Possible name change for Azerbaijan? Comment
Possible name change for Azerbaijan
During debates at a plenary session of the Milli Majlis, deputy Gudrat Hasanguliyev proposed to change the name of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the “Republic of Northern Azerbaijan”. According to him, the whole world should know that “200 years ago, Azerbaijani lands were occupied by the Iranian state.” This proposal caused heated discussions among politicians, experts and users of social networks.
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Hasanguliyev suggested changing the name of the country:
“I think that we should develop a new Constitution. The first step is to change the name of the country. Our country should be called Northern Azerbaijan.
The whole world should know that 200 years ago the Azerbaijani lands were occupied by the Iranian state. As there are South and North Korea, we should be the same.
200 years ago Azerbaijan was divided between two empires. This step would also be an incentive for southern Azerbaijanis.”
“Not a new topic”
According to journalist Gazanfar Hamidoglu, the proposal to change the name of the Republic of Azerbaijan to “Northern Azerbaijan” is not new; every three or four years this issue reappears on the socio-political agenda of the country.
“As soon as relations with Iran become tense, or there is some kind of excess in South Azerbaijan, or in order to divert the attention of the public in Azerbaijan from much more important issues, a controversy begins around changing the name of the country,” he says.
The journalist recalls that exactly ten years ago, in February 2012, a similar proposal was made in Parliament:
“The former deputy executive secretary of the ruling party, deputy Siyavush Novruzov, supported this proposal: ‘There are the examples of northern and southern Korea, northern and southern Cyprus. It would be appropriate to call our country Northern Azerbaijan, because it was forcibly divided’.
Usually, those who propose to rename the state argue that “our country also has a southern part,” and the international community should be aware of this.
In view of tense relations between Iran and Azerbaijan, even rather daring initiatives that may trouble Tehran are feasible. But the name of Azerbaijan is a serious socio-political and legal, international issue, and if there are national and geopolitical needs for such a step, the arguments should be very reasonable.
Arguments like bringing the existence of the problem of South Azerbaijan to the attention of the world community, or invoking southern Azerbaijanis cannot be considered serious, because this could all be done while remaining the Republic of Azerbaijan.”
Hamidoglu also considers the examples given by the authors of the proposals unsuccessful:
“Regarding international practice in this matter, the epithet “northern” is not successful and creates an erroneous association and generally almost does not exist officially. For example, South and North Korea are not the official names of these countries. There is the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In reality, although there are two Cypruses, the UN recognizes only the Greek Cyprus, i.e. Republic of Cyprus, and does not recognize the Turkish Northern Republic of Cyprus. Ireland is also divided into two parts — the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.
“We need to change not the name of Azerbaijan, but its image”
Opposition activist and former political prisoner Ilham Hussein is unambiguously against the MP’s proposal:
“They still do not understand that it is necessary to change not the name of Azerbaijan, but its image. It is necessary to wash the stain of corruption and lack of rights off from the name of the country. It is necessary to wash off the “tattoo” of authoritarianism and paint a portrait of democracy.
Otherwise, even if you surround the name of Azerbaijan with the word “northern” from four sides, nothing will change. While applauding that the country is turning into North Korea, how “brave” do you have to be to propose changing its name to North Azerbaijan?”
“I think it’s right if the country continues to be called the Republic of Azerbaijan”
Turkologist Faik Alekperli also considers it wrong to add the word “northern” to the official name of Azerbaijan. According to him, the name of the Republic of Azerbaijan, founded in 1918, already carried a message to unite all parts of the country:
“During that period, the nationalist forces that seized the power of the Qajars in Iran could not accept the very expression Azerbaijan. They suggested calling the new state Northern Azerbaijan. It was believed that the Republic of Azerbaijan, without any epithets, could eventually encroach on Tabriz and other territories where Azerbaijanis live. The word “Azerbaijan” refers to both northern and southern Azerbaijanis. And the expression “Northern Azerbaijan” limits the Azerbaijanis from a geographical point of view.
And our compatriots living in South Azerbaijan, if they ever create their own state, can call it “southern”. This is a completely different question. But today it is expedient to keep the name of the Republic of Azerbaijan. This creates conditions for southern Azerbaijanis to consider themselves part of our country and reunite with it in the future.”
Possible name change for Azerbaijan