(Special) OSCE Permanent Council No. 609
EU statement in response to the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mr. Rakhat Aliyev
- The EU welcomes Mr. Rakhat Aliyev, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, back to the Permanent Council. We value his presence here as a signal of the importance Kazakhstan continues to attach to its cooperation in and with the OSCE.
- The EU has been very interested to hear the overview the Deputy Minister has given of the process of political, economic and social reform in his country. We welcome the ambitious goals outlined and wish Kazakhstan success in meeting them. In this context, we particularly welcome the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on 24 January 2006.
- The EU takes a close interest in developments in Kazakhstan and follows them carefully, both through our bilateral channels and via the OSCE. For instance, the EU recently held a fruitful Regional Political Dialogue meeting with the five Central Asian states in Almaty and would like to thank Kazakhstan for hosting this meeting.
- The EU has previously welcomed Kazakhstan’s aspirations to take on a leading role in the OSCE. We underline our belief that any Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE must exemplify the principles of the organisation. It is for Kazakhstan to demonstrate that it is ready and able to commit to full compliance with all OSCE undertakings and standards.
- The EU also appreciates Kazakhstan’s active role in hosting OSCE events, including the Regional Conference on Combating the Trafficking in Human Beings, to be held in Astana this week, as well as the Tolerance Implementation Meeting on Promoting Inter-Cultural, Inter-Religious and Inter-Ethnic Understanding, to be held in Almaty in June. We look forward to participating in these meetings and thank Kazakhstan for its efforts in this regard.
- We have long welcomed Kazakhstan’s efforts in working towards greater regional cooperation in Central Asia. This work is particularly important in fighting the many and multi-facetted threats to security and stability typical of today’s security environment. We have listened carefully, therefore, to Mr. Aliyev’s comments regarding Kazakhstan’s regional initiatives.
- The EU has noted with great interest the setting up of a State Commission on the Development and Concretisation of the Programme for Political Reforms, chaired by President Nazarbayev. We hope that the work of this body will contribute to Kazakhstan’s efforts to comply with its international commitments, including OSCE commitments. As we are all aware, the most important aspect of such commitments is their implementation, and we hope that Kazakhstan will work closely with the OSCE and make use of the expertise and assistance the Organisation can offer in this regard. We also hope that the work of the Commission will be carried out in a way that will truly allow the media, opposition and civil society to participate in its activities. We firmly believe that in order to be sustainable, political reform needs to be supported by the broadest possible range of political forces and civil society, and that they must all be involved on an equal footing. In this respect, we welcome the recent re-registration of the “True Ak-Zhol” party.
- Kazakhstan has made considerable progress in transforming its economy. Increased prosperity for all its citizens will be an important contributing factor to maintaining stability and security in the country. The EU is convinced that sustainable economic progress also requires continuous reform in the areas covered by the OSCE’s human dimension.
- The EU is however concerned about the situation with regard to Human Rights, to freedom of the media and to political parties in Kazakhstan. In its statement on December’s Presidential elections, ODIHR reported a number of shortcomings, including restrictions on opposition parties’ ability to campaign freely. Additionally, over the past months, we have seen several instances of opposition newspapers being suspended, opposition politicians have been prevented from leaving the country, opposition parties have faced difficulties in registering, and opposition activists have been detained and fined for participating in a memorial meeting for the murdered political figure Altynbek Sarsenbaiuly. We note that Mr Sarsenbaiuly’s murder still has not been resolved. These are developments which do not diminish the concern the EU has expressed on a number of occasions about aspects of political life and the overall Human Rights situation in Kazakhstan.
- The coming months will be important ones for Kazakhstan as well as for the OSCE. We welcome the fact that Deputy Minister Aliyev has chosen to come to the Permanent Council at this particular juncture and value it as a sign of Kazakhstan’s wish to continue its engagement in the OSCE. We hope that the time ahead will be marked by continued cooperation between Kazakhstan and the EU, both in Vienna, Astana and Almaty and within the framework of our Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, EFTA countries Iceland and Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
*Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process