Engr. Qaiser Nawab
Azerbaijan is one of the multicultural states from ancient times. The contemporary Azerbaijan is located on the border of European and Asian continents, the coast of Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan became the center of cultural diversity since it was part of The Silk Road, or Silk Route which was a series of trade and cultural transmission routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East by linking traders, merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers, nomads, and urban dwellers from China and India to the Mediterranean Sea during various periods of time.
Multiculturalism is a state policy of Azerbaijan and it has become a way of life of the republic ensuring mutual understanding and respect for all identities. The year 2016 has been declared the Year of Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan. Development of multiculturalism, tolerance and religious tolerance at the level of state policy in Azerbaijan is based on ancient history of statehood of the country and on development of these traditions.
Important factor that enriched Azerbaijan culture is various ethnic groups that live in Azerbaijan’s territory. Azerbaijani Turks, Mountain Jews, Tats, Talysh, Kurds, Molokans, Ingiloys, Tsakhurs, Avars, Lezgins, Khynalygs, Buduqlus, Grysz and other ethnic groups live in its territory.
Efforts of the national leader Heydar Aliyev in political field have produced political behavior that has acquired a form of ideology of statehood, and restored were the traditions of tolerance and multiculturalism. Political bases of the Azerbaijani multiculturalism have found its reflection in relevant clauses of articles of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, legal acts, decrees and orders. The political line pursued under Heydar Aliyev’s leadership in the sphere of preserving multicultural traditions of the Azerbaijani people is surely continued and developed by President Ilham Aliyev.
One of the major factors stipulating formation in this country of intercultural dialogue is the fact that the space where Azerbaijan is located, geographically is on the junction of the East and West. Azerbaijan, playing a bridge role between the two different civilizations, raises its authority both in the Eastern and Western hemispheres. This idea is also enough reflected in the foreign policy of Azerbaijan. Today, Azerbaijan is a full member of such authoritative organizations as the UN, OSCE, the Council of Europe, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and GUAM. Azerbaijan successfully continues process of integration into Europe within the Eastern Partnership project implemented by the European Union.
The atmosphere of tolerance is always at the highest level in Azerbaijan. That is why many events of the international level, scientific conferences devoted to the questions of multiculturalism, international and inter-religion relations and dialogue are held here. In April 2010 Baku hosted a summit of religious leaders entitled “Globalization, Religion, Traditional Values” in which more than 200 delegates from various countries of the world participated and represented traditional world religions.
Today Azerbaijan, a country which established the first secular democracy in the Muslim world in 1918 and offered women the right to vote in 1919, acts as a model for peaceful coexistence of members of different cultures.
The writer is a well know Youth Activist advocating UN’s SDGs across the globe and is the Co-Founder of Pakistan-Azerbaijan Alumni Association (PAAA). Twitter @qaisernawab098