The London Watch: Armenia is violating the principles of 45 years old Helsinki Final Act of OSCE, by Mr. Kamal Jafarov, MP

The London Watch (08/04/2020)
By Mr. Kamal Jafarov,
Member of Azerbaijani Parliament,
Member of Defense, Security and Anti-Corruption Committee
of the Azerbaijan Parliament

Helsinki Final Act was adopted on August 1, 1975 within the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). This year is the 45-year anniversary of the document. In January 1992, the Republic of Azerbaijan joined CSCE (later in 1994, renamed as OSCE) and took responsibility to implement its obligations under the Helsinki Final Act, including ten principles stipulated in the Act (also known as “The Decalogue”) for securing of peace and security in Europe.

Ten principles

Those then principles are the followings:

Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty
Refraining from the threat or use of force
Inviolability of frontiers
The territorial integrity of states
Peaceful settlement of disputes
Non-intervention in internal affairs
Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief
Equal rights and self-determination of peoples
Co-operation among States
Fulfillment in good faith of obligations under international law
In the Helsinki Final Act, the principle of territorial integrity of states is stressing the inadmissibility of changing the boundaries of states through violent means and implies a prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force. With regard to the right of people to self-determination, acting at all times in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with the relevant norms of international law, including those relating to the territorial integrity of States, which is a prerequisite to implementing this right.

Violation of the principles by Armenia

As the OSCE member state, the Republic of Armenia is continuously violating the principles of the Helsinki Final Act, by occupying the territories of Azerbaijan (Nagorno Karabakh and seven adjusted districts), as well as stays absolutely inactive in implementing of the commitments related to the UN Security Council decisions on unconditional withdrawal of armed forces from the all occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

Furthermore, according to CoE Resolution on the conflict, Armenia conducted ethnic cleansing against the Azerbaijani civilian population in the seized lands. The Parliamentary Assembly in its Resolution 1416 (2005) on The conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region dealt with by the OSCE Minsk Conference regrets that more than a decade after the armed hostilities started, the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region remains unsolved. In the end of the 80s Armenia launched aggression against Azerbaijan. 300,000 Azerbaijanis were deported from the territory of Armenia. And then in the beginning of 90s Armenia already launched aggression against the Azerbaijan Republic and as a result of that aggression almost 20 percent of our territories are under occupation and one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and IDPs. Our people were subject of ethnic cleansing and in 1992, the previous Armenian regime committed a war crime, the genocide of Khojaly. As a result, 613 innocent civilians among them 106 women and 63 children were brutally killed. More than ten countries recognize the Khojaly genocide.

Illegal continuation of occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan is the continuation of Armenia’s violation of the Principle IV (Territorial integrity of States) of the Helsinki Final Act. Armenia by all means tries to distort the principle of equal rights and self-determination enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act. The principles of territorial integrity and self-determination are two important principles that apply to international law and politics. These principles define the relationships which a country should have with others especially regarding global politics.

Principle of territorial integrity

The principle of territorial integrity states that countries should avoid promoting border changes or secessionist/separatist movements in other countries. It says, the participating States should respect the territorial integrity of each of the participating States. Accordingly, they should refrain from any action inconsistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations against the territorial integrity, political independence or the unity of any participating State, and in particular from any such action constituting a threat or use of force. This principle was developed many centuries ago due to the belief that intruding into another territory is an act of aggression. The adoption of the UN charter by countries supported territorial integrity. Article 51 of the Charter gives the right for an individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.

Furthermore, in its resolution 62/243, entitled “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan”, the UN General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its sixty-third session, a comprehensive report on the implementation of the resolution. In its official reply received from the United States of America, on behalf of the three Co-Chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group (France, Russian Federation, and the United States), it was mentioned that three countries had jointly proposed to the two parties (Armenia and Azerbaijan) a set of basic principles for the peaceful settlement of the conflict and those basic principles were founded on the provision of the Helsinki Final Act, including those related to refraining from the threat or use of force, the territorial integrity of States, and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples. USA and OSCE co-chair counties again reaffirmed the support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. [1]

One benefit of the territorial integrity principle is that it seeks to protect states from acts of aggression by other states. The territorial integrity protects the borders of states from external aggression acts by other states, and in doing so; the people within such territories are supposed to be protected. However, not in the case of the Karabakh conflict. Not only during the war in Karabakh, but also today, in the time of the so-called ceasefire, Armenians still continuing killing civilians and thus, violating the Helsinki Final Act principle, and also Geneva Conventions and principles of the humanitarian law. During April 12, 2016, and also during the recent skirmished as a result of provocation of Armenia, Azerbaijani side acted in accordance the international law, humanitarian law, and Helsinki Final Act principles, and protected the country’s territorial integrity, ensured the border inviolability and the safety of civilians.

Principle of self-determination of people

The principle says that the States should respect the equal rights of peoples and their right to self-determination, acting at all times in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with the relevant norms of international law, including those relating to the territorial integrity of States.

One major weakness of the principle of self-determination arises from the definitions associated with the principle. The principle uses words such as “peoples” which have not been defined in international law. However, in international law, minorities and other ethnic groups are not recognized as separate peoples. Therefore, the claims of Armenians to self-determination is absolutely groundless and are not in line with the principle of self-determination. Armenians living in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh area of Azerbaijan, are considered as the national minorities in Azerbaijan and are not the “people” in the meaning of the principle of self-determination. Armenian people have already self-determined themselves, they have Armenian state. They should find other places on Earth to self-determinate them for the second time, not in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is a multi-confessional and a multi-national country. There are many national minorities in Azerbaijan who live in peace and dignity. And when our territorial integrity is fully restored Armenians as a national minority will enjoy all the rights and privileges as any other representative of any other nation in our country. they will have a chance to enjoy their political, economic, social, and cultural development rights within the territory of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan keeps the right to defend its territorial integrity, by all means, if the peaceful negations are failed as a result of the non-constructive approach of the Armenian government, Azerbaijan will act in accordance to the article 51 of the UN Charter. And it is absolutely in line with the principles of the Helsinki Final Act.

[1] UN General Assembly Resolution on The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan: report of the Secretary-General

Source: The London Watch: