Azerbaijan National Day Observed in Seoul
Amb. Jamshidov Invites Guests for Reception at Hilton
Associate Editor & Writer
I am sure that such kind of cultural events will enable both our nations to get closer in the future as well. And more importantly, grass roots exchanges have become distinctly visible in recent years between our two countries positively influencing our official relations and making them more solid.Q5: What do you like most about the Korean people, is it their colourful cheerfulness or their serious hard-working ethics?A5: Since I had already possessed some background information about Korea before my arrival as an Ambassador, I was well aware of both the colourful cheerfulness and the serious hard-working ethics of Korean people.Furthermore, I have admired Koreans’ ability to successfully adopt and practice modern achievements of Western culture and at the same time, to preserve their cultural heritage as a traditional Eastern country.As an example, I would pleasingly mention Koreans’ endeavour and interest in classical and modern music, opera, cinema and theatre on the one hand, and observing their national holidays, wearing their traditional costumes and following rituals in both wedding and mourning ceremonies on the other.Q6: Thank you very much Ambassador Rovshan Jamshidov. It has been a pleasure talking to you. The Seoul Times is looking forward to your future events in Seoul. We wish you and the people of Azerbaijan all the best!A Brief History of Azerbaijan In his welcoming address Ambassador Jamishidov talked about his nation’s original foundations and its early struggles as an independent democracy in the historic Caucasus region almost directly after World War One and the crumbling order of the Russian Empire. This was a pivotal time that would greatly reshape the landscape of the modern geo-political world on the global mainland with the establishment of the Communist movement and the resulting formation and transition of the Soviet Union. Within less than two years of the establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the Bolshevik 11th Soviet Red Army invaded and the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic was formed on April 28, 1920. According to historical research an estimated 20’000 Azerbaijani soldiers died in an almost futile resistance against the might of the Soviet Army to protect the nation’s sovereignty. Lenin made no excuses for the invasion and declared that it had been solely for no other reason than to exploit Azerbaijan’s natural oil and gas resources for the essential maintenance and ultimately the survival of the USSR.By the end of the 1980’s, the Soviet Union was becoming became increasingly fragmented with civil unrest and ethnic tension. In Azerbaijan, these growing problems manifested into not only with difficulties directly from Moscow but also from within its own borders in the Nagorno-Karabakh region when ethnic Armenians began protesting and disputing territorial rights to the region. The discontent of these and other events led to weeks of unease and protest throughout Azerbaijan, the culmination of which has been dubbed as ‘Black January.’ On the 19th January, 1990, President Mikhail Gorbachev declared a state of emergency in the capital city of Baku and 26’000 soviet troops entered the city pursuant to quash a rebellion, cutting telephone lines and destroying the central television station. The next three days would witness bloody street gun battles between soviet troops and Azerbaijani activists, resulting in the deaths of approx 130 Azerbaijani civilians and 21 soviet soldiers.
The events in Baku during ‘Black January’ and the civil unrest that ensued over the next 4 months throughout Azerbaijan did not strengthen the union between the troubled nation and the Kremlin. Workers out of respect and mourning for the brutal and merciless deaths of their fellow countrymen refused to work. Moscow’s executive decision to use fear by force proved completely detrimental and counter-productive and only furthered the cause and calls for immediate independence from it. A few years later, on April 27th, 1995 in speech Gorbachev delivered in Istanbul, he said, “Proclaiming the state of emergency in Baku and sending the army to the city was the biggest mistake of my political life...”By the end of 1990, the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan made a Declaration for Sovereignty and restored the original flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic as a state flag. Almost one year later, the Soviet Union had become officially dissolved and the people of Azerbaijan accepted the Declaration of Independence adopted by the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan on 18 October 1991 in a nationwide referendum. The restoration of a democratic Azerbaijani republic began how it had originally ended, with a soviet invasion. And as time is the testament, it would be Azerbaijan that would emerge as an independent survivor and not the former soviet superpower that had domineered and milked its resources for almost 70 years. The cost of Azerbaijan’s ascension to freedom can only be measured by its abundance of bravery and incredible resistance in the face of a much larger powerful enemy. 20 years after independence came to Azerbaijan there has still been no resolve for the Armenian aggression in the Karabakh region. Figures estimate that 30’000 people both military and civilian lost their lives during the conflict, including 60’000 severely wounded. Even now, 20 years after the Nagorno-Karabakh War between Azerbaijan and Armenia, in the disputed zone, over 4000 Azerbaijani civilians are still unaccounted for and approximately a million Azerbaijanis were displaced fleeing ethnic violence. Despite various United Nation resolutions for a complete withdrawal of Armenian forces, the territory lies as a diplomatically unrecognised de-facto region. Azerbaijan claims that there are no records, maps or any historical data to indicate that the territory ever belonged to Armenia and that the region is deeply rooted in Azerbaijan’s folklore which predates the Albanian kingdom to the times of the Mongolian invasion. To counter this claim, Armenia says its occupation of the land is to protect the majorly populated ethnic Armenians and help secure it as an independent state. In recent times both parties have been involved in mediated peace talks since the ceasefire in 1994. Post-Modern PotentialBeyond the territorial dispute in the Karabakh region, Azerbaijan has a very healthy outlook. Cited recently as one of the fastest growing economies in the world and being nestled deep within one of the most extraordinary multi-diverse areas in human history that can be recorded back almost 20’000 years into antiquity, the future is looking brighter especially in the capital city of Baku. Ambitious plans to completely remodel the city are already underway with state of the art buildings, avenues, museums and natural water features. Azerbaijan, once the golden gateway for Alexander (the great) of Macedonia; serving as a crossroads between Europe and Asia on the silk road and (quite literally) the first step between the Russian and Persian Empires, could well be very soon all set to re-model itself into the vibrant busy Eurasian trading centre it once famed for over past millennia, as a bridge between what would be at one time completely different worlds and civilisations. How it plans to harness and foster the opportunity of a post-modern globalised world, we will have to wait and see, but one thing is for sure Azerbaijan is all set to aspire and inspire through vibrant and imaginative architecture and town planning, coupled with a strong infrastructure, technological and social development. This will not only empower its position as a tourist retreat, (for those who desire a bit of everything), but, also Azerbaijan with its prime geo-location has enormous potential to be the key in bringing much needed development, trade and commerce to and from every angle North, South, East and West around about it, benefiting not only itself, but it’s immediate neighbours and the wider Caucasus and Eurasian region.For details or inquiries call the Azebaijan Embassy in Seoul at 797-1765.
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Matthew Love serves as an Associate Editor & Writer of The Seoul Times. He specializes in European film as well as other cultural and social areas. He earned his BA degree with honors in Media Production with English Literature at the University of Luton, England, and MA degree in International Cinema at the University of Bedfordshire. He is the director of Kool4katz.Tv based in Bulgaria.
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