Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the solemn ceremony dedicated to the 75th anniversary of Baku State University named after Mamed Amin Rasulzade - Republic Palace, November 26, 1994

Ladies and gentlemen, dear teachers, students, distinguished guests! I warmly congratulate all of you, all the people of Azerbaijan on the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Baku State University named after Mamed Amin Rasulzade.

The Azerbaijani people gave the history of mankind major, outstanding, brilliant personalities, works of which have enriched the world of science, have brought people to enlightenment. Enlightenment was the main task of the Azerbaijani thinkers and prominent personalities of our people have had great achievements in this field throughout history. But the enlightment of the Azerbaijani people in a large scale, embarked at the outset of the 20th century. The establishment of the first university in Azerbaijan - Baku State University is a historic milestone. During its 75-year history Baku State University contributed to Azerbaijani people, to Azerbaijan Republic and to the achievement of Azerbaijan's current high level.

Baku State University is the national heritage of the Azerbaijani people, national pride of Azerbaijan Republic, and its 75-year anniversary is a great holiday for all the Azerbaijani people.

Azerbaijan Democratic Republic contributed to the establishment of the Baku State University. At the same time, the establishment of the first university in Azerbaijan at the outset of the 20th century was a logical outcome of historical processes under way at that time. Within 75 years the university has had an effect on all spheres of life in Azerbaijan, and also participated in the development of all events. Eighty thousand people, Azerbaijanis, young people received higher education, served and do serve their people, their land and nation.

Much has been told about the merits of Baku State University. I would like to note that the merits of Baku State University in the development of higher education, general education, science, culture, economy are invaluable. 75 year old history of the university is a history of science, culture and education of Azerbaijan Republic. The contribution of Baku State University in the development of higher education in our country should be notably mentioned. Today, Azerbaijan is a country of great higher education. Our people are literate. Over these 75 years much has been done in educating our people, and moreover in establishing and developing education. Establishment of new and emerging educational institutions - universities, high schools laid the foundation of the great potential for higher education of independent Republic of Azerbaijan. If during the past 75 years, this work was not done, now independent Republic of Azerbaijan could not be proud of its great scientific, cultural and intellectual potential.

Azerbaijani science is in the line of the advanced sciences of the world. The role of Baku State University in its development is invaluable. Since its establishment Baku State University became the center for developing science in Azerbaijan. Most of research institutes, set up in Azerbaijan in later periods took their origin from Baku State University. It is not accidentally that the establishment of the first State National Academy in Azerbaijan in 1945 was realized by the activities of scholars educated in Baku State University and other institutions based on it. So when we speak of Baku State University, we think of the Azerbaijani science, education, culture, and literacy of our people.

During 75 years many generations of teachers and professors worked at Baku State University who developed our high school, higher education, science and had great merits. So today, on this anniversary day, we remember with great respect those who laid the foundation of Baku State University and had merits in the development of this university during 75 years. On behalf of the Azerbaijani state, I express my gratitude and appreciation to all those who worked and had merits at Baku State University.

When Baku State University was established, Azerbaijan had little or nearly no national staff. So, it was no accident that for the organization of Baku State University, the first national Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan invited Russian scientists, and through their work Baku State University was founded. The first rector of Baku State University was Razumovsky, after him - Davidenko, and then - Gulyaev. But in 1926 our compatriot, famous personality Tagi Shahbazi was appointed the rector of Baku State University.

Most of the students enrolled Baku State University during its establishment were not Azerbaijanis. But in subsequent periods Azerbaijani youth have become literate, received university education. Today it was noted that 90 percent of the students of the university are Azerbaijanis. It means Baku State University has passed a challenging historical path. The people who established it and those who developed the university in later years had a great contribution to the Azerbaijani people and Azerbaijan Republic. Therefore, we should highly appreciate the work of all those who committed to the university during the past 75 years.

University professors and students have conducted scientific conferences, reviewed the history of the university. Thus I want to raise a few points. Along with all the other merits of Baku State University, its contributions to the development of the native language of Azerbaijan people should be particularly noted. The majority of university professors were not Azerbaijanis when it was established. But in later stages the university did great work for the development and promotion of the native language of our people in Azerbaijan. Today, as an independent state, free people we are proud of our mother tongue, Azerbaijani language. But if we look at the past we can see that our literary, cultural and rich language, which is in a high cultural level, having a very wide vocabulary has not always been so. There were people who laid the scientific foundations of our language and developed it. This is the greatest national wealth of independent Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani people. Each nation appears with its tongue. But to ensure the language to develop and attain the level of world culture is only possible thanks to scholars and intelligent people. From this perspective, the activities of Baku State University should be highly emphasized.

Key departments of Baku State University are History, Philology and Philosophy, that is, Humanities occupy a special place in the development of the Azerbaijani language and Azerbaijani science. Indeed, other branches of science also have merits in the development of a scientific, intellectual and economic potential of Azerbaijan. But the development of this science is of particular importance, and the work accomplished at Baku State University for 75 years is commendable.

Much was done for the development of national consciousness, national spirit of the Azerbaijani people in the classrooms, training rooms, chairs of Baku State University. Today, I emphasize it especially, because scientists, teachers who develop their language, write their history, develop it, a scientist who displays it, explores their spirituality, analyzes it, gives it scientific character, a scientist who brings his people to a high level - all of them serve to the development , advance of his people, nation, national consciousness, national spirit, the spirit of patriotism. The emergence and development of national liberation movement, the protection of our history from provocation and distortion, proving that for centuries our people have had a great history, great culture, great spirituality - it was all done by our scientists, teachers, people working in areas of higher education in the 20th century. The merits of Baku State University are enormous in this area, and today I consider it is necessary to mention about it particularly.

This year we celebrate the 500th anniversary of our great poet Mohammad Fizuli. We are proud that 500 years ago Fuzuli wrote his works in his native language. At the same time we should not forget that at the beginning and in the mid of this century there were many writers who wrote in our native language. Those who wished to enrich their native language, the Azerbaijani language were courages people. Many of them worked at Baku State University.

The anniversaries of Baku State University were remembered here. I am very happy that I am a graduate of Baku State University. At the same time I am happy that I was a participant of the 50th and 60th anniversary of Baku State University. Now I am a participiant of the 75th anniversary of the University. I remember, at the 50th anniversary of the University, of course, I spoke in the native Azerbaijani language. It was a great sensation, suprising - the Head of the Republic speaks in the Azerbaijani language, and speaks it well. Some congratulated me on this event, expressing their gratitude. People who love their language, living with national spirit, indeed, accepted it as a great event. I told them there is nothing unusual, you should not wonder, it is my native language and speaking in the native language is not a feat. But not knowing the native language, not appreciating it is a disgrace before people.

I remember those years. At that time, in 1968, I was the Chairman of the Committee for State Security in our republic. Several scientists of the university, exploring the history of Azerbaijan, having joined the debate on the accession of Azerbaijan to Russia, argued that it joined voluntarily; others pounted out that it was simply an association, while others felt it was forced adherence. That time it was greatly exaggerated. Undoubtedly, scholars should verify all versions during the scientific research. But the general perception was that Azerbaijan voluntarily became part of Russia which is far from historical truth. But this was so, and this event was celebrated as a holiday. Several scientists then exposed this question and expressed their views. This has led to great excitement. They were blamed that they were nationalists, or have other thoughts on the matter that are not in conformity with public opinion and position, etc. However, because of this, some people were lightly punished. But I know that these people work today, and after that event also acted well.

Why do I remember this? I want to remind that the university has been a source, a fireplace, looking for the truth, developing a national spirit. I reiterate that most people who fought for the independence of Azerbaijan, national freedom, studied and worked here, and are still working at the university. Therefore I underline the merits of Baku State University in the development of the Azerbaijani language, national spirit and national consciousness, promotion of a spirit of patriotism today in the independent state of Azerbaijan, and I express my respect and esteem to such people for their commitment.

75 year old history had a variety of stages. Each of these 75 years is dear to us. In the past, when we wrote our story, we were inclined to one direction and then in another. And now, in the independent Republic of Azerbaijan, being masters of our country and our destiny, pursuing an independent policy, it is necessary that our history be written correctly, fairly and objectively. The 50th and 60th anniversaries of the university were celebrated. But, unfortunately, 70th anniversary was not celebrated for some reasons. This has been forgotten. It is 75th anniversary now. Now there is an excellent situation to write this 75 year old history truthfully. But it is not only the history of the university; it is also the history of the Azerbaijani people, the history of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the history of the Azerbaijani science, education and culture. Therefore, it can not be distorted.

It was distorted in the past, so has been in the recent times. In the past, during the Soviet period, all the historians, while writing a common history, including the history of the university, tried to write everything on the basis of Marxism-Leninism ideology, and distorted the truth, but two or three years ago, when our country began a new period, some people argue that everything in Azerbaijan from 1920 to 1992 means nothing. History starts now. Such attitude is unacceptable! Every day of the people must find its place in history. Every moment, every day in our history, whatever it is, is dear to us.

Two or three years ago, when I heard that some politicians spoke, as if the period from Nariman Narimanov to present is not the history, I was horrified. We can not allow this injustice. If Baku State University was founded in 1919, during the first democratic republic, then through the activities of Nariman Narimanov and similar great figures it has reached the present level. Imagine if there was not such period, could there be amazing figures and information about the achievements of the University for 75 years, which are told by Professor Murtuz Aleskerov and other speakers? It could not be! Again, let us see what a great service, great importance this period had in the education of Azerbaijan, in the enlightment of the Azerbaijani people, in the development of our science, and reaching of the Azerbaijani language to the current high level. It can not be removed or forgotten. Those who want to do this are enemies of their own history.

In the 50th anniversary, the University was awarded the highest award of the Soviet Union - the Order of Red Banner of Labor. It is history and this history can not be changed. Azerbaijan State University received one of the highest awards of the time for its 50 year activity. In subsequent periods Baku State University was awarded the new higher ranks and awards. All of them indicates history; none of them can be changed. Everything should be treated respectfully. Threfore, the history of the Azerbaijani people, Azerbaijan Republic, including its science and education, and history in the 20th century is a worthy of great respect. We have to mention every page, each page of the story respectfully, to bow before all the people who founded the Republic of Azerbaijan, provided its existence and brought its science and education to this level.

In the past, when our country did not enjoy close relations with foreign countries, we used to think that science and higher education in other countries, are much higher than ours. Undoubtedly, there are universities in the world with 800-900-year old history, the universities of Europe, East universities, universities of Russia; there are universities with a 100-year old history. There is no doubt that they have a high level. But now we have opened up the world, the scientists, teachers, professors of our universities have gone to different countries of the world. Now they teach in many countries, conduct scientific work. It became clear that successes achieved in the Azerbaijani science, education during this period, are not lower, and in some cases even higher. If it were not so, could the scientists, researchers from Baku State University, other universities, from research institutes work at a high level in other countries? All this is the gain of 75year old history. Therefore, we must appreciate it.

In short, 75 year old path is an honourable and glorious way. I congratulate you once again. 75th anniversary of the University is a great holiday of the Azerbaijani people.

But every anniversary invites us not to look back but to think of the challenges we might face. Challenges are great. Our country is going through a transition period. Reforms are underway in all spheres, including the fields of training and education. They are necessary, but at the same time, these reforms, particularly reforms in the sphere of science, should be meaningful, thoughtful, and not for the sake of reforms, for the sake of fashion. Not in order to change the name, just change the shape, but solely in order to improve the level of education and the effectiveness of science. All reforms must be implemented in that direction, must pursue this goal, and eventually we must achieve it. I tell you my desires and I think you share my views; you will go exactly this way and won't make mistakes.

University, high schools belong to the young. There are 1200 teachers and professors and 12,000 students at Baku State University. Teachers are for the students; to provide them education, to prepare them for life, to give them a good education is the honorable duty of teachers. During 75 years, despite all difficulties, all the negative things in our lives, University performed this task honorably. The vast majority of people, who graduated from Baku State University, are people who develop the modern Azerbaijan. But today the young need more concern and more attention. Therefore, on this festive day, I appeal to the young, moreover, not only to the students of Baku State University, but the entire Azerbaijani youth.

Independent Azerbaijan exists for three years. There is a long way ahead. We must pass this difficult way. That is why today, at the 75th anniversary of the university, I want to express my confidence that the young of Azerbaijan will remain devoted to the customs and traditions of their fathers and grandfathers, the path they traversed, and they will prepare themselves to serve to the independent Azerbaijan at universities, other educational institutions, workplaces and successfully bear forward the tricolor flag of Azerbaijan.

Part of our youth is in the army. Some of the graduates of your university, all other high schools fought in the battle, became martyrs for the defence of our lands. Now some young people serve in the army, guard our lands, and protect our independence, territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. They protect Azerbaijan from Armenian agressors. They are in the front, in the army, wearing military uniforms, carrying arms. The people of Azerbaijan count on them, that is, on our army, on the young serving in the National Army. Our people live with the hope that young people serving in the National Army of Azerbaijan will vigorously defend our lands, will guard the borders of Azerbaijan, and will defend the sovereignty of our country. They will serve the Republic of Azerbaijan to live as an independent state. I can assure you that the vast majority of the young people serving in the National Army live and serve with that mindset, the spirit of patriotism, the spirit of courage and heroism. Therefore, on this day, on youth day, a holiday of the University - is a holiday of youth, I congratulate all the graduates serving in the army, graduates of all universities, convey greetings to all youth in the army, express respect and esteem on your, and especially on my own behalf. I want to express my confidence that they will continue to guard the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan bravely.

The challenges before us are to prepare and educate young people well. Professors, teachers must continue to perform these tasks with honor as they did hitherto. Obviously we all have one trouble; our country is in difficult situation. Part of our lands is occupied, there is more than one million refugees, social and economic situation of the republic becomes more difficult, we are in crisis, the crisis deepenes, the level of people's lives get worse. All this are the characteristic signs of our time, a phenomenon arising from the objective reasons. In such circumstances, teachers and professors, and other representatives of our intelligensia, working at universities are experiencing a difficult period. Life has become more difficult. Sometimes there are no appropriate conditions for working well. All these are the realities of our life.

However, I think, like our people, our intellectuals, our scientists; teachers are also very patient, very persistent. Knowing all these difficulties and worring about them, I appeal to our intellectuals, teachers: do not reduce your attention to the training and education of our youth. On the contrary, attention and care should be more focused in such circumstances. I am confident that the vast majority of our teachers, intellectuals share this view, live and fulfill their responsibilities despite all these difficulties.
Today, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the University, encountered all these problems, we all have to live with an optimistic attitude. Facing these difficulties, at the same time, we must realize that we have achieved national freedom and independence. The people of Azerbaijan are already a master of their destiny. Azerbaijan is an independent state. The Republic of Azerbaijan holds a prominent place in the world community as an independent state. It is able to speak up in the world; it is able to decide its fate itself. All these are the great achievements of our people, our time, and in the name of these achievements, we must endure all the difficulties and be optimistic about the future. We must try to eliminate these difficulties soon. As a master of its territory, independent Azerbaijan must reach all its goals and we must prepare all new contributions for future generations.

I am confident that we will achieve all this. I believe that our scholars and teachers live with the same feelings, and I am sure these feelings will further strengthen us, make us even closer, and together we will achieve a happy future of independent Azerbaijan.

I congratulate you on this holiday once again. I congratulate the Azerbaijani people on the occasion of their science and culture. I wish all of you, all intellectuals, all teachers, many millions of young people of Azerbaijan happiness and prosperity.

Long live Baku State University!

Long live science, long live culture, long live education!

Long live the independent Republic of Azerbaijan!

Thank you.

"Azerbaijan" newspaper, November 27, 1994