Restoration of Azerbaijan's independence. 10.01.1999

During the period of national-democratic movement in 1988-1991, it was clear that, soon, the Soviet Empire would quit. At first, when meetings and demonstrations began in 1988, people were inspired by idea of "Garabagkh", but, then this transferred to the new "freedom" idea. Of course, the heading of Soviet Union understood it and made all possible to prevent its collapse.

The collapse of USSR and proclamation of independence of Azerbaijan

Freedom, at all times of history has came with blood and violence. Azerbaijan nation is not an exception. The on-going national-democratic movement had brought its natural consequences, expressed in further tragedies of Azerbaijani people.

On December 5, 1988, the people were dispersed by force from the Lenin square, (now called Azadlыg), where they spent many days. On 19-20 January 1990, the soviet troops entered Baku. Hundreds of people were killed and wounded by militants and dashnaks. In 1991, the situation escalated very much and everybody understood that the things would not go so any further.

In 19-21 August 1991 a small group of militants and politicians in Moscow, which named themselves GKCHP, made a vigorous attempt to stop the process of disintegration of SU. People came to streets and stopped the tanks were coming toward Kremlin.

During this coup, President of Azerbaijan Ayaz Mutallibov was on an official visit to Iran. Iranian radio reported that he had greeted this coup in Tabriz and welcomed disappearance of president Gorbachev from the scene. He had termed these events as the "natural consequences of the policies that had brought chaos during the past several years ... We welcome the developments in the Soviet Union."

The August coup in Moscow accelerated the disintegration process in USSR. When Gorbachev came back from his vacancy in Crimea, he faced with new people and new country. "The time of changes" was just beginning. One after another Union republic began to dissolve their Communist Parties. Nakhchivan was ahead of all republic. The legislature of Autonomous Republic under Heydar Aliyev dissolved the local Communist Party and nationalized its property. The next day, the same action was undertaken in Baku, and on August 30 the Supreme Soviet convened an extraordinary session. Its purpose was to vote on the independence of Azerbaijan Republic, its name no longer to be preceded by the adjectives "Soviet" and "Socialist." Soon, this initiative diffused on all republics of USSR.

On 8 December 1991, the heads of three Slavic countries, Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia met in Belovejsk and signed an agreement that proclaimed the Commonwealth of Independent States, in other words the collapse of USSR. Gorbachev did not know that and was very angry on Yeltsin.

Azerbaijani people after "Black January" were very angry, too. Officially Azerbaijan was within SU, but in reality it was free, out of control of center. Still, the state was directed from Moscow and First Secretary Of Central Committee of Azerbaijan Communist Party Ayaz Mutallibov was assigned from Moscow by Gorbachev.

On 18 October 1991 the Constitutional Bill "About the Restoration of State Independence" was announced. Later, on December 29, 1991, the referendum showed that absolute majority (95%) of people supports the independence of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan becomes a subject of international politics

So, as we above mentioned, in October of 1991 the Azerbaijan Republic became a subject of international relations. Our country, firstly, was recognized by Turkey, Pakistan, Germany, US, etc.

Azerbaijan became the member of such international organizations, like UN, OSCE, Islamic Conference Organization, etc. Azerbaijan signed the NATO program for cooperation and peace. In 1994 the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic signed an agreement with world's biggest oil companies on development of Caspian offshore oil fields – "Azeri", "Chirag" and "Gunashli". This agreement is well known in the world because of its name - the "contract of century".

The state legislative body – Milli Majlis in that period recognized in 1991 the lack of Daglig Garabagkh Autonomous District status, in 1992 the Turk was proclaimed as state language, etc.

There were opened embassies and diplomatic representatives of almost all foreign countries in Baku. Today, almost every state in the world has recognized the independence of Azerbaijan Republic.

Different concepts on the foreign policy of Azerbaijan

In this part of our paper we would try to demonstrate the difference in concepts on the foreign policy in that period – pro-Russian policy of Ayaz Mutallibov and pro-Turkish policy of Abulfaz Elchibey. While the first was keeping the side of CIS and Moscow, the second was on the side of Turkey and Western world.

Mutallibov was the head of Azerbaijan like within USSR and like after its collapse. He continued to promote his pro-Russian policy even after collapse of USSR, though he was not obliged to. He was in position to join the Commonwealth of Independent States. But people were not at the same position with their president. After all of that struggle, when Azerbaijani people were full of enthusiasm, national awareness, emotional rise, they would not agree to join such an organization, as CIS. In people's eyes CIS was seen as the successor of USSR. They wanted full independence.

Following losses on Garabagkh front, especially Khojali tragedy, economic and political crisis and many other factors worsened situation. As a result, president Mutallibov resigned.

Popular Front under Abulfaz Elchibey came to power. It was very difficult period for Azerbaijan. Despite, Elchibey showed that he is supported by absolute majority of people. Later, on referendum, he was elected as the president of Azerbaijan Republic. In elections, he was the only candidate to this highest state post in republic.

As soon, as he came to power, Elchibey began to approve his pro-Turkish policy. He refused to sign CIS Treaty and, in general he was acting very aggressive toward Russia. His negative attitude toward Iran in the question of South Azerbaijan shows another difference in foreign policies of two presidents. Elchibey always criticized nationalistic policy of Iran toward national minorities within its territory. This does not mean that Iran and Azerbaijan did not have good economic and political relations.


This period is one of the greatest periods in our history. We must feel proud when we are talking about the period of national-democratic movement in Azerbaijan (1988-1991). And we must remember all of that: the origin of our nation, who we are, what we loose and what we won.

Copyright © by Parviz Tahirov

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