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National Day Message by H. E. Mr. Huseyn Huseynov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Bulgaria

Azerbaijan Democratic Republic – the first democracy in the Muslim world

On May 28, 1918, the first democracy in the Muslim world - Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) was founded. Despite facing internal and external grave challenges arising from the collapse of an empire ADR succeeded in setting effective state institutions, upholding the rights of its citizens and gaining the trust of the international community. Hailed as one of the most politically advanced states of its era, it was the forerunner of universal voting franchise, civil rights protections, as well as the vanguard of educational, scientific and artistic pursuits. State-building, identity-building and democracy building became the cornerstone and legacies of Azerbaijani statehood, enabling a two-year-old democracy to survive 70 years of captivity.

The road to state-building began with a declaration of independence, guaranteeing universal suffrage and the protection of basic rights. As the first Muslim-majority country to establish democracy, Azerbaijan even surpassed leading Western countries in granting women the right to vote and hold office. Government was formed on the basis of accountability and separation of powers and the Azerbaijani parliament was a democratically-elected, multi-party and truly representative legislative, the first of its kind in the entire Islamic East. In its two-year tenure, the Republic was governed by five executive cabinets and the Parliament held 155 meetings and discussed more than 240 draft laws. Another vital pillar of the state-building process came with the establishment of the Chamber of Appeals, creating in effect a modern judicial system that would check the powers of Parliament and Cabinet of Ministers.

The newly formed Republic made education a primary concern and on its end the Baku State University was founded. Despite the economic and political difficulties that the Republic was facing, it aspired for long-term human capital investment by providing scholarships for hundreds of young students to study in leading European universities. 

The next legacy of ADR was the establishment of friendly relations with regional and global powers. Diplomatic activities within the Republic came even before independence was gained. Leading political figures made use of their first-hand diplomatic experiences as part of the Transcaucasian Commission and subsequently became the leaders of Azerbaijan’s interests abroad.

The first breakthrough in diplomatic relations came when the parliamentary delegation of Azerbaijanwent to Paris Peace Conference with the main goal to gain international recognition for Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. Members of the delegation to the Peace Conference impressed foreign dignitaries with respect to their ideas of liberty, rights and justice. Unanimous de-facto recognition of the independence of Azerbaijan was attained and the Azerbaijani mission received an invitation to the Supreme Council of the Paris Peace Conference.

Azerbaijan Democratic Republic’s independence was cut short by the Bolshevik invasion in April 1920 but the nation’s spirit of independence survived decades of captivity.

The First Republic’s worthy but ultimately doomed struggle to maintain its statehood almost repeated itself during the tumultuous early years of post-Soviet Azerbaijan.

The astute statesmanship of national leader HeydarAliyev brought the nascent country from the brink of disintegration and set it on the course of economic, political and social affluence.

Due to a promotion of good governance and successful economic policy, the socio-economic problems from the early years of independence began to gradually improve, generating high economic performance and growth. These translated into improved living of standards, universal healthcare and overall prosperity.

Azerbaijan’s multi-vectored economic and foreign policies have become both the means and the ends in its pursuit of growing self-reliance and regional and global influence. Azerbaijan is increasingly perceived as a stabilizing force in the region, as well as a reliable partner in a number of global initiatives.

Grounded in the legacies of ADR the Republic of Azerbaijan is a powerful regional player today. Azerbaijan advances its interest in peaceful coexistence and friendly mutually advantageous bilateral and multilateral relations, engaging its partners with respect and cordiality.

Under the leadership of President IlhamAliyev Azerbaijan has advanced from an active participant to an inspirational advocate proposing a number of energy, infrastructure and security initiatives and serving as a host to several prestigious global platforms.

Azerbaijan’s role as a bridge between the East and West presents opportunities not only in providing a transport route, but to play an important role in connecting peoples and ideas from all over the world and overcoming ignorance and intolerance. Situated on the historical crossroads between the West and the East, Azerbaijan has absorbed the values of both civilizations and has the unique nature of belonging to both European and Eastern cultures. 

 

The material was provided by the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Bulgaria. On the photo: H. E. Mr. Huseyn Huseynov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Bulgaria