In relation to the protection of the rights and freedoms of national minorities, minority peoples and ethnic groups living in the Republic of Azerbaijan, state support for the development of language and culture laid the foundation for independent state policy concerning national minorities. It took shape in various laws, strategies, and projects dedicated to preserving and developing the cultural, linguistic and religious identity of national minorities and ethnic groups. At the centre of national policy in this field are: observance of national traditions and customs; freedom to perform religious ceremonies and rites; preservation and use of places of worship; free development of national artisanship, professionalism and amateur creativity and folk arts of ethnic minorities; and protection of historical and cultural monuments of all nations.
According to the Constitution (1995), “The Azerbaijani language is the state language of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the state provides development of the Azerbaijani language. The Republic of Azerbaijan ensures free use and development of other languages spoken by the population (Article 21).”
The Republic of Azerbaijan is a state party of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities since June 16, 2000.
On June 18, 2001, the President signed theLaw on the Improvement of the Use of the State Language. It points out the need for the comprehensive use of the state language and the general use of Latin script. The Law on the State Language of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which came into force in January 2003, prescribes using protection and development measures for the state language. There are no official language quotas in the mass media. Russian is considered to be the second most important language and is widely used in most large cities.
1 503 754 students study in the state language – Azerbaijani. Education is conducted in Azerbaijani in 4 073 (91.96%) schools; in Russian in 17 (0.38%) schools; and Georgian in 6 (0.14%) schools. 0.2% of students study in other languages (English, Turkish, French). Education in 305 (7%) schools is carried out in Azerbaijani-Russian; in 12 (0.7%) schools is carried out in Azerbaijani-Russian-English; in three (0.07%) schools is carried out in Azerbaijani-Georgian; and in one (0.02%) school is carried out in Azerbaijani-Russian-Georgian.
The study of minority languages is envisaged in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Therefore, minority languages such as Lezgi, Talysh, Hebrew, Avar, Sahur, Udin, Kurdish, and Khinalig are taught in secondary schools in some country regions. For example, the Lezgi language is taught in 95 schools, the Talysh language in 254 schools, the Avar language in 19 schools, the Sahur language in 3 schools, the Udin language in 3 schools, and the Kurdish, Khinalig, and Hebrew languages in 1 school each. In total, 29 942 students belonging to national minorities learn their native language in schools.
The Department of National Minorities was established in 2012 in the Institute of Folklore of the Academy of Sciences. The department’s primary purpose is to collect, systematize, and conduct research on the folklore of minorities.