Kazakhstan Announces Priorities for the 2010 OSCE Chairmanship
January 29, 2010
On January 14th Kazakhstan announced its priorities for the 2010 Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), an organization that now spans 56 countries and encompasses all of Europe together with the United States, Canada, and each of the former Soviet republics. The organization, which was established through the Helsinki Final Act during the period of East-West détente, celebrates its 35th birthday in 2010.
Kazakhstan’s chairmanship is a landmark event as this will be the first Central Asian, post-Soviet, and predominantly Muslim state to lead the OSCE. The country’s leadership views the OSCE chairmanship as a strategic national project that will enable the country to develop closer ties with both Europe and the United States and to make its own contribution to Euro-Asian security.
The 2010 OSCE Chairmanship will focus on resolving protracted conflicts, reconstruction of Afghanistan, addressing terrorism and other threats, co-operation on transport, and promoting inter-ethnic and inter-religious coexistence. In a video-taped address to the OSCE Permanent Council, President Nursultan Nazarbayev stated that Kazakhstan’s 2010 Chairmanship would be guided by trust, tradition, transparency and tolerance – styled as the “four T's.”
In his first speech to the OSCE Permanent Council, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Kazakh Foreign Minister and State Secretary Kanat Saudabayev asserted that combating illicit narcotics trafficking and countering terrorism would be among Astana’s priorities. Kazakhstan views the situation in Afghanistan as a critical factor for regional and global security.
The government in Astana has come under strong criticism from Western human rights lobbies for its evident shortcomings in implementing European standards of democratic governance. Nonetheless, Kazakhstan is in a unique position to better assimilate these values the more secure it feels as a contributing OSCE member. It has committed itself to supporting intercultural dialogue, the rule of law, judicial independence, the prevention of hate crimes, freedom of movement, and the position of Roma and Sinti populations as vital ingredients of the OSCE’s human dimension.
President Nazarbayev has called for the convening of an OSCE summit in 2010 to help strengthen the Organization and its principle of consensus. Amidst growing questions about the OSCE’s effectiveness in promoting stability and given the new security threats that confront the entire OSCE region, a summit assembling all heads of state in 2010 would be in a position to assess existing security threats within and around the OSCE area and formulate more effective common responses through the pursuit of the OSCE’s three dimensions.
The OSCE can also make a multi-national contribution in Afghanistan through the training of border patrols, police officers, and the national administration. The summit could promote the integration process between Central Asia and the Euro-Atlantic sphere for the benefit of both regions, particularly through energy, trade, and business connections.