We would like to express our gratitude to the people of Kazakhstan for the support you have shown during these crucial times in the fight against international terrorism. We are thankful for your unequivocally firm commitment to stand by and work with the United States and the rest of the civilized community in our common struggle for a better world for all of its children.
As Kazakhstan nears the 10th anniversary as a full member of the community of nations on December 16, 2001, we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate your people on this event and on your many momentous achievements throughout this first decade. We commend the impressive strides Kazakhstan has made in moving away from a totalitarian Communist society and a central command economy to a truly open and democratic society with a thriving market economy showing progress every day.
As the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, a Congressional group dedicated to promoting and strengthening the rights of people of all racial and ethnic background, we are particularly pleased to note the remarkable record of Kazakhstan in securing equal rights and opportunities for all your 130 ethnic groups, including Kazakhs, Russians, Germans, Jews and many others. We welcome the freedom of expression that we are witnessing in Kazakhstan with more than fifteen hundred independent news media outlets operating freely.
Additionally, we particularly strongly applaud the freedom of religion that your nation has established for its people who follow Islam, Christianity, Judaism and other religions, which is even more important in our time of increased urgency for interreligious harmony in the world. "Yours is a country in which the world can see accord and harmony between different peoples as an eloquent sign of the vocation of all peoples to live together in peace, in mutual knowledge and openness, and an ever deeper discovery and appreciation of the distinctive traditions of each people", noted Pope John Paul II during his September 2001 visit to Kazakhstan. We join the Pope in this appreciation.
We know that the United States has found a true friend in Kazakhstan. The decade-long cooperation between our nations in the fight for security in the world, in eliminating the weapons of mass destruction Kazakhstan inherited from the Soviet empire, including hundreds of nuclear missiles aimed at us, has been a cornerstone of our partnership. We are pleased to see American businesses playing a prominent role in developing your economy, and consider this to be an important contribution to the stability of a part of the world notorious for its conflicts.
Mr. President, we commend your leadership in promoting peace, democracy and stability in Kazakhstan and beyond your borders.
We wish you and the people of Kazakhstan many successes in the decades ahead.