Azerbaijan on Tuesday marked the 102nd anniversary of the liberation of Baku, the country’s capital, under the leadership of the Caucasian Islamic Army.

The friendly political, legal, commercial and military relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey were documented shortly after the foundation of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic on May 28, 1918 with the Treaty of Batumi, signed between the newly established country and then-Ottoman Empire on June 4, 1918.

With the treaty, the empire recognized the independence of Azerbaijan, which could in turn request the empire’s military help in case of any threat.

After the republic’s proclamation of independence in Georgia, Fatali Khan Khoyski, Azerbaijan’s first prime minister, formed the government in Ganja, now northwestern Azerbaijan, in June as he was not able to travel directly to Azerbaijan’s current capital Baku as the city was then controlled by Armenian militants and Bolsheviks.

On Sept. 15, 1918, an elite Ottoman force called the Caucasian Islamic Army under the leadership of the 29-year-old Nuri Pasha (Killigil) was sent by then-Minister of War Enver Pasha to what is today Azerbaijan in the closing months of the World War I in response to a plea from the region’s people.

The Caucasian Islamic Army, made up of Azerbaijani and Turkish soldiers, completed its mission in September, liberating Baku and thus laying the groundwork for the country’s independence decades later in 1991.

Over 1,100 Caucasian Islamic Army martyrs sacrificed their lives together with the Azerbaijani people for this cause.

The liberation of Baku at the time paved the way for the transfer of the capital from Ganja and ensured the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, providing the basis for its modern-day boundaries.

Enver Pasha – also an elder brother of Ottoman Gen. Nuri Pasha – personally conveyed the message to the Ottoman capital Istanbul that Baku had been liberated from Armenian gangs.

The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic was toppled after almost two years by the Soviet Union, and the country restored its independence only after the collapse of the USSR in 1991.

In 1992, Azerbaijan opened its embassy in Turkey.

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