Kazakhstan's chairmanship to OSCE is chance for country to contribute to strengthening regional and global security: future OSCE chairman-in-office Kanat Saudabayev (INTERVIEW)

Kazakhstan, Astana, November 30 / Trend , K.Konyrova /

Trend exclusive interview with Secretary of State - Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kanat Saudabayev on the threshold of the country's chairmanship to the OSCE

Q: How do you assess the bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in economic and political spheres? In what spheres does it need to develop close cooperation?

A: The partnership between Astana and Baku is developing both in political and trade-economic aspects. This is testified by the dynamics of meetings at all levels, including at the highest level, as well as the deepening of bilateral cooperation in business, where the investment component assumes special importance. The results of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev's official visit to Azerbaijan on Oct. 2 showed that the traditionally friendly relations between our countries are a good example of cooperation between really fraternal states. Kazakhstan considers Azerbaijan as a key state in the Caucasus region. Undoubtedly, the historical, cultural and ethnic-religious closeness of our peoples contribute to this process. Currently, both countries successfully cooperate in bilateral and multilateral formats, including within the OSCE, CICA, Summit of the Heads of Turkic States etc. The positions of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan on the issues of world policy are always same - we support strengthening the position of the United Nations, following international law, we are cooperating in combating terrorism, 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 bilateral cooperation. I can bring facts for proof. Prior to Kazakh President's visit, on Sept. 30 Baku hosted the 6th meeting of the Kazakh-Azerbaijani inter-governmental commission on trade and economic cooperation. Successes were achieved on all issues scheduled on the agenda of this event, relevant documents were signed. In particular, we agreed that we will strengthen energy cooperation. Documents were signed on KazMunaiGaz National Company's use of Azerbaijani oil and gas infrastructure, transport communications between our countries, as well as on joint work on refining and exchange of experiences in training, exploration and further production and transportation of oil and gas resources. Furthermore, our countries 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 deliveries of early vegetables and fruits from Azerbaijan to the Caspian regions of our country. Both sides are interested in the military-political cooperation, training of Kazakhstani personnel, including sailors, at schools of Azerbaijan, and of course in cultural and humanitarian ties. An important link between our countries are the representatives of 80,000 Azerbaijani diasporas living in Kazakhstan, which are an integral and important part of our multinational nation and significantly contributed to the socio-economic and public development of our states. I am sure that the prospects for development of our relations are great. The trade turnover totaling $465 million recorded in 2008, which dropped this year due to the global crisis, can not satisfy both sides. We have the potential to correct this situation. I am confident that the implementation of agreements reached during President Nursultan 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 on the focus of attention during your chairmanship? Does Kazakhstan plan to make any innovations in the activities of the organization?

A: Kazakhstan's chairmanship to the OSCE is an unique chance not only for our country to present itself as a worthy partner of the international community that can make a valuable contribution to strengthening regional and global security, but also for the organization that can take advantage of our chairmanship to strengthen itself. We intend to give a new strong impetus to all constructive processes within the organization, give it a new breath.
We will strive to ensure balance between the three dimensions of the OSCE - military-political, economic, environmental and humanitarian. Speaking of the military-political dimension, I note that the future of the European security is an important direction in the light of Kazakhstan's forthcoming chairmanship to the OSCE. Kazakhstan actively participates in the discussions over the issues concerning the new security architecture within the "Corfu Process". We fully support the efforts of our partners to promote dialogue. However, we believe that the future architecture of European security should be based on existing mechanisms, institutions and legal papers. The OSCE has all 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 the main source of instability in the region. Kazakhstan would not like to only use the potential of the OSCE in this regard during its chairmanship, but also lay a good foundation to promote OSCE's role in addressing the problems of further development of Afghanistan. We also attach great importance to the support of the member countries to 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 on cooperation in the field of education. Kazakhstan will provide an unprecedented amount of $50 million for training 1,000 Afghans in the coming years. We believe that large-scale assistance for education and training of Afghans will be an important contribution of the OSCE in combating the spread of the ideology of terrorism and extremism. Providing opportunities for Afghan youth to obtain qualitative education will be an important measure amongst a wide range of actions to address the drug problem. One of the "large" topics for Kazakhstan's chairmanship can become the problem of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Kazakhstan has always attached priority importance to this sphere of international activity, having long experience of political leadership in nuclear disarmament. In the context of the OSCE, it deals firstly with the strengthening of mechanisms to prevent proliferation of such weapons and materials that can be used in its manufacture. In the economic and environmental dimension, the Eurasian transport corridors are the priority issue for us. Therefore, the theme of "Kazakhstan" 18th Economic and Environmental Forum of the OSCE was chosen "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 have already held the first preparatory conference for the Forum in Astana (12-13 October). The remaining three parts of the Forum will be held in the winter and spring in European capitals next year. 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. This is the Aral Sea Basin as a priority on the environmental track of the chairmanship. Promotion of tolerance and intercultural dialogue is one of the key issues of OSCE's current agenda, which has been pre-selected by us as the main priority of the humanitarian dimension of the future chairmanship. Kazakhstan, as a country where the representatives of 130 nationals live peacefully, has a unique and worldwide-recognized experience to preserve interethnic and inter-religious harmony. In our opinion, this is the basis of human security, development, human rights and democracy. Conflicts on religious and racial basis, which also occur even in so-called countries with "advanced democracy", indicate how this direction, selected by us, is important. Currently we study the question of holding Comprehensive Conference on Tolerance in 2010. We have already developed the concepts and consultations are held with member countries of the organization. At the same time, we intend to support other key spheres of the activities of the humanitarian dimension within the mandate of the ODIHR and other OSCE institutions such as democratization, human rights, gender equality, etc. In general, during the chairmanship, we plan to support all key activities of the OSCE in all three dimensions. Finally, one of the significant initiatives of Kazakhstan during its chairmanship is the idea of conducting a summit of the OSCE. As known, 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, international terrorism demonstrated itself with new forces. Over the past eight years, the international community has not been able to succeed in stabilizing Afghanistan. The issue of establishing new European security architecture has acquired urgency. Finally, at the national level, today Europe became quite different, diverse and heterogeneous, which already lead to the appearance of conflict situations and conflicts. Consequently, the issues of comprehensive tolerance have acquired more urgency for all OSCE members. In addition, for the past eight years, at the annual meetings, the OSCE foreign ministers have been unable to adopt a joint political declaration, and this is considered as a sign of serious differences within the organization and reduces its relevance in the modern world. Accordingly, we believe that there is an urgent necessity to organize a summit of the OSCE, which is the largest regional organization in the world, dealing with security issues. At such a meeting, the heads of states and governments would be able to make principal decisions on key issues of security in the OSCE space. This will provide an opportunity both to overcome the crisis in the organization and to breathe new life to the process begun 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 countries. We look forward to supporting this idea by all OSCE participating states, because we believe that such a summit would be beneficial for all of us.

Q: What role will Kazakhstan, as the OSCE chairman-in-office, be able to play in resolving frozen conflicts in the CIS, particularly in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

A: First of all, I propose to use the official term of the OSCE - the protracted conflicts. The word "frozen" does not reflect the real situation around the conflicts, solutions for which are actively searched by the international organizations, especially the OSCE. The functions of the chairman are to contribute to continuing the negotiation process, searching acceptable solutions and most importantly - to avoid aggravation of the situation, its development into a "hot" phase. For this, the OSCE has a mechanism for early warning and preventing conflicts. There are several conflicts on the post-Soviet space: Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh, a zone of Georgian-Ossetian and Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. Multilevel structures have been developed around each of the conflicts to address them. 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 European Union. Discussions over the situation around South Ossetia and Abkhazia are held within the Geneva discussions with the participation of the UN, OSCE, EU, Russia and the United States. Our policy will be aimed at supporting the existing formats of negotiations, increasing the role of the OSCE in conflict prevention and regulation of post-conflict situations within the international law and basic principles of the organization. We have carefully studied the situation in conflict zones, and based on consultations with the OSCE and the participating countries, Kazakhstan intends to contribute to the process of finding solutions to the conflicts. For this purpose, one of the most experienced diplomats of Kazakhstan, ambassador Bulat Nurgaliyev was appointed to the post of personal representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office on the protracted conflicts. With regards to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, it has always been on the focus of the OSCE, in particular the Minsk Group. Kazakhstan, as an 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 the dialogue are the only basis for achieving significant results in the solutions to conflicts. The peoples living in conflict zones deserve a peaceful and better future, and Kazakhstan intends to do everything in its power to help them achieve this.

Q: Kazakhstan takes one of the leading positions amongst the countries of Central Asia and CIS. Astana is one of the initiators of some regional projects, such as the Customs Union and the trainings of the collective rapid reaction forces. Does Kazakhstan plan to create additional regional projects in the future?  What spheer they will have to touch upon?

A: Concerning the establishment of additional regional projects in the future, I should note that today we need to realize the potential of those that have already been created. I would like to remind that as a result of the 9th Summit of Heads of Turkic-speaking countries, held on 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 the interaction between the Turkic-speaking states, including between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. In this regard, our joint efforts should be aimed at implementing agreements reached during the meeting in Nakhchivan.

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