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Azerbaijan History

Azerbaijan - national flagAzerbaijan - national flag

The flag was in use 1918-20 and was reintroduced in 1991. Blue alludes to the kinship with the Turkmen people. Red symbolizes cultural development. Islam is expressed by the color green as well as by the crescent and the star, whose eight branches represent eight ethnic groupings.

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Azerbaijan - history

Azerbaijan's borders have been fluid, and the country's cultural heritage includes features from Persian, Arab, Turkish and European civilizations.

The human presence can be traced back to Paleolithic times. From 600-tfKr. Azerbaijan was part of the Media and came from 500 BC. under the rule of the Achaemenids. I 300-tfKr. Persia and thus the present Iranian part of the territory (Azarbaidjan) was conquered by Alexander the Great. Around this time, Greek sources mention the name Atropathene, an actual state formation in the area south of the border river Araks.

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Around the birth of Christ, a new state formation appeared in present-day Azerbaijan called Albania with the capital Kabala. In the early 300-t. the traditional cult of fire was replaced by Christianity, which was made the state religion (the Armenian Church). Albania, however, was constantly threatened by its neighbor to the south - from the 200-t. The Sasanid dynasty in Persia - and of Turkish-speaking nomadic tribes from the north. The area was also involved in the constant wars between Rome and Byzantium. The Albania period, which extends to the 700's, represents a significant economic development with strong Armenian cultural influence; in the early 600-t. developed its own alphabet. From the beginning of the 700-t. Azerbaijan was conquered and Islamized by the Arabs and placed under the caliphate, but already from the middle of the 800-t. a number of feudal small states emerged. From the middle of 1000-t. the eastern Caucasus was invaded by Turkishrare. From the 1100's. significant developments can be observed in economics (especially in the urban professions), science and literature; the country had a significant export of silk, wool, oil and ceramics.

Azerbaijan History

Gradually, Turkish became the everyday language, while Arabic and Persian (Farsi) continued to be the language of literature. From the 1230's to the 1360's, the eastern Caucasus and northern Iran were under the Mongols, which meant an economic and cultural setback. The Mongols were replaced in the late 1300's. of Timur Lenk's reign.

From the 1400's. the city of Shirvan became the center of a significant silk production and had extensive international connections, to Moscow. Politically, Azerbaijan and the entire East Caucasus were in the 1500's and 1600's. during the Persian Safavid dynasty, founded by the pious Ismail 1. (1502-24). Under him, the Shiite direction of Islam was turned into a state religion, but large sections of the population maintained Sunni Islam. During the 1600's. the whole Caucasus became a throwing ball in the wars between Iran and Turkey; from the beginning of the 1700's. Russia intervened. In 1723, it conquered Baku, but the Russian presence became short-lived this time around. In the second half of the 1700's. was registered in the area north of the Araksfloden approximately 15 small state formations characterized by feudal relations between clerical and secular landowners on the one hand and peasants on the other. In the first decades of the 1800's. Iran ceded the territory north of Araks to Russia - first at the Peace of Gulistan in 1813 (including Baku) and later at the Peace of Turkmenistan in 1828 (including Nakhichevan). Thus, the boundaries of today's division of Azerbaijan between Russia and Iran were laid.

In the late 1800's. the Russian part experienced a significant capitalist development, primarily around the oil city of Baku and not least after the city was connected to Tbilisi by rail in 1883.. Baku also became the center of the Social Democratic movement in Russia and generally gained a very cosmopolitan feel. Around 1890, a national revival among the intellectuals led to the establishment of an Azeri-Turkish written language. Thus, the others (such as Armenians and Kurds) were defined as foreigners. Azerbaijan's labor movement was active in all the Russian revolutions. On October 31, 1917, the Soviet power was proclaimed in Baku, but it was soon challenged, partly by other internal political forces, partly due to foreign interference. From September 1918 to April 1920, Azerbaijan was thus ruled by a coalition led by the nationally oriented party Musavat ('equality'), supported in part by Turkish and English invading forces. In April 1920, the Red Army withdrewinto Baku and re-established Soviet power. Azerbaijan became part of the Soviet Union in 1922, until 1936 indirectly, ie. as part of the Transcaucasian Socialist Soviet Federation (along with Georgia and Armenia). In 1936-91, Azerbaijan was a union republic within the Soviet Union.

During the Soviet era, the capital Baku lost its importance as an international oil center. On the other hand, during this period a significant economic and cultural development was experienced. Azerbaijan, for example, became a pioneer in the language structure of the 1920's in the Soviet Union, not least in the process in which the Arabic alphabet was replaced by the Latin and later by the Cyrillic. Under Stalin and Khrushchev, the Azerbaijani Communists pursued a harsh policy of nationality against the non-Turkish minorities, whose language was consistently suppressed in education and in cultural life in general.

The 1990 parliamentary elections, which were part of the perestroika process, yielded a communist majority. Azerbaijan declared itself an independent state on 30.8.1991. In the direct parliamentary elections in September 1991, the former party leader Ayaz Mutalibov was elected Speaker of Parliament. However, he was overthrown as early as March 1992, after which the opposition (National People's Front) elected its candidate Abulfez Eltjibej in June 1992. In an uprising among the armed forces based in the provincial town of Gyandzha, he was ousted in the early summer of 1993. then taken over by Gejdar Aliyev, former member of the Communist Party's Politburo in Moscow and first party secretary in Azerbaijan. Later that year, Aliyev was elected president by an overwhelming majority of the population. In the period 1988-94, Azerbaijan was involved in a bloody conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave; the conflict had the character of actual war 1992-94.

A new constitution was introduced in 1995 following a referendum which, like the parliamentary elections the same year, did not live up to democratic standards. The election was won by the President's New Azerbaijani Party. The Constitution gives wide powers to the presidency and has in practice resulted in presidential domination. In the 1998 presidential election, Gideon Aliyev was re-elected, but his reign did not create greater political stability. The opposition was in dire straits, and the state apparatus was the subject of three failed coup attempts in resp. 1994, 1995 and 1996. Armenian offensives 1993-94 in the war over Nagorno-Karabakh forced Aliyev to enter into a ceasefire still being monitored by the OSCE. Peace talks, however, is stagnant, and about 1/5 of Azerbaijan's territory is still occupied by Armenia, just as Azerbaijan's economic blockade of Armenia is maintained.

In the 2000 parliamentary elections, the president's party won, but the circumstances surrounding the election provoked strong criticism from the opposition and the OSCE. In 2003, a disease-stricken Gejdar Aliyev appointed his son Ilhám Aliyev prime minister and nominated him as the presidential candidate of the ruling New Azerbaijani Party. Ilham Aliyev was elected in October and in December, Gejdar Aliyev died. Ilham Aliyev has since consolidated his power, and the opposition is having a hard time speaking out. The New Azerbaijani Party, chaired by Aliyev in 2005, won the same year the parliamentary elections, which were heavily criticized by the OSCE and the Council of Europe.and provoked protest demonstrations. Since the Russian-backed ceasefire with Armenia, Azerbaijan's relations with its northern neighbor have gradually improved, not least with Vladimir Putin.accession as President in 2000 and the launch of the fight against terrorism after 11 September 2001. Azerbaijan also has good relations with Turkey, which is participating in the economic blockade of Armenia. The construction of the oil pipeline from Baku to Ceyhan has further linked the two countries. On the other hand, relations with Iran have become somewhat tense, due to the disagreement over the division of the Caspian Sea between the coastal states. For the United States, Azerbaijan is a springboard for anti-terrorism operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2004, Azerbaijan became part of the EU's neighborhood policy, and in 2008 the EU opened a permanent mission in Baku.

Following the conflict between Georgia and Russia in August 2008, it has become more difficult for Azerbaijan to balance between Russia and the West. So far, the country has sought to strengthen its relations with the West in the area of ​​security and energy policy without weakening military and economic relations with Russia. However, the West is strongly interested in new oil and gas projects with Azerbaijan participation, while Russia would like to see an expansion of energy relations with Azerbaijan. In October 2008, President Ilham Aliyev won the presidential election with 87% of the vote. Seven candidates participated in the election, and the turnout was 75%. OSCE election observers stated that the election did not live up to international standards. The same was true of the referendum in March 2009.

 

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