Azerbaijani journalist Sevil Hilal Ünal wrote about the life of Ahmet Ağaoğlu, the first chairman of the board of directors of Anadolu Agency, journalist, politician and educator for AA.
The cultural capital of Azerbaijan, Shusha, which was liberated from the occupation, is the homeland of extremely important historical figures as well as its magnificent geography. One of them is the advisor, pedagogue, deputy, leading figure of the Turkish Hearth national movement, the first chairman of the board of directors of Anadolu Agency, a man of thought and action, journalist Prof. Dr. Ahmet Ağaoğlu.
Rooted family, higher education
Ağaoğlu, who was born in the famous Wolves tribe of Karabakh in 1869, grew up in a noble and cultured family. His grandfather was Mirza Ibrahim Calligrapher, one of the famous scholars of Shusha, who wrote poems in Turkish. His father, Mirza Hasan Bey, was a wealthy cotton farmer. His mother, Taze Hanım, is from the well-known Sarıcalı lineage in Karabakh. His uncles, who also knew Persian, Arabic and Russian, were also influential in Ahmet Bey’s deep-rooted and high education.
Ahmet Ağaoğlu received his primary education in Shusha, the 6-class “Realnı Mekteb” which has just passed from the religious education system to the secular education system, his secondary and high school education in the First Tbilisi Noble School, and his university education in Petersburg and Paris.
Ahmet Ağaoğlu, who has a very high education and understanding of eastern and western culture, has devoted his life and equipment to the peoples of Azerbaijan and Turkey and to the development of a common state consciousness. Ağaoğlu has written 15 philosophical, sociological and scientific books on religion, women’s rights, civilizations, politics and similar subjects.
Ahmet, who works as a journalist besides being a writer, continued his journalism life for 50 years, which he started while he was a student at Sorbonne University in France. As a leading author, he has published hundreds of articles in French, Russian, Persian, Azerbaijani and Anatolian Turkish in respected publications in Baku, Ganja, Ankara and Istanbul.
Return to the homeland and the construction of the state
Returning to his country after completing his education in Paris, Ahmet Bey opened the first library and reading room in his homeland, Shusha, in 1896. In 1897, upon the invitation of the wealthy businessman and philanthropist of Azerbaijan, Haji Zeynalabdin Tagiyev, he came to the capital Baku. He founded a society called Neşr-i Maarif. Ahmet Bey Agayev became one of the leading Azerbaijani intellectuals who struggled for the establishment of the independent Azerbaijan Democratic Republic at the beginning of the 20th century.
Ahmet Bey, who founded the secret organization Difai in 1905 to fight the Tsarist government and the Dashnak Armenians, was prosecuted by the Tsarist government, and after hiding for months at a friend’s house, he had to move to Istanbul in 1909 to avoid being arrested.
Duties and activities in Turkey
Ağaoğlu, after first working as an education inspector in Istanbul, starts working at the Süleymaniye Library Directorate. During his duty as an inspector, he visited all private, public primary and secondary schools in Istanbul and prepared a report based on his observations on the current situation and reforms. Ağaoğlu thinks that solving the problems in education will play a big role in the future of the country.
Ağaoğlu, who gave Russian and Turkish-Mongolian history lessons at Istanbul Darülfünun, played a major role in transforming Turkism into a current of thought by being among the founders of the Turkish Vatan Society in 1911 and the Turkish Hearth Society in 1912.
Ağaoğlu resigned from the civil service to continue his political activities and joined the Union and Progress Association of 12 people, and in 1914 he was elected as a deputy from Afyonkarahisar.
National Struggle years
When Azerbaijan declared its independence in 1918, Ahmet Bey returned to his country as the political advisor of Nuri Pasha, the commander of the Caucasian Islamic Army, who left Anatolia to save Baku from the Armenian and Bolshevik gangs. By being elected as a member of the newly established parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan, he becomes the only person in charge of the parliament of two different Turkish states. Even though Ali Merdan Bey, who is the President of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic Parliament, was elected to represent Azerbaijan together with Topçubaşov at the Paris Peace Conference, he was forced to return to Istanbul with the Ottoman army withdrawing from the Caucasus with the signing of the Armistice of Mudros in 1918.
He was arrested in November 1918 by the British who occupied Istanbul and exiled to Malta. When Ahmet Bey was released in 1921, two years later, as a result of the efforts of the GNAT Government, he came to Anatolia and joined the National Struggle.
Atatürk tried to benefit from the intellectual potential of this intellectual in order to meet the ideological, scientific and cultural needs of the Republican Turkey and to protect its national interests.
While Ağaoğlu was a deputy in Kars, he was appointed to the General Directorate of Press and Intelligence under the leadership of Atatürk on October 29, 1921, and was assigned to lead almost all information policy of the New Turkey that is being established. He also undertakes the editorship of the newspaper Hakimiyet-i Milliye.
Ahmet Ağaoğlu, who is a law graduate, became one of Atatürk’s most trusted advisors in this field as well. As a matter of fact, he played an important role in the preparation of the 1924 Constitution after the proclamation of the Republic. Ağaoğlu, who advised Atatürk on revolutions, especially contributed to the efforts to legitimize secularism. However, Ağaoğlu, who defends individual freedoms within the Republican People’s Party, does not hesitate to criticize some of the policies of the party.
After the conversion of Anadolu Agency (AA) into a joint stock company, Ağaoğlu became the first board chairman of AA at the first board meeting held on May 21, 1925.
In the newly opened Ankara Law School in November 1925, the first lesson on the Constitution and law was given by Ahmet Bey, who is also known for his teaching aspects as well as his political and journalistic activities.
Relations with Atatürk
In Agaoğlu’s biography, his relations with Atatürk draw attention. Vilayet Guliyev, one of the former foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, a well-known politician, and still the ambassador with full authority, discussed the relationship between the two personalities with historical, scientific and multidimensional research in his book “Atatürk and Ahmet Ağaoğlu”.
After these researches, Vilayet Guliyev came to the following conclusion: “Despite all the differences of opinion between them, Ahmet Ağaoğlu became one of the most loyal allies of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk for the strengthening of the Republic of Turkey and remained so until the end of his life… Founder of the New Turkey. Atatürk, who worked in various state positions under his presidency, contributed greatly to the establishment of the political system, the preparation of the constitution of the first Republic, the adoption and implementation of democratic values by the new Turkish society, and most importantly, as the savior of a great nation, he was loved, proud and admired. Undoubtedly, Ahmet Ağaoğlu was the only Azerbaijani Turk who had come face to face with and entered into arguments many times. Despite the differences in their fields of activity and directions of action, the main purpose of both personalities was to serve Turkey”.
* In the article, Prof. Dr. Reference is made to the books of Vilayat Guliyev.
[Sevil Hilal Ünal, araştırmacı gazeteci, “Yeni Azerbaycan” gazetesi yazarı]
*Ideas in articles belong to the author and may not reflect Anadolu Agency’s editorial policy.
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