan live in a tolerant environment free from anti-Semitism, which is no coincidence because Jews have felt like an equal member of the large family in our country throughout all historical periods and even in times of rampant anti-Semitism around the world, the people of Azerbaijan did not treat them as aliens, on the contrary, our compatriots of Jewish origin lived in an atmosphere of friendship, solidarity, and mutual understanding.
The historical tolerance and patience formed in Azerbaijan had turned to one of the properties typical of the Azerbaijani society. It should be mentioned that the national government constantly meets with the leaders of religious communities and displays interest in their problems and needs. President Ilham Aliyev always delivers congratulating speeches on the occasion of the major religious holidays of Christians and Jewish people.
GOVERNMENT AND RELIGION — The essence of multiculturalism
Multiculturalism can be defined as different cultures be united, not in a single or superior way, but in conjunction with equal rights. In this regard, the legal regulation of rights and freedoms of different religions, ethnic groups, and cultures is of great significance. These rights are superior in Azerbaijan and guaranteed with Constitution. If we check our Constitution’s relevant provisions, we can clearly see the government`s policy towards `the protection of the differences` in Azerbaijan.
Article 18. Religion and the state
I. Religion in the Republic of Azerbaijan is separate from the state. All religions are equal before the law.
II. The spread and propaganda of religions (religious movements) that humiliate human dignity and contradict the principles of humanism shall be prohibited.
In the country, there was created a strong legal base for further development of tolerance, which is characteristic of our people. The right of freedom of conscience of our citizens is directly fixed in the Constitution, and has found broader reflection in the Law “On religious freedom”. According to Article 48 of the Constitution, each citizen has freedom of conscience, the right to freely formulate his attitude towards religion, express and extend the views connected with any religion and carry out religious rites. Besides, for strengthening religious tolerance in the country, the legislation connected with the rights and freedoms of the person, including freedom of conscience and religion was brought in compliance with the international law.
For the purpose of regulation of the relations between the state and religion, as well as control of observance of the legal acts connected with religious freedom, in 2001, there was signed the Decree on the creation of the State Committee on Work with Religious Associations.
November 16 in Azerbaijan and in the whole region is marked as the International Day of Tolerance.
According to the statistics, about 96 percent of the population of Azerbaijan are Muslims, 4% – Christians, Jews, bahaists, Krishnaites, and representatives of other religions. About 60-65 percent of Muslims of the country are Shias, while 35-40 percent are Sunnis. In the country, practically there are all currents of Christianity. In Azerbaijan, there live the Christian parishioners of Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, and Protestant churches, and parishioners of the historical Albanian church.
Currently, 941 religious communities are registered with the State Committee for Work with Religious Associations. 906 of them are Islamic, 24 of them Christian, 8 of them Jewish, 2 of them Baha`i, and 1 is a religious community of Krishna consciousness (2020).
The policy of the Republic of Azerbaijan pursued in the sphere of religion is constructed on the principles of freedom of thought, speech, and conscience, taking into account various forms of existence of religion in society. At the same time, the policy of the Azerbaijani state in the field of religion is based on the principles and rules of international law, international treaties the participant of which the Republic of Azerbaijan is, the Constitution of the country, and other normative-legal acts.
The Azerbaijani government holds a set of events for the development of tolerance, multiculturalism, inter-confessional and inter-cultural dialogue with the participation of the different parties. Over the last ten years, Azerbaijan became the host country of tens of international and regional conferences, forums, and symposiums devoted to these questions. We can proudly state that today in the international arena two expressions connected with the city of Baku are very often used: The Baku process on intercultural dialogue and the Baku process for the promotion of intercultural dialogue and tolerance.
Besides, for the purpose of dissemination and promotion of its experience in the sphere of tolerance and multiculturalism, and for promotion of these values in the international arena, Azerbaijan closely cooperates with the authoritative organizations, including with the UN, OSCE, UNESCO, ICESKO, and other structures.
One of the important actions, from the point of view of promotion on the international arena of the state policy of Azerbaijan in the field of religion and support of Azerbaijan to the interreligious and intercultural dialogue, as well as dissemination of its experience in the sphere of tolerance, was the Baku Summit of the world religious leaders taken place on April 26-27, 2010. The Government of Azerbaijan has undertaken to finance of this Summit organized on the initiative of the Caucasus Clerical Office of Moslems and the Russian Orthodox Church. Representatives of the influential religious centers of the world, including heads of the Russian Orthodox, Georgian Orthodox, and Armenian Gregorian churches, influential religious figures of the Vatican, the Constantinople Patriarchy, and the Islamic world, attended the summit.
The World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, organized and hosted by Azerbaijan, was, undoubtedly, one of the most prestigious actions in this sphere. So far, Baku has hosted five World Forums on Intercultural Dialogue and every time it was successful, with worthy achievements. This Forum is known in the international arena as “The Baku Process” is considered one of the authoritative world actions, which are regularly carried out.
One of the international events held in Azerbaijan was the I Baku International Forum on the subject: “State and Religion: Strengthening Tolerance in a Changing World”. The event participants adopted a document named The Baku Platform containing common principles in the mentioned sphere. During the Forum with the participation of the representatives of more than 30 world countries, it was decided to regularly hold this forum.
On December 1, 2016, a conference titled “Traditions of religious tolerance in the Caucasus and Azerbaijan’s model of multiculturalism” held in Baku. Members of the Supreme religious council, state and religious figures, representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Georgian Orthodox Church, and ambassadors of different countries have attended the conference with the chairmanship of Allahshukur Pasazade who is the chairman of the Caucasus Muslims` Board. It became clear from the goals and objectives of the conference that Azerbaijan’s tolerance model is now being studied at 28 universities around the world. The value which unites the people of the Caucasus is a value derived from tolerance. There is also a tolerance in the tradition of the Azerbaijani people. Today, tolerance in Azerbaijan has been raised to the level of government policy.
On October 2, 2016, Pope Francis visited the Republic of Azerbaijan. During a meeting with Pope Francis, President Ilham Aliyev announced this year’s “Year of Multiculturalism” in Azerbaijan. “Multiculturalism is both a way of lifestyle and a policy of our government for us. Azerbaijan plays a crucial role in terms of the promotion of the ideas of multiculturalism in the world. Unfortunately, some figures, politicians, and leaders share pessimistic thoughts towards multiculturalism and claim that multiculturalism has failed and has no future. These thoughts are wrong and very dangerous. However, we proved that multiculturalism lives and develops in Azerbaijan and takes our country forward. Azerbaijan is one of the addresses of multiculturalism. We are proud of being a multicultural, multi-confessional country and representatives of all religions in Azerbaijan live with dignity”.
On December 21-22, 2017, an international conference was held in Baku on “Year of Islamic Solidarity: Interfaith and intercultural dialogue”.
Co-organized by the Caucasus Muslims Office and the State Committee on Work with Religious Organizations, the conference marked the completion of the “Year of Islamic Solidarity”. State, religious figures, and scientists from nearly 40 countries with almost 150 representatives, heads and representatives of eight international organizations, special envoys of heads of states of a number of countries, heads of religious communities, members of government and parliament, and representatives of the diplomatic corps participated to the conference.
Heydar Aliyev Foundation is actively involved in the protection of natural and spiritual values, and restoration of historical and religious monuments. Over the “Address of Tolerance Azerbaijan” project, Heydar Aliyev Foundation implements numerous projects in our country.
In today`s world, Heydar Aliyev Foundation does not only contribute to the preservation of Azerbaijan but also, preservation of the world`s cultural heritage, intercultural and civilizational dialogue. Over the “Azerbaijan — the address of tolerance” project, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation restored the architectural monuments of the Palace of Versailles and stained glass windows of the cathedral in Europe. It shows Azerbaijan`s contribution to tolerance and respect for the diversity of world cultures and shows that Azerbaijan has strong, ancient roots of tolerance. Mehriban Aliyeva who is the first lady of Azerbaijan has signed important work on the restoration of 60 catacombs around Rome city. Holy Marchellino and Pietro catacombs are one of the important and fascinating monuments to the Christian world and restoration of these monuments was written in history as another brilliant example of interfaith and cultural dialogue. Heydar Aliyev Foundation carried out a historical mission with its contribution to the restoration of such prestigious archaeological monuments. In France, Heydar Aliyev Foundation`s assistance to the restoration of 7 churches of the 10th and 12th centuries in the settlement of Santia, Fresnay o Sovaj, San Iler la Gerard, Tanville, Courjust, Revoyne, and Mal of the French Orne Department has also become real within the “Azerbaijan – Address of Tolerance” project.
Currently, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has begun to work on a project to restore religious monuments and mosques in the liberated territories. With the participation of local and foreign experts, restoration, conservation, and reconstruction of our shrines are carrying out in the Karabakh region. These religious monuments and mosques are the national wealth of the population of Azerbaijan.
Dedicated to culture.
The banknote has been printed on special paper with a size of 120 x 70mm. The front side features graphic reflections of Azerbaijan national musical instruments — Tar, Kamancha, and Daf. The background is enhanced with ancient carpet patterns of Azerbaijan. The backside of the banknote features maps, representing Azerbaijan’s integration into Europe, as well as Azerbaijan national ornaments.
The front side of the banknote has the hidden number of the nominal, the number and design of the nominal visible at the light (watermark), “MANAT” visible at the light, magical number (from green to dark red), special precise lines, raised nominal, elements visible at UV light. The backside has a metal thread, magical lines, and UV elements.
Dedicated to writing and literature.
The banknote has been printed on white paper with a size of 120 x 70mm. The front side of the banknote features literature personalities, ancient books, and the state anthem. The backside of the banknote features maps, representing Azerbaijan’s integration into Europe, Azerbaijan’s development history — Gobustan rock hieroglyphs, Orhon-Yenisei alphabet, and our modern writing.
The front side of the banknote has the hidden number of the nominal, the number and design of the nominal visible at light (watermark), “MANAT” visible at the light, magical number (from green to dark red), special precise lines, raised nominal, elements visible at UV light. The backside has a metal thread, magical lines, and UV elements.
Dedicated to history.
The banknote has been printed on white paper with a size of 134 x 70mm. The front side of the banknote features Old Baku, Shirvanshahs Palace, and Maiden Tower with the old fortress walls on the background. The backside of the banknote features maps, representing Azerbaijan’s integration into Europe, and typical Azeri carpet ornaments.
The front side of the banknote has the hidden number of the nominal, the number and design of the nominal visible at light (watermark), “MANAT” visible at the light, magical number (from green to dark red), special precise lines, raised nominal, holographic nominal, elements visible at UV light. The backside has a metal thread, magical lines, and UV elements.
Dedicated to Karabakh.
The banknote has been printed on white paper with a size of 134 x 70mm. The front side of the banknote features symbols of power — sword, helmet, shield, and “Kharibulbul” as the symbol of peace. The backside of the banknote features maps, representing Azerbaijan’s integration into Europe, and Azerbaijan national ornaments.
The front side of the banknote has the hidden number of the nominal, the number and design of the nominal visible at light (watermark), “MANAT” visible at the light, magical number (from green to dark red), special precise lines, raised nominal, holographic nominal, and elements visible at UV light. The backside has the metal thread, magical lines on the left side, and UV elements.
Dedicated to the history and the future.
The banknote has been printed on white paper with a size of 148 x 70mm. The front side of the banknote features the example of the future — stairs representing rising and development, the sun as the symbol of power and light, chemical and mathematical symbols representing science. The backside of the banknote features maps, representing Azerbaijan’s integration into Europe, and ornaments of ancient Azeri carpets.
The front side of the banknote has the hidden number of the nominal, the number and design of the nominal visible at the light (watermark), “MANAT” visible at the light, magical number (from green to dark red), special precise lines, raised nominal, elements visible at UV light. The backside has a metal thread, magical lines, and UV elements.
Dedicated to economy and development.
The banknote has been printed on white paper with a size of 155 x 70mm. The front side of the banknote features development from ancient times to the present through architectural symbols, as well as symbols of Azerbaijan manta and economic development. The backside of the banknote features maps, representing Azerbaijan’s integration into Europe, as well as traditional Azerbaijan national ornaments.
The front side of the banknote has the hidden number of the nominal, the number and design of the nominal visible at light (watermark), “MANAT” visible at the light, magical number (from green to dark red), special precise lines, raised nominal, holographic nominal, and elements visible at UV light. The backside has a metal thread, magical lines, and UV elements.
The architect of independent Azerbaijan, which was built in memory of the national leader “Heydar Aliyev Center” is dedicated to
The banknote is printed on a special paper measuring 160 x 70 mm. The banknote depicts the majestic image of the Heydar Aliyev Center, one of the most modern symbols of our capital, the design elements of the main exterior and interior of the Center, elements of national carpet patterns, and other national ornaments.
Concealed face value of the banknote, hologram, ink-free print, embossed print, SPARK live, identification element for the visually impaired, watermark, serial number, protection handle, flashing paints, special sharp lines, micro text, anti-copying line structure, colors There is a division.
INFORMATION ABOUT BAKU
Baku is the capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is a large scientific, cultural and industrial centre. Ancient foundations, a large area and a population all make Baku one of the oldest and largest cities in the East. Baku is situated on the shore of the Caspian Sea in the south of the Absheron peninsula. It covers an area of 2.200 square km and has a population of 2 million. Baku has 11 administrative districts and 5 settlements.
People have lived and founded their settlements in Baku city and the Absheron peninsula since ancient times. This was motivated by continuous migrations from north to south and from west to east due to the physical and geographical conditions, a favourable location in the centre of trade routes that crossed the Silk Road, climatic conditions, production of petroleum fuel in ancient times and the availability of large power resources.
Baku was first mentioned in the Book of the Dead by the Egyptian Pharaoh Minesan in 3,500 BC. The ancient age of Baku is also evidenced by stone carvings dating back to 12,000 years ago and archaeological excavations. Another important piece of evidence is a stone carving by August Guy Octavio, who reflected the stationing of a military camp under the rule of the Roman emperors Pompey and Lucius near Baku (40 km to the south) for the purposes of seizing the southern Caucasus in the 1st century BC. This means that Baku is nearly 5,500 years old.
Baku was one of the main cities in the Shirvanshakhs State in the 12th century, in the Sefevids State in the 14th century, in the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, and became the capital of the Baku khanate in the 17th century.
BAKU CITY EXECUTIVE POWER
After Baku became a provincial capital in 1860, its executive authorities had the following names:
The Executive Power of Baku City is headquartered at 4, Istiglaliyet Street. The construction of the building of the Executive Power of Baku City commenced in 1900 and finished in 1904. Polish architect I. Goslavski (born in Warsaw in 1865 and died at the age of 39 in 1904. Head architect of Baku in 1892) widely used the baroque style and classic construction methods in the construction of this building. This building was the architect’s last work. The facade was decorated with red brick, brought for this purpose from Italy, and coloured marble.
The central part of the building facade bears the emblem of Baku. Three golden torches in the central part of the emblem symbolize Azerbaijan as the land of fire. The first emblem of the city was confirmed in 1840.
The second emblem was accepted in 1890, the third in 1967 and the present one in 2001.
INFORMATION ON HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL MONUMENTS OF BAKU CITY
The ancient city of Baku has numerous historical and architectural monuments dating to various historical epochs.
The Old City of Icheri Sheher occupies 22 hectares in the center of Baku. It hosts over 50 historical and architectural monuments from various eras. The Palace of Shirvanshakhs, the Maiden Tower, and Synyg Gala (The Broken Tower) are among the monuments which survived till the present day.
The Palace of Shirvanshakhs is one of the pearls of Azerbaijani architecture. It was built at the beginning of the 15th century. It includes a historical complex, the palace, a divankhana, the Shirvanshah’s room, a palace mosque with minarets, a bathhouse, a room of Seyid Yahya Bakuvi, and the Western divankhana monuments, which were built during a later stage. The complex construction began in 1441, while the Western divankhana was completed by architect Amirshah in 1558.
Azerbaijan’s unique architectural monument – the Maiden Tower — is located in the south-western part of the Icheri Sheher. The tower was built in two stages. Its bottom part with a height of 13.7 meters is dated by most experts to the 7th-6th centuries BCE. The Maiden Tower has a total height of 29.7 meters, with a diameter of 16.5 meters. The wall thickness in the bottom part is 5 meters, reducing to 4 meters at the top. The tower consists of 8 tiers and has 21-meter deep water well.
The present structure was built approximately in 1713 AD, and the building of the central stone shrine was funded by merchant Kanchanagaran in 1810. Another interesting sight in Baku is the Ateshgah temple, situated in the south-western part of the Surakhani settlement in the Absheron peninsula, 30 km away from Baku. Ateshgah is a fire temple, built in the XVII-XVIII centuries. The temple’s central stone shrine is located on a natural gas pocket.
One of the most ancient and exciting monuments of Baku is Gobustan, famous around the world for its rock carvings. It has numerous rock carvings, camps, dwelling places, tomb monuments, and other sights of the stone period. Gobustan is located in the Boyukdash, Kichikdash, Yindirdagh, Sondardagh, and Shixgaya mountains. The monuments dating from the mesolite to the middle ages can be found in the territory of Boyukdash.
Besides, there are two ancient towers in the Mardakan settlement of Baku. The one with a quadrangular form was built in the 12th century by Akhsitan, the son of Shirvanshah Mechehrin. This tower was erected on the occasion of Akhsitan’s victory over his enemies. The tower has a height of 22 meters. The wall thickness in the bottom part is 2.60 meters, reducing to 1.60 meters at the top. The insides of the tower are divided into five tiers.
The second tower has a rounded shape and is known as Shikh Tower among the local population. This tower has a height of 12.5 meters. Its inner part consists of 3 circles. The inscription on the tower wall reads that it was built by the architect Abdulmejid Masud in 1232.
TRIP TO THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL MONUMENTS OF ICHERISHEHER
The medieval city of Baku, surrounded from many different directions by powerful fortresses represented one of the advanced trading, craft, and cultural centers of Azerbaijan. It played an important role in the social-economic and political life of the whole country. Being on the crossroads of caravan routes, it supported close trade and economic relations with other cities of Azerbaijan and neighboring countries. At the same time feudal Baku, located on the coast of the Caspian Sea, had well-equipped ports and deep moorings in the bay protected from gales, which provided an opportunity for the participation of the city in the transit trade between many countries. Baku, an important economic and cultural center of the Shirvanshahs State, grew in a relatively short time from a small coastal settlement into a big city as a result of the intensive development of productive forces and emerged as one of the largest feudal state formations in the territory of Northern Azerbaijan.
Archaeological research and excavations carried out over many years in various sites of Icherisheher (the ancient part of Baku, surrounded by fortresses with towers) and also the study of the rich variety of artifacts discovered during these excavations show that medieval Baku was a densely populated city. It had trade and the circulation of money related to trade, plus various handicrafts, and other branches of activity of the municipal economy took an important place. Baku especially was glorified by its natural resources. The bowels of Apsheron abounded with petroleum, which along with salt-lakes served as basic goods of export for which people used to come from neighboring and distant countries. Extraction of petroleum here had been already reported by the Arabian scientists and travelers, who indicated that “there are sources of white and other sorts of petroleum in Baku. And God well knows that there is nowhere white petroleum, except this place, and this place is the coast of Shirvan Kingdom. In these oil-bearing soils, there is a volcano of fire, continuously erupting from itself flame of fire all the time”.
During the medieval period, Baku petroleum was widely used in various branches of human life. It was used in illumination, heating, military affairs, lubrication of wheels, treatment of animals against various skin diseases, and so on. The curative properties of Apsheron petroleum were well known since ancient times and people used to come from many countries for it. In addition, a hardened black tar mixed with sifted sand and special viscous clay was used on the flat roofs of houses. Quality viscous clay, rich deposits of which are marked in this territory, also figures amongst the natural riches of Apsheron. It is well known that clay is the basic raw material for the manufacture of pottery.
Results of long-term research carried out at excavations show that the majority of artifacts found during archaeological excavations in all the medieval cities of Azerbaijan are products of the potter’s craft. A study of specific artifacts shows that pottery manufacture was considerably improved in the Middle Ages with a resulting development in the manufacture of ceramic ware, during which time high-quality household and economic vessels appeared.
During archaeological excavations in Icherisheher, a rich collection with simple, unglazed, glazed, and decorated ceramics, china, porcelain, and celadon were discovered. Among them, there are the dining room and kitchen utensils, vessels for storage and transportation of foodstuffs, building ceramics, water and other kinds of pipes, children’s toys, and so on. Among the numerous products of simple but unglazed ceramics dating to XI-XIII AD, products with stamped ornamentation take special pace.
The yellow-colored handle part of these jugs and flasks etc. is decorated with the shape of very intricate and varied relief geometrical and foliage designs, and then connected to the vessel. A galib (mold) for manufacturing stamped ceramics was discovered in 1967 during archaeological excavations on the east slopes of Baku hill, where the handicraft quarter was settled in the Middle Ages. The humeral part of some jugs, cone-shaped vessels, and two-ear flasks was decorated with stamped designs without a mold but by small punches by a strong pressing from above with a stamp.
On ceramic ware of medieval Baku punched ornaments are found basically on the handles of small narrow-necked yellow clay jugs, on the bulging cover of two-ear flasks, on the surface of covers, and on cone-shaped vessels and galyans (hookahs or tobacco-pipes). The majority of such ceramics are not inferior to costly glazed vessels in their richness and variety of ornamentation, as well as art — decorative composition.
Painted ceramics appeared in Azerbaijan from an extreme antiquity. In O.G.Abibullaeva’s opinion, they were delivered here in V BC from the countries of the Near East and during the many thousands of years up to XIV-XV AD they were used by the population. Vessels made of painted, especially red-painted ceramics are widely enough found in both the bottom and top social strata of medieval Baku. These are basically elegant dining room jugs, large-necked and thin-walled with the monochrome red-painted surface, frequently enhanced with engraving or decorated with red painting, sometimes in combination with black shapes of multi-row scallops and net. Alongside elegant dining room vessels, household jugs with simple geometrical ornament were also found.
Of the red-painted chubug galyany (hookahs or tobacco-pipes with mouthpieces) discovered from the top cultural layer, some have stamps with the name of the master on them. Among red-painted ware, it is important to note the clay whistle, shaped like a dove with a painted back. When it is played it makes the pleasant sounds of a reed pipe.
Glazed ceramics from both cultural layers of the Baku fortress are marked by their variety of shapes and richness of décor. Basically, dining room vessels — dishes, bowls, plates, etc. are found from the bottom layer of the VIII-IX – XIII AD period. These are hand-made with transparent coating; transparent and manganese coating underglaze, vessels with polychrome yellow-green-brown painting. Dishes and bowls painted with mixed geometrical and foliage decoration with images of animals, birds, fish, and rare cases human images are ornamented with such an art. There were newly discovered art methods of the XI-XIII AD period — the engraving and scraping of the transparent layer, which was used in the decoration of both monochrome and polychrome vessels. Some glazed vessels of the XI – beginning XIII AD period have printed stamps on the bottom. All sizes of stamp prints on vessels are printed with clay stamps with a diameter of about 4-8 cm. The diameters of stamps are strictly according to the size of the bottom of the vessel. The collections of stamped ceramics from Baku are stamped with geometrical and vegetative ornament, astrological marks, various figures, and images. These designs are basically lines radiating out from the center and nets formed by squares and rhombuses of various sizes; plated ovals, multi-petal rosettes, and palmettos, relief concentric circles and spirals, etc. Among the numerous stamped ceramics from Baku, a fragment of a bowl with the stamped image of a bird (dove) attracts attention, particularly the wings, a fan-shaped tail, the head, and a sharp beak in front of which there are some grains. The eyes are marked by a white round point on a black background. On the back of the bird foliage with curls similar to that located inside the bowl has been placed. Straight and wavy lines have been drawn in front of the figure of the bird and on the back of it, which form an impression of a net. Analogous stamps with relief images of doves are known from Bandovan, a site of ancient settlement.
It is known that a dove is considered a sacred bird in many nations. In the legends of some nations of the East, the sacred spirit or a deity appears in the image of a dove. For the Uzbeks of Khoresm, an angel appears in the image of a dove.
Also in Azerbaijan folklore, an angel appears in the image of a dove. Among the finds of 1964 on the northern part of Maiden’s Tower, there is an original polychrome glazed bowl with five crouching pigeon figures inside, which has been done by means of a graphic painting and engraved with great skills. They are shown as going one by one in a clockwise direction.
The other irrigated bowl with drawings of doves was created by painting with transparent coating and engraving and was found on the east slopes of the Baku hill. In contrast to the drawing on the previous bowl, the doves here move anti-clockwise. On the inside center surface of one of the small glazed bowls, there is polychrome painting in the form of concentric circles with rather narrow strips between them, one of which is filled with cogs. There are original images of three scaly fishes in the smallest circle of the inside, floating one by one clockwise. The figures of fishes are placed in such a manner that the center of its isosceles triangle is formed with a hook bent on the top resembling a fish head. The shape of this fish resembles the Caspian salmon. The bowl has a stamp of crossed lines. A glazed bowl with fish images drawn on the inside surface, relating to the XII AD period, was also discovered in the area of a religious building during excavations in 1964. The drawing was painted with transparent coating and manganese. The fins and gills of the fish are shown on both sides shaped as sharp-edged leaf figures and the scaly body by narrow lines crossing each other, forming squares and rhombuses. The print of the stamp on the bottom is illegible.
Amongst bowls and dishes that are decorated with animal images, the polychrome bowl discovered during excavations in 1939 at the lower yard of the Shirvanshahs Palace in the layer related to XII-XIII AD attracts attention, with an image of running zebra on the background of foliage
The Mongolian invasion, which sharply undermined the blossoming life of Azerbaijani cities and a number of natural unfavourable factors strongly affected the development of ceramic manufacture. In the materials of the end of XIII – second half of XIV AD there is evidence of a reduction in the quality of technique and art in ceramics after the Mongolian period. Later, in XIV-XVII AD a change of art traditions can be observed. A new rise in ceramic manufacture in medieval Baku can be observed at the end of XIV – the beginning of XV AD. Apparently, it is possible to relate the period XIV AD to the period of the revival of lost traditions in many branches of craft manufacture, as well as ceramics. It has a number of reasons. One basic reason could be considered the obtaining of a new status for Baku — the capital of the Shirvanshahs State. As to glaze ceramics, the variety of ceramics expanded during the late Middle Ages of XIV-XVII AD, alongside dining room glazed household ware, kups (big jugs), jugs, covers, chirags (oil lamps), and also building ceramics are covered by glaze in this period. If art ceramics of XII-XIII AD, a period of the blossoming of handicraft and culture in Azerbaijan, was characterized by rich folklore and a variety of decorating vessels, the best samples of ceramics of the XIV-XVII AD differed with high quality of handicraft. Dining room vessels differ with solid thin handles, high ring-shaped stands, and fine quality of baking. Among the innovations of late Middle Age ceramics, it is possible to note china vessels. Vessels with transparent coating are rising up to qualitatively new levels in contrast to samples of IX-X AD.
Ceramicware took up an important place in the infrastructure of both Azerbaijan and medieval Baku. After archaeological excavations, it has been established that pottery pipes were widely used in the Baku water supply system alongside the kahriz system (a kind of water supply system). Potter’s pipes were also widely used in a number of branches of handicraft and for other domestic purposes. As to building ceramics, the basic building material of the Shirvan-Absheron architectural school was not fired brick, but local limestone. Building ceramics here were basically tiles — thin-covered slabs. Glazed monochromic tiles with various shapes painted in blue, turquoise, and sometimes green, have been discovered, which date to about XII-XIII AD. Also, different shapes of red clay tiles with blue glaze in a large size have been found at the top cultural layer of XIV-XVII AD.
Faience wares from both cultural layers are not numerous. In the top layer of XIV-XVII AD, there are fragments of china vessels painted with cobalt. In the bottom layer, it is possible to note fragments of china bowls with white transparent coating on dark background in the shape of multi-petal rosettes, and also parts of vessels with a painting of lustre on the cobalt background. Great interest was drawn to the china bowl discovered in 1974 from the bottom layer of the site, located northwest of the Shirvanshahs Palace. This is a vessel of small size with a ring-shaped stand. The bowl is covered with a little transparent coating of dark-blue painting. From the lateral side, the perimeter of the bowl has a relief belt below nimbus with an inscription in Arabian characters expressing goodwill to the owner of the vessel.
On the bottom of the other china bowl discovered near to the above-mention place, there is a vegetable ornament painted in dark blue. Between the foliage, there is an image of a bird painted in the same color. The discovery of these faience bowls shows trading connections between Baku and other centers of the manufacture of faience ceramics, which were the Iranian cities of Ray, Kashan, Sultanabad, etc. in the Middle Ages.
The most interesting glass handicrafts were discovered by the northern fortress. In the bottom layer, a significant amount of fragments of thin-walled glassware — jugs, vases, glasses, small pharmaceutical and perfumery vessels, and flacons were discovered. Various glass bracelets — round and oval in section, colored inlaid and twisted, and also various glass beads were discovered.
Among the materials, significant interest is drawn by the big stone with the image of the bullhead, discovered in 1964, at the base of the city wall adjoining the northeast part towards Maiden’s Tower. The stone is soft and there is an image of a bull on its surface, almost in real size. In terms of shape, this image is similar to images on the Shahabbas Gates. Similar bullhead images were also found in the Baku bay area.
The metal items of Icherisheher consist mostly of iron copper items from daily life. These are iron items — round and quadrangular nails with covers, fragments of knife-edges, sometimes parts of horse harnesses; horseshoes, and also shoes for people. Arrow tips, tiny iron anchors, and plugs of a chirag spear were discovered in some sites.
A tiny iron anchor discovered in 1975 in Icherisheher attracts great interest. The owner of this anchor, which was made as a symbol of abundance, was obviously a seaman.
During archaeological excavations in 1938-1939 by the Shirvanshahs Palace, a metal lamp with artwork that caused huge interest was discovered. The body and spout of this art lamp made of bronze are decorated with figures of various animals everywhere. On the trunk of the chirag there are 14 relief heads of animals and 2 human faces. Undoubtedly, during those years similar handmade articles belonged to people of high society.
The silver vessel for water shaped like a milk jug, a casual find in Baku, is also an interesting find. This vessel, relating to Shirvan handicraft style is part of a set, the other of which was discovered in Shemakha. The vessel is decorated like a carpet and has images of a human, animals, and also a hunting stage, which has been drawn in a rich artistic style.
There is an inscription that it was made by Master Muhammad Baghir, by order of Jabbar bey. This decorated vessel with exclusive taste presumably relates to XVI-XVII AD.
Special interest was caused by the discovery of a metal candlestick as a result of archaeological excavations at the bottom of the 4-meter well in the yard of the Shirvanshahs Palace. The candlestick was forged from a copper sheet. This very beautifully made the candlestick of the original design is connected to XII – beginning XIII AD.
In 1964 during archaeological excavations at Maiden’s Tower metal vessel similar to a teapot was discovered attracting scientific interest. It is supposed that this vessel originally was a sarpush (the cover for a metal dish), and only afterward it was altered to a teapot. The cone-shaped top part of the sarpush was cut off, thereby forming the top hole of the teapot. There is also soldering on the bottom part. The surface of the sarpush is divided into symmetric strips richly decorated with carved, twisted, and rhombus-shaped patterns. Sketches applied on the sarpush as a buta (bud) and sun, which represent ancient art patterns, became widespread in applied art.
The majority of metal items discovered in Baku are copper and silver coins. Coins were discovered during archaeological excavations, as well as casually. Both individual coins and coins discovered as treasures have a special role in the exact explanation of cultural layers and materials found as a result of archaeological excavations. It is interesting that the majority of coins were minted in Baku. Based on this evidence, researchers confirm that there was a mint in Baku in the Middle Ages.
Among the coins discovered in Baku, there are also coins minted in such cities as Shamakhi, Tebriz, Penahabad, Ganja, Derbend, Sharvan, Mahmudabad, Irevan, Ani, Gizil Orda, Kashan, Saray al-Jadid, Bukhara, Gazvin and Sultani, and others. The finding of such coins in Baku once again shows that this city had close cultural and trading connections with the above-mentioned cities in the Middle Ages.
In our opinion, monetary treasures and coins, as well as other materials from archaeological excavations discovered in Baku, have great importance for studying Baku history. A tiny bronze figure of a fish takes a special place among the items discovered during archaeological excavations in Icherisheher. It was discovered during a clearing of a fortress base at the northern part of Maiden’s Tower. The fantastic fish figure with opened mouth and raised upper lip was formed with great skill. The glass-shaped eye of the fish is marked in the middle of a big round head. There are gills on the body. The tail is lifted upwards and curved. The whole body of the fish is covered with a dense scaly layer. The figure, which was made in a masterly fashion, is interesting in terms of its style, which is a characteristic of Sasani art traditions.
Tendirkhana – a range of furnaces for baking bread
It is possible to connect tendirs (furnaces for baking bread), which were most widespread in the life of the medieval population of Baku, to a number of buildings. Archaeological excavations at various sites in Icherisheher have opened plenty of tendirs allowing the study of the method of baking bread in medieval Baku. Bread baking takes its origins from an extreme antiquity. The results of archaeological researches show that the tendir for bread baking probably appeared in Azerbaijan and the Trans-Caucasus in the neolith period and was further developed over time. In Icherisheher tendirs built underground as well as on the ground were discovered.
A basic tendir had unbroken smooth walls between 2,5 up to 3,5 cm thick which were covered in a specially selected viscous clay of yellowish color mixed with finely sifted sand. The diameter is 45-50 cm, but bigger tendirs have been found. A tendir with a foundation of 1,5 m in diameter was discovered in the east part of Shirvanshahs Palace in the layer of XIV-XV AD period. This was the first time a tendir with such a diameter was found in Icherisheher. Around the tendir a big smooth area paved with stone was constructed. The sides around tendirs were built from the exterior part of the wall made of stone or brick mixed with clay solution, 20 cm thick, for ease of construction and in order to prevent burns.
Besides tendirs with a smooth unbroken wall, tendirs with other designs have also been found. They were built of individual clay braid; strands with almost round sections flattened from one side. Such tendirs were usually structured with strands of 20-25 cm connected clay mortar. The flattened side of the braid was put inside. The surface of the interior part was carefully leveled. In order not to destroy or damage unfired walls of uncompleted braid tendirs, the lower half of the tendir was constructed to a height of 0,6-0,7 meters by the master from inside, and the upper half from the outside.
Two tendirs were discovered in Icherisheher with lines that had been carved on the internal surface before firing. These were parallel wavy lines. One of them was in a layer of XII AD period. These carved lines basically were intended to keep uncooked chorek (bread) on the vertical wall of the baking furnace. Alongside it bundles of carved lines printed in decoration on the reverse side of the bread; its observed side was decorated manually.
In Azerbaijan, sometimes tendirs with walls laid of wide ribbon-shaped strips fixed as a hoop one on top of another and braced with clay mortar have been discovered. These tendirs are wide at the base, gradually narrowing up to a truncated cone shape.
For guaranteed good combustion of fuel and heating of the walls, tendirs were supplied with a draft by a ventilation channel with a diameter about 6-8 cm located in the lower part of tendir wall and facing in the direction of the winds prevailing in this area. Icherisheher tendirs faced to the southwest in the direction of the prevailing winds.
Sometimes in small sites, 5 or even 6 tendirs with an area of 1,5 x 1,5 m and 2 x 2 m have been found. Such a close location of them excludes the possibility of simultaneous use. It seems to us now we are probably dealing with a tendirkhana (a range of furnaces for baking of bread) wherein the case of failure of one tendir, a new one was constructed in its place or near to it. Bread baked in such a tendirkhana was sold in the market.
Territories, number and density of population by administrative regions of Baku
|Names of regions|
|Population, thsd person||Population density for 01.01.2014|
(per 1 sq.km. per person)
|On the basis of population census 2009||For 01.01.2014|
|Baku city – total:||2,14||2045,8||2181,8||1020|
TELEPHONE CODES OF AZERBAIJANI CITIES
After the Republic of Azerbaijan regained its independence, it has become possible to renew the objective picture of the past history of our nation. The truth which for many years was kept back is getting disclosed and misinterpreted events are getting their real value.
Numerous acts of genocide against Azerbaijanis, which for many years did not receive their deserved political and legal assessment, is one of the secret pages of our history.
The Gulustan and Turkmenchay agreements signed in 1813 and 1828 provided the legal ground for the partition of the nation of Azerbaijan and the division of its historical lands. The occupation of the lands continued the national tragedy of the Azerbaijan people. Within a short time, the gross settlement of Armenians in the territories of Azerbaijan has begun. The occupation of Azerbaijani territories became an integral part of the genocide.
Armenians moved to Yerevan, Nakhchivan and Karabakh khanates have achieved to establish their administrative-territorial unit of the Armenian region despite their minority as compared to Azerbaijanis residing in the same area. This artificial division provided political reasons for the removal and annihilation of Azerbaijanis in their native lands. This was followed by the propaganda of the establishment of Great Armenia. In order to ensure the exculpation of the idea to establish this fictitious state in the territory of Azerbaijan, a wide-scale programme, aimed at the falsification of the national history of Armenians, was started. The distortion of the history of Azerbaijan and the whole Caucasus formed an integral part of this programme.
Inspired by the idea of the establishment of Great Armenia, Armenian invaders started to openly implement on a wide scale their evil actions against the nation of Azerbaijan during 1905-1907. Armenians started their brutal acts in Baku and further spread them through the rest of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani villages in the current territory of Armenia. Hundreds of settlements were razed to the ground and thousands of people were savagely killed. The organizers of these events were creating an unfavourable image about the people of Azerbaijan to hide the truth and prevent these events from a correct political and legal evaluation.
They got used to World War I, Russian revolutions in February and October of 1917, and managed to accomplish their ideas under the plea of Bolshevism. The implementation of a cruel plan of cleansing the population of Azerbaijan in the provinces started by the Baku commune under the plea of fighting against counter-revolutionary elements in March of 1918. Armenian crimes have secured themselves an everlasting place in the memory of the Azeri people. Thousands of Azerbaijani civilians were murdered for the only reason of their belonging to the nation of Azerbaijan. Armenians destroyed dwelling houses and burnt people alive. Most of Baku was turned into ruins with national architectural sights, schools, hospitals, mosques and other monuments destroyed.
Azeri genocide was particularly cruel in Baku, Shamakhi, Guba, Karabakh, Zangezur, Nakhchivan, Lankaran and other regions. Many civilians in those areas were killed, the villages were brought to ashes and national monuments were razed to the ground.
After the establishment of the Azerbaijan National Republic, closest attention was paid to the March 1918 events. The Council of Ministers issued a decree on July 15th 1918, to establish an extraordinary committee for the investigation of those tragic events.
The committee investigated the first stage of the March genocide; the brutal acts in Shamakhi and the cruel crimes in the territory of Yerevan province. A special department was established under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to notify the community about the truth. The Azerbaijan National Republic declared March 31st as a mourning day two times — in 1919 and 1920. It was the first attempt in history to give a political assessment to genocide against the people of Azerbaijan and to the aggressive process which continued for over a century. But the collapse of the Azerbaijan National Republic did not allow to finish this process.
In 1920, Armenians got used to the coming of the Soviet power into the South Caucasus and declared the annexation of Zangezur and other regions of Azerbaijan to the Armenian Soviet Republic. They later started to utilize newer means to strengthen their policy, aimed at the deportation of Azeri people from these territories. For this purpose, they got used of the 23 December 1947 decree of the Soviet Council of Ministers “On removal of collective farmers and other Azerbaijani population from the Armenian Soviet Republic to the Kura-Araz lowlands of the Azerbaijan Soviet Republic”. During 1948-1953, they finally achieved the purpose of mass deportation of Azeri people from their historical land, at the state level.
At the beginning of the 50th Armenians, nationalists with the help of their defenders began to conduct a cruel aggressive campaign against the nation of Azerbaijan. In regularly published books, magazines and newspapers in the territory of the former Soviet Union there were made attempts to prove the belonging of our national culture, classic heritage and architectural monuments to Armenians. At the same time, they strengthened their efforts to create a negative image of Azeri people worldwide. In order to create the image of “a long-suffering oppressed Armenia nation,” they deliberately distorted the events which took part in this region at the beginning of the century. They called themselves the victims of the genocide, which they in reality conducted against Azeri people.
Persecution of our compatriots in the territory of Yerevan, where the main population were Azerbaijanians and from the other parts of Armenia SSR led to their mass proscription. Armenians roughly violated the rights of Azeri people, created obstacles to get an education in the native language and exerted strong pressure upon them. The historical names of Azerbaijani villages were changed within a previously unforeseen process in the history of toponymy when ancient names were replaced with modern ones.
The trumped-up Armenian history was raised at the state political level in order to bring up younger generations of Armenians in the spirit of chauvinism. Brought up in the manner of Azeri literature and culture, which served to great humanist ideals, the young generation of Azerbaijanis stayed helpless before Armenia’s extremist ideology.
The claims against the Azeri national spirit, honour and dignity, created an ideological platform for political and military aggression. The Azeri genocide, which was not given a correct political and legal evaluation, led to the distortion of historical facts in the Soviet media and the misleading of the communities by Armenians. The leadership of Azerbaijan did not pay sufficient attention to anti-Azeri propaganda, which raised and intensified among the soviet regime in the mid-80s.
The deportation of hundreds of thousands of Azeris from their historical lands at the first stage of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict in 1988, also did not receive a correct political assessment in Azerbaijan. The autonomous republic of Nagorny Karabakh was taken from Azerbaijan’s control and annexed to the Armenian SSR on the basis of an unconstitutional decree of the Armenian Republic and under the assistance of the Moscow-led Special Administration Committee. This fact caused serious dissatisfaction among the nation of Azerbaijan and forced it to begin important political activities. Even though the aggressive policy aimed at the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan, was strongly criticized at numerous rallies held in Azerbaijan, the political leadership still did not give up its passive and contemplative position. In January of 1990, Soviet troops were brought to Baku in order to prevent further development of the national liberation movement. Hundreds of Azeri people were killed and injured, as a result.
In February of 1992, Armenians accomplished unforeseen brutalities among the population of Khojaly. The Khojaly genocide saw thousands of Azeri people murdered and taken prisoners of war. The whole city was razed to the ground.
The adventurous policy of Armenian nationalists and separatists in Nagorny Karabakh forced from their homelands over one million Azeri nationals, who now have to live in tent camps.
The tragedies which took place in Azerbaijan in the XIX-XX centuries and resulted in the occupation of Azeri lands formed the consecutive stages of Armenia’s purposeful policy against the Azeri people. Efforts were made to give a political assessment to only one of those events — the March 1918 massacre. The successor of the Azerbaijan National Republic — the Republic of Azerbaijan — considers it a historical duty to ensure a logical continuation to unfulfilled political decrees and political evaluation of the genocide.
JANUARY 20, 1990 (BLOODY JANUARY)
On the night of January 19-20, 1990, former Soviet troops committed an unprecedented massacre of civilians in Baku who rose up to establish an independent state and gain their sovereignty. This bloody crime has not been able to extinguish the people’s love for freedom, and our people have gained their state independence, albeit at the cost of their blood.
This crime committed against the people of Azerbaijan is, in fact, a terrible act of terrorism against humanity. The tragedy killed 147 Azerbaijani citizens, injured 638 people, and illegally arrested 841 people, as a result of which the requirements of many international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, were grossly violated.
National leader Heydar Aliyev, who arrived at the permanent representation of Azerbaijan in Moscow after the events of January 20 in Baku, strongly condemned the atrocity at a press conference, calling the terror against the people a violation of law, democracy, and humanity. Even in the days of the Soviet empire, the Great Leader’s statement proved once again that only great personalities make great strides in politics.
The tragedy of January 20, which has become a symbol of national unity and patriotism, is a glorious history of the struggle of our people for their freedom. Every year on the anniversary of the tragedy, millions of people visit the Alley of Martyrs, built on the highest point of the capital, to commemorate their heroes. While commemorating the memory of the martyrs with deep respect, we recall the words of our national leader Heydar Aliyev: “Those who died in the January 20 tragedy are national heroes, they are the heroes of our nation. Their death is a great loss for us, for our people. But at the same time, their martyrdom is a symbol of the heroism of our people. Their blood is the blood of all our people. In every drop of that blood, there is the power and heroism of our people, our people have the desire for national freedom and independence.
THE KHOJALY TRAGEDY
The genocide in one of the most ancient settlements of Khojaly during the first stage of the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh, which started between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1988, is one of the most terrible, tragic and unprecedented events in human history. The tragedy of Khojaly stands at the same level as the most terrible and cruel tragedies carried out in Khatin, Hiroshima.
Khojaly has situated 14 km to the northwest of Khankendi.
Khojaly had a population of 7 thousand before the tragedy in 1992. This was also home to refugees who were forced during that period from Armenia and IDPs from neighbouring Khankendi, as well as to Meskheti Turks, who were forced from Fergana in 1989.
On 26 February night of 1992, the Armenians deployed their forces in Khankendi and with the help of the 366th shooting military regiment of former USSR attacked defenceless and helpless Khojaly. It started with Armenian forces surrounding the town from four directions and opening heavy and ceaseless fire from artillery and salvo launchers. Within a short time, the city was enveloped in flames of fire. The defending army and local population had to leave town. Khojaly was occupied by the Armenian invaders by 5 AM.
Within one night the town was razed to the ground.
The population left town to escape in the mountains and forests. Armenian armed forces were firing peace civilians from all sides and jeered at them cruelly. Many young girls were taken hostages that cold snowy night. Many of those who tried escaping from Armenian forces in the forests and mountains, froze to death.
As a result of the Armenian invasion, 613 residents of Khojaly were killed, 478 heavily injured. 1275 peace civilians, including elderly persons, children and women, were taken hostages and suffered heavy insults and offences from the Armenians. The fate of 150 of these persons is still remaining unknown.
That was a true genocide. Out of 613 civilians killed in Khojaly, 106 were women, 63 children and 70 elderly persons.
During the Khojaly tragedy, 8 entire families were annihilated, 24 children lost both parents, and 130 children lost one of the parents.
56 persons were killed with special cruelty. They were burnt to death, had their heads cut off, face skin taken off, eyes pricked out. Armenians also did violence to pregnant women and profaned the dead bodies.
The nation and the state of Azerbaijan do not forget the Khojaly tragedy.
Heydar Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, issued a special decree regarding the Khojaly genocide on March 1st 1994. According to an appropriate decree of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the 26th day of February was declared as the national mourning day in memory of the Khojaly genocide. The corresponding notifications were sent to all international organizations.
On February 26th 1997, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan issued a decree on the announcement of a minute of silence in memory of the Khojaly genocide victims. The President of Azerbaijan makes a speech addressed to the nation of Azerbaijan in connection with the Khojaly genocide on February 26th every year.