OSCE Permanent Council No. 611
EU statement in response to the report by the Head of the OSCE Centre in Almaty, Ambassador Ivar Kristian Vikki
- The EU welcomes Ambassador Vikki back to the Permanent Council and thanks him for his thorough report. We have been most interested in the overview he has provided of the Centre’s many-facetted activities as well as of the context of developments in areas relevant to its mandate.
- The EU fully supports the work done by the Centre in Almaty and appreciates the wide range of programmes and projects carried out in all three OSCE dimensions. We are pleased that the Centre enjoys close and constructive cooperation with the authorities, civil society and other international actors.
- Several pioneering workshops have been conducted within the politico-military dimension, and the Centre’s work generally seems to reflect concerns of the host government both in this and the two other dimensions. The EU welcomes the focus placed on combating terrorism, including its financing, and notes with satisfaction that the implementation of the Police Development Cooperation Activities Programme is now underway. We also share the priorities in the economic and environmental and in the human dimensions.
- Since Ambassador Vikki’s last report to the Permanent Council, a number of important developments have taken place in Kazakhstan. The presidential elections in December 2005 were particularly significant, and we would like to reiterate our concern with the shortcomings reported by ODIHR in that regard. We are particularly interested, therefore, in the work carried out by the Centre and ODIHR aimed at bringing electoral processes in line with OSCE commitments and other international standards. We welcome the participation of government representatives in the recent Roundtable organised by the Centre and call upon Kazakhstan to implement the recommendations made by ODIHR in 2004 and 2005.
- Another development of importance in the reporting period is the setting up of the State Commission on Development and Concretisation of the Programme for Political Reforms, chaired by President Nazarbayev. Given political will, this could be instrumental in further strengthening democratic practices and institutions. We hope that the work of the Commission will be carried out in a way that will truly allow and encourage the opposition and civil society to actively engage in the process and facilitate free coverage by the media.
- We welcome Kazakhstan’s ratification without any reservations of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights as well as on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. We are pleased to note the Centre’s efforts focused on facilitating the implementation of these important instruments and hope that their ratification will indeed prove to pave the way for further reforms of domestic legislation in areas covered by these Covenants, notably judicial reform, fair trial standards, freedom of expression, association and assembly and freedom of religion as well as the attainment of an adequate standard of living for all citizens of Kazakhstan.
- In the same vein, we welcome the activities of the Centre in the area of media and media legislation. We continue to be concerned about issues relating to freedom of the media, especially intimidation of media critical to the government. We hope that Kazakhstan will draw on the expertise of the OSCE, including the Representative on Freedom of the Media, when reforming its media law, and that care will be taken to avoid undue restrictions on the media.
- Mr. Chairman, the EU had the opportunity to express its thinking on the reform process in Kazakhstan last week in the presence of First Deputy Foreign Minister Aliyev. Let me only restate the EU’s conviction that in order to be sustainable the considerable progress that Kazakhstan has attained in transforming its economy needs to be backed by continuous reform in areas such as democracy, rule of law, and human rights.
- Last week the EU also called attention to a number of disturbing developments in the country in the areas of human rights, freedom of the media and political parties. Since then opposition politician Alibek Jumabaev has been sentenced to five years imprisonment in what was alleged to be a politically motivated case marked by procedural flaws. This cannot help but increase our concern about the opportunities that the opposition and civil society have to participate freely in political life in the country.
- We would also like to refer to the case of Mr Galymzhan Zhakianov who, together with Mr Bulat Abilov, was prevented from leaving the country to go to Brussels for a meeting in the European Parliament. We hope Mr Zhakianov will be allowed to travel to Europe in the near future.
- Finally, we take note of Kazakhstan’s active role in the promotion of tolerance and inter-ethnic and inter-confessional understanding both within the country and abroad. Many of us look forward to participate in the upcoming OSCE Tolerance implementation meeting on Promoting Inter-Cultural, Inter-Religious and Inter-Ethnic Understanding in Almaty.
- In conclusion, we would like to thank Ambassador Vikki and his team for their dedicated and successful work, and we wish them the best of success in their future activities.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process