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Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan

As a multicultural country, this nation promotes intercultural dialogue within and outside the country, regarding the existence of a people as the result of the civil and political self-determination of its constituent peoples.

 

Azerbaijan Baku – CittĂ  Vecchia. Foto de Renata Testa / Flickr. Creative Commons License.

Khayala Mammadova*

 

Azerbaijan is populated by representatives of over 30 national minorities such as Talysh, Kurdish, Lezghi, Tat, Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Inghiloy, Tatar, Avar, Turkish, Ahyska, Jewish, German, Greek and others. Representatives of the three main religious confessions – Islamic, Christian and Judaic – participate jointly in various public ceremonies and cultural events.

What is striking is how the support and preservation of cultural diversity is rooted in Azerbaijan’s state policy.

The Armenian – Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno – Karabakh has gone down in the history of the 20th century as one of the most dramatic conflicts that has had very serious consequences on the fate of millions of Azerbaijanis.

The conflict, which took the form of Armenia’s open claims on Azerbaijan’s historical lands, ethnically based provocations and acts of terror, led to military aggression against Azerbaijan.

The ongoing clashes near Nagorno-Karabakh began after Armenia attacked Azerbaijani civilians and military personnel on 27 September.

Azerbaijan won its historic victory in 44 days, liberated its lands, dealt crushing blows to the enemy and defeated Armenia.

As a result of this defeat, Armenia was forced to sign a capitulation and surrender. Thus, Armenia’s 30-year policy of aggression came to an end. During this time, the Azerbaijani army has liberated many settlements from the enemy.

Despite all this, Azerbaijanis are not the enemy of the Armenian people.

Azerbaijan is a multinational state. Thousands of Armenians live in Azerbaijan, mainly in Baku.

Azerbaijan. Photo from
Asian Development Bank / Flickr. Creative Commons License.

Armenia, which has created a society intolerant of other nations and religions, has tried to completely erase the ancient Albanian, Orthodox and Muslim religious and cultural heritage that historically existed in the occupied territories of multi-ethnic and multi-religious Azerbaijan. It has completely destroyed the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Azerbaijani people or falsified their history and origins by Armenianising and gregorising them.

The Armenian regime, which has been pursuing aggressive policies for years, has ignored the norms of international law and international humanitarian law, has committed environmental crimes in the occupied territories through arson, the use of phosphorus bombs, poisonous substances and mines. Today, Armenians living in the Nagorno-Karabakh region can also live normally only within the Azerbaijani state. The Azerbaijani people are tolerant.

It is also well known to world public opinion that the ethnically and religiously diverse Republic of Azerbaijan fought to liberate its historical territories from an occupation that had nothing to do with Christianity.

Moreover, Muslims, Christians and Jews – representatives of all nations and religions living in our country, fought alongside Azerbaijanis in the Azerbaijani armed forces.

These people united around the slogan “Karabakh is Azerbaijan!” of Ilham Aliyev, commander-in-chief of the victorious army, and not on false religious appeals. Among them were those who displayed unparalleled heroism, falling martyrs, wounded and awarded with supreme orders and medals of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

As at the beginning of the conflict, there are many officers and soldiers – representatives of the nations and religious communities living in Azerbaijan – serving in the national army of Azerbaijan and showing exceptional courage in the liberation of our country from occupation.

Azerbaijan dances. Photo by Niyaz Bakili / Flickr. Creative Commons License.

The Azerbaijani nation does not discriminate against its heroic sons and martyrs on the basis of their ethnic and religious origin.

President Ilham Aliyev, who played an important role in this historic victory of Azerbaijan, said that their advantage “lies in the fact that representatives of all nations living in Azerbaijan feel as comfortable as in their families and homeland”. He added that “fraternity and friendly relations between various nations is our great wealth and we have to protect it. Our policy will also be pursued in the future. Representatives of all nations living in Azerbaijan showed extraordinary courage and heroism in the Second Karabakh War, falling martyrs, fighting for the cause of the Motherland and embracing death under the Azerbaijani flag. This is the society we have in our country and this is our great wealth”.

In keeping with its multicultural tradition, Azerbaijan held  a music festival a few weeks ago called “Kharibulbul”, which is not only an art festival, but also has great political and social significance.

The festival, named after the symbolic flower that grows in Shusha, was first organised in Shusha’s Jidyr glade in May 1989.  Thirty years later, in May, the 12th “Kharibulbul” music festival in the cultural capital of Azerbaijan, Shusha, was organised by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and will be held every year thereafter.

“Kharibulbul” was attended by representatives of various nations living in Azerbaijan and brought together a compendium of folk and classical music.

*Khayala Mammadova: Founder and head of International Multicultural Network, Azerbaijan.

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