Azerbaijan has a centuries-long history of statehood and established the first ever-democratic Republic in the East in 1918. Azerbaijan lost its state independence in 1920 only to restore it in 1991 in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The people of Azerbaijan benefiting from the opportunity to foster greater democratic values have chosen the path of building a modern democratic State based on its national statehood traditions, historical and cultural heritage. In the early years of its independence, the young Republic faced the military aggression of Armenia, internal instability, hardships of a transition period and other serious challenges. Nevertheless, the Republic of Azerbaijan under the leadership of its national leader Heydar Aliyev overcame all the difficulties and, having succeeded in identifying and following a consistent approach to strategic development, is now transforming into an economically and politically dynamic modern State and consolidating its global and regional position. In this latter regard, Azerbaijan is becoming an important and in many cases a decisive country to cooperate with in the Caspian-Caucasus region, and plays an indispensable role in the realization of the regional energy and transportation projects.

The ultimate goal of this overall strategy is to ensure the prosperity, sustainable development and well-being of the Republic of Azerbaijan and to contribute to maintaining security and stability in the whole region. The National Security Concept (hereinafter the "Concept") is a set of goals, principles and approaches to the policies and measures, which underline the independence, territorial integrity and democratic development of the country, integration into the Euro-Atlantic area as the strategic choice, and multidimensional and balanced foreign policy, as well as are directed at the protection of the individuals, society and State in the Republic of Azerbaijan against internal and external threats.

Security environment

The security environment of the Republic of Azerbaijan is derived from a set of factors, which affects the protection of the State sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of borders, national interests, and ensuring sustainable development, values of the people and their prosperity. Geographically located at the crossroads of the West and East, the Republic of Azerbaijan has embraced the positive elements of various civilizations. The Republic of Azerbaijan shares the European values and as an inalienable component of the Euro-Atlantic security, architecture contributes to the security of this area. At the same time, the Republic of Azerbaijan, as part of the Islamic world, shares the progressive heritage and spiritual values of the Islamic civilization. The currently unstable region where the Republic of Azerbaijan is located has vast potential and opportunities, which can be used effectively for development in a friendly and cooperative manner with regional and wider international partners. The rich natural resources of the Republic of Azerbaijan open perspectives for the country's prosperity and national welfare and transform the country into an important energy source and a crucial integral part of the international energy supply system. The development of international transportation and communication corridors, including the construction of oil and gas pipelines, already contribute to the development of the economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan and of its partners, and is a salient example of regional cooperation.

This geographic location provides important advantages, but is also a source of a number of the security challenges facing the country. The most important and vivid example of such challenges is the aggression committed by neighboring Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan, as a result of which a considerable portion of the country was occupied and approximately one million Azerbaijanis were displaced or became refugees. The aggression was accompanied by serious crimes against peace and humanity, including genocide and terrorist acts against the citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan, whilst the occupied territories provide fertile ground for illegal activities pursued by transnational organized criminals, including international terrorist groups. Azerbaijani historical, cultural and archeological monuments on the territory of the present-day Armenia and in the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan were massively destroyed, its natural resources were plundered and the environment was damaged.

The aggression against the Republic of Azerbaijan is a major determinant of the country's security environment and is a key factor in the formulation of the National Security Policy. At the same time, the existence of such threats in the security environment of the Republic of Azerbaijan as international terrorism, illegal migration, trans-national organized crime, human and drug trafficking and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction set certain tasks for the country.