(By: Vugar Aghayev, Special representative AZERTAC In Japan and Indonesia)
Today Azerbaijan celebrates the day of the national press in the country. 145 years ago, on July 22, 1875, national media was founded with the start of the publication of the newspaper “Əkinçi” (Ploughman) by one of the outstanding representatives of the era of enlightenment movement, Hasan bey Zardabi.
“Ploughman” in Azeri language laid the first foundation stone of the national democratic and popular media, and with a total of 56 numbers, a newspaper was a mirror of the nation’s newspapers, turned into the standard-bearer of Azerbaijani journalism.
In subsequent years, newspapers and magazines such as “Zia”, “Keshkul”, “Eastern-Russian”, “Irshad”, “Molla Nasreddin” which published by prominent intellectuals continued the tradition of “The Farmer”.The main target of the press was fighting against injustice, ignorance and to enlighten people. Azerbaijan’s press walking on a rich and honorable way went through several stages. A free press, as well as a new view of events, was laid in Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.145-year-old media had 70 years communist dictatorship. At that time, the media described the current problems in a figurative way. Because of the policy pursued by the media was the mouthpiece of Soviet Union ideology. To think and write differently was prohibited at that time.
Following “Əkinçi”, “Füyuzat” and “Molla Nəsrəddin” (“Fyuzat ” and “Molla Nasreddin” magazines) seem like they bore a load of two lines. “Füyuzat” preferred the enlightenment for modern nation and society, while “Molla Nəsrəddin” preferred the way to criticize the shortcomings of the nation and society in a satirical language. Representatives of this phase played an indispensable role in the establishment of modern Azerbaijani literature and music.
Press was forced to write about the collective-farm, the socialist revolutions in the world, the complete and final victory of socialism, the Soviet power, the correctness of USSR in the II World War, “during the Cold War”.
The fourth phase begins in the second half of the 1980s. Though Azerbaijan was a part of the Soviet Union, a number of newspapers published in the country began to promote the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic that existed in 1918-1920 and was forced to forget by the Soviet regime, freedom of democracy, speech, and press.
At the beginning and near the end of the twentieth century, newspapers wrote about Azerbaijani territory and historical lands. The policy pursued by Tsarist Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century was continued by Moscow near the end of the twentieth century. The press wrote constantly that this policy was against Azerbaijan.
It was also the phase of Azerbaijani statehood, a democratic state-building. Today, information facilities (in a written and electronic form) exchange experiences with their counterparts in the democratic world, assess the history of their formation process, and apply in their activities.
In this respect, Azerbaijani media is part of the democratic world. Historical struggles clearly proved it. Azerbaijani media was established with the struggle against colonialism and national assimilation due to democracy.
At present, the Azerbaijani press does not depend on the political ideology. As in all over the world, the press that meets the demands of the political-social environment is available in Azerbaijan.
As in democratic countries, the main target of the 145-year-old press is to protect state security, territorial integrity, and the formation of a democratic society. Azerbaijani media propagandizes against all kinds of terrorism.
No doubt, a violation of territorial integrity, the political balance in our region, and other factors hinder the development of democracy and the media in Azerbaijan. However, Azerbaijani media is committed to the principle of writing and protecting the truth as it was 145 years ago.
In this direction, it cooperates with its colleagues in the democratic society and builds relationships.
Thus, the Azerbaijani press does not only prefer the freedom of speech and idea but also continues to operate on the basis of the interests of its own state and society as in all democratic countries.
After Azerbaijan gained its independence again in 1991, a large number of new press outlets began operating to try to foster a sense of independence in Azerbaijanis, which had been suppressed under the Soviet regime. A Special Fund was established to support the independent press and many newspapers are now given material assistance from the State. Today, the population is provided with high-speed internet and quality communication services and on 22 July the national press celebrated 145 years. All of this owes much to the early efforts of Azerbaijan’s media pioneers.
In 1991, after Azerbaijan gained its independence, the national media began to integrate into global information space, free media was formed in the country. Works are being consistently carried out within the “Concept for State support for the development of media in Azerbaijan” adopted in 2008 to form free and democratic press in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani media is fully free, and journalists discuss any issue. 40 daily newspapers are published, more than 5 000 media outlets and 20 agencies are operating in the country. There is a free internet access that also contributes to the expansion of social media. More than 70 percent of the population is Internet users. (AK/R6/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)