The German Basic Treaty (1972)

The Basis of Relations Treaty, or Basic Treaty as it became known, was signed by East Germany and West Germany in December 1972. Signed at the peak of Ostpolitik and Detente, the treaty acknowledged the sovereignty of the two nations, restored diplomatic communications and paved the way for “good neighbourly relations”:

“The high contracting parties, conscious of their responsibility for the preservation of peace; anxious to render a contribution to d├ętente and security in Europe; aware that the inviolability of frontiers and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all States in Europe within their present frontiers are a basic condition for peace; recognising that therefore the two German States have to refrain from the threat or use of force in their relations; proceeding from the historical facts and without prejudice to the different view of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic on fundamental questions, including the national question; desirous to create the conditions for cooperation between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic for the benefit of the people in the two German States; have agreed as follows:

Article 1. The Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic shall develop normal, good neighbourly relations with each other on the basis of equal rights.

Article 2. The Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic will be guided by the aims and principles laid down in the United Nations Charter, especially those of the sovereign equality of all States, respect for their independence, autonomy and territorial integrity, the right of self-determination, the protection of human rights, and non-discrimination.

Article 3. In conformity with the United Nations Charter, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic shall settle any disputes between them exclusively by peaceful means and refrain from the threat or use of force. They reaffirm the inviolability now and in the future of the frontier existing between them and undertake fully to respect each other’s territorial integrity.

Article 4. The Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic proceed on the assumption that neither of the two States can represent the other in the international sphere or act on its behalf.

Article 5. The Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic shall promote peaceful relations between the European States and contribute to security and cooperation in Europe. They shall support efforts to reduce forces and arms in Europe without allowing disadvantages to arise for the security of those concerned…

Article 6. The Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic proceed on the principle that the sovereign jurisdiction of each of the two States is confined to its own territory. They respect each other’s independence and autonomy in their internal and external affairs.

Article 7. The Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic declare their readiness to regulate practical and humanitarian questions in the process of the normalisation of their relations. They shall conclude agreements with a view to developing and promoting on the basis of the present treaty and for their mutual benefit cooperation in the fields of economics, science and technology, transport, judicial relations, posts and telecommunications, health, culture, sport, environmental protection, and in other fields…

Article 8. The Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic shall exchange Permanent Missions. They shall be established at the respective Government’s seat. Practical questions relating to the establishment of the Missions shall be dealt with separately.

Article 9. The Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic agree that the present Treaty shall not affect the bilateral and multilateral international treaties and agreements already concluded by them or relating to them.”

A rider to the treaty, submitted by the West German government, maintained its determination to work for the reunification of Germany:

“In connection with today’s signing of the Treaty concerning the Basis of Relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany has the honour to state that this Treaty does not conflict with the political aim of the Federal Republic of Germany: to work for a state of peace in Europe in which the German nation will regain its unity through free self-determination.”