MULTICULTURALIST POLICY IN CONTEMPORARY AZERBAIJAN
The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918 -1920) The Azerbaijan Democratic (azerb. Azərbaycan Demokratik Respublikası) was proclaimed by the Azerbaijan National Council on 28 may 1918 It was the first secular democratic republic in the Muslim world The capital was Ganja since Baku was under the control of the Bolsheviks The ADR fell in April 1920 when the Red Army entered Baku. It officially ceased to exist on April 28 1920.
The Müsavat Party The Müsavat (eng. “equality”) Party (azerb. Müsavat partiyası). Müsavat was founded in Baku in 1911. In the early stages of its activity, it struggled for the unity of the Muslim and Turkic-speaking peoples. In October 1917 Müsavatist leaders convoked the first congress of the party where a new covenant that changed importantly the party’s line was approved. In fact as the Soviet historian A. L. Popov observes, the Müsavat Party, in the early revolutionary period, stood on democratic and almost socialist positions.
The Müsavat Party’s new covenant If at the beginning of the XX century the Müsavat’s claims regarded only Muslim people, during the congress from October 1917, its claims acquired an universal nature. The new covenant demanded: Freedom of speech, conscience, stamp, unions and strikes Equality of all citizens in front of the law in spite of their race, nationality or religion Eight-hour working day for all workers Redistribution of lands to peasants Universal free and compulsory elementary and high education National autonomy for the minorities inhabiting compactly a territory. Cultural autonomy for the minorities having no exact territory of inhabiting.
The declaration of independence of the ADR 1. Starting from now on, Azerbaijan embracing the area of the South-Western Transcaucasia shall exist as an independent state enjoying all rights and realizing the right of the people of Azerbaijan to have a government. 2. Democratic Republic should constitute the form of government in independent Azerbaijan. 3. Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan intends to establish friendly relationships with all nations, particularly the neighboring nations and states. 4. Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan guarantees the civil rights to all the citizens residing within its borders irrespective of nationality, religious confession, class affiliation, estate and sex. 5. Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan creates broad possibilities for independent development to all ethnic groups residing within its territory. 6. Unless the Constituent Assembly is convened, Azerbaijan shall be governed by the National Council elected by the people and the Provisional Government answerable to the National Council.
The policy of secular openness and tolerance in the ADR In the first Azerbaijani Parliament the national minorities were well represented. In fact out of 120 seats, 21 were occupied by Armenians, 10 by Russians, 1 by Germans and 12 by Jews (36, 6%). In 1918 the Azerbaijani government passed the law On the right of the national minorities to be educated in their mother tongue that recognized the right of the minorities living in Azerbaijan to be educated in their own. The Law on Citizenship from August 1919 introduced jus soli extending Azerbaijani citizenship to all the subjects born on the territory of the ADR Women were given the right to vote
The policy of secular openness and the multicultural milieu and laws in the ADR Moreover in the ADR were created: The first ballet in the Islamic world The first opera in the Islamic world The first secular female school of the Muslim countries
Azerbaijanism It is the ideology of contemporary Azerbaijan. Although Azerbaijanism has neither clear definition nor a theoretical base, it can be said that it is an ideological system of multicultural and tolerant values which binds the moral and political unity of all ethnic groups living in the country on the basis of common interests and a single state. As Nizammaddin Shamsizadeh asserts: “Azerbaijanism is not a geographical notion, it is rather a political notion”. Loosely speaking, Azerbaijanism of Heydar Aliyev became Azerbaijan’s interpretation of civic nationalism.
“ Azerbaijanism has emerged as the verbalization of the idea of really uniting all the ethnic groups and nationalities in the country on the bases of the national interests and values, as an idea of combating the spirits of chauvinism and separatism widely spread especially in the years of 1992 -1993 Ramiz Mehdiyev (academician and head of the presidential administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan) ”
“ Irrespective of his/her nationality, religion, political identity, every citizen in the territory of Azerbaijan should enjoy an identical right. If we succeed its actual realization, we can provide the unification of all the peoples, all the nations in the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev’s speech at the Parliament from 15 June 1993 ”
Nationalism and Pan-Turkism in post Soviet Azerbaijan In the early days of the recovered independence, the Popular Front, a political party based on the ethnic concept of the Azeri nation and Pan-Turkism, came to lead the independence movement and entered full swing into the political arena of the country. Abulfaz Elchibey (1938 -2000), the leader of the Popular Front, became the President of Azerbaijan in 1992 as the pro-Moscow regime of Ayaz Mutalibov fell in the aftermath of heavy military losses in Nagorno-Karabakh. Under Elchibey’s leadership the county underwent profound Turkification: Turkish music and pop culture flooded Azerbaijan. The presidents of both countries widely proclaimed the “one nation-two countries” motto. Turkification culminated in the Law on State Language of Azerbaijan from December 22, 1992, which renamed the language Turkic. Pan. Turkism led to a rise in separatism, supported by Russian and Iran, of minority ethnic groups who were ready to be Azerbaijanis but not Turks such as Talysh and Lezgins. Pan-Turkism was, therefore, largely linked to the rise in interethnic tensions in Azerbaijan.
Heydar Aliyev (1923 -2003) Heydar Aliyev was the third president of the Azerbaijan Republic and can be considered as the father of modern Azerbaijan. He was born on 10 May 1923 in Nakhchivan (in South-West Azerbaijan). In 1969 he was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, heading the Azerbaijan Soviet Republic (ASSR) for 13 years. In December 1982 Aliyev was elected member of the Politbyuro of the Central Committee of the CPSU and appointed the first deputy chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the USSR. In October 1987, Aliyev, as a protest against the policy pursued by the Politbyuro, resigned from his post. In 1991 -1993 he held the post of the chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Soviet (parliament) of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Heydar Aliyev (1923 -2003) In 1992, at the constituent congress of the New Azerbaijan Party in Nakhchivan, Heydar Aliyev, was elected chairman of the party. On 15 June, 1993, Heydar Aliyev was elected as chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan, and on 24 July - on the resolution of the parliament, he began to perform the powers of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan On October 3, 1993, Heydar Aliyev was elected President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, remaining in office for ten years. In October 2003 he decided non to run for the presidential elections due to his health problems. On 12 December 2003, President Heydar Aliyev died at the Cleveland Clinic. He was buried at the Fakhri Khiyaban (The Alley of Honor) cemetery in Baku.
The implementation of multiculturalism in the laws of the Republic of Azebaijan Azerbaijan’s Constitution and citizenship legislation reveals that Azerbaijan’s nationbuilding policies have been, indeed, consistently “civic” and not“ethnic” in character. The state, in fact, support actively the minorities living on the territory of the country. The laws supporting multiculturalism in Azerbaijan are: Presidential Decree On the protection of the rights and freedoms and on state support for the promotion of the languages and cultures of national minorities, numerically small peoples and ethnic groups living in the Republic of Azerbaijan (approved in 1992 but came into force in 1993 due to the war with Armenia) The Constitution (approved in 1995) The Criminal Code (approved in 2000)
The legal implementation of multiculturalism in Azerbaijan National Program for Action to Raise Effectiveness of the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan (2006 and 2012) Law on culture (approved in 2012) Jus solis with some limitations
International law and conventions signed by Azerbaijan Council of Europe - Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It is the first legally binding multilateral instrument of the Council of Europe devoted to the protection of minorities and is regarded as the most comprehensive international standard in the field of minority rights (signed in 2000) Council of Europe - European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. It is a multilateral instrument that seeks to protect and promote the historical regional or minority languages of Europe. It was adopted in order to maintain and to develop Europe's cultural traditions and heritage and to respect an inalienable and commonly recognised right to use a regional or minority language in private and public life (signed in 2001)
International law and conventions signed by Azerbaijan UNESCO - Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. It recognizes the rights of Parties to take measures to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions, and impose obligations at both domestic and international levels on Parties(signed in 2009)
International initiatives of the Azerbaijan government on multicultural issues Baku process (since 2008) Forum on Intercultural Dialogue and Humanitarian Forum (since 2010) Creation of the State Counselor's Office On Multinational, Multicultural And Religious Affairs (2014) Creation of the Baku International Center for multiculturalism (2014)
The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan was approved on November 12, 1995 through a referendum. It came into force in December 1995. It defines the preliminary conditions for Azerbaijan’s multiculturalist policy. It is important to observe that the notion of ethnicity is deliberately avoided and has been even removed from stateissued identification documents. Without a doubt the Azerbaijani Constitution is one of the most advanced in the Muslim world. Article 18. Religion and state I. Religion in the Republic of Azerbaijan is separated from the State. All religions are equal before the law II. Spreading and propaganda of religions humiliating people’s dignity and contradicting the principles of humanism are prohibited III. State educational system is secular
The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan Article 21. State language II. Azerbaijan Republic ensures free use and development of the other languages spoken by the people Article 25. Right to equality III. Every Person shall have equal Rights and Freedoms irrespective of race, nationality, religion, sex, origin, property status, social position, convictions, political party, trade union organization and social unity affiliation. Limitations or recognition of Rights and Freedoms because of race, nationality, social status, language origin, convictions and religion shall be prohibited.
The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan Article 44. Right to nationality I. Everyone has the right to keep his/her nationality II. Nobody may be forced to change his/her nationality Article 45. Right to use mother tongue I. Everyone has the right to use his/her mother tongue. Everyone has the right to be educated, carry out creative activity in any language, as desired II. Nobody may be deprived of the right to use his/her mother tongue
The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan Article 47. Freedom of thought and speech III. Propaganda provoking racial, national, religious and social discord animosity is prohibited Article 48. Freedom of conscience I. Everyone enjoys the freedom of conscience II. Everyone has the right to define his/her right to religion, to profess individually or together with others any religion or to profess no religion […] IV. Religious beliefs and convictions do not justify the infringements of the law
The Criminal Code Article 61. 1. 6. Aggravating circumstances Commitment of a crime on grounds of national, racial, religious hatred or fanaticism Article 103. Genocide Actions, directed on full or partial destruction of national, ethnic, racial or religious groups by means of killing members of this group, causing serious harm to their health or serious harm to their mental faculties, creations of the vital conditions designed for full or partial physical destruction of members of this group, realization of the actions directed on prevention of birth rate inside group, compulsory transfer of children belonging to one group to another shall be punished by imprisonment for the term of from ten till fifteen years or life imprisonment
The Criminal Code Article 109. Discrimination Prosecution of any group or organization on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural or religious motives, motives of asexual belonging or on grounds of another motive forbidden by norms of international law, that is rough infringement of rights of people for belonging to these groups or organizations, connected with other crimes against safety of mankind shall be punished by imprisonment for the term of from five till ten years. Article 111. Racial discrimination (Apartheid) This article punishes acts accomplished with a purpose of the organization and maintenance of superiority of one racial group for destroying of other racial group
The Criminal Code Article 154. Infringement of citizens equality This article persecutes the infringement of equality of citizens depending on race, nationalities, creeds, language, and origin, property or official position, belief, a belonging to political parties, trade unions and other public associations, with causing harm to rights and legitimate interests of citizens. Article 283. Excitation of national, racial or religious hostility This articles punishes actions directed on excitation of national, racial or religious hostility, humiliation of national advantage, as well as actions directed on restriction of citizens rights, or establishment of the superiority of citizens on the basis of their national or racial belonging, creeds committed publicly or with use of mass media
Baku Process The Baku Process is a set of initiatives promoted by the Azerbaijani government in order to promote and enhance multicultural dialogue. This process, since 2008 when it started, has seen Baku hosting a major intercultural event per year: The participation of Culture Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in the Baku meeting of Culture Ministers of the Council of Europe (2008) The meeting of the Culture Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation attended by their colleagues from the Council of Europe (2009) World Summit of Religious Leaders (2010) Baku International Humanitarian Forum (since 2010. It is held every two years)