Leaders of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic: look back a century later
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev declared 2018 as Year of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR). The centennial anniversary of the ADR will be marked not only in Azerbaijan, but also in other countries of the world, by forums, conferences and plenary sessions, dedicated to the creation of the first democratic republic in the Muslim world.
During the plenary session titled 'History of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic: a look back a century later, 1918-2018', which was held in the Russian Civic Chamber, Deputy Director General of the Information and Analytical Center for the study of post-Soviet space, Ismail Agakishiyev, told about the contribution of the ADR founders to the formation of the Azerbaijani statehood: We all have great respect for the leaders of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic - it's been 100 years, but the memory of these people unites us. Serving the values of freedom and democracy, they promoted national self-identification of Azerbaijani people through their activities. Thanks to these people, we have known ourselves as a people, as a nation."
Ismail Agakishiyev recalled that the creation of ADR was preceded by the first Russian revolution of 1905-1907, as well as the annexation of Northern Azerbaijan to Russia in the first half of the 19th century: "That is when the Azerbaijani people received the opportunity to study in Russia's secular schools and universities.It was the formation of the secular intelligentsia, the representatives of which became the ancestors of the democratic movement in the first years of the 20th century, and later - the creators and leaders of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. The first political club, which became the first political party of the Azerbaijani democratic intelligentsia in the years of the Russian Revolution, was called 'Hummet' (Unity). The founders of the club in October 1904 were Seid Movsumov and Mammad Emin Rasulzade, who was just 16 years old. I read the articles of future ADR leaders published in the newspapers of that time, and I was amazed at the level of the language, the level of knowledge, the level of education of those people. "
One way or another, national self-identification needed time, a sovereign economy and an independent state in which a nation would be formed. "At that time, the development of the Baku oil industry was progressing, a big contribution to which was made by such people as Tagiyev, Nagiyev, Asadullayev and Murtazayev. There was a process of forming a national bourgeoisie, without which the creation of a nation would be impossible. It was the creation of a sovereign state - Azerbaijan Democratic Republic - which gave the real opportunity for the gradual formation and development of the nation. And the values preached by the ADR leaders turned out to be wider than the national framework - these were universal values, thanks to which both a nation and the rule of law could be formed. All citizens of the country should have equal rights before the law regardless of their ethnic background.
However, the formation of the nation and the rule of law needed time, and ADR existed for only 23 months. If sufficient time was provided, then it would be possible to speak with confidence about the formation of the Azerbaijani nation. Then we would not have heard the question "haralisan?" (Where are you from?) and would probably not have faced most of today's problems existing in Azerbaijani society," Ismail Agakishiyev said.
The expert named the creation of the geographical framework of the state with the capital in Baku as the great merit of the ADR founders: "The people who lived here felt themselves and called themselves Azeris. Already in the 7th-8th centuries, when Arabs invaded this territory, according to the sources written by Arab authors, the name Azerbaijan was used for these lands. It was used along with the names of Shirvan, Mugan and Arran. After part of these territories became part of Russia, its borders with Iran (that is, with southern Azerbaijan) were open, communication between the people of the two countries were maintained and the process of forming a single people continued."
Speaking about the values of ADR, Agakishiyev emphasized that it became a legal state, dominated by the letter of law both inside the country and in foreign policy conducted in accordance with the requirements of international law, as well as at a high diplomatic level and the principles of mutual respect: "The ADR leaders had experience of working in the State Duma of various convocations and in the state structures of the Russian Empire. For example, the Foreign Minister of the ADR, Alimardan bey Topchubashov was a deputy of the State Duma of the first convocation and the leader of the Muslim faction. The ADR leaders were politicians, able to defend the interests of the nation at the talks with the leaders of such a level as Woodrow Wilson, David Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau ...
The devotion of these people to national interests and responsible attitude to the fulfillment of their tasks is striking. Surrender, respect for colleagues and modesty were characteristic features of the ADR leaders. They did value national interests, not positions and fame. The resignation of the first ADR government and the abolition of the National Council for the sake of preserving the Azerbaijani statehood is especially indicative in this sense. The main argument of the opponents of the National Council was that it was created as a result of the Russian Revolution and became its continuation, therefore it cannot correspond to the principles of national independence. Mammad Amin Rasulzadeh, the chairman of this institution, admitted that the ADR was a continuation of the Russian revolution, but in the sense that it set itself the task of eliminating class contradictions and national oppression."
Mammad Amin Rasulzadeh
As an example of mutual respect and responsible attitude of the ADR leaders, Agakishiyev recalled the voluntary resignation of the chairman of the National Council, Mammad Amin Rasulzadeh, and the head of the first ADR government, Fatali Khan Khoyski: "In order to overcome the political crisis and preserve the sovereignty of the ADR (there was the issue of its accession to Turkey) they left their positions, thanked their colleagues and like-minded people for respectful attitude, apologized for possible mistakes and promised to work for the common good even after the resignation... By the way, when they said that ADR had no close relations with the Russian state, Khoyski urged not to engage in demagoguery: "It is our primary objective to establish relations with Russia, with the great Russian people. But, unfortunately, the Bolshevik government has not responded to our repeated appeals. "
Fatali Khan Khoyski
Ismail Agakishiyev also noted that the ADR leaders were distinguished by high asceticism: "Their salaries were very modest, they were not enough even to meet the minimum demands. Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the ADR, Nasib-bek Usubbekov, asked his father to help make a fence in the suburban area in Ganja. There is a letter from his father, an answer to this request: "My dear son, I have endured for a long time, and, finally, I will speak out. Getting into debts, I was able to give you a good education. After completing your studies, you returned home ... You became Minister of Education of the Transcaucasian Seim in Tiflis. You asked me for money several times, and I sent them to you. Then you proclaimed the independence of Azerbaijan. You became Minister of Education of our Republic, but your salary did not cover your expenses again. You asked for money, and I always sent it. I even sold part of my land. Today you are the prime minister, the head of state. Could it really be that I should buy reeds for your dacha fence again?"".
The expert also noted that, despite the difficult time, the ADR leaders paid great attention to education from the very beginning : "The foundation of Baku University was laid back then, the representatives of Azerbaijani youth have started to study in European universities."
"I want to especially thank the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, who declared this year as Year of ADR by his decree.The leaders of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic dedicated their lives to eternal values. They pursued not their own selfish interests, but the interests of the nation. The national pride was more important for them than their own pride, national freedom - more important than their own freedom, national wealth - more important than their material interests. Therefore they succeeded in creating a nationwide state, in fact, restored after the adoption of the Constitutional Act on the State Independence and the establishment of the foundations of the state, political and economic structure of the independent Azerbaijan Republic by the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan in 1991. "