ASTANA – At the joint session of the Parliament of Kazakhstan on Dec. 20, members considered President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s proposal to send Kazakh officers to United Nations missions in Haiti, Western Sahara, Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia.
Twenty officers, who will have observer status in UN peacekeeping forces, will be sent in groups of five. It will be the first time the Central Asian country has partaken in UN peacekeeping.
Minister of Defence of Kazakhstan Adilbek Dzhaksybekov addressed the members of both chambers of parliament and read a report about the role of Kazakh military in UN missions.
“In accordance with Article 53 of the Constitution of Kazakhstan, I ask you to support the proposal to send Kazakh military officers to participate in UN missions in Haiti, Western Sahara, Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia as observers. Each mission will consist of five people, they will work to fulfil our obligations to preserve international peace and security,” Dzhaksybekov said at the joint session.
According to the minister, the number of international conflicts since 1992 has declined by 40 percent thanks to global efforts. He also drew attention to the fact that participation in UN missions is highly appreciated by the international community and serves as a weighty argument for promoting the country’s interests.
Members of both houses of Parliament asked about the probability of Kazakhstan suffering any losses in these missions.
“Frankly, there is such a possibility. We are sending troops to areas where there is conflict and the military-political situation is unstable, this entails risk. First of all, I would like to note that observers are not involved in the conflict, they are unarmed, as their main task is to observe, assist in monitoring and to report on the situation to the UN,” the minister answered.
He noted that the Kazakh mission will comprise entirely of volunteers.
“These are soldiers. In coming to the military, they should understand that their work is risky; they are a special breed of public servants,” he said.
Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security of the Mazhilis (lower chamber of parliament) Maulen Ashimbayev considered it natural that Kazakhstan is expanding its participation in UN peacekeeping missions and that the country will promote peace and harmony in a number of countries in Africa and the Caribbean. He noted that this will begin a new stage of cooperation between Kazakhstan and the UN.
“This initiative will support Kazakhstan’s candidacy for a non permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2017-2018 and will help Kazakhstan share its success in interethnic and interreligious harmony,” Ashimbayev said.
According to him, strengthening the country’s international prowess will create favourable conditions for long-term sustainable development and expand cooperation with the leading countries that form the international agenda.
The 45 members of the Senate at the meeting voted for the president’s proposal, as well as all 106 present members of the Mazhilis.
Candidate selection will begin once the decision is made.
“Officers have not yet been selected; the parliament only put its support, which turned out to be unanimous, behind this measure today. Efforts to select candidates will begin now. We are only going to be deploying 20 officers – five people to 4 countries. This number is not very large. In a year, these officers, if they would like to, can return home and replacements will arrive on a rotational basis. But if they want to extend their contracts, they are welcome to,” Ashimbayev added after the vote.
According to him, in the selection process, physical and moral preparedness will be taken into account first, experience and knowledge of a foreign language will be considered as well.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov stated Kazakhstan regularly allocates financial resources to UN peacekeeping missions. Thus, money is used to support various peacekeeping operations around the world.
“We are not talking about the classic peacekeepers, but about observers in military missions. Kazakhstan takes these issues very seriously. Our peacekeepers cannot go to UN missions comprehensively; military observer missions are in a different category. They do not take direct part in military actions,” Idrissov said.