"Kazakhstan stated its bid for chairmanship in 2009. We are very much hopeful that our initiative will be properly understood by the member states of the OSCE and obtain a general consensus. Kazakhstan is not overestimating its political potential and international record but wishes to contribute to the OSCE as one of the major Central Asian countries."

by H.E. Mr. Kassymzhomart Tokaev,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan
at the Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council
(September 9, 2004, Vienna)

Dear Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Ambassadors,
Ladies and gentlemen!

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for giving me this opportunity to speak at the OSCE Permanent Council. It is a real privilege for me since the cooperation with the OSCE has always been a priority for Kazakhstan.

We, in Kazakhstan, have never been doubtful about the OSCE as the major organization that was instrumental in promoting liberal reforms and democracy in my country.
Since joining the OSCE in 1992 Kazakhstan was consistently trying to contribute to the organization expressing its strong commitment to the fundamental values and goals envisaged by the major documents of the OCSE. Taking this opportunity I wish to underscore once again our unconditional adherence to all obligations within the OSCE.

Dear colleagues,

In ten days we will have parliamentary elections. This is a serious test for our democracy. However, taking into account what we have done before the election within a very short period of time, I am convinced that the outcome of this campaign will highlight a steady and gradual progress towards democracy. First of all, it is a new Election law, which undergone a heated discussion among all political parties and parliamentarians. This important law contains almost all the recommendations of the OSCE and therefore comes out to be a solid legal basis for holding transparent, free and fair elections.

For the first time in our history 12 political parties will contest the seats in the Parliament. This is an evident demonstration of the fact that the civil society in Kazakhstan is being strengthened, more and more people want to be a part of the social and political life to contribute to the process of enhancing democracy. At the moment there is a big hope among the multiethnic population of Kazakhstan that the upcoming election campaign will result in establishing a new Parliament, which will be professional, patriotic and adequate to the contemporary challenges.

For the first time in our history we are going to install the electronic voting system. This system is believed to be safe and able to protect the voting process from distortions and interference. All the preliminary tests have been completed and the system is ready to be used during the campaign. However, some political parties and voters, particularly in the rural areas, express their concerns about efficiency of this innovation and doubt about its ability to ensure free and fair elections due to the lack of technical literacy of the population and a number of other technical problems. These concerns have to be taken into account to avoid any difficulties during and after the elections. Recently, President Nursultan Nazarbayev addressing the Parliament expressed his view on this issue, acknowledging the sense and fairness of these concerns. As the Head of state he proposed to use the electronic voting system not more than on 10 percent of the so called territorial and administrative regions of the country, which are fully equipped with telecommunications required. Therefore, 90 percent of the constituencies will vote in a traditional way. I also do not exclude the possibility that even the electronic voting might be followed by paper voting in order to avoid any misinterpretations of the results.

We welcome all the missions from the ODIHR that have already started their work in Kazakhstan. Ambassador Barry made a preliminary report on the situation in the election campaign. This document was studied not only in the Central Election Commission, but also in the Government of Kazakhstan and it was recognized as extremely informative and useful. As far as I know, Chairperson of the Commission is planning to give a detailed answer to some points of this document.

What I would like to stress is that the upcoming elections are far from being a final point in further strengthening democracy in Kazakhstan. It is rather an initial stage of this process, which will be gradually developed according to the vision and concept of the President. He said about the urgent necessity of reforming the political system of the country. Let me remind you that this reform will be carried out through two major stages. Within two years we are planning to decentralize the country’s administration system, by giving more authority to the local and municipal bodies, agencies, as well as the local parliaments. The mayors and governors of the cities and districts including those who are in the rural areas are going to be elected by the local parliaments. The role and status of the National Parliament will be also significantly strengthened. All the ministers before being appointed by the President have to be approved by its relevant committees. As it was before, the Prime Minister will be appointed after the consent of the Parliament to his or her appointment. Also the Parliament will bear a responsibility for direct control of budget expenditures.

On the second stage, we are planning to substantially introduce the proportional system of voting giving the political parties an opportunity to be largely represented in the Parliament. In other words, fifty percent of the seats in the parliament will belong to the political parties. In the future, a political party that is in the majority will play a crucial role in forming the government, nominating its candidate to the premiership. Therefore the parliamentary elections in 2009 will be held in accordance with the new political rules. The country itself will have a new image – more democratic and more open to the international cooperation. In a broader sense, Kazakhstan will be totally transformed and will change the political landscape in the region.

Taking this opportunity I also would like to express our view on the regional cooperation. This topic is on the agenda of the member countries of the Organization of Central Asia Cooperation. Recently this Organization invited Russia as a new member state and established a dialogue with Japan. All the Central Asian countries signed the Agreement on Cooperation and trade with the United States. Our aim is to form a common market in Central Asia to ensure that the existing opportunities and potential of the region with the population of 50 million people will be used efficiently. Pursuing this goal we have to overcome many difficulties and challenges. Central Asia is not homogeneous, there is a diversity of cultures and traditions. At the same time, it is necessary to keep in mind that in general our region is facing a number of problems, such as religious extremism, terrorism, illicit drug trafficking, illegal migration, corruption, insufficiency of water sources, pollution, low living standards and weakness of the rule of law. Some countries are making a substantial progress in addressing these issues, some are not, and therefore Central Asia needs more international cooperation to address these challenges, where the problems of protection of human rights and building the civil society are not exception.

As I have mentioned before, Kazakhstan is absolutely committed to reaching and ensuring these democratic values. We are convinced that there is no shortcut in overcoming all these social and political problems. Democracy is the only way to solution. Nevertheless, the OSCE while supporting the Central Asian countries has to take very seriously all the challenges and problems by distributing them into the relevant “baskets” that should be equal in terms of weight and content. We also believe that in this context, there should be no priorities in favor of one of the issues. The potential and capability of the Organization that has enormous financial and human resources go far beyond one issue, no matter how important it is, the OSCE should handle all the acute problems of the contemporary world. Otherwise it would create difficulties for balancing all the dimensions, questioning the credibility of the Organization for the countries of the region. We expect the OSCE to focus on the economic cooperation and free trade, protection of the environment and development of energy resources, as well as enhancing education and humanitarian exchanges. While admitting a unique geographical presence of the OSCE, we also have to address a variety of problems that belong to different dimensions. Almost all the countries and organizations, including the United Nations, are in the process of reforms and transformations. Kazakhstan as the member state of the OSCE believes that our organization should not be staying on the sidelines of this process, it is in our common interest to make the OSCE fully adequate to the present challenges, including the problems faced by our region.

In this regard, I wish to refer to the problem of terrorism. The latest terrorist acts in Uzbekistan and Russia remind us about strong necessity of undertaking effective measures to counter this evil. There should be no justification for killing innocent people, particularly children. All the civilized world must unite to show it’s strong will and readiness to destroy vicious plans of the terrorist network. As far as Central Asia is concerned, the organization called “Hizb-ut-Tahrir” plans to establish the “Islamic halifat” throughout the region. It is our sacred duty to protect the peoples of Central Asia from violating their rights, promote democracy and human values, as they want to live in the secular and free society.

Mr. Chairman,

The recent events clearly showed that stability in Europe to a certain extent depends upon the developments in Central Asia.

Today, all the countries have no illusions that they can solve the problems of terrorism without international cooperation. We welcome the OSCE involvement in global efforts in fighting terrorism after adoption of the Bucharest action plan and the Bishkek program. We hope that this issue will be properly reflected in the implementation of the OSCE “Strategy on meeting the challenges to security and stability in 21st century”.

The situation in Afghanistan remains the main concern for the countries of our region. We welcome the decision of granting the OSCE partner status to Afghanistan and hope that this step as well as further efforts by the Organization will facilitate the recovery of this country.

Dear Colleagues,

As far as you know, Kazakhstan stated its bid for chairmanship in 2009. We are very much hopeful that our initiative will be properly understood by the member states of the OSCE and obtain a general consensus. Kazakhstan is not overestimating its political potential and international record but wishes to contribute to the OSCE as one of the major Central Asian countries. We fully understand that it is a challenge first of all to our country. Nevertheless Kazakhstan is ready to address it, continuing political and economic reforms. As I have mentioned in the very beginning of my statement, we have made a substantial progress in promoting contemporary values and is willing to go ahead with this process.

Kazakhstan is a consistent supporter of the idea of strengthening of the OSCE since we strongly believe that the Organization must play an important role in the new world order. We highly appreciate the efforts of the Chairmanship-in-Office in this direction and hope to reach an early consensus on the basic issues of the OSCE reform. Kazakhstan welcomes the aspiration of the Chairmanship-in-Office on taking comprehensive efforts on ensuring security and facilitating sustainable development in the Central Asian countries. It is important that such activities be conducted on constructive, transparent and mutually beneficial basis and meet up our interests and expectations.

I am sure that we can and must work together. One of the practical implications of this approach is our cooperation with the OSCE Center in Almaty particularly with regard to the projects on water resources management and police activities.

Mr. Chairman,

Kazakhstan continues to take considerable efforts to strengthen regional cooperation on security issues. The Shanghai Organization of Cooperation, the Organization of the Treaty on Collective Security and the Central-Asian Organization of Cooperation are very important for us. We are also very optimistic about cooperation with Russia, United States, China, countries of Central Asia and the EU that have been included in the list of top priorities of foreign policy of my country. In this context, the proposed role of the OSCE seems to be very instrumental for enhancing joint efforts to counter international terrorism.
Another important aspect of ensuring regional security in our region is involvement of the Central Asian countries including Kazakhstan, in the program “Partnership for Peace” of the NATO.

It is worthy to note that Kazakhstan’s initiative to convene the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) has the political objectives that are very similar to the OSCE values. Your support for the CICA process is very important for Kazakhstan. We believe that both arrangements could expand mutual ties.

I also would like to inform you that on the 22nd of October the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the CICA member states will be hold in Almaty. This meeting is expected to adopt the Catalogue of Confidence Building Measures, the Statute of the CICA Secretariat and the Rules of Procedure.  Above-mentioned documents will form a solid basis for strengthening security in Asia and complete legal establishment of the CICA institutions.

Mr. Chairman,

It is beyond any doubt that there is no alternative for multilateral cooperation in the OSCE. This cooperation is based on growing interdependence. We are able to work successfully in ensuring security and in addressing the challenges provided that all the member states of the OSCE will act as one family. It is our firm believe and commitment.

In conclusion, I want to express my profound gratitude to Mr. Jan Kubis, Secretary General of the OSCE, whose professional background has been linked not only with the OSCE but Central Asia and is a good example of dedication and faithful service to the principles and goals of the OSCE.

Finally I wish to convey best regards from President Nursultan Nazarbayev who is to arrive to Vienna in a couple of hours to pay an official visit to Austria. He is absolutely committed to the OSCE and wants to make our organization more dynamic and efficient in terms of solving all the existing problems and issues. That’s why he authorized me to come earlier to Vienna to express the vision of Kazakhstan on cooperation and interaction with the OSCE.

Thank you for attention.