Grand Master of National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan
Most Worshipful Brother Aras, please let us know about National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan (when was founded and which Grand Lodges founded your GL, how many members, how many lodges, international recognitions, Appendant Bodies in Azerbaijan etc
National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan
A short history and background
Following the establishment of Turkish speaking lodge NUR 2000, by MWB Robert B Heyat past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington in the year 2000, it was decided to use this lodge as a base to develop the ground work for creating Freemasonry in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan became an independent Republic. Azerbaijan is located in the Caucasus and is an Azeri Turkish speaking East European country.
The project to establish freemasonry in Azerbaijan started with the creation of Azerbaijan Lodge No. 2001 with participation of many Turkish, Azeri and American Past Masters and Brethren in Washington DC. The following year, The Grand Lodge of Washington DC invited the Grand Lodge of Russia to join this project and in 2002, they created the lodge Drugba (friendship) No. 24 in Moscow. In 2003, as a result of very close relationship with the Grand Lodge of Turkey through NUR Lodge 2000, the Grand Lodge of Washington DC invited the Grand Lodge of Turkey to join this project. Thus Hazar Lodge no. 1000 was chartered by MWB Demir Savascin in Ankara.
Most of the preparatory work was done by Azerbaijan Lodge during the years 2001 to 2008, and through many visits to Baku and meeting with authorities there and explaining the merits of Freemasonry, finally in 2008, positive signal was given for the go ahead. Following this development, the Grand Lodge of Washington DC created Baku Lodge No. 2008 to work locally in Baku and organize the preparation for the creation of the Grand Lodge. It should be mentioned that the Grand Lodge of Russia was of great help and support in all of our efforts to take this difficult project forward.
On December 5, 2008 a joint meeting of the Grand Masters and Grand Secretaries of Grand Lodge of Washington DC, The Grand Lodge of Russia and the Grand Lodge of Turkey, and MWB Robert B Heyat, the founder of the project was convened in Paris during the annual communications of GLNF for the specific purpose of chartering the new National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan.
At the completion of the meeting the charter was signed, issued and it was agreed to have the consecration in the following week on December 9 in Baku, Azerbaijan. On December 9, the organizational meeting of the National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan was convened in Baku and MWB Robert B Heyat was installed as the first Grand Master by the Grand Masters of Russia and Washington DC. Following his installation, MWB Robert B Heyat installed his Grand Lodge officers. The next day on December 10, in the second meeting of the National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan, new charters were issued to the founding lodges, their Worshipful Masters and officers were installed by the Grand Master.
At present four lodges are active in Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan Lodge No. 1, Khazar Lodge No. 2, Drugba Lodge No. 3 and Baku Lodge No. 4.
The total membership of the National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan stands at 102 as follows: Azerbaijan Lodge – 44, Baku Lodge – 32, Drugba Lodge – 11, Hazar Lodge – 15.
Since the consecration of National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan many candidates have been interviewed and approved by the lodges, and all of them have already been initiated, passed and raised by the lodges. There is also a large list of prospective candidates to be considered. Due to the sensitive political situation in Azerbaijan, the candidates are selected in a very careful way and after a number of interviews and a long waiting time.
There are monthly and quarterly meetings of the lodges and a semi-annual meeting of the Grand Lodge. The main annual Communications of the Grand lodge is on the last weekend of June.
The National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan is recognized by most European Grand Lodges and many American, Canadian, Latin American Grand Lodges. Over fifty Grand Lodges including Grand Lodges in Brazil recognize NGLAZ.
There are no appendant bodies yet in Azerbaijan, although some preparation to establish the Supreme Council of Scottish Rite has been done.
I would like to know your Masonic vision, your strategy as Grand Master.
I was installed by three Grand Masters: MW Robert B Heyat, MW Andrey Bogdanov of Russia and MW Rudiger Templin of United Grand Lodge of Germany.
As a newly elected Grand Master I will follow our Vision and Mission.
The Mission of the National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan is to teach and perpetuate a way of life that promotes the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God and to assist Lodges to grow and prosper, based on our Masonic traditions and Landmarks.
The Vision of the National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan is to be the premier organization composed of men of integrity and character, who are honest, true to their word, believe in God, are devoted to family, charitable in their community, and courteous and helpful to each other.
In order to be successful in this mission and ultimately realize this Vision the National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan has defined a strategy to guide our main activities:
The Grand Lodge provides self-improvement and leadership training for those members that have advanced beyond the Master of their lodge, and prepares them for positions of greater responsibility within the fraternity.
The Grand Lodge Officers are seen as prudent and effective leaders that guide the fraternity by precept and example.
The Grand Lodge is providing leadership, support, administrative guidance, and acknowledgement of accomplishment to the Lodges in the jurisdiction. An effective membership program that attracts a larger number of high-quality candidates for membership.
Grand Lodge and constituent lodges are financially stable. The Grand Lodge will monitor members, lodge activities for compliance with the National Grand Lodge Azerbaijan Masonic Code and advise member lodges on conformance issues.
As we are able to realize significant progress toward these objectives, we will draw closer to the ultimate Vision of National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan. “… to be the premier organization composed of men of integrity and character…” and we will keep safe the future of our craft so that we and our successors may continue to receive the joys of friendship, morality and brotherly love.
You are a very international man; you traveled a lot for Masonic purposes. Do you think that Eastern Freemasonry is different compared to the Western Freemasonry?
The Eastern Freemasonry is more involved in local culture and traditions that also make it difficult to develop quickly. However, those who come to Freemasonry, they come with a deep belief and dedication.
Do you think that nowadays world needs Freemasonry like in the past?
The world needs Freemasonry now more than ever, with all the darkness that is spread around the world. However, Freemasonry must change its format and agenda and get much more involved in the issues of today’s society, that affects the daily life of our communities, and become pro-active.
Let us know your Curriculum Vitae, both Masonic and profane.
I was Initiated and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in Bilgi Lodge, No. 15, Ankara Turkey. Continuing the Masonic tradition in my family, as third generation in 1989.
I am one of the founders of Nur Lodge 2000 and Azerbaijan Lodge 2001, member of couple of lodges in Washington D.C. and Romania, Turkey and Azerbaijan. I served my lodges in every position throughout the years.
Since we established our Grand Lodge, I was Assistant Grand Master for Foreign Relations. I represented National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan in many grand communications and world conferences.
In my personal life I am a businessman since 1984, working different sectors internationally. I have one daughter one son living in Newyork.