Author: Aydin BAYRAMOV
May 2018 is significant for two glorious dates in the history of Azerbaijan: on May 28, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR), and on May 10, the 95th anniversary of the National Leader Heydar Aliyev. Both dates are instrumental for the Azerbaijani statehood and concern the great personalities who have taken its heroic legacy into modernity.
Heydar Aliyev was a prominent political leader, whose name is closely associated with historical achievements of Azerbaijani people in terms of gaining and strengthening its national independence. He has highly appreciated the role of ADR in our history. He believed that ADR would forever remain in the memory of future generations as one of the brightest pages of Azerbaijani history. Although ADR could not accomplish the important tasks in the construction of a democratic state, economy, culture, education, health, and military, the transformations introduced in such a short period left an indelible mark in the history of our people and played an instrumental role in the revival of the traditions of national statehood. It is important to know that despite its short-lived existence, ADR has strengthened the ideas of freedom and independence in our minds. Today, the grateful Azerbaijanis pay a special tribute to such prominent public figures as Mammad Emin Rasulzadeh, Ali Mardan-bey Topchibashov, Fatali-khan Khoysky, Hasan-bey Aghayev, Nasib-bey Yusifbeyli, Mehdi-bey Hajinsky, Mammad Yusif Jafarov, Khudadat-bey Rafibayov, Akbar-agha Sheikhulislamov, Teymur-bey Makinsky, Samed-bey Mehmandarov, Ali-agha Shikhlinsky, Sultan Majid Ganizadeh, Khalil-bey Khasmammadov, Ahmed-bey Pepinov, Shafi-bey Rustambayov, who have exceptional merits in the establishment of the republic.
Heydar Aliyev highly appreciated the heritage of ADR and characterised the value of its historical achievements as follows: “The measures implemented in ADR for such a short period left a big mark in the history of our people. Granting of equal rights to all citizens regardless of gender, nationality, political and religious affiliation; definition of state borders, adoption of the attributes of Azerbaijani statehood; declaration of Azerbaijani as the state language created a solid foundation for the independence of Azerbaijan in future... Our people, which restored its independence in 1991, used the rich traditions of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic to create an independent state of Azerbaijan on this historical background.”
Heydar Aliyev's special attitude towards the heritage of ADR can also be seen in his personal contribution to the revival of Azerbaijan’s state symbols. It is known that during the seven decades of Soviet rule, the three-coloured flag of ADR was outlawed. However, with the rise of the people's movement in the late 80s, it returned to the socio-political life of Azerbaijan becoming a symbol of the struggle for territorial integrity and state independence of Azerbaijan.
Legally, the flag with crescent and eight-pointed star returned to Azerbaijan on November 17, 1990, when it was adopted as the National Flag of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. This happened primarily thanks to the efforts of Heydar Aliyev, who would later say the following as the president of Azerbaijan: “It is not just a flag. It is a symbol of our statehood and independence. Therefore, every citizen of Azerbaijan must realise and appreciate this. By loving our flag we declare our love for the Motherland, people, and state!”
On February 5, 1991, the Milli Mejlis (parliament) approved the flag of ADR as the National Flag of the modern Azerbaijan Republic. Azerbaijan restored its independence on October 18, 1991 and became known as an independent state with this flag. Modern Republic of Azerbaijan has declared itself a legal successor to ADR and in this capacity adopted the state attributes of the First Republic - its flag, coat of arms, and anthem.
After becoming a president in 1993, Heydar Aliyev has made a great contribution to the veneration and protection of the attributes of our national independence. At the same time, according to the presidential order “On strengthening the works on studying the state attributes of the Republic of Azerbaijan”, dated March 13, 1998, special attention is paid to “the education of our citizens, in particular our youth, in the spirit of deep reverence for state attributes” that “directly serves the cause of strengthening the spirit of patriotism in society. “
Heydar Aliyev has also made a huge, invaluable contribution to the continuation of the historical experience and heritage of ADR. Thanks to his extraordinary political talents, Azerbaijan regained its independence in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries after losing it in April 1920. As the head of state for the second time in his political career, Aliyev has managed to prevent the collapse of Azerbaijan and put an end to civil confrontation, consolidated society around himself thanks to his strong will and strength of character.
On June 15, 1993 at the historic session of the parliament, Aliyev was elected the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic and outlined the main objective of his policy: the protection of state independence of Azerbaijan. He declared his awareness of the “difficult, complicated and tense situation” in which Azerbaijan resided and said: “Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan must be ensured on the basis of modern requirements and processes. I will constantly work in this direction, and will devote the rest of my life only and only to the development of the Republic of Azerbaijan as an independent state.”
Thus, Heydar Aliyev clearly indicated that Azerbaijan would strengthen its sovereignty. He will say later: “Independence does not mean a recognition by international organisations only... Independence must be developed, supported and implemented in all areas of our lives.”
During the ten years of his presidency (1993-2003), Heydar Aliyev not only formulated the idea of the newly established state of Azerbaijan as a successor of the ADR traditions, but also focused the political and intellectual forces of the nation on the implementation of this idea. Under the his leadership, independent Azerbaijan adopted its first Constitution, implemented economic reforms, as well as global and regional energy projects. He has vastly contributed to the process of nation-building, development of national and moral values, language, religion, and the historical heritage of the Azerbaijani people. Also, he abolished the death penalty and censorship. Azerbaijan was able to overcome international isolation despite Armenian aggression, break through the information blockade, and convey its truthful position on the Karabakh issue to the world community. A competent national army was created in Azerbaijan, ready to solve any problems related to the restoration of the territorial integrity of the republic.
Thanks to a balanced diplomatic policy established by Heydar Aliyev, Azerbaijan has managed to develop friendly and mutually beneficial relations with foreign countries, to conduct active work within the leading international organisations, to successfully implement different foreign policy vectors - western and eastern, northern and southern. It was Heydar Aliyev who made Azerbaijan a country playing an instrumental role in regional development. At the same time, he made great efforts to turn the Caucasus-Caspian region into a zone of stability and cooperation. It is not accidental that he is considered one of the creators of the newest history of Eurasia, a major and internationally recognised political figure. The foreign policy course conducted by Heydar Aliyev brings astonishing dividends in the sense that Azerbaijan has not and will never become a bargaining chip in geopolitical games of great powers.
Considering all these achievements, Heydar Aliyev is duly considered an architect of the new state of Azerbaijan. Therefore, Heydar Aliyev will be remembered as a great successor to the great cause of prominent Azerbaijani politicians of the beginning of the last century. He has fully accomplished the mission of the leader of modern independent Azerbaijan, which declared itself as the successor of ADR.