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Azerbaijan at the Crossroads of Eurasia

The Tumultuous Fate of a Nation Caught Up Between the Rivalries of the World’s Major Powers

Fazil Zeynalov

Modern Azerbaijan came into being in 1991 following a national struggle for the re-establishment of its independence, initiated long before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is situated in a unique geographic location, at the crossroads of Eurasia and on the famous Silk Road that links Europe and Asia. It has been the stage of particularly rich historical events, testament to its ancient State traditions, the wealth of its cities, the violence of the imperial invasions. Today this secular country, facing war with Armenia, is central to the geopolitical stakes in the region, whether in terms of the international strategies of major powers or the geo-economic considerations of oil and gas exports to Europe. It has put in place a multi-faceted foreign policy and initiated political and economic reforms as it moves towards a better future.

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Chapter XIII – The first Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan

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Chapter XIIIThe first Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan

The constraints and oppression of the tsarist regime did not prevent the formation of a governing class to struggle for the rights of Azerbaijanis and lead the aspirations of the people towards independence. For the first time, the Azerbaijani people secured the creation of a democratic and secular nation-state which, because of its strategic location and abundant energy resources, occupied an important position within Eurasia and fuelled the ambitions of the major powers. The national political groups had been fighting since the October Revolution for justice, legality and freedom. They saw independence as a new opportunity to make their democratic ideas a reality. The uncertain international political climate did not discourage them as they endeavoured to construct a modern and democratic State based on the ideas of the European Enlightenment philosophers, integrate this new entity onto the international stage, and do away with the harmful effects of the tsarist regime’s interior policies. Although it was cut short prematurely, the first Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan marked the beginning of a republican tradition that has been maintained until the present day.

13.1. The birth of the Republic

The march towards independence was the result of historic change; it is part of the Azerbaijani people’s rich state tradition in which it took its destiny into its own hands by establishing a parliamentary political system.

13.1.1. Declaration of independence

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