On May 28, Azerbaijanis worldwide celebrate the Independence Day, marking the day 105 years ago when the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) — the predecessor of the modern Republic of Azerbaijan — was proclaimed.
The establishment of the ADR was a historic event for Azerbaijan in many regards:
It was the first democratic republic in the Muslim east. The Declaration of Independence, which was adopted by the young republic on May 28, 1918, was an exemplary policy document reflecting the true principles of democracy and the rule of law.
For the first time in the Islamic world, Azerbaijan granted suffrage to women. This happened in 1918, well ahead of many Western countries. In comparison, European countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg granted women the right to vote in 1919, and France in 1945.
The first Parliament of Azerbaijan was established in 1918. Azerbaijani Parliament was a forum where representatives of many religious and ethnic groups could freely, indiscriminately and equally voice their opinions. The Parliament united members of different ethnicities: Azerbaijanis, Russians, Jews, Armenians and even one German.
The territory of ADR in 1918 was much larger than the current territory of Azerbaijan. It consisted of 114,000 sq km. In comparison, Azerbaijan’s current territory is only 86,600 sq km.
Despite the geopolitical challenges, ADR succeeded in implementing many progressive reforms in Azerbaijan. However, the independence of ADR came to an end after two years. In April 1920, the Red Army entered Azerbaijan. However, the Azerbaijani people never forgot the ideals and principles of democracy taught by their ancestors and still celebrate May 28 as their National Day.
Modern Republic of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan was able to restore its independence on October 18, 1991, after almost 71 years. Today, Azerbaijan is a member of many international and regional organizations, including the UN, Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and more. During 2012-2013, Azerbaijan was also a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Since October 2019, Azerbaijan has also presided over the Non-Aligned Movement, which consists of 120 countries. This chairmanship has opened a new chapter in its international relations. Azerbaijan has also become a donor country. Based on the reality of being part of the Islamic world, the Republic of Azerbaijan sought to consolidate fraternal relations with brotherly Muslim countries from the first days of its sovereignty. Thus, relations between Azerbaijan and Organization of Islamic Cooperation member countries began expanding.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Azerbaijan has allocated more than $10 million to the World Health Organization. Azerbaijan has provided financial, medical and humanitarian assistance to more than 80 countries in their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and is committed to continuing this activity, and has been a strong supporter of the just distribution of vaccines among countries around the world.
After the restoration of its territorial integrity in 2020, Azerbaijan proclaimed its green energy policy in its territories. It includes smart cities and smart villages.
The Republic of Azerbaijan is a reliable international partner and initiator of large-scale infrastructure, transport and energy projects in the South Caucasus. Azerbaijan has become a key investment destination in the region for the past years due to a number of factors, including abundant resources, its favorable location, competitive cost of production and, of course, friendly laws and the hospitality of the Azerbaijani people. Due to its geographical position, Azerbaijan became a principal transportation hub between East and West, and North and South. Azerbaijan has built one of the biggest ports in the Caspian Sea, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway route has been realized. These two projects serve to connect the Caspian Sea region to the Black Sea. Azerbaijan also continues to be a strong partner of the EU, particularly contributing to the region’s energy security.
In recent decades, Azerbaijan has hosted many international events, such as Eurovision, Formula 1 Grand Prix races, the European Games, the 2021 European Football Championship and many more. The country also regularly provides scholarships for students from developing countries to pursue their higher education in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is developing today. Today, our independent state is going through its most successful period. In its long history, Azerbaijan has never been as strong as it is now. The reforms underway in Azerbaijan are contributing to the further development of our people. The Azerbaijani state is built on a solid foundation.
International authority, economic development, energy security, the implementation of infrastructure projects — all these are Azerbaijani realities. The Azerbaijani leadership has elaborate and practical programs, and development strategies for every issue.
Our modern national state, built by Great Leader Heydar Aliyev, who said that “there is no Karabakh without Shusha, there is no Azerbaijan without Karabakh at all,” is now going through its new stage of development.
In a world of complicated and contradictory geopolitical processes where confrontations and conflicts become sharper, our country now has an advantageous position and the reputation of a winning state. Trusting its own economic might, Azerbaijan is successfully continuing restoration and construction work in the territories liberated from Armenian occupation. The projects being implemented will shortly make these territories known worldwide as a region of peace and cooperation.
The idea of national statehood, founded by National Leader Aliyev, organically united such important principles as real independence, sovereignty, adherence to national and moral values and modern development. Our national state, which was built by the great leader and is based on the ideology of Azerbaijanism, is an ideological foundation for every member of society and the diaspora. It is a source of pride, which unites them around one idea, protects their interests and mobilizes them for protection and a common goal. That is why we can say with confidence that in addition to economic potential and military power, the greatness of every state is also measured by the unity and solidarity of its people. The 44-day Patriotic War visually demonstrated that the national and moral-ideological unity achieved in the years of independence is one of our most precious riches.
Great Leader Aliyev said: “We will leave these difficult days behind, the independent Republic of Azerbaijan will take its worthy place in the world community and every Azerbaijani citizen will declare with a feeling of great pride that he or she belongs to this independent state.”
Today, Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, our national flag, which is being waved in Shusha with pride, our national state, our independence, and our sovereignty, is a proud and logical result of our 30-year fight to take our worthy place among the peoples of the world. It is our main duty to unite around Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to protect, immortalize and further develop our independent state.
• Shahin Abdullayev is Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia