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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 XIV – The second Republic of Azerbaijan


Chapter XIVThe second Republic of Azerbaijan

The sovietisation of azerbaijan led not only to the formation of a new political and economic landscape but also to the loss of national independence as it was now limited to the status of a federated Republic and therefore in reality denied all autonomous action. All of the promises relating to the right of the people to self-determination and the freedom of the federal entities remained unfulfilled. The Communist Party held the real power and embodied the dominant ideology. Yet the Azerbaijani people continued to hold onto the dream of re-establishing their sovereignty and shaping their own destiny.

Throughout the existence of the USSR, the takeover of Baku by the Bolsheviks was presented as a revolutionary act and the intervention of the Red Army was described as “fraternal assistance” offered to the Azerbaijani workers. But at the first Congress of the Soviets of Azerbaijan in May 1920, some communists admitted that the revolution had not taken place in Azerbaijan and proposed to implement the principles of the revolution by attacking the property of the wealthiest regional inhabitants so as to imbue the people with revolutionary sentiment.1 The legitimacy of the authorities was fragile, imposed through means of terror, as they sought to strengthen their position by making promises of a better life based on the social equality of individuals and the happiness of the people.

14.1. The creation of an ostensibly independent Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan

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