Azerbaijan’s Second Independence Day
Last night, I had to send a text to one of my colleagues at the bank because I didn’t know if today was a bank holiday or not. October 18th is Azerbaijan’s second independence day, celebrating their re-emergence as an independent state in 1991. As the Soviet Union crumbled, Azerbaijan was enveloped in a tumultuous few years of war with the neighbors to the west and a rather wild attempt at democracy, marked with raging protests in Baku and even a secession attempt by a rogue general in Lənkəran. I had to ask my colleague if it was a holiday or not because no one could say definitively whether everyone had off or not for Azerbaijan’s independence day. Turns out, it was a workday.
That Azerbaijan has two independence days (there is a Will Smith joke in here somewhere…) makes this a rather unique situation. The other is May 28, 1918, when Azerbaijan declared independence from the Czar’s Russia and held on to that until the Soviets pushed back down into the South Caucasus, in 1920. I don’t know too many countries with multiple independence days, but maybe because they are more common here, it’s less of a big deal and they don’t need a day off from work to celebrate it. In addition to that, I can also say that I’ve met many Azeris who tell me that they don’t really think of October 18th as a very important day. They, instead, say that they prefer May 28th because they feel that the government at that time was more democratic and was more progressive. Indeed, the first independence saw the creation of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and is portrayed in Ali and Nino as a rather progressive movement towards a western democracy. I can’t tell you whether that is an accurate depiction, but it certainly seems so. The government of the time was responsible for establishing a multi-party system. The Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, Fatali Khan Khoyski, had been part of the movement in Czarist Russia to oppose the monarchy and grant autonomy to regions of the crumbling empire. He was also instrumental in establishing diplomatic relations for the new state and pushed for the creation of Azerbaijan State University.
For more on the most recent independence day, however, Trend.Az gives us this barely-intelligible blurb:
Thanks to favorable historical condition established after collapse of the Soviet Union in late 20th century Azerbaijani people gained its independence in the 20th century for the second time. It was the second prominent achievement in Azerbaijani people’s political history.
As a result of the activity of the democratic powers in Russia it was impossible to suppress non-subordination to the central power and independence wish in the republic. At the extraordinary meeting called under the people’s will on June 30, 1991, the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijani Republic adopted a declaration about restoration of Azerbaijan’s state independence.
Constitutional Act “About the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan'” was adopted at the session of the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijani Republic on Oct.18, 1991.
So, even though we still had to go to work today, I’ll take this moment to say Happy Independence Day to our Azerbaijani friends!