by Marat Tazhin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan at the plenary meeting of EAPC Security Forum

  • 25 Jun. 2009
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  • Last updated: 26 Jun. 2009 10:53

Keynote speech by Marat Tazhin, Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan,  at the opening of the plenary meeting of the EAPC Security Forum

Distinguished Secretary General, Excellences, Ladies and gentlemen,

At the outset allow me to welcome participants of the Forum.

In my statement I would like to elaborate on proposals put forward by the President of Kazakhstan with regard to the theme of our discussions today.

My country is located at the crossroads of geopolitical platforms. It is obvious that since gaining its independence the strategic choice of Kazakhstan has been to promote integration and establish alliances in the areas where separation lines more likely to emerge and there is a need for cooperation. This policy generally reflects global trends towards greater interdependence and at the same time takes into account specific features of the region.

Due to its geographical location Central Asia serves as a kind of testing ground for trends coming from the West and the East. Our task is not to mechanically apply experiences of other regions but rather to creatively reconsider alternative models and gradually develop our own unique regional architecture.

Allow me to give some examples of this creative approach such as two initiatives -National program "Path to Europe" and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

The first program is aimed at accumulating the most valuable elements of European experience. Nations of Europe have gone a long and difficult way throughout the last century and eventually succeeded in forming a model of interaction that can be an example to follow for other regions. This includes not only civil society but also no less important aspects such as energy, technology and environment policies.

CICA is an initiative that reflects Asian dimension of foreign policy of Kazakhstan. Despite the fact that its agenda involves coordinated measures to address threats and challenges in regional security including nuclear non-proliferation, conflict prevention, technology gap, it is based on the same idea of creativity. Political will and readiness for change are critically important for Asia in order to promote confidence and achieve new quality of interaction. If these two conditions are met, as we believe, Asian nations can break the endless circle of confrontation. Quest for new forms and models of cooperation aimed at enhancing stability and security is the principal mission of CICA.

Kazakhstan believes that reliable regional security architecture requires security structures that exist in Central Asia to complement and reinforce each other.

We consider cooperation between Kazakhstan and NATO in the context of its potential contribution to regional security. The level of individual partnerships is a true indicator of our desire to enhance both military and non-military aspects of security. Political dialogue with NATO is of particular importance as it gives opportunities to achieve greater understanding of requirements of Central Asia and its specific features. We are committed to enhance further the Euro-Atlantic partnership and Partnership for Peace program that particularly includes advancement of peacekeeping capacity of Kazakhstan's Armed Forces.

Presence of such structures as NATO, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Collective Security Treaty Organization in the region should not be an obstacle to efforts to find common denominators and develop a dialogue. In this regard some progress has been already made. In March this year NATO official representatives attended a special conference on Afghanistan organized by SCO in Moscow. For the first time SCO delegation is participating in EAPC Security Forum in Astana.

Afghanistan could become a potential area for joint efforts. While intending to use in full transit opportunities of the region we must pay more attention to non-military aspects of security. Kazakhstan put forward an initiative to provide education and training for Afghans in areas of

health care, education, agriculture, law enforcement and military disciplines. Multilateral and bilateral projects are underway to supply humanitarian aid.

We welcome the decision of NATO recent Summit to activate elaboration of reconstruction programs in Afghanistan with particular emphasis on economic and humanitarian fields. Our expectation is that our regional resources would be used in this process.

I would like to draw your particular attention to the issue of drug trafficking. Certain degree of cooperation has been established under UN and different multilateral programs. However it goes without saying that these efforts are not enough and there is an urgent need to do more. Creation of Central Asian Regional Information Center is one of these steps and we would welcome concrete measures of EAPC members to support this endeavor.

No doubt, ISAF plays an important role in fighting terrorism and extremism. We support its mission and hope that increase in the number of troops deployed by the Alliance and the United States will contribute to the achievement of the main goal which is peace in Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We appreciate very much implementation by NATO scientific and education programmes in areas of radiological situation assessment at the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, environment and energy resources export. Step-by-step we develop cooperation in emergency situations response.

As you know, the issue of coordinated management of water resources is quite acute in the region. As a constructive contribution to the solution of the problem we propose to make a use of European experience on water management.

We believe that NATO, OSCE and European Union could coordinate their efforts and elaborate joint programs with a view to ensure greater efficiency. Kazakhstan's Chairmanship in OSCE next year offers a good opportunity to harmonize strategies of the three organizations in Central Asia in three priority areas - economy, environment and water resources.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to put special emphasis on issue of nuclear disarmament. August 29 this year marks the 60th anniversary since establishment of the first nuclear test at Semipalatinsk was opened. The decision of the President of Kazakhstan to close the nuclear test site which caused sufferings for thousands of our citizens laid a foundation of our non-nuclear policy. For over 18 years of its independence Kazakhstan has made a significant contribution to the implementation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty by renouncing voluntarily nuclear legacy and eliminating military infrastructure. However we are still striving to do more.

Nuclear threat reduction is a priority of foreign policy of practically all leading nations of the world. We welcome the emerging trend to accelerate the process of nuclear disarmament. Establishment of Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Central Asia is an integral part of this process. The practical indicator of P5 countries' readiness to move ahead should be their support of such initiatives.

Kazakhstan is also considering hosting the international nuclear fuel bank which can be another contributing factor to nuclear non-proliferation.

In the vein of the 2010 NPT Review Conference we intend to promote further Kazakhstan's proposals to make this international instrument more effective. A particular attention will be given to President's initiative to elaborate new universal treaty on comprehensive horizontal and vertical nuclear non-proliferation.

Last week President Nazarbayev invited to declare August 29 as a World Day of Denunciation of Nuclear Weapons. I hope EAPC members would support this idea in the United Nations and other international foras.

I would like to conclude by emphasizing that this forum is a perfect venue for dialogue. I hope that everyone in here is prepared to discuss the complex of issues of the region in the constructive and mutually beneficial manner. I wish you to have fruitful discussions.

Thank you for your attention.