Hajiyeva Yegana Aziz gizi *
The history of Azerbaijani emigration is a specific history and cannot be compared with emigration of any peoples. It should be taken into account that this migration is the emigration of the people divided into two parts in the XIX century, that lived under the oppression of two separate and very different empires, affected by very different political systems and ideologies, being in the epicenter of intense socio-political cataclysms, socio-cultural disasters, numerous revolutions and coup d’états in the last 200 years.
If to consider the issue in the light of the causes, waves and social conditions of emigration in the XX century, then three major periods of the South Azerbaijanis’ emigration is clearly ovserved: 1) the wave of 20-30s of the XX century; 2) the wave that began after World War II and lasted until the 1979 year Islamic revolution in Iran; 3) the wave after the revolution.
The third stage – the main object of the researched issue is the highest peak of political emigration of Southern Azerbaijanis. The most characteristic feature of this stage is the leading and more vivid role of the political motivation and the multitude passionate forces.
So far, there was an idea that, first Azerbaijan national organizations in abroad was established in Baku, in 1988 under the influence of Meydan (Square) movement (1, p.9). First Azerbaijani organizations in Europe were established long before the national-liberation movement in Northern Azerbaijan – still in the early 80s by the Southern emigrants. Center of the afore-stated process was Germany. And it was not groundless. Germany is a country in Europe where a large number of Southern Azerbaijanis live and where the Southern Azerbaijani Diaspora has the most powerful national activities. A few factors are of importance here. First is the afore-mentioned numerical factor. Second factors are the traditions and experience. Iranian emigrants in this country were active and organized since the 30s of the XX century. Third factor is the open or covert sympathy of the German government as a state having experience of a divided country to this type of initiatives of Azerbaijanis who are the representatives of the divided people. While speaking about the second factor, we can say that there were organizations in Germany in the 70s established by Southern emigrants, seemingly under the veil of the left views, but in a purely national context.
In the organization of Southern emigrants abroad, the most powerful stage starts after the 1983-1984 years. This period was the era of mass organization, which had a specific reason.
It should be taken into account that it was a politically well-prepared passionate force that had passed through the experience of public struggle and revolution. They brought to emigration, not only the quantity but also the quality – a new breath and dynamics, a method of different approach to national issue. This caused a significant acceleration of organization around the national idea.
The “Cultural center of Azerbaijanis” is a so comprehensive and powerful organization that it has been able to gather all European emigrants around it. In 1987, organization called “Azerbaijan House” founded on the initiative of Azerbaijanis in U.S [3, p.4] was officially registered in the United States and was considered as the center of Azerbaijan societies.
Under the influence of Meydan (Square) movement in Northern Azerbaijan in 1988, this process had been rather deepened. Since then has been observed the vertical dependence of Southern emigrants from the socio-political situation in Northern Azerbaijan and their organization under the influence of these events.
In July 1988, the “Committee of Azerbaijanis” was founded in London. In 1988, the Cultural Center of Azerbaijan founded in Montreal city of Canada, Association of Azerbaijani Communities which began to operate in Ontario (Canada) were actively involved in uniting Azerbaijanis living there, in promotion of cultural events and information . In February 1989, “Azerbaijan cultural center” was established in Washington . In 1989, Azerbaijan Culture Center was instituted in Norway.
Important step taken in the framework of the cultural events was the establishment of the World Union of Azerbaijan Turkish Societies on the bases of the resolution adopted unanimously by First International Congress of Azerbaijan Turkish Societies (November 3-6, 1990, Istanbul). The situation in Southern Azerbaijan was widely elucidated in the event, and in order to facilitate relations with Azerbaijanis living in different countries was put forward the idea ofcreating a single alphabet [5, p.3].
In that period on the whole, more than 120 new national cultural centers and solidarity societies were formed in European and American countries. Though after a short time nearly half of them stopped their work, this fact also gives some idea about the scale of the organization.
The next phase of the organization is characterized by increasing trend to unite organizations with various directions and potential around a common center. The issue concerning the cooperation and collaboration between the Azerbaijani national and cultural centers in Europe had been raised several times at different times and levels.
From June 27 to 29, 1997, Azerbaijanis mainly from the South living in America, come together for the first time, demonstrated a high level of unity and conducted national event – the World Azerbaijanis Congress [6, p.23]. The establishment of the WAC had two major importances. First, national interests of the Southerners in emigration showed once again that coming together around the idea of Azerbaijanism is possible and useful to exchange ideas, even to unite organizationally from the theoretical and practical point of view. Secondly, it increased their self-confidence, having become one of the next periods in the elimination of communication problems between these forces, the ideological-political and moral-psychological barriers opened great opportunities for cooperation, became the next positive step in the development of the positions, outlooks of different groups [1, p.4].
These initiatives were consistently continued then. These forums where the Southern emigrants are gathered nearly every year should be considered beneficial and successful even if the issues are approached from point of view of minimal effects. New trends that are incentive in its organization clearly showed that more progressive and patriot layer of the Azerbaijani Diaspora is on the way to broader socio-political activity. One of the positive sides of the issue here is that Azerbaijanis representing the various layers, Northern and Southern ones, as well as Turkish Azerbaijanis that are carriers of different views, taking part in the work of Congress exchanged views on topical issues actually equal for all of them. Also, for the first time the idea of the need to strengthen large-scale social and political, as well as the lobbying activities for the sake of rights and rooted national interests of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis’ was emphasized openly and clearly in the congress. Such a sharp turn for the better was the indicator of the rise of national consciousness of Azerbaijanis in emigration. All this suggests saying that, the issue of Azerbaijanism is not on the level of just the long-established elementary problem of national and cultural rights of the South as it was before, but it started to be a global, a problem of national and political interests.
WAC should be noted that on the eve of its VII congress the body was divided into two parts: World Azerbaijanis Congress and the Democratic Congress of World Azerbaijanis [7, p.4].
It was difficult to gather most of the progressive Southern Azerbaijanis around the whole idea, to draw them to a concrete practical work on the line. Many factors played a decisive role here. Just to say in short, that weakening of the activity of a number of progressive national institutions in Europe occurred due to the intensification of the struggle for leadership.
Thus, if slight differences arising from the features of local conditions and environment in Europe and the United States are not taken into account, there are no principle differences between the organizations and large communities emerging here. All forces share the unanimous opinion and the same position in one issue.
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- Tahirli A. “Azərbaycan Mədəniyyət Mərkəzinin Birinci Beynəlxalq Qurultayı”, “Odlar Yurdu” qəzeti, noyabr 1990
- Kazımoğlu K. “Dirçəliş məqamı” “Azadlıq” qəzeti, 2.7.1997
- “Müsavat” qəzeti, 6.6.2003
*Hajiyeva Yegana Aziz gizi, Senior researcher, Z.M.Bunyadov Institute of Oriental Studies