Kazakhstan, Astana, November 30 / Trend , K.Konyrova /
Trend exclusive interview with Kazakh Secretary of State, Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev on the threshold of the country's chairmanship to the OSCE
Q: How do you assess bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in the economic and political spheres? In what spheres does close cooperation have to develop?
A: The partnership between Astana and Baku is developing both in terms of politics, trade and economy. This is made clear by the dynamics of multi-level meetings between the countries, as well as deepening bilateral cooperation in business, where investment assumes a special role.
The results of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev's official visit to Azerbaijan Oct. 2 show that the traditionally friendly relations between our countries are a vivid example of cooperation between truly fraternal states.
Kazakhstan considers Azerbaijan a major player in the Caucasus region. Undoubtedly, the historical, cultural and ethnic and religious closeness of our peoples contribute to this process.
Presently both countries cooperate successfully in bilateral and multilateral formats, including the OSCE, CICA, and Summit of the Heads of Turkic States. The positions of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan on issues of global policy are always the same. We support strengthening the position of the U.N. And following international law. We also cooperate in combating terrorism and extremism. I can say that we are not only partners, but also allies on all fronts.
I have already noted the success of the economic component of our bilateral ties. I can list many examples as proof. Prior to the Kazakh president's visit, Baku hosted the sixth meeting of the Kazakh-Azerbaijani inter-governmental trade and economic cooperation commission Sept. 30.
Successes were achieved on all issues scheduled on the event's agenda and relevant documents were signed. We agreed that we will strengthen energy cooperation. The documents were signed envisaging KazMunaiGaz's use of Azerbaijani oil and gas infrastructure, transport communications between our countries, and joint activities to refine and exchange experiences in training, exploration and production and transportation of oil and gas resources.
Our countries also agreed upon cooperation in agriculture - both in veterinary medicine and joint delivery. Kazakhstan is interested in supplying food grains to Azerbaijan. On the other hand, we are interested in the deliveries of early vegetables and fruits from Azerbaijan to our Caspian regions. Both sides are interested in military and political cooperation, such as training Kazakh personnel, including sailors, at schools in Azerbaijan. We also want to further cooperation in the cultural and humanitarian spheres.
An important link between our countries are the 80,000 Azerbaijanis living in Kazakhstan, who are an integral and important part of our multinational nation. They have contributed significantly to our country's socio-economic and public development. I am sure that the prospects for developing our relations are great.
Trade turnover totaling $465 million was registered in 2008. The figure dropped this year due to the global crisis, but we have the potential to fix this situation. I am sure that the implementation of agreements reached during Nazarbayev's visit to Baku in October will raise our cooperation to a higher level.
Q: Kazakhstan will chair the OSCE in 2010. What issues will be a focus of attention during your chairmanship? Does Kazakhstan plan to add any innovations to the organization?
A: Kazakhstan's chairmanship to the OSCE is a unique chance for our country to present itself as a worthy partner of the international community, which can make a valuable contribution to strengthening regional and global security, and also for the organization, which can take advantage of our chairmanship to strengthen itself. We intend to give a new strong impetus to all constructive processes within the organization, to give it a new breath.
We will strive to ensure a balance between the three dimensions of the OSCE - military and political, economic, environmental and humanitarian. Speaking of the military and political dimension, I should note that the future of European security is an important area of discussion in light of Kazakhstan's forthcoming chairmanship to the OSCE.
Kazakhstan actively participates in discussions of issues concerning the new security architecture within the Corfu Process. We fully support the efforts of our partners to promote dialogue. But we also believe that the future architecture of European security should be based on existing mechanisms, institutions and legal papers. The OSCE has all the necessary tools for this. Our common goal should be to further strengthen and develop them.
As a key forum for addressing the most important security problems in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian regions, the OSCE can and should play a bigger role in resolving the problems of Afghanistan, which remain a major source of instability in the region. Kazakhstan would not like to use only the OSCE's potential in this regard during its chairmanship, but also lay a solid foundation to promote the OSCE's role in addressing problems of Afghanistan's further development. We also attach great importance to supporting member countries to promote Kazakhstan's initiative to develop educational programs for Afghan citizens.
On Nov. 22, I made an official visit to Afghanistan during which an inter-governmental agreement was signed in the field of education. Kazakhstan will provide an unprecedented $50 million to train 1,000 Afghans in coming years. We believe that large-scale assistance for educating and training Afghans will be an important contribution of the OSCE in combating the spread of the terrorism and extremism. Providing opportunities for Afghan youth to obtain a qualitative education will be an important measure addressing the country's drug problem.
One of the "big" topics for Kazakhstan's chairmanship may be the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Kazakhstan has always attached priority importance to this sphere of international activity, having years of political leadership experience in nuclear disarmament. In the context of the OSCE, the country wil deal first with strengthening mechanisms to prevent the proliferation of weapons and materials that can be used for nuclear manufacturing.
In the economic and environmental dimension, Eurasian transport corridors are a priority issue for us. Therefore, the theme of Kazakhstan's Eighteenth OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum will be "Promoting Good Governance at Border Crossings, Improving the Security of Land Transportation and Facilitating International Transport by Road and Rail in the OSCE Region."
We held the first preparatory conference for the forum in Astana Oct. 12-13. The remaining three parts of the forum will be held this winter and next spring in European capitals. We will also attach importance to using the potential of the OSCE for environmental protection. Kazakhstan is considering the possibility of determining the establishment of mechanisms for monitoring and preventive responses to environmental threats as measures to strengthen regional security. The Aral Sea Basin is a priority on the environmental track of our chairmanship. Promoting tolerance and intercultural dialogue is a major issue of OSCE's current agenda, which has been pre-selected by us as key humanitarian priority of our chairmanship.
As a country where representatives of 130 ethnicities live peacefully, Kazakhstan has unique and internationally recognized experience in preserving interethnic and inter-religious harmony. In our opinion, this is the basis of human security, development, human rights and democracy.
Conflicts on a religious and racial basis, which occur even in so-called countries with "advanced democracies," indicate how this sphere is important. We are studying the issue of holding the Comprehensive Conference on Tolerance in 2010. We have already developed the concepts for the forum and consultations are underway with OSCE member countries.
At the same time, we intend to support other key spheres of humanitarian activities within the mandate of the ODIHR and other OSCE institutions, such as democratization, human rights, and gender equality. In general, during the chairmanship, we plan to support all major activities of the OSCE in all three dimensions. Finally, a significant initiative of Kazakhstan during its chairmanship is the idea to conduct an OSCE summit.
As we know, the last OSCE summit was held in 1999 in Istanbul. Since then, the world has changed. We all face new challenges. During this time, the most powerful economic crisis took place, and international terrorism demonstrated new force.
Over the past eight years, the international community has not been able to succeed in stabilizing Afghanistan. The issue of establishing a new European security architecture has acquired urgency. Finally, at the national level, today Europe has become different, diverse and heterogeneous, which has already lead to conflict situations and conflicts.
Consequently, issues of comprehensive tolerance have acquired more urgency for OSCE members. In addition, for the past eight years, at annual meetings, OSCE foreign ministers have been unable to adopt a joint political declaration and this is considered a sign of serious differences within the organization and reduces its relevance in the modern world.
Accordingly, we believe there is an urgent need to organize an OSCE summit, which is the largest regional organization in the world, to deal with security issues. At the meeting, heads of states and governments would be able to make principal decisions on key security issues in the OSCE space. This will provide an opportunity to overcome the crisis in the organization and breathe new life to the process that began in Helsinki 35 years ago.
The idea to hold the summit has already been supported by countries such as Spain, Italy, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, France and other nations. We look forward to all OSCE participating states supporting the idea, as we believe the summit would be beneficial for us all.
Q: What role will Kazakhstan, as the OSCE chairman-in-office, be able to play in resolving frozen conflicts in the CIS, particularly Nagorno-Karabakh?
A: First of all, I propose using the the official term of the OSCE - protracted conflicts. The word "frozen" does not reflect the real situation surrounding the conflicts, which international organizations are actively working to resolve, especially the OSCE. The functions of the chairman are to contribute to continuing the negotiation process, searching for acceptable solutions and most importantly to avoid aggravating the situation, and its development into the hot phase.
The OSCE has a mechanism for early warning and preventing conflicts. There are several conflicts in the post-Soviet space: Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh, and the zones of Georgian-South Ossetian and Georgian-Abkhazian conflict.
Multilevel structures have been developed around each of these conflicts. Thus, the OSCE Minsk Group has been dealing with the Karabakh conflict since 1992. The solution of the Transnistrian conflict involves the OSCE mission, Russia, Ukraine and recently, the EU. Discussions over the situation around South Ossetia and Abkhazia are held within the Geneva talks with the participation of the U.N., OSCE, EU, Russia and U.S.
Our policy will be aimed at supporting the existing formats of the talks, increasing the role of the OSCE in conflict prevention and post-conflict situation regulation within international law and the basic principles of the organization. We have carefully studied the situation in conflict zones, and based on our consultations with the OSCE and participating countries, Kazakhstan intends to contribute to the process of finding solutions to the conflicts.
For this purpose, one of the most experienced Kazakh diplomats, Ambassador Bulat Nurgaliyev was appointed to the post of personal representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office on protracted conflicts.
With regards to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, it has always been a focus of the OSCE, in particular the Minsk Group. Kazakhstan, as OSCE chairman-in-office, will actively participate in the negotiation process under the auspices of the Minsk Group. We proceed from the fact that the development and deepening of dialogue are the only basis for achieving significant results in the solutions to conflicts. The peoples living in the conflict zones deserve a peaceful and better future, and Kazakhstan intends to do everything in its power to help them achieve this.
Q: Kazakhstan holds a leading positions among the Central Asian and CIS countries. Astana has initiated several regional projects, such as the Customs Union and collective Rapid Reaction Forces training. Does Kazakhstan plan to create additional regional projects in the future?
A: Concerning the establishment of additional regional projects, I should note that today we need to realize the potential of those that have already been created. I would like to stress that as a result of the Nineth Summit of Heads of Turkic-Speaking countries Oct. 3 in Nakhchivan (Azerbaijan), the leaders of four countries (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey) signed an agreement on the establishment of the Cooperation Council of Turkic States (Turkic Council). This document defines a new stage in strengthening interaction between Turkic-speaking states, including Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. In this regard, our joint efforts should be aimed at implementing agreements reached during the meeting in Nakhchivan.