Azerbaijan celebrates 103rd anniversary of the Republic Day (part 1)
By Shahin Abdullayev
On May 28, 1918, the first democratic parliamentary republic in the Muslim World – Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) – was proclaimed. According to the form of its governance, the ADR was built on the classical model of a parliamentary republic on the basis of political pluralism and a multi-party system. Guided by the principles of people power and equality from the very first days of its existence, ADR eliminated racial, ethnic, and religious and class inequalities by granting all citizens of the country the same rights. For the first time in the East and long before some of the Western Democracies, women were granted the right to vote in 1918.
The fundamental steps are taken in the field of democratic state-building, economy, culture, education left an indelible mark on the history of the people of Azerbaijan. On January 11, 1920, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was de facto recognized by the Paris Peace Conference. The Azerbaijani parliament adopted a law on the establishment of diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the United States, Switzerland, Poland, Germany and Russia.
Despite the fall of the state due to the Soviet invasion on April 28, 1920, the national idea and craving for nationhood survived. The short but glorious destiny of the ADR has left a deep trace of the self-consciousness of the people of Azerbaijan. Its ideas and legacy have shaped the historical and spiritual foundations of modern Azerbaijan that after regaining its independence on October 18, 1991, declared 28 May as Republic Day. But after the restoration of its independence, the political crisis, the emergence of separatist tendencies in different regions, and the severe socio-economic situation put Azerbaijan face to face with a threat of civil war. The situation was further exacerbated by Armenia`s aggression and occupation of 20 peents of Azerbaijan`s lands. And in such a fateful moment, the Azerbaijani people trusted their future to outstanding statesman Heydar Aliyev.
Thanks to his continued efforts, far-sighted and wise diplomacy to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the ceasefire agreement that signed in 1994 prevented the occupation of other territories and loss of the independence of Azerbaijan. Since then the modern army building process that started under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev laid a solid foundation for the liberation of the Azerbaijani occupied territories. Restoration and richening of the statehood traditions of Azerbaijan in the late XX century, strengthening of the independence of Azerbaijan and making it eternal and firm, assurance of the country’s dynamic economic development, the rapid growth of its international prestige was guaranteed under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev.
In order to turn a young independent Azerbaijan into a modern, powerful state with sustainable economic development, national leader Heydar Aliyev determined the oil strategy, which would lie at the heart of fundamental transformation of the future political and economic reforms. The new oil strategy ensured the involvement of foreign investors in the development of Azerbaijan’s oil fields, diversification of routes of transportation of crude oil, effective management of oil revenues and Azerbaijan`s entry into a new stage of development. Under the leadership of national leader Heydar Aliyev, one of the landmark agreements in Azerbaijan`s 20th-century history was signed. The Agreement on the Joint Development and Production Sharing for the Azeri and Chirag Fields and the Deep Water Portion of the Gunashli Field in the Azerbaijan Sector of the Caspian Sea was signed on September 20, 1994.
Due to its political, economic and strategic importance, the agreement was dubbed “the Contract of the Century”. The agreement provided a basis for Azerbaijan`s oil strategy, opened up new prospects for the country and transformed it into a major global energy supplier. The exploitation of the 1996 Baku-Novorossiysk and 1999 Baku-Supsa pipelines, the signing of the agreement on construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan main export oil pipeline and diversification of export routes were achieved to export Azerbaijani oil to the world market. The Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan main export oil pipeline is the greatest success of Aliyev’s oil strategy. To ensure the export of Azerbaijani gas to western markets, the construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline was constructed on the initiative of Aliyev.
Shahin Abdullayev is Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia