Azerbaijan, Great Bri­tain ink his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments in sci­ence

Azer News - - Front Page - By Kamila Aliyeva

A his­toric mo­ment ocurred in sci­en­tific, cul­tural and hu­man­i­tar­ian fields be­tween Great Bri­tain and Azerbaijan on May 23, 2018. At the Claren­don Build­ing the Vice-Chan­cel­lor of the Univer­sity of Oxford, mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Arts and Sciences, Amer­i­can Philo­soph­i­cal So­ci­ety, the Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences in the United King­dom, an Hon­orary Mem­ber of the Royal Ir­ish Acad­emy and a Fel­low of the Royal So­ci­ety of Ed­in­burgh, Pro­fes­sor Louise Richard­son, and Head of the Oxford Nizami Gan­javi Cen­tre on be­half of Azerbaijan, Chair of the Board of Trus­tees of the Bri­tish Foun­da­tion for the Study of Azerbaijan and the Cau­ca­sus (BFSAC), Rec­tor of the Baku Branch of Lomonosov Moscow State Univer­sity, Pro­fes­sor Nar­giz Pashayeva signed the con­tract un­der which, the Oxford Nizami Gan­javi Cen­tre for the Study of Azerbaijan, the Cau­ca­sus and Cen­tral Asia will be per­ma­nently func­tion­ing at the Univer­sity of Oxford as its in­te­gral part.

'The signed agree­ment was built on the suc­cess of five-year Nizami Gan­javi Pro­gram at the Univer­sity of Oxford – a re­search pro­gram es­tab­lished in 2013 and de­signed to fur­ther the study of the lan­guages, his­tory and cul­ture of Azerbaijan and the Cau­ca­sus. As well as pro­vid­ing vi­tal sup­port for grad­u­ate stu­dents in Ori­en­tal Stud­ies and Ar­chae­ol­ogy, the pro­gramme has over­seen the ex­ca­va­tion of Barda in Azerbaijan, and the trans­la­tion of ma­jor works of Az­eri and Rus­sian schol­ar­ship into English’.

‘The cen­ter will en­able the cre­ation of three DPhil schol­ar­ships, as well as pro­vides sup­port to visit­ing re­searchers and var­i­ous events and ac­tiv­i­ties pro­gram'.

The prom­i­nent sci­en­tific, cul­tural and aca­demic fig­ures from Azerbaijan and Great Bri­tain par­tic­i­pated at the event. They high­lighted the im­por­tance of the event, stat­ing that there have never been such agree­ment be­tween Azerbaijan and United King­dom in the field of sci­ence and ed­u­ca­tion.

Ed­mund Herzig, Ma­soumeh and Ferey­doon Sou­davar Pro­fes­sor of Per­sian Stud­ies at Oxford, says: 'There is a long tra­di­tion of re­search on the Cau­ca­sus and Cen­tral Asia at Oxford, and of col­lect­ing books and manuscripts from the re­gion in the Bodleian Li­brary. Un­til now, how­ever, there has never been a cen­tre ded­i­cated to the study of this re­gion, which has tended to be over­shad­owed by the big em­pires and bet­ter­known coun­tries around it.

'It will al­low Oxford to make Azerbaijan, the Cau­ca­sus and Cen­tral Asia the fo­cus of sus­tained study for the first time. It will at­tract the best re­search stu­dents and visit­ing re­searchers to work here. It also lays the foun­da­tion for fur­ther devel­op­ment of the field, not only in Ori­en­tal Stud­ies, but across the Univer­sity.'

Pro­fes­sor Nar­giz Pashayeva, Chair of the Board of trus­tees of the BFSAC and Rec­tor of Baku Branch of Lomonosov Moscow State Univer­sity, says: 'The sign­ing cer­e­mony that took place at the Univer­sity of Oxford is com­pa­ra­ble to the Con­tract of the Cen­tury in terms of sci­ence, ed­u­ca­tion and the cul­ture for Azerbaijan. As part of the Cau­ca­sus's his­tor­i­cal her­itage, Azerbaijan will gain a per­ma­nent place to be stud­ied at this ex­cep­tional aca­demic in­sti­tu­tion. By ap­ply­ing mod­ern method­olo­gies and ap­proaches, fu­ture schol­ars will ben­e­fit from the knowl­edge col­lected here over the past nine cen­turies and will be at the fore­front of cur­rent aca­demic dis­course.

'This proud day is ded­i­cated to the dear mem­o­ries of the peo­ple who founded the Azerbaijan Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic al­most ex­actly 100 years ago. The cre­ation of the first demo­cratic re­pub­lic in the Mus­lim world re­mains one of the bright­est chap­ters of our his­tory.'

Di­rec­tor of the Bodleian Li­brary, mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Philo­soph­i­cal So­ci­ety, and Fel­low of Lon­don’s So­ci­ety of An­ti­quar­ies - Richard Oven­den, Ma­soumeh and Ferey­doon Sou­davar, Pro­fes­sor of Per­sian Stud­ies at Oxford, Head of the Oxford Nizami Gan­javi Cen­tre from UK - Ed­mund Herzig, one of the world`s renowned re­searchers of an­cient Is­lamic his­tory, mem­ber of the Board of trus­tees of the BFSAC - Pro­fes­sor Robert Hoy­land, Ori­en­tal Stud­ies Fac­ulty Board Chair in the Univer­sity of Oxford - Pro­fes­sor Mark Smith, mem­ber of the House of Lords, mem­ber of the Board of trus­tees of the BFSAC - Lord Mal­colm Bruce, mem­ber of the House of Lords, War­den of Wadham Col­lege of Univer­sity of Oxford - Lord Ken Mac­Don­ald, Act­ing Chief Devel­op­ment Of­fi­cer of the Univer­sity of Oxford - Pro­fes­sor An­thony Green, Pro­fes­sor of Univer­sity of Oxford -Julia Bray, Head of the Bodleian Li­braries Ori­en­tal Sec­tion and In­dian In­sti­tute - Dr. Gil­lian Evi­son, Head of the Hu­man­i­ties Divi­sion at the Univer­sity of Oxford - Karen O'Brien were among the in­flu­en­tial mem­bers of the Bri­tish aca­demic com­mu­nity present at the sign­ing cer­e­mony. There were also hon­orary guests from Azerbaijan in­clud­ing the Pres­i­dent of Azerbaijan Na­tional Acad­emy of Sciences (ANAS) - Pro­fes­sor Akif Al­izade, dean of the the­ol­ogy fac­ulty of Baku State Univer­sity - Pro­fes­sor Vasim Mam­madaliyev, di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute of Manuscripts of ANAS - Pro­fes­sor Tey­mur Karimli, Head of the de­part­ment of gen­eral lin­guis­tics of Baku State Univer­sity - Pro­fes­sor Nizami Ja­farov.

‘Al­though the Univer­sity has a long tra­di­tion of in­di­vid­ual schol­ar­ship in this field, it has never be­fore had the means by which to draw this ex­per­tise to­gether. Thanks to the foun­da­tion's gen­er­ous gift how­ever, it will now be pos­si­ble for stu­dents and schol­ars from all over the world to col­lab­o­ra­tively in­ves­ti­gate and dis­cuss the his­tory, lan­guages and cul­tures of Azerbaijan, the Cau­ca­sus and Cen­tral Asia, from an­cient to mod­ern times’.

One of the key items of the signed con­tract pro­vides for the re­nam­ing of the Ori­en­tal Li­brary at the Univer­sity of Oxford to the Bodleian Nizami Gan­javi Ori­en­tal Stud­ies Li­brary. Richard Oven­den, Di­rec­tor of the Bodleian Li­brary, mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Philo­soph­i­cal So­ci­ety, and Fel­low of the So­ci­ety of An­ti­quar­ies of Lon­don wel­comed this pro­posal dur­ing his meet­ing with Pro­fes­sor Nar­giz Pashayeva on April 23, 2018. Ac­cord­ing to the agree­ment, ‘the cen­ter will sup­port the Sub­ject Li­brar­ian at the Bodleian Li­braries, for the Mid­dle East­ern and Is­lamic Col­lec­tions, mak­ing it pos­si­ble for the post holder to add the Azer­bai­jani lan­guage to their area of ex­per­tise. A ded­i­cated read­ing room will also be cre­ated for the use of the DPhil stu­dents and visit­ing re­searchers sup­ported by the Oxford Nizami Gan­javi Cen­tre. Fur­ther­more, the cen­ter will en­able the Bodleian Li­braries to in­crease its ar­chive of rare and im­por­tant ma­te­ri­als from Azerbaijan and the Cau­ca­sus.

‘Named af­ter the poet Nizami Gan­javi, the new cen­tre will be a joint ini­tia­tive be­tween the Fac­ulty of the Ori­en­tal Stud­ies and the Bodleian Li­braries. As such, it will play a key role in trans­form­ing Oxford into a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for the study of this im­por­tant ge­o­graph­i­cal re­gion’.

At the end of the sign­ing cer­e­mony, Pro­fes­sor Nar­giz Pashayeva pre­sented a book about the great Azer­bai­jani phi­lan­thropist Haji Zey­nal­ab­din Taghiyev and a photo demon­strat­ing the first ses­sion of the Par­lia­ment of the Azerbaijan Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic, in the build­ing of Haji Zey­nal­ab­din Taghiyev`s Girls School to the Vice-Chan­cel­lor of the Univer­sity of Oxford, Pro­fes­sor Louise Richard­son. Pro­fes­sor Louise Richard­son also pre­sented paint­ing that de­picts the Univer­sity of Oxford to Pro­fes­sor Nar­giz Pashayeva.

Prior to the of­fi­cial part of the event, the sci­en­tists and other guests of the Univer­sity of Oxford vis­ited the old­est sec­tion of Bodleian Li­brary - the Horton Room, Weston Li­brary and viewed a col­lec­tion of an­cient manuscripts and the con­ser­va­tion cen­ter. They were ac­com­pa­nied by Head of Devel­op­ment at the Bodleian Li­braries, Elaine Gal­lagher. The par­tic­i­pants then were in­vited to an of­fi­cial din­ner held at the "Trapp rum" Hall of Wadham Col­lege, which was founded in 1610. Held in a frank at­mos­phere, the din­ner party was fol­lowed by an of­fi­cial sign­ing cer­e­mony at the Claren­don Build­ing.

The con­tract signed at the Univer­sity of Oxford on May 23, 2018, can be ti­tled the ‘Con­tract of the Cen­tury’ as a land­mark cul­tural, his­tor­i­cal and hu­man­i­tar­ian event in the true sense of the word. This event strength­ens the be­lief that Azerbaijan`s sci­en­tific thought and his­tor­i­cal legacy will make an out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the global sci­en­tific in­te­gra­tion and open up new hori­zons and op­por­tu­ni­ties in fu­ture.

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