International Solidarity Day in Azerbaijan
On December 16, 1991, just after Azerbaijan gained independence from the USSR, future president Heydar Aliyev introduced the idea of a national day of unity. International Solidarity Day in Azerbaijan became a national holiday in 1992, and today is observed on December 31 both in country and by the Azerbaijani diaspora around the world.
Two monumental events which occurred on December 31, 1989 served as the impetus for the creation of International Solidarity Day in Azerbaijan: First, Istanbul hosted the opening of the First Congress of World Azerbaijanis, and second, Azerbaijani residents dismantled the border fence between Soviet Azerbaijan and Iran in the Nakhchivan SSR, an act which allowed them to reunite with their compatriots living in Iran for the first time in decades. At that time, roughly 8 million Azerbaijanis lived in Iran, compared to 6.8 million living in Soviet Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan’s International Solidarity Day upholds national, cultural, political and spiritual values while uniting Azerbaijanis from around the world to their historical homeland. As the majority of the world’s Azerbaijanis live outside their native land, most notably in Iran which now has a population of over 12 million Azerbaijanis, International Solidarity Day serves as a vital link for this diaspora and an indicator that the Azerbaijani people remain united in spirit. Solidarity Day is popularly celebrated with cultural events and feasts held in Azerbaijan and among Azerbaijani communities worldwide.