2. Current cultural affairs
Last update: October, 2021
At present, cultural-political reforms starting with developing the draft Culture Strategy of the Republic of Azerbaijan for the period up to 2030 are planned and being carried out by the new leadership of the Ministry of Culture. This Culture Strategy was drafted to develop Azerbaijani culture, protecting it from internal and external threats, its worthy representation in world culture, ensuring cultural rights and freedoms. Proceeding from the Azerbaijan 2030: National Priorities for Socio-Economic Development (2021), the Culture Strategy envisages implementing the Concept of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan (2014) at the current historical stage. The legal basis of the Culture Strategy is the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan (1995), the Law on Culture (2012), international conventions, agreements and other relevant normative legal acts to which the Republic of Azerbaijan is a party.
The drafting of the Culture Strategy is based on:
- The Constitutional Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan "On Normative Legal Acts"(2010),
- The Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan"On Public Participation" (2013),
- The "Regulations on the Procedure for Preparation and Adoption of Normative Legal Acts of Executive Authorities" (2002), and
- The "Rules for the Preparation, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation of State Programmes" (2021).
The Culture Strategy launches reforms arising from the internal needs of culture, taking into account international experience and social order. The strategy defines modernisation of organisational tools applied in such sub-areas of cultural activity as immovable cultural heritage (including historical and cultural monuments and parks, movable cultural treasures (including museum exhibits), intangible cultural heritage (including folk creativity), professional art (theatre, music, fine arts, and choreography), book circulation, cinematography and creative industries as a strategic goal. Simultaneously, the strategy mandates improvements in the legal, administrative, financial, information, personnel, infrastructural and international support mechanisms of national cultural policy to resolve challenges cultural policymakers face in developing new priorities.
Based on a description of global and regional trends, challenges and threats, analysis of the current situation in the sub-sectors (structure, functions, organisations, employees and brief information on the work done), the Culture Strategy for 2030 lists five priority areas:
- "Protection of cultural heritage and its transmission to future generations",
- "Development of man and society",
- "Support for cultural and creative industries",
- "International promotion of Azerbaijani culture", and
- "The return of сulture to Karabakh, the return of Karabakh to сulture".
In connection with the issues raised: the main reasons for prioritising the relevant areas are identified, existing problems and shortcomings are revealed, measures are proposed, expected results and outcome indicators are determined, and possible risks and steps to neutralise them are reviewed.
The Strategy prescribes preparing and implementing strategic planning documents in priority areas, legislative, financing and institutional reforms, optimising human resources and infrastructure units, creating comprehensive databases, et cetera. Public debates are envisaged, and the opinion of professionals will be taken into account during all these procedures.
Last update: October, 2021
Fundamental rights, including cultural rights, in the Republic of Azerbaijan, are defined within the legislative system, consisting of the following normative-legal acts: the Constitution; acts adopted by referendum; laws; decrees; decisions of the Cabinet of Ministers; and normative acts of central executive bodies. In addition, international agreements, to which the Republic of Azerbaijan is a party, are an integral part of the legislative system of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Individual professional or creative groups can also accept their internal ethical rules following their internal statutes.
The Constitution defines the fundamental rights and freedoms that underlie cultural rights and the very foundations of cultural rights. The Constitution indicates cultural rights and freedoms as the rights to intellectual property, to culture, to education, to national identity, to use native language, to protect honour and dignity, and freedoms of thought and speech, of conscience, of information, and of creative activity. At the same time, the Constitution also defines the fundamental duties of citizens. A noteworthy fact is Article 77 of the Constitution, according to which "Protection of historical and cultural monuments" is one of the fundamental duties of a citizen.
The Law on Culture (2012), in more detail, dwells on cultural rights, the definition and regulation of which is devoted to an entire Chapter - 3. ("Main human and civil rights in the field of culture") and such articles as:
- The right to participate in cultural life;
- The right to cultural identity;
- Freedom of creativity;
- The right to cultural activities abroad;
- Property rights in the field of culture;
- Foreign trade in cultural resources;
- The right to entrepreneurship in the field of culture;
- The right to use cultural institutions and cultural property;
- The right to education in the field of culture;
- Non-governmental organisations in the field of culture; and
- Freedom of information in the field of culture.
The law provides that everyone's rights and freedoms in the field of culture in the Republic of Azerbaijan are guided by the principles and norms of international law. Therefore, the state guarantees everyone the right to exercise their rights and freedoms in the field of culture, regardless of gender, race, language, religion and political beliefs, nationality, social status, social origin, health opportunities, and membership of public associations. The state ensures the equality of cultures, rights and freedoms of peoples and national minorities living in the state's territory, equality of peoples and national minorities to preserve their culture, determine their cultural identity, and restore, strengthen, and develop their cultural heritage.
Along with this, cultural rights should not go beyond the Prohibitions in the field of culture established by Articles 43 of the Law on Culture (2012). Therefore, the following actions are not allowed in the area of culture:
- To conduct propaganda that may harm the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, constitutional order, economic, defence, scientific and technical potential and national interests of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
- To hold cultural events aimed at propagating and promoting war, social, racial, national, religious, class and generational superiority;
- To hold cultural events aimed at calling for the promotion and encouragement of violence, pornography and drugs;
- Illegal export of samples of national cultural heritage from the territory of the Azerbaijan Republic;
- Restriction of fundamental human and civil rights and freedoms in the field of culture, regardless of race, nationality, religion, language, social origin, the position of service, beliefs, or affiliation to public associations;
- The use of cultural and natural heritage, incompatible with its historical and artistic purpose;
- Copying of cultural values, their use for tourism, excursion and advertising purposes without the consent of the owner or user;
- Demolition, destruction, fragmentation, reorganisation, relocation and change of appearance of cultural values.
In the context of this paragraph, mention should also be made of the Law on the Rules of Ethical Conduct of Civil Servants (№ 352-IIIQ of May 31, 2007), which explicitly obliges civil servants (including those in the field of culture) to adhere to professional, ethical and cultural behaviour. As an interesting initiative, developing a draft of the Culture of Behaviour Concept has begun by the Ministry for Culture. In the initial stage of this process, a survey is being conducted to study public opinion.
Last update: October, 2021
The Law on Culture (2012) defines a creative person as an individual engaged in creating cultural resources, including pedagogical or research activities in the field of culture. Protection of the rights of creative persons operating in culture, state, private and municipal cultural institutions and ensuring the implementation of creative activities are among the main directions of state policy in culture. The organisation of incentives for cultural workers and creative people for services and contributions to the development of culture are among the duties of the state in the field of culture. Creative persons, legal entities, cultural institutions and non-governmental organisations may be involved in cultural activities. According to Article 24 of the law, "Anyone can engage in professional or amateur creative activities. The state supports creative activity in the Republic of Azerbaijan. The state takes economic measures to develop professional creativity".
The rules of establishment, activity, reorganisation and liquidation of non-governmental organisations as legal entities, their relations with public authorities are determined by the Law On Non-Governmental Organisations (Public Associations and Foundations) (№ 894-IQ of June 13, 2000). The Rules for Preparation, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation of State Programmes (№ 1294 of March 6, 2021) requires that public hearings and discussions must be provided during the preparation of the draft of any state programmes, strategies, national action plans, concepts and other similar documents, including in the field of culture. Furthermore, the Law On Public Participation (№ 816-IVQ of November 22, 2013) prescribes such public hearings and discussions.
According to the current regulatory legal acts, public councils under the central executive bodies, consisting of 5-15 members with experience or knowledge in the relevant field, must be elected by civil society institutions in connection with the involvement of citizens in the implementation of public administration. İn this regard, the Public Council under the Ministry for Culture consists of nine members who were elected recently (13-16 July, 2021), representing different cultural and social non-governmental organisations, such as:
- The Cultural Development Centre Public Union,
- Zirve Culture and Art Public Union,
- Khan Shushinsky Foundation,
- World Union of Young Turkish Writers,
- Social Assistance to Hearing and Speech Impaired Persons Public Union,
- Free Minds Youth Enlightenment Public Union,
- Looking to the Future European Integration Public Union,
- The Union of Disabled Organisations, and
- The Azerbaijan National Non-Governmental Organisations Forum.
A multi-branched system of creative unions continues to function and operate mainly as professional unions and play an essential role in cultural life as well as in strategies to stimulate employment, as well as promoting a better social situation for artists and cultural professionals:
- The Union of Azerbaijan Writers (established on June 13, 1934) is the largest public organisation of Azerbaijani writers, poets and translators. It currently has more than 1 510 members;
- The Union of Azerbaijan Composers (established on June 30, 1934) - unites in its ranks about 200 highly qualified professional composers and musicologists;
- The Union of Azerbaijan Architects (established in1934) - focuses on improving the effectiveness of all types of architectural work, developing architectural and urban planning activities, strengthening international cooperation and developing national culture;
- - The Union of Azerbaijan Artists (established in1940) - public creative organisation of professional artists and art critics;
- The Union of Azerbaijan Theatrical workers (established in1897) – founded in 1897 as the "Union of Actors" is now the most extensive public organisation uniting theatrical figures and stage lovers in Azerbaijan;
- The Union of Azerbaijan Journalists (established in1955) - unites about 3 000 journalists working in more than 1 000 newspapers and magazines, 25 TV and radio companies, 20 news agencies and about 40 publishing houses;
- Union of Azerbaijan Ashıqs (established in 1984) is an independent public organisation aimed at developing and promoting the art of Ashig; et cetera.
Last update: October, 2021
Implementation of new information and communication technologies in the cultural field is one of the main priorities of the national cultural policy in Azerbaijan. Therefore, relevant programmes and projects affect the development of new technologies and digitalisation in Azerbaijan, affecting the arts and culture.
The "E-Government" project was structured following the National Strategy on Information-Communication Technologies for the Development of the Republic of Azerbaijan (2003-2012). With the aim of broader use of information communications technologies (ICT), the project envisages increasing the rationality and optimality of the activity of state agencies, increasing communication among the population, business bodies, and between themselves. In addition, the project is contributing to better citizen-official relations, ensuring transparency and fully meeting the need for information.
The implementation of the Strategic Roadmap for the Development of Telecommunication and Information Technologies in the Republic of Azerbaijan (December 6, 2016), the effective organisation of the formation, storage, maintenance and integration of state information systems and reserves necessitates the creation of a centralised Government Cloud (G-Cloud). The National Data Centre of the Government Cloud is establishing under the concept of the creation of the Government Cloud (G-Cloud), and measures in the field of providing cloud services approved by the Decree of the President (June 3, 2019) and the Transition Plan developed based on the Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers (October 29, 2020). Implementing the Government Cloud project will enable government agencies (including the Ministry for Culture) to reduce their IT infrastructure costs by 25-30%.
Different projects accelerate international IT integration and create new virtual opportunities like e-government, e-trade, etc. The Project Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM) is a project of regional importance, with the aim of laying a transnational fibre-optic line covering the countries of Eurasia from Western Europe to Eastern Asia. The project envisages the creation of a significant transit link from Frankfurt to Hong Kong. The transit line will stretch through China, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to Germany.
The strategy for digitisation of the arts and culture, implemented by the Ministry for Culture, is carried out at three levels:
- Static (content assistance in the creation of databases and registers),
- Dynamic (organisational assistance in the creation of portals and sites) and
- Interactive (representation of institutions and areas of culture and art in global social networks).
The "State Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Azerbaijan" (http://intangible.az) includes:
- A list of more than 5 000 intangible cultural heritage samples.
- A database of more than 850 intangible cultural heritage samples.
- Information on 180 intangible cultural heritage carriers and 68 institutions and organisations.
It was created by the Ministry for Culture in close cooperation with the Institute of Folklore, the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, the Institute of Architecture and Art of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, related public associations and non-governmental organisations, and individual researchers.
The Ministry for Culture created the "Permanent protection portal of museum property" (https://museums.com.az/) to strengthen control over movable cultural values of the country preserved in the state museums. The portal is provided for official use only.
A database covering various fields of national art and creativity of prominent musicians has been created by the scientific-pedagogical, critical-publicist and cultural-educational music magazine "Musiqi Dunyasi", with the support of the Union of Composers Azerbaijan and Baku Academy of Music.
The state agencies’ virtual resources in the field of culture are mainly the portals of the Ministry for Culture, the State Service for Protection, Development and Restoration of Cultural Heritage, the Scientific-Methodical and Professional Development Center and the Baku Main Department of Culture. The cultural sectors on which digitisation has the most impact in the country are museums, monuments, libraries, cinema, creative industries, and so on, selectively presented by portals of:
- Gobustan National Historical-Artistic Preserve;
- Azerbaijan National Museum of Art, Museum Centre, Internet guide on Azerbaijani museums;
- Azerbaijan National Library;
- Azerbaijan film studio named after Jafar Jabbarli, Azerbaijan State Film Fund;
- "Creative Azerbaijan",
- -Children's music and art schools; etcetera.
Last update: October, 2021
The multinational and multi-confessional nature of the Azerbaijan population is an essential aspect of intercultural dialogue, one of the national cultural policy priorities. The fundamental spirit of the national policy derives from the Constitution (1995), which ensures all citizens equality, regardless of ethnic or racial origin. The Law on Joining the International Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (№ 95-IQ of May 31, 1996) has found its reflex in the Law on Culture (№ 506-IVQ of December 21, 2012) and other relevant laws. On 16 June 2001, Azerbaijan joined the Framework Convention of the Council of Europe for the Protection of National Minorities. The leading public actor responsible for implementing the programmes and policies to promote intercultural dialogue in Azerbaijan, at national and local policy levels, is the Ministry for Culture, which closely cooperates with other state bodies, depending on the matter under consideration.
The Ministry for Culture has implemented the project "Cultural Diversity in Azerbaijan", which was designed to highlight the country's ethnic and cultural diversity. It involved the cultural associations of the various national minorities and helped realise one of its chief strategic aims – developing and supporting intercultural dialogue. Another significant event, traditional festivals - "Azerbaijan – my motherland", was organised by the Ministry for Culture in November 2006, October 2008, November 2011, June 2014, and June 2016. Scientific conferences, photo exhibitions and preliminary concert performances and gala concerts, held in the framework of the festivals, attracted thousands of participants from different regions representing practically all national minorities and ethnic groups living in Azerbaijan.
The Republic of Azerbaijan joined the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions on November 26, 2009. Furthermore, the establishment of the Baku International Multiculturalism Centre (May 15, 2014) testifies to the country's commitment to principles of tolerance. 2016 was declared the Year of Multiculturalism to preserve, develop, and promote multiculturalism traditions, mutual understanding, and dialogue.
The "Baku Process" is based on the interregional specifics of Azerbaijan, resulting from its geographic situation, social-political aspirations, and historical-cultural traditions. With the modern Republic of Azerbaijan being at that time the only state member both of the Council of Europe and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO), the Baku Process has been initiated by the Ministry for Culture to bring these regions closer.
Formalising the Baku Process involved three initial stages:
- Organising a Council of Europe Conference of Culture Ministers in Baku, to which ISESCO and some of its member states were invited (December 2-3, 2008), with the theme of "Intercultural dialogue as a basis for peace and sustainable development in Europe and its neighbouring regions".
- Holding an ISESCO Conference of Culture Ministers in Baku, to which the Council of Europe and some of its member states were invited (October 13-15, 2009), following the celebration of Baku as Islamic Culture Capital for 2009.
- Establishing a biennial Baku World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue with the participation of relevant inter-governmental organisations, culture ministers from all over the world.
The Baku World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue has taken responsibility for delivering:
- The Global agenda on the Dialogue among Civilisations adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (2001),
- The UNESCO Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005),
- ISESCO's 'Islamic Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2004),
- The Declaration and the Action Plan of the Third Summit of Heads of States and Governments of the Council of Europe (2005),
- The Council of Europe's White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue (2008),
- The Baku Declaration for the Promotion of Intercultural Dialogue (2008).
In cooperation with UNESCO, the UN Alliance of Civilisations, the UN World Tourism Organisation, the Council of Europe, ISESCO, with the participation of culture ministers of numerous states, heads of leading international organisations, mayors of various world cities, diplomats, media organisations, international NGOs, scientists, scholars, distinguished cultural experts, practitioners, intellectuals and activists, the Republic of Azerbaijan has already hosted:
- The First Baku World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue under the motto - "United Through Common Values, Enriched by Cultural Diversity" (April 7-9, 2011);
- The Second Baku World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue on the subject of "Living Together Peacefully in a Diverse World" (29 May - 1 June 2013);
- The Third Baku World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue dedicated to the theme "Sharing Culture for Shared Security" (May 18-19, 2015);
- The Fourth Baku World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue on the subject "Advancing Intercultural Dialogue: New Avenues for Human Security, Peace and Sustainable Development" (May 5–6, 2017);
- The Fifth World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue under the motto of "Building dialogue into action against discrimination, inequality, and violent conflict" (May 2–3, 2019).
Last update: October, 2021
Intercultural education is a part of the general school and university curricula. Mainly policymakers responsible for education, namely, the Ministry of Education, administer this field. The Ministry for Culture administers children's music, art and painting schools. There are different themes focused on shared national values and identity; to promote tolerance, multilingualism, equality; to inform students about world cultures, religions, traditions, etc., within humanitarian disciplines, delivered at all levels of education. The subject "Azerbaijani Multiculturalism" is included in curricula 28 higher education institutions of Azerbaijan.
The Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of October 30, 2006, approved the General Education Concept in the Republic of Azerbaijan (National Curriculum). The Law on Education (2009) defined the concept of curriculum and explained its essence for the first time in the national legislation. It states that the "educational programme” (curriculum) is a state document reflecting the learning outcomes and content standards for each level of education, teaching subjects, the number of weekly lessons and extracurricular activities, the organisation of the pedagogical process, the system of assessment and monitoring of learning outcomes".
Based on this, the Cabinet of Ministers updated the General Education Concept and approved it under the State Standards of General Education and Programmes (Curricula)" on June 3, 2010. According to the document, curricula have been developed and are being implemented in 21 subjects.
Pupils of I-IX grades in secondary schools study the subject "Knowledge of Life". According to the National Curricula, students on the subject "Knowledge of Life":
- interpret the essence of the provisions on human rights and freedoms established in the relevant normative-legal documents, with examples of specific historical events, facts, literary works, and demonstrating respect for the rights of oneself and others;
- learn, with the use of concrete examples, that harmful habits are dangerous to human life and have serious consequences, and will learn in their daily activities how to lead a healthy lifestyle;
- demonstrate a mastery of life safety rules in written and oral presentations, training events;
- express opinions on relevant problems via discussions, debates and other events on moral and ethical issues, expressing their position and attitudes by evaluating the events and facts on their merits;
- build, present and implement small projects on economic efficiency in daily life;
- gain an understanding of the nature of regularities related to natural and social phenomena, comparing the information obtained within this subject with the same content in other subjects, systematising them and makes generalisations.
Two more relevant curricula are implemented in general education schools: "Educational programme (curriculum) on music for I-IX grades of secondary schools" and "Curriculum on fine arts for I-IX grades of secondary schools". Teaching music includes information about the most important moments in the history of our national music and acquaintance with widespread examples of world music culture. The subject of fine arts expands children's knowledge. It enriches their inner world by giving students an idea of the classic representatives of Azerbaijani and world art and unique works of art.
Students are taught general music history and theory, and music literature in children's music and art schools. In addition, students are acquainted with the biographies of composers, musical genres and forms, symphony orchestra instruments, and musical terms.
Last update: October, 2021
More than 4 500 registered mass communication media, most of which are newspapers, and more than 80 are TV and radio broadcasting services. Government structures founded 15% of newspapers and magazines, and more than 65% of newspapers belong to opposition political and social organisations, private networks and legal entities. The Law on Anti-monopoly Activity (1993) prevents media concentration. There is no limitation in obtaining official information from government structures; it is the responsibility of the relevant press services to supply the public with official news.
The Azerbaijan Television and Radio Broadcasting Closed Joint-Stock Company established the Madaniyyat channel on February 14, 2011. One of the main goals of this "Culture" channel is to convey the human values of the rich Azerbaijani culture to the world and promote the pearls of world culture in the country to enhance the artistic aesthetic taste of the young generation. Besides this special arts and culture TV channel, other operating channels, depending on their broadcasting policy, also offer a variety of regular programme series with cultural and artistic content, ranging from popular pop shows to programmes on classical heritage.
The National Television and Radio Council of the Republic of Azerbaijan was established by Presidential Decree No. 794 of October 05, 2002. The primary purpose of the Council is regulation of the activities of television and radio broadcasters, protection of the interests of the public during broadcasting, monitoring compliance with the legislation on television and radio broadcasting. The Council consists of 9 members. Three of the Council's members are appointed for two years, three for four years and three for six years. Members have the right to be re-appointed. The members of the Council elect the chairperson and deputy chairperson among themselves. The chairperson of the Council carries out the management of the Council. The council determines the technical and quality standards, grants special permission (license) for television broadcasting, conducts competitions for this purpose, and imposes administrative sanctions and other measures against television broadcasters in cases and the manner prescribed by the law.
The Press Council of Azerbaijan is a self-regulatory body. The Council was created during the First Conference of Azerbaijani journalists, in which 180 media organisations were present, on March 15, 2003. The Council is exercising public control to ensure that journalists act according to relevant legislation and professional principles requirements. In addition, it aims to improve government-media and public-media relations and contributes to the freedom of speech. To fulfil the objectives stated above, the Council considers the possibilities of pre-judicial solutions of conflicts arising from newspaper articles, examines complaints about the conduct of correspondents of various media outlets and makes decisions about complaints.
The Law on Public Television and Radio Broadcasting was adopted on September 28, 2004. The opening ceremony of the Public Television and Radio Broadcasting Company took place on 29 August 2005. When preparing programmes, the public broadcaster considers the political beliefs of society, religious views, various currents of public opinion, and the equality of citizens of the country. In addition, programmes of Public Television aim to reflect national and spiritual values, national customs and traditions, as well as all the diversity of culture and art. Public Television adheres to the laws of Azerbaijan and the basic principles of classical public broadcasting.
On 31 July 2008, The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan signed the Decree on Adopting the Conception on State Support to the Development of Mass Communication Media in the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Decree on Rendering One-time Financial Assistance to the Mass Communication Media of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The Ministry for Culture conducts enhancement of information provision of cultural policies by conducting methodological research and public opinion polls, holding specialised conferences, seminars, etc. In addition, it generates databases, drafts and implements relevant conceptions, programmes and projects presenting information about national arts and culture in national and international mass media and the Internet.
Last update: October, 2021
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.
Last update: October, 2021
The Republic of Azerbaijan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1995 and signed its optional protocol in 2000. The Family Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan (779-IQ of December 28, 1999) defines the principles of establishing and strengthening family relations, their termination, rights and responsibilities of participants in family relations, responsibilities of state bodies in this field. The purpose of the Law On Ensuring Gender Equality (№ 150-IIIQ of October 10, 2006) is to ensure gender equality by eliminating all forms of discrimination based on gender, creating equal opportunities for men and women in the political, economic, social, cultural and other spheres of public life. The Law On the Prevention of Domestic Violence (№ 1058-IIIQ of June 22, 2010) focuses on domestic violence between close relatives to mitigate its adverse legal, medical and social outcomes and provide legal and social assistance for victims.
There are no legal restrictions on the participation of women in politics. As of 2020, there were 22 women in the 125-seat parliament, including the Speaker of the National Assembly. The percentage of female members of parliament increased from 11 to 17.6 per cent between 2005 and 2020. The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic introduced universal suffrage in Azerbaijan in 1919, thus making Azerbaijan the first Muslim-majority country ever to enfranchise women.
The State Committee on Family, Women and Children's Issues, a ministerial-level body responsible for implementing state policy on family, women and children's affairs, was established based on the State Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Women's Issues, by the Presidential Decree of 6 February 2006. In addition, there is also a Parliamentary Committee on Family, Women and Children's Issues.
Concerning the gender aspect of equality in Azerbaijan, culture and education are traditionally mostly a "female" sphere. The vast majority of employees of libraries, museums, archives, music schools, theatres are women who also participate actively in managing culture.
The representation of women in key decision-making positions in cultural institutions and important cultural policymaking positions is also very high. For example, the Deputy Minister of Culture, seven heads of departments in the Ministry Administration, and the directors of many cultural institutions and arts organisations are women.
In the last decades, there has been a women's movement growing throughout the Republic. Several specialised organisations have been set up in the cultural sphere and a whole series of magazines for women and about women are being published. The Association of Creative Women was established in July 1999 by professional creative women involved in culture, art and science. The Association’s goal is to develop national culture, art and science, raise the socio-cultural level of the low-income population, and carry out psychological rehabilitation activities with orphans, refugees, and disabled people. "Azerbaijan Gender Information Centre" AGIC is the first informational-analytical, bibliographical-documental centre of the women’s movement on the territory of the South Caucasus.
Last update: October, 2021
The Republic of Azerbaijan is a state member of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Option Protocol of this Convention since October 2, 2008. Article 16 (“Ensuring access to cultural and sports facilities for persons with disabilities”) of the Law On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (№ 1153-VQ of May 31, 2018) obliges that relevant executive authorities shall ensure that cultural institutions and sports facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities. By Article 14. (The right of access to cultural institutions and cultural resources”) of the Law on Culture (2012), preferential use of cultural resources is provided to persons with disabilities, including children under 18 years of age with disabilities.
According to the information of the State Statistics Committee, by the beginning of 2020, the number of persons with disabilities who receive a pension and allocation is 633 469, and 62 951 of them are children under 18 with limited health capacities.
The Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers On the Implementation of a Comprehensive Programme on the Problems of Disabled People in the Republic of Azerbaijan (№ 185 of May 10, 1994) assigned the following tasks to the Ministry of Culture:
- To provide relevant jobs in various clubs and cultural centres for those who are visually impaired or children with disabilities of groups I and II in the area of special music education;
- To organise departments for readers who are blind at the central libraries in the cities;
- To strengthen the offices of the Azerbaijan Deaf Society in the relevant houses of culture;
- To hold regular holidays, concerts and performances, and other actions for children with disabilities;
- To provide free access to all museums for members of disabilities communities, et cetera.
Wheelchairs and lifts have been installed in the Heydar Aliyev Palace, the Azerbaijan State Academic National Drama Theatre, the Azerbaijan State Puppet Theatre, the Azerbaijan State Russian Drama Theatre and the Azerbaijan State Theatre for Young Spectators and many other major cultural institutions to ensure the cultural rights of persons with disabilities.
Public organisations representing people with disabilities are exempt from paying rent for buildings with cultural clubs, houses of culture, libraries.
To ensure equal access to cultural life for people with disabilities, in 2016, the National Library developed a methodological manual titled "Organisation of library services for people with disabilities".
The Republican Library for People who are Visually Impaired annually records copies of new books that are included in the library's fund and makes them available to visually impaired readers living in the republic's regions. In addition, the library has been equipped with modern technical equipment; all computers have been loaded with a particular programme, "Jaws", for the visually impaired. At the same time, the library organises training courses for the middle and older generation of readers in the new Latin script Braille.
Last update: October, 2021
Social integration/cohesion is one of the issues of current cultural policy in the Republic of Azerbaijan. There is a generally accepted approach that when developing policies or programmes by national, regional or local authorities, as a rule, culture and art are considered as tools to enhance social integration and cohesion of certain groups of the population. Government bodies must engage closely with civil society institutions and private actors when implementing such programmes and action plans. In particular, in the action plans of state programmes aimed at supporting specific groups (refugees, disadvantaged groups, the elderly and the unemployed, etc.), there is always a place for many measures to involve them in a full-fledged cultural life. For this reason, at present, the Ministry for Culture, or its subordinate organisations and institutions, are implementing several national programmes that are not directly under its supervision. Further, there are specific examples of such programmes and activities implemented for social integration and cohesion in this section.
For instance, the State Programme on Solving the Problems of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (№ 895 of September 17, 1998) also prescribes regular cultural activities among refugees and IDPs. Furthermore, the “State Programme on Improving Living Conditions and Increasing Employment of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons” (№ 298 of July 1, 2004) instructs the Ministry for Culture to carry out work on restoration and reconstruction of unfinished history, cultural institutions and monuments in the settlements liberated from occupation and damaged during the war.
The State Programme on Strengthening Social Protection of Elderly Citizens (№ 1413 of April 17, 2006) envisages ensuring the rights of senior citizens in social protection; protecting the health of the older generation; and strengthening the scientific basis of social security of senior citizens. In addition, however, ensuring the participation of senior citizens in the socio-economic and political life and implementing measures to meet their socio-cultural needs are also among crucial goals and objectives of the Programme. An example under this type of programme is the establishment of clubs for the elderly, amateur and interest groups in the cultural centres of the Republic.
Activities in the field of culture are also reflected in state programmes dedicated to preventing negative factors and dangerous phenomena. The “State Programme on Combating Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Their Precursors and Drug Addiction for 2019-2024” (№ 1334 of July 22, 2019 ). Among the activities prescribed by the programme are the:
- Organisation of intellectual competitions to address illicit trafficking in drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors to form an anti-drug worldview of pupils and students;
- Theatrical performances, feature, documentary and animated films on the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and the harm caused by drug addiction;
- Activities organising the leisure time of teenagers and youth in cities and regions.
The “National Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2020-2024” (№ 2173 of July 22, 2020) envisages:
- Taking appropriate measures in administrative, educational, social, cultural and other spheres to create an environment of public intolerance in society in connection with the cases of human trafficking and forced labour crimes and to involve civil society institutions and mass media in this work
- Strengthening advocacy and awareness-raising in the fight against human trafficking, making various social advertisements, videos, short films, preparing and showing programmes, preparing multiple educational materials, posting Internet information resources and promoting their use;
- Applying the practice of evaluating the results of all awareness-raising activities and training on human trafficking by organizers and participants.
The National Action Plan for the Protection of Human Rights in the Republic of Azerbaijan (№ 1880 of December 28, 2006) and the National Action Programme to increase the effectiveness of the protection of human rights and freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan (№ 1938 of December 27, 2011) pay special attention to such cultural issues as:
- Preservation and further development of the cultural heritage of ethnic minorities;
- Holding human rights olympiads, competitions, art exhibitions, festivals and other events on the application of human rights for school children and students;
- Carrying out enlightenment actions for the development of thinking and culture of the population, and the inadmissibility of discrimination, the promotion of peace and tolerance and national and spiritual values of our people;
- Development of human rights sections in libraries;
- Round tables, seminars, conferences, etc., on the prevention of crimes that pose a significant threat to human rights and freedoms.
Last update: October, 2021
Culture and art traditionally have a significant social impact in Azerbaijani society, influencing policymakers in developing new policies, which ultimately finds its expression in decisions taken by the state. Therefore, the participation of the Ministry for Culture is provided for in the preparation and implementation of various kinds of relevant state programmes and action plans. In addition, the legislation ensures the active participation of the public in these processes. So, according to the Law on Public Participation (№ 816-IVQ of November 22, 2013), state bodies must ensure the participation of citizens and civil society institutions in the preparation and implementation of state policy in various spheres of state and public life and consider public opinion. These procedures also apply in decision-making at the national and local levels, in the organisation of public control over the activities of relevant government agencies. Furthermore, private or civil society actors, individual figures, and researchers in culture and art actively use this right. All this is reflected in various state programmes, including activities and projects in culture and art.
The essential strategic document Development Concept for Azerbaijan 2020: the Vision for the Future (№ 800 of December 29, 2012) included preservation and effective management of cultural heritage along with the main directions for the country's development.
The State Programme for socio-economic development of the regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2019-2023 prescribes continuation of work in the field of overhaul and construction of cultural facilities, restoration and conservation of historical and cultural monuments, including buildings of the National History Museum of Azerbaijan, the Yerevan State Azerbaijan Drama Theatre, and so on.
The Azerbaijani Youth State Programme for 2017-2021 (№ 3236 of September 15, 2017), among other areas of youth support, involves numerous cultural events to support the creative activity of young people and the organization of leisure time such as:
- Supporting the participation of young talents in international festivals, competitions, contests and summer schools;
- Organisation of festivals, competitions, summer schools, master-classes, creative evenings, concert programmes and other events for young talents in the field of culture and art (painting, music, dance, cinema, literature, photography, architecture, theatre, etc.);
- Issuance of state orders to creative and talented youth for the production of theatrical performances, as well as feature, documentary and animated films;
- Organisation of local and international exhibitions and film screenings of works by young directors, artists, sculptors and photographers;
- Promoting the achievements of talented and creative youth in the country and abroad; and so on.
Furthermore, the Action Plan of the Strategy for Children for 2020-2025 (№ 2306 of November 27, 2020) ensures cultural and aesthetic education of children and their right to development. Furthermore, it involves creating a system for early detection, development and support of talent in the interests of the individual, society and the state provided by the State Strategy for the Development of Education in the Republic of Azerbaijan (January 19, 2015, № 995), et cetera.
Last update: October, 2021
Supporting the competitiveness of various forms of culture, which can also be interpreted as their sustainability, is among the main directions of state policy in the field of culture, according to the Law on Culture (2012). Approved with the Presidential Decree, the Concept of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan (№ 273 of February 14, 2014) reflects the understanding formed in the national cultural policy that cultural creativity and heritage need supporting mechanisms from outside culture to ensure sustainability and full-fledged development. Furthermore, there is a clear understanding that culture does not exist by itself, in isolation, but as a social phenomenon. Therefore, culture actively interacts with other spheres of social life, such as politics, law, economics and finance, science and education, and international relations, etc. Therefore, the direct approach of the Concept of Culture is to establish a harmonious and mutually beneficial interaction of culture with all these spheres of social life to ensure its sustainable development, which in turn will provide the cultural sustainability of society.
The Concept of Culture considers not only issues of the development of culture itself, namely, issues directly related to the preservation of immovable monuments of history and culture, movable cultural values, intangible cultural heritage, support for theatres, musical creativity and visual arts, the development of cinematography and publishing, museums, libraries, cultural centres and so on. Along with all of the above, the Concept of Culture pays great attention to the mechanisms of ensuring cultural policy, such as legislative support, administrative support, financial support, information support, staffing, logistics and international cooperation. All these areas of cultural policy are analysed, appropriate recommendations are given, and different development paths are indicated.
Thus, the Concept of Culture, the principal executive document of the state in the field of culture, laid the foundations for a systematic and sustainable approach to solving practical issues of national cultural policy. All subsequent state programmes, action plans, strategies and roadmaps in the field of culture, legislative initiatives, financial policy, personnel approach, and so on, have to proceed from the Concept of Culture, according to its status in the hierarchy of state executive documents. Such a synergistic approach to cultural issues is already reflected in understanding the main actors involved (e.g. public, private or civil society actors).
Cultural sustainability issues are included in the agendas of some events organised in the country. Thus, a thematic discussion on the topic “Protect our heritage: Social, cultural and environmental sustainability” was managed during the 110th session of UNWTO Executive Council (Baku, Azerbaijan, June 16-18, 2019), with relevant recommendations to national, regional and local governments and tourism administrations in connection with cultural sustainability.
The Third World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue (Baku, May 18–19, 2015) had significant concern for culture and sustainable development. The Fourth World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue (Baku, May 5–6, 2017) discussed “Advancing Intercultural Dialogue: New Avenues for Human Security, Peace and Sustainable Development”.
Last update: October, 2021
The long-awaited fact that the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan has been restored, in accordance with resolutions, declarations and other documents of the United Nations, OSCE, OIC, Council of Europe, European Union, NATO, CIS, ECO, Turkic Council, GUAM, and the Non-Aligned Movement, has created new tasks, opportunities and horizons in the field of culture, as in all areas.
The new reality produced conditions for the restoration of cultural life in the liberated territories, the active participation of cultural figures in the process of returning the population, the creation of modern, progressive new types of enterprises, employment of talented people through frozen staffs and supplements.
In this regard, Shusha city was declared the Cultural Capital of Azerbaijan by Order (№ 2632 of May 7, 2021) of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. This status will contribute to restoring the historical appearance and glory of the liberated Shusha city, rejuvenating its cultural life, and promoting Azerbaijan's culture, architecture and urban planning in the international arena.