NATIONAL DAY MESSAGE: 100th Anniversary of Proclamation of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic
The end of October saw solemn celebrations for the centenary of Azerbaijan in London
THESE DAYS, THERE IS A LOT OF BUZZ about Azerbaijan across London thanks not in the last degree to our recent remarkable centenary celebrations.
On 29 October 2018, the 100th Anniversary of Proclamation of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) was marked with a spectacular gala dinner held at The Dorchester Hotel in London with the participation of Baroness Nicholson, Trade Envoy of the Prime Minister on Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq and Kazakhstan, Cllr. Marie Therese-Rossi, Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Professor Nargiz Pashayeva, co-chair of the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society and Head of Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Centre for the Study of Azerbaijan and Caucasus at the University of Oxford, Anar Alakbarov, Executive Director of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, numerous members of House of Lords and House of Commons, representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in the UK, government officials, businessmen, Azerbaijani diaspora in London, media and friends of Azerbaijan. The event was co-organised by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Embassy of Azerbaijan in the UK and featured photo and video exhibitions, as well as the screening of a documentary accenting the history of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.
Addressing attendees at the event, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK Tahir Taghizade highlighted the history and accomplishments of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic over its short 23 months of existence (1918-1920).
The Ambassador welcomed the rapidly developing Azerbaijan-UK bilateral relations, describing the UK as a reliable partner for Azerbaijan.
Informing the audience about cooperation in different areas between Azerbaijan and the UK, Mr Taghizade said the visit of Mr Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the UK at the invitation of Prime Minister May on 26 April 2018 contributed to ever-increasing relations between the two countries.
The Ambassador especially highlighted the positive results of cooperation in the field of education and pointed out the achievements of the Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Centre at the University of Oxford, as well as academician Nargiz Pashayeva’s solemn admission as a permanent member of the University of Oxford Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors (CCB) on 11 October 2018, which is headed by Lord Patten of Barnes.
Reminding the audience about Azerbaijan’s track record in organising major international events, the Ambassador called every member country of Bureau International des Expositions to vote for the candidacy of Baku city to host World EXPO 2025 at the elections to be held on 23 November 2018 in Paris.
The UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy, Baroness Nicholson congratulated the participants and the people of Azerbaijan on the centenary. She described the founding of the first democratic republic in the East 100 years ago as a landmark historic event. Baroness Nicholson underlined that granting women the right to vote was one of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic’s milestone achievements, and thus the gala dinner celebrated two wonderful centenaries: one of democracy and the other being of suffrage rights to women.
Welcoming incredibly close links between Azerbaijan and the UK, Baroness Nicholson appraised 2018 as a hugely successful year for the bilateral relations, citing the visit of the President of Azerbaijan to UK and the production sharing agreement signed by heads of SOCAR and BP in the presence of President Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister May in April. Baroness Nicholson expressed her hope for the continuation of close cooperation between Azerbaijan and UK in the years ahead.
On 30 October 2018, the Embassy of Azerbaijan in the UK, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and BP jointly organised a premiere screening of the film The Last Session produced by the Baku Media Center, and sponsored by BP, with close cooperation with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The film recounts the rise of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, plus its desperate but definitive and irreversible battle against its enemies, both the army of occupation and its internal patrons. The event, which took place in the Princess Anne Theatre at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), gathered a remarkable audience of almost 200 guests.
On 28 May 1918, the first parliamentary democracy in the Muslim world, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, was founded with the adoption of a Declaration on Independence.
Despite facing grave internal and external challenges arising from the collapse of an empire, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic succeeded in setting effective state institutions, upholding the rights of its citizens and gaining the trust of the international community.
The 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 body, the first of its kind in the entire Muslim East.
Despite the economic and political difficulties that the Republic was facing, it aspired for long-term human capital investment by establishing Baku State University and providing scholarships for hundreds of young students to study in leading European universities. Azerbaijani was declared the official language, the national tricolor flag and anthem were adopted, a modern theatre and opera were established, Azerbaijani postage stamps were printed and a national Azerbaijani currency was issued.
The first major breakthrough in diplomatic relations came when unanimous de-factorecognition of the independence of Azerbaijan was attained at Paris Peace Conference, and the Azerbaijani mission received an invitation to the Supreme Council of the Paris Peace Conference. Members of the delegation to the Conference impressed foreign dignitaries with their ideas on liberty, rights and justice.
The Bolshevik invasion of April 1920 put an end to the independence of ADR. Despite the fact that ADR did not last long, it was at this time that the foundations of the Azerbaijani statehood were laid. At the end of twentieth century, the restored independent Azerbaijani state declared its loyalty to the traditions of the First Republic. In words of President Ilham Aliyev, “The creation of ADR and its activities for two years was a historic event. Azerbaijan is a country that not only declared high democratic values 100 years ago, but also applied them.”