Azerbaijan became a member of the Council for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) (OSCE as of the 1st of January 1995) on the 30th of January 1992. The CSCE was the first European organisation to include Azerbaijan.
For the first time, Azerbaijan participated in the CSCE Summit in Helsinki on the 8th to the 10th of July 1992 and signed its documents.
The founding document of the OSCE is the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 which defines the main framework of interstate relations in the OSCE area and contains a Declaration of Principles Guiding Relations between participating States. These principles are as follows:
- Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty
- Refraining from the threat or use of force
- Inviolability of frontiers
- Territorial integrity of States
- Peaceful settlement of disputes
- Non-intervention in internal affairs
- Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
- Equal rights and self-determination of peoples
- Co-operation among States
- Fulfilment in good faith of obligations under international law
Summit meetings at the level of Heads of State or Government of OSCE participating States are the highest decision-making body of the OSCE.
Since becoming a full member of the Organisation, the Republic of Azerbaijan has participated in the OSCE Summits in Helsinki in 1992, in Budapest in 1994, in Lisbon in 1996, in Istanbul in 1999 and in the Astana Summits in 2010.
The last OSCE Summit was held on the 1st to the 2nd of December 2010 in Astana. The Summit was attended by a delegation led by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. The final declaration adopted at the Summit stressed the importance of resolving protracted conflicts in the OSCE area on the basis of the norms and principles of international law enshrined in the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act.
The Ministerial Council is the second central decision-making and governing body of the Organization after the Summit. Ministerial meetings, as a rule, are convened once a year (excluding the years of the Summit) in the country holding the Chairmanship.
Azerbaijan actively participates in the annual meetings of the OSCE Council of Foreign Ministers and discussions of draft resolutions and documents.
The Permanent Council is the principal decision-making body for regular political consultations and for governing the day-to-day operational work of the OSCE between the meetings of the Ministerial Council. The Permanent Council meetings take place once a week in Vienna.
On the 25th of May, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan addressed a special meeting of the Permanent Council and drew attention to the views of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the restoration, reconstruction and re-integration work after the end of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Co-operation with OSCE executive institutions
There are three executive agencies within the OSCE to foster the dialogue and co-operation within and between the participating States and to assist them in fulfilling their commitments in this area: the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM) and the High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM).
The ODIHR is headquartered in Warsaw and has a mandate to assist the participating States in fulfilling their Human Dimension Commitments (HDCs).
Azerbaijan has been cooperating with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) since 1998 and has implemented a number of projects in the areas of democratisation, rule of law, improvement of legislation, especially election legislation, migration, gender equality and others. The ODIHR participated in the observation of the presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections in Azerbaijan. From December 2020, the ODIHR Director for a three-year term is Matteo Mecacci from Italy.
The position of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM) was established by a decision of the Permanent Council of the Organisation dated the 5th of November 1997. The mandate of the Representative includes observing the media processes in the OSCE participating States and assisting the participating States in fulfilling their commitments in this area. The Representative’s office is located in Vienna. From December 2020, Teresa Riberio from Portugal will be Representative on Freedom of the Media for a three-year term.
The Government of Azerbaijan is cooperating with the RFoM on issues within its mandate. Examples of cooperation with this institution include training for Azerbaijani journalists and press officers of various organisations, in particular the improvement of Azerbaijan’s media legislation and its legal expertise.
The post of OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) was established by the relevant decision of the 1992 Helsinki Summit of the CSCE. The High Commissioner’s mandate covers early warning and early action to prevent tension from national minorities in OSCE participating States. The High Commissioner’s office is located in The Hague. From December 2020, the position of the High Commissioner for National Minorities is held by the representative of Kazakhstan Kayrat Abdrakhmanov.
Since becoming a full member of the OSCE, Azerbaijan has established relationships with the Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. Azerbaijan cooperates in the field of protection of the rights of national minorities, sharing of best practices and norm-setting in such important areas as their full integration into the public life of the states of which they are citizens.
The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office was established to coordinate activities within the organisation and cooperation between the participating States. The country chairing the organisation is determined by the decision of the Council of Ministers for a period of one year. The current Chairman is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of that country.
On the 1st of January 2021, Sweden took over the chairmanship of the OSCE. The current OSCE Chairperson-in-Office is Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde.
On the 14th to the 15th of March 2021, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office paid a visit to Azerbaijan. During the visit, the sides discussed the situation in the region after the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the role of the OSCE in the post-conflict recovery, reconstruction and re-integration processes, as well as strengthening practical cooperation between Azerbaijan and the OSCE.
According to the decision of the 26th OSCE Ministerial Council, the current chairmanship in 2022 will be held by Poland.
The OSCE Secretary General is responsible for coordinating the day-to-day activities of the Organisation’s Secretariat and executive bodies. The OSCE Secretary General is appointed by the decision of the Council of Ministers for a term of three years.
On the 12th of September 2018, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger visited our country. During the visit, the Secretary General was received by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and meetings were held with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the management of the Baku International Seaport and other officials. The sides exchanged views on practical aspects of Azerbaijan-OSCE cooperation.
From December 2020, Helga Maria Schmidt, the German representative, is the OSCE Secretary General for a period of 3 years. During his working visit to the Republic of Austria in May 2021, Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov met with the OSCE Secretary General to discuss the situation in the South Caucasus and other issues of mutual interest.
The Parliamentary Assembly, composed of 323 parliamentarians from the OSCE participating States, aims to promote dialogue at the parliamentary level as an autonomous body of the OSCE and is of a consultative nature. The International Secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly is located in Copenhagen. Roberto Montella (Italy) is currently the Secretary General of the OSCE PA, and Peter Lord Bowness (Ireland) is the President.
The delegation of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan is represented in the work of the OSCE PA by a total of 6 deputies, 3 of whom are key persons. The head of the Azerbaijani delegation to the OSCE PA is MP Azay Guliyev. He has also been the Vice-President of the OSCE PA since 2016.
Close co-operation has been established between Azerbaijan and the OSCE PA. The 2014 Annual Session of the OSCE PA was held in Baku. At the annual sessions of the organisation held in different years, various resolutions were adopted at the initiative of the Azerbaijani side. At present, an unofficial group “Support to the Silk Road” established at the initiative of the Azerbaijani side operates within the organisation.
On the 9th to the 11th of September 2012, a group of Permanent Representatives of a number of countries to the OSCE visited our country.
The second such visit took place on the 21st to the 22nd of June 2018 and was attended by a total of 17 permanent representatives of the OSCE participating States.
OSCE Human Dimension
The OSCE is one of the organisations with which Azerbaijan co-operates in the promotion and protection of human rights. On the 26th of November 1998, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by and between the Government of Azerbaijan and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The annex to the memorandum envisages close cooperation in the implementation of democratic reforms in the field of human rights in the country.
With the support of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Baku Office, important projects have been implemented and measures were taken in the areas of civil society development in Azerbaijan, promotion of freedom of thought and expression, combating gender inequality and violence against women, torture prevention, human rights education, and free and fair elections.
Azerbaijani officials regularly attend the OSCE Annual Meetings on the Human Dimension. As a rule, the meeting is attended by the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Central Election Commission, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Committee for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman), and the Council for State Support to Non-Governmental Organisations under the auspices of the President of Azerbaijan.
In 2020, Azerbaijan continued its effective cooperation with the OSCE and the OSCE / ODIHR in the field of human rights. Various events (seminars, training, conferences, etc.) were organised as part of this cooperation. Most of the events were held online due to the COVID pandemic. During the year, participation of the representatives of various government agencies at international events, as well as in monitoring election processes and election observation has been ensured.
Azerbaijan has an Election Code developed in cooperation with leading international organisations to ensure that elections are conducted in accordance with international standards. The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, the OSCE / ODIHR and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) worked closely together to develop the document. As a result of cooperation with these organisations since mid-2002, almost all of the recommendations proposed by these organisations on the draft Election Code have been included in the draft Election Code. In December 2002, the draft Election Code was discussed at roundtables organised by the OSCE / ODIHR with the participation of representatives of the Government of Azerbaijan, the opposition, international organisations and the public. The Election Code was adopted in May 2003 and entered into force on the day it was signed by the President.
At the official invitation of the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the ODIHR sent an Election Observation Mission (EOM) for the early presidential elections held on the 11th of April 2018. The ODIHR EOC consisted of 10 international experts based in Baku. In addition, the ODIHR has requested that OSCE participating States deploy more than 30 long-term and 280 short-term observers. Observers monitored candidate registration, campaign activities, the work of the election administration and relevant government bodies, election legislation and its implementation, the media environment, and election dispute resolution.
At the official invitation of the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the ODIHR established the EOC to observe the early parliamentary elections held in our country on the 9th of February 2020. The main staff of the EOC in Baku consisted of 12 people. The ODIHR involved 271 long-term and short-term observers to observe the elections. Observers monitored the entire election process. The parliamentary elections were an important milestone in the reforms carried out by the Government of Azerbaijan and an important step for the democratic development of the country.