Author: Sabira MUSTAFAYEVA Baku
Patriotism is not a burden. It is the same as love for your mother, the holiness of which is maintained throughout a lifetime. Patriotism stems from the depth of your heart and soul. The love for the Motherland is reflected upon the faces of the victorious athletes when to the sounds of the national anthem the national flag is raised in honor of the country. And, probably, everyone who has seen this solemn moment couldn't help feeling a lump in his or her throat.
This year, on November 9, Azerbaijan marked the 95th anniversary of its flag, the country's main state symbol. The history of Azerbaijani statehood precedes this date. On November 9, 1918 the government of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) first enacted an order regarding the tricolor state flag. That order ruled "to recognize the flag consisting of green, red and blue colors with a white crescent and an octagonal star as the national flag". Alibay Huzeynzada, an Azerbaijani scholar, philosopher, artist and doctor, was the creator of the new flag.
On December 7, 1918, the new national flag was hoisted above the parliament building. In his speech Mammad Amin Rasulzada said, "…this tricolor banner symbolizing an independent Azerbaijan, raised by the National Council and implying Turkic liberty, Islamic culture and modernity, will always wave above us."
On December 10, 1918 the "Azerbaijan" newspaper published an article saying that the three colors reflected on the ADR state flag "are the symbols of Turkic national culture, contemporary European democracy and Islamic civilization". Then, Uzeir Hajibayov, composer and musicologist, the author of the ADR's state anthem, wrote, "The Azerbaijan Republic emerged on a sound national basis and Turkic conscience…At the same time, Azerbaijan was aspiring to create a new society, to act with a European mindset. Those are the elements that the three colors of our flag symbolize."
In 1919, poet Ahmad Cavad, the author of the Azerbaijani anthem's text, dedicated a poem he had written, "To the Flag of Azerbaijan", to the flag raised over the parliament building.
The reinstatement of the Azerbaijani flag, which was cast into oblivion during the Soviet rule, is associated with Heydar Aliyev. At the initiative of Heydar Aliyev, who was then a deputy of the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR and chairman of the Supreme Majlis of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, the tricolor flag was reinstated on November 17, 1990, which was still during the Soviet times; by the decision of the Nakhchivan Supreme Majlis it was recognized as the state flag of the Autonomous Republic. During the same session the Supreme Majlis adopted a plea to the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR on recognition of the tricolor flag. Later, on November 29, 1990, a decree was issued "On renaming the State Flag of Azerbaijan SSR", which was ratified by the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan on February 5, 1991.
During a nationwide poll on November 12, the first Constitution of the independent Azerbaijan was passed, and one of its clauses had a description of the tricolor flag.
When referring to the role of Heydar Aliyev in reviving the Azerbaijani flag, it should be noted that his decision to that end had been made earlier, when Azerbaijan was part of the USSR. Later, after the Soviet collapse, other republics of the USSR followed suit, proclaiming their historic state attributes.
On November 17, 2007 President Ilham Aliyev issued a decree "On instituting the Day of State Flag of the Azerbaijan Republic". According to the decree, the National Flag Day is marked in the country every year on November 9. The provisions of the decree indicate the great importance of the tricolor flag for the Azerbaijani people. "In remembrance of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic this flag demonstrates our commitment to the ideas of freedom, national values and global ideals," it said.
The same year the president enacted the decree "On establishing the Flag Square in Baku". According to that document, space occupying 20,000 square meters was set up at the Bayil cape, and work began there to install a flag that is 60 meters wide, 75 meters high and weighs 350 kg on a flagpole rising 162 meters above the ground; the construction of the Flag Museum was launched as well. On September 1, 2010 the flag was solemnly hoisted to the planned height.
So, the blue color on the Azerbaijani flag is the color of the universe, grandeur and wealth and means Turkism and freedom of the Turkic people; the red color implies modernity and everything contemporary; the green one refers to Islamic ideology. The red color also implies the memory of the heroic struggle of the nation against the invaders. This is the color of revolution, of a victorious war. The flags raised in the late 18th century in Europe for the sake of democracy and freedom were of red color.
As for the crescent and the octagonal star in the red background, it is noteworthy that in the past the crescent was a symbol of the Byzantine Empire. Afterwards, when Constantinople was invaded by the Turks, the crescent was recognized by the entire Muslim world, implying a symbol of unity, statehood, freedom and assistance.
Regarding the octagonal star there are several versions. Here are some of them: the number of edges of the star should correspond the number of letters in the country's name, written in the old alphabet.
The word "Azerbaijan", written in the old alphabet, has eight letters, which is due to the existence of eight independent Turkic states; the names of eight great commanders; the resistance to wind of the octagonal make-shift homes of the ancient Turks; it is also a symbol of the unity of eight khanates, which existed in northern Azerbaijan.
Today the Azerbaijani flag is recognizable. The symbol of the independent Azerbaijani state is seen above many political rostrums and international organizations. The Azerbaijanis take a lot of pride in celebrating the 95th anniversary of the flag. We owe this to the people who have carried it through the years of both prosperity and oblivion, the fall and revival of the Azerbaijani statehood. And now we cherish the dream that the Azerbaijani flag will rise high above the liberated Karabakh lands as a symbol of the integral Azerbaijan.