Kazakhstan Urges Peaceful Settlement to Ukraine Conflict, End to “Trade Wars”

NEW YORK – Kazakhstan calls and works for the peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis and is strongly opposed to the unfolding “sanctions war” between the West and Russia over it, the country’s foreign minister said in New York on Sept. 26.

Speaking at the event, “The Ukraine Crisis, the OSCE, and the Future of European Security”, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov said, “It is in our interest that Ukraine remains a sovereign, stable and independent state. Kazakhstan is deeply concerned about the confrontation, in which thousands of civilians have died. It has caused deep economic problems and a growing humanitarian crisis.”

He said, “From the outset, we have done all we can to stabilise the situation. Kazakhstan is clear in its belief that any conflict should be resolved peacefully. Dialogue, constructive mediation and engagement are the only ways to resolve disputes. Countries in the region and key allies have an important role to play in encouraging this approach. Kazakhstan is playing its part.”

“For Kazakhstan, close relations with Ukraine have always been a priority. We are connected to Ukraine by a common history, close economic links and shared priorities. Indeed, the Ukrainian diaspora is one of the largest in Kazakhstan, with more than 330,000 people,” Idrissov told assembled foreign ministers and other officials from 57 participating states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), including Russia, Ukraine, countries of the European Union and the United States.

“The logic of trade wars andthe exchange of sanctions will get us nowhere,” the Kazakh foreign minister stressed echoing earlier comments by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. “It is us – Europe and Asia, the Eurasian continent – that suffer from sanctions. Therefore, we call on all to work together and find a solution based on economic pragmatism and mutual benefit.”

“There is a need to lift sanctions. Kazakhstan is interested in strengthening mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation, within the Customs Union, with Ukraine and with the European Union. We are ready to discuss ways of normalizing multilateral trade links,” the minister said.

Swiss Federal President and Councillor (Minister) for Foreign Affairs Didier Burkhalter personally chaired the event organised by the Swiss chairmanship in the OSCE on the margins of the UN General Assembly.

Kazakhstan calls on all parties involved to prevent the escalation of the conflict and the tightening of sanctions, Idrissov said in his statement as he strongly urged all parties to seek a peaceful and diplomatic resolution to their differences.

“If we are to achieve peace, it will be through compromise and concessions from all involved. The fate of many depends on constructive engagement between Ukraine, Russia and the European Union with the unbiased support of international community,” he said.

“We sincerely hope the arrangements made in Minsk will be fully implemented. The ceasefire and the elaboration of a viable format of cooperation between Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk will contribute to the stabilization of Ukraine and recovery of its economy,” the minister said referring to the agreements first reached during the multilateral summit in Minsk on Aug. 26, where Kazakhstan participated, and then confirmed by an agreement signed by the group of negotiators there in early September.

According to Idrissov, “A definitive ceasefire will be essential if we are to protect the civilian population and find a way out of the crisis. … We urge all parties to cease fire and stop all provocations, if only to prevent further suffering.”

He also brought up the Astana summit in December 2010 and its decisions as reaffirming the fundamental commitments of all OSCE participating states to common principles of finding peaceful solutions to conflicts between them.

“In the Astana OSCE Summit Declaration, OSCE participating states agreed that ‘the security of each participating state is inseparably linked to the security of all other member states,’ and endorsed a common vision of a comprehensive, collaborative and indivisible security community across the OSCE area,” Idrissov stressed. “We must not allow the Ukrainian crisis to create new, insurmountable dividing lines, nor to irreparably undermine our long-standing efforts to build a sustainable security environment in Europe and Eurasia. We should cast aside our frustration, mistrust and suspicion and let wisdom, vision and common sense prevail.”

He said the OSCE, founded originally at the height of the Cold War in Helsinki in 1975, has an important role to play in de-escalating events in Ukraine and it “should live up to the high hopes we all hold for the Helsinki spirit.”