On April 1, 2011 CNIS held a conference on “National Identity and Politics: Dilemmas of Azerbaijan and Turkey”. Leyla Aliyeva, president of the Center of National and International Studies and political analyst opened the conference and emphasized that national identity in Azerbaijan was shaped in the early 20th century, during the existence of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and was formed from the fusion of European and national ideology.
Dr. Jamil Hasanli, a professor of the Baku State University told about the formation of the Azerbaijani state and national political identity in the 19-20 centuries. The idea of identity occurred in Azerbaijan in the mid 19th century. “The idea of identity occurred in Azerbaijan in the mid 19 Th century. Then that began the transition from the Islamic community to the Azeri-Turkic community. This trend is could be observed in the writings and activities of prominent scientists and thinkers Abbasgulu Aga Bakikhanov, Mirza Fatali Akhundov and Hasan Bey Zardabi. Realizing that without the national press Azerbaijanis will face backwardness and isolation from the world culture, Hasan bey Zardabi founded the first Azerbaijani newspaper “Ekinchi” in 1875. He also supported the establishment of secular education because of restricted knowledge got in the madrassa” , said Hasanli.
“Today, the geography of search for the national identity is limited by Baku only, while we should not forget about Ganja, the first capital of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic”, stressed Mr. Jamil Hasanli.
Dr. Ilhan Uzgel, a professor of Ankara University told that Ataturk created a secular Turkish state which meets the requirements of Turkish intellectuals who supported the adoption of Western modernism and rationalism.
Common national identity throughout the 20-th century was resisted by the Islamic and ethnic identity in the face of Kurdish nationalism, and socialist oriented ideological identity.
However, in early 1990 the situation changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, because the attractiveness of socialist ideas decreased, but the Islamists strengthened. This trend intensified particularly after the party of Justice and Development has come to power. The priority of Erdogan’s party is to return to the Ottoman identity. His supporters believe that the Turkey has focused on the model of Ataturk Turkey, but the progress of the country requires restoration of good relations with its former suburbs of the Ottoman Empire. It explains active policy of Erdogan government in the Middle East.
Dr. Ali Abbasov, a professor and well-known philosopher , stated that Azerbaijan can have different socio-cultural models of the state. One of them can be based on a triune formula of the founders of APP “Turkization, Islamization, modernization.” Another variant could be a model of many Western states, based on the political unity of the citizens, instead of unity on the basis of an ethnic community, the expert said.