Sargis M. Mkrtchian
At the end of the 20th century, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the selfdetermination of its separate republics also brought to the fore in Iran the issues of identity, which had certain manifestations especially in the Azeri-populated regions of Iran.
Organizations and figures appeared in the public, presenting various demands, from the teaching of the mother tongue in secondary schools and educational and cultural freedoms to the idea of separating Atrpatakan from Iran and joining “Northern Azerbaijan” or the Republic of Azerbaijan.
What is identity? What are the elements of identity? Is the identity of the Azeris of Iran different from the identity of the Iranian people? What do we understand under Iranian identity? What are the Azeris of Iran like and how are they different from the rest of the Iranian people? Recording that elements of national identity are considered to be a united history, united religion, united homeland, united culture, united economy, united language, common feelings, united state and political heritage, collective consciousness, sense of belonging, we conclude that the Azeris are an Iranian ethnic group whose identity cannot be separated from the common Iranian identity. Speaking Turkish of Atrpatakan, which belongs to the Turkish language family, imposed on them as a result of the invasion and coercion of the Mongol-Turkic tribes, is not enough to prove that they are a foreign nation. Since the Azeris of Iran bear all the elements of Iranian identity – geographical borders, history, religion and confession (Shiite religion of Islam), their constant presence in the state-political system of Iran, their integration into the Iranian economic system, bearing the cultural heritage, etc., all are evidence of that the Azeris have Iranian roots and are Iranians.