Baku, 1 August 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Azerbaijan today officially ended use of the Cyrillic alphabet in favor of Latin letters. A decree issued several weeks ago by President Heidar Aliyev ordered all official documents, Azerbaijani-language magazines and newspapers, outdoor advertising and signs be written in the Latin script from 1 August. This is the third change of script in a century for the country on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
In 1929, Azerbaijani leaders decided to drop the Arabic script and adopt the Latin alphabet. Several years later, by which time Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union, the use of Cyrillic letters was ordered by the Kremlin.
The latest change aims to strengthen the process of nation-building in the mainly Muslim state which gained its independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
(For more on this story please see: Azerbaijan: Cyrillic Alphabet Replaced By Latin One)