August 1 marks the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act. After 45 years, the Act and the ten principles (the “Decalogue”) guiding inter-State relations enshrined therein continue to be the foundation of the rules-based European order. They can in no way be a subject for re-negotiation, revision, or more so re-interpretation.
The ten principles governing the conduct of States towards each other and their citizens have played an indispensable role in diffusing tensions and laid the ground for cooperative and indivisible security in the OSCE area, where all states must respect each other’s rights inherent in and encompassed by sovereignty, in particular the right of every State to juridical equality, territorial integrity and to freedom and political independence.
The Final Act puts the obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders at the core of the inter-State relations. The Act codified the principles of territorial integrity, the inviolability of frontiers of States, and the non-use of force in such a way as to emphasize that they are consequential principles generated by the foundational norm of territorial integrity and are hence inextricably linked under international law. The Act prohibits making the territories of States the object of military occupation or other direct or indirect measures of force in contravention of international law, or the object of acquisition by means of such measures or the threat of them. Under the Helsinki Final Act, no such occupation and acquisition will be recognized as legal.
The ten Principles of the Helsinki Final Act complement each other and must be applied in their entirety, equally and unreservedly, taking into account each other. It is not without a reason, in this regard, that the Act unequivocally conditions equal rights and right to self-determination of the peoples with the respect for the norms and principles of international law, in particular those relating to the territorial integrity of States.
Misinterpretation or selective application of the founding principles of the Helsinki Final Act, in particular, in the context of conflict resolution impedes the settlement of the conflict and further contributes to an erosion of trust and confidence in the OSCE area. In this context, it is imperative more than ever to denounce any manifestation of double standards in the application of the founding principles. All conflicts dealt with by the OSCE, without exception, must be resolved exclusively on the basis of the norms and principles of international law, as enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act, in full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the affected States within their internationally recognized borders.
Azerbaijan, since the very first days of its regained independence, has been faced with a direct threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity and therefore, attaches particular importance to the OSCE and all its principles and commitments, in particular those enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act. The Act, along with the four United Nations Security Council Resolutions adopted in 1993 (822, 853, 874, and 884), constitutes the basis for a peaceful settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The Republic of Azerbaijan commemorates this solemn occasion of the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act and continues to rely on the Act in its efforts to restore its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and inviolability of frontiers. Azerbaijan counts on the support and solidarity of OSCE participating States in defense of these fundamental principles of the Helsinki Final Act.