Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov.2 / Trend E. Ostapenko /
Central Asian's importance is growing in the world and the region should be associated with successful economic development and not conflicts, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said in an interview with a Russian newspaper today.
"Central Asia is taking on a new, global dimension," he said. "Accordingly, the world should reevaluate our region's role and importance. Central Asia should not be associated with conflicts, crises or social problems, which are happening in Afghanistan now, but rather with successful and dynamic growth and prosperity."
Nazarbayev made the statement in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
For this purpose, it is necessary to direct all of the international community's efforts toward "our economic development" as opposed to strategic military aims, he said.
In this context, holding the OSCE summit in Astana in late 2010 is an honor for Kazakhstan, he said. Nazarbayev added that the decision to hold the summit is a victory not only for his country, but for the entire CIS.
The OSCE summit will be held in early December in Astana and bring together the heads of states from the OSCE's 56 member countries and 12 partner countries, as well as the heads of 68 international organizations. The summit has not convened for 11 years. The last summit was held in Istanbul in 1999.
"I am sure that the Astana summit will give a new impetus to the development of the OSCE," the president said. "Astana will become a center of global politics."
He also expressed confidence that the summit will bring together all of the OSCE's members.
"We all have to accept the idea that Europe and Asia are a vast continent, and European security cannot take place without Asian components," the president said. "I am sure that together we can find effective approaches to solving the existing problems of Eurasian security."
Nazarbayev agreed with the global priority of making joint decisions.
"One thing is certain - the future of humanity depends on decisions made by consensus in the international community," he said. "Thus, the OSCE has a huge potential that has yet to be fully disclosed."
Nazarbayev said the future of European security must be discussed, as well as progress in the "Corfu Process."
The Corfu Process was named after the Greek islands where OSCE foreign ministers held a two-day informal meeting last June. The meeting resulted in the decision to start an open, constant, large-scale and comprehensive dialogue to achieve unity in terms of future European security.
Speaking about the security system, the president stressed that events in Central Asia, primarily Afghanistan, cause great concern.
"Drug trafficking threatens the security of the whole Eurasian continent, including European countries," he said. "It is obvious that military operations alone will not solve this problem. The Afghan government needs to help restore peace and build its economy."
Last year, Kazakhstan allocated about $4 million to Afghanistan to restore schools, hospitals and roads. Corn and other food products were sent as humanitarian aid, he said. Some $50 million were allocated to teach Afghan students to become agronomists, doctors, teachers and engineers.
"The more Afghans that we cover with such projects, the less the recruits there will be for terrorist groups and drug traffickers," Nazarbayev said.
Today, Afghanistan only needs this kind of assistance, he said. Humanitarian and educational initiatives and activities promoting economic development are required. New roads, factories, hospitals and schools, new agricultural technologies are needed, Nazarbayev said.
The rehabilitation of neighboring Kyrgyzstan also deserves the international community's attention, he said, noting that all of these issues will be discussed at the OSCE summit.
"Kyrgyzstan is one of Kazakhstan's closest neighbors," he said. "Our peoples are bound by ties of kinship rooted in the past. Therefore, we feel the pain taking place there."
Kyrgyzstan is experiencing a period of political crisis after former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown in April. Bloody clashes ensued between the ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities in the country's southern regions. Current President Rosa Otunbayeva is working to stabilize the situation, which still remains unstable in the southernmost regions.
Kazakhstan is also taking active measures to restore peace and order in neighboring states, he said.
Humanitarian aid worth over $11 million has been sent to Kyrgyzstan. Significant amounts of construction materials have also been sent to rebuild homes, the president noted. Assistance was also provided for planting and harvesting.
"Kazakh businesses also actively invest in its economy," he said. "About 40 percent of the investments in the Kyrgyz banking sector fall to Kazakh businesses. But it should be noted that the instability of this republic negatively impacts our cooperation."
The president added that joint work is underway between Kazakhstan and Russia, Uzbekistan and other neighboring countries to stabilize the situation in the Kyrgyzstan.
"But there are things that can be done only by Kyrgyz citizens and their authorities," he said. First, it is necessary to prevent ethnic clashes and to ensure the rule of law.