Azerbaijan, a country located at the crossroads of various civilizations in the Caucasus region, is famous for its atmosphere of national cultural diversity, where representatives of various nationalities and faiths live in the atmosphere of peace and welfare, mutual understanding and dialogue.
The tolerance historically inherent in the life of Azerbaijanis is an integral feature of everyday life of each citizen of the Azerbaijani state, irrespective of national identity, language and religion.
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.
During the period of the Sefevids’ state and during the era of enlightenment of the 19th and 20th centuries, and in the period of the Democratic Republic in the territory of Azerbaijan, along with Azerbaijanis, various representatives of other ethnic and religious groups were also living and prospering together.
At the end of the 20th century this political behavior 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.
Azerbaijan today is known as a multinational and multi-religious country, which provides space of global intercultural dialogue. Azerbaijan’s state policy aims to preserve these cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversities. The strengthening of its multiculturalism also promotes the unique success achieved in the Azerbaijani society.
“Azerbaijan is one of the rare countries were all ethnic groups lives in unity. We also don’t divide Muslims based on Suni or Shia, which is also rare. The Suni and the Shia pray together in our mosques.” Baku-based civil activist Orkhan Sharif tells Conflict & War Report.
The political line pursued under late Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev’s leadership in the sphere of preserving multicultural traditions of the Azerbaijani people is continued and developed by current President Ilham Aliyev.
Four years ago, 2016 was declared the Year of multiculturalism in the country. Two years before that, in 2014, Azerbaijan set up an international center for multiculturalism in order to promote the values of multiculturalism. However, these values were also recognized much earlier, as in 2008 Azerbaijan launched the “Baku process” on the theme of “Intercultural dialogue as a basis for peace and sustainable development in Europe and its neighboring regions”.