Azerbaijan celebrates Independence Day on October 18. Exactly 23 years ago, after the adoption of the Constitutional Act, Azerbaijan gained the long-awaited independence, having surmounted many challenges.History inevitably proves that preserving the independence is much more difficult than to gain it. Azerbaijan twice had the opportunity to become a sovereign state during the 20th century. Unfortunately, the first opportunity failed shortly thereafter because of outside interference, internal opposition and the general political instability.
Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the first secular democratic state in the Islamic world, which was established in 1918, existed for only 23 months.
The second time such a situation emerged more than 70 years thereafter. The collapse of the Soviet Union provided Azerbaijan with an opportunity to restore the lost independence.
At the end of the 20th century the Azerbaijani people raised the banner of independence. It was the second brilliant triumph in the political history of the Azerbaijani people during the last century.
It was 1991, a strange, hard, but joyful time for the Azerbaijanis. The days of people’s pain, anger and high expectations, when people’s excitement reached its top level. Sensing the taste of freedom, the people were ready to do anything possible to bring it closer. Those were people who were hardened by multi-hour rallies at public squares and witnessed the horrors of the January 1990 mass killings, when the Soviet empire, which was living out its last days, committed terrible acts in a peaceful town. But Soviet tanks were no longer able to block the path of freedom.
Azerbaijan, which lost hundreds of its sons and daughters in the struggle for independence, was persistently advancing towards a new life, a new reality. And finally, the coveted day came! The Azerbaijani Parliament adopted the Constitutional Act on the restoration of the state independence. In accordance with this document, Azerbaijan was declared the successor of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, which existed in 1918-1920. According to the Constitution Act, all citizens are guaranteed full equality regardless of ethnicity or religion.
After the enactment of the Constitutional Act, Azerbaijan held a nation-wide vote on December 29, 1991. The ballot paper of the referendum included only one question: “Do you support the Constitutional Act on the state Independence of Azerbaijan?” Over 95 percent of voters took part in the referendum and unanimously voted for independence.
The Republic of Azerbaijan, which declared its independence, embarked on its existence in an extremely challenging historical situation. Soon after number of states have recognized the independence of Azerbaijan and Pakistan was one of the firsts amongst them.
Azerbaijan became a member of the United Nations on March 2, 1992 and the de jure recognition of Azerbaijan by the world community begins from that date.
In May 1992, the parliament approved the national anthem of Azerbaijan, and later the national flag as well as the coat-of-arms depicting an eight-pointed star with flames.
Azerbaijan’s political and economic mainstays are getting stronger year-on-year. The principles of state independence laid down in 1991 are faithfully protected and upheld. Great attention is paid to the development of the economy, comprehensive strengthening of the state, and the preservation of the national cultural values.
Today, Azerbaijan, under the visionary leadership of National Leader HeydarAliyev and his successor President Ilham Aliyev, is witnessing a rapid and dynamic development that is comparable with developed countries of the world. Rich in hydrocarbon reserves, the country exports them to Europe consequently taking part in ensuring of its energy security. Having taken advantage of its geographical location, Azerbaijan became not only a main point for transportation of crude and gas to Turkey and Europe via diverse pipe-line net, but a transport corridor linking East with West as well. A country with ten million population has become a leading power in Transcaucasia and a main regional investor, financing multi-billion projects in different countries of the world. The economic growth of Azerbaijan goes accompanied by enormous construction boom, development of the industry, infrastructure, agriculture, sports, and tourism.
Azerbaijan carries on a balanced foreign policy, based on the interests of the country. Situated on the geographical border of Europe and Asia, Azerbaijan is integrated in the political structures of both continents. Being a member of the Council of Europe and the OSCE, Azerbaijan plays an active role in the OIC, ECO. It is also a member of Non-Aligned Movement, and recently completed its tenure as a non-permanent member of UN Security Council.
Pakistan and Azerbaijan enjoy close and cordial relations characterized by shared perception on major global and regional issues. The two countries signed a number of agreements to provide a framework for bilateral cooperation in all spheres including economy, trade, finance, information, culture and military fields. Both countries closely cooperate in international forum and support each other on their core issues.