ASTANA – President Nursultan Nazarbayev urged separating Islam from terrorism, restoring peace in Ukraine, strengthening the United Nations and adopting a new pan-Eurasian treaty akin to the famous 1975 Helsinki Act which led to the establishment of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The Kazakh leader delivered this and other messages in his key annual foreign policy speech to ambassadors and other representatives of the diplomatic missions accredited in Kazakhstan on Feb. 17.
Starting his speech at the Akorda presidential residence, Nazarbayev stated that the world entered 2015 amid growing global threats and challenges, the most dangerous undoubtedly being terrorism.
“Kazakhstan strongly condemns terrorism and extremism in all its manifestations,” he said, underlining the importance of separating Islamic radicalism and terrorism from peaceful Islam and other religions.
“Only on the basis of a strong intercultural and interreligious dialogue can we counter extremism, while its advocates are trying to break those ties,” he added.
In this respect, he emphasised the relevance of establishing the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, which was acknowledged as an international dialogue platform. Its fifth congress will be held in the capital in June.
Touching upon another source of international threats, the conflict in southeast Ukraine which has resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 people, Nazarbayev stressed that “Kazakhstan has and continues to actively participate in the general work on searching for a solution to the crisis. The situation in Ukraine remains one of the main themes of my negotiations with foreign leaders. As a result of such active contacts in August last year, Minsk for the first time hosted a meeting of the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine with the participation of the EU high representative. It resulted in achieving very important agreements, the implementation of which faced difficulties later.”
He stated that Kazakhstan welcomed the outcome of negotiations among the four heads of state in Minsk earlier this month, which reflected significant work towards ending the bloodshed.
“We are deeply convinced that the alternative to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in south-eastern Ukraine does not exist,” he added.
Nazarbayev highlighted three main directions of foreign policy to address issues of strengthening the international security system, beginning with confirmation of the basic principles of international law.
“Kazakhstan stands for upholding the principles of equality, mutual consideration of the interests and collective resolution of key problems on the basis of international law and the central role of the United Nations,” he stated.
Nazarbayev also suggested creating a common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community free of dividing lines, conflicts and spheres of influence, noting it was a Kazakh initiative which received the support of participating countries at the 2010 Organisation for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) summit held in the city. Therefore, the President proposed initiating development of a conceptually new treaty similar to the Helsinki Act of 1975, which would include establishing a new security system based on mutual interests and practical implementation of the principles of the OSCE declaration.
Thirdly, Nazarbayev recommended reaching close economic cooperation and, consequently, lifting mutual economic sanctions between the West and Russia which have already depraved the global economy and well-being of people in various countries. In this respect, the Minsk declaration provides for a “commitment to the creation of a common economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific.”
Thus, the treaty establishing the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) became effective Jan. 1, creating an economic union with powerful resource potential and developed transport and energy systems. Currently, dozens of countries are expressing interest in creating free trade zones with the EAEU, confirming its attractiveness, the Kazakh leader said.
Another significant achievement of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy was completing negotiations with the European Union (EU) on a new agreement on enhanced partnership and cooperation. “This year we look forward to joining the World Trade Organisation, which will enhance foreign trade,” the President added.
As the world celebrates the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations this year, Nazarbayev called for strengthening its role as a universal organisation designed to address issues of war and peace, sustainable world order and global development.
As nuclear security is one of the major dimensions of global security, the President re-emphasised the relevance of the initiative to develop a new treaty on universal horizontal and vertical non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and a universal declaration of a nuclear-free world, while underlining the need of an early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
He stressed that one successful achievement in this field was the signing in New York of the protocol to the Semipalatinsk Treaty on establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in Central Asia. In it, the five nuclear powers – China France, Russia, and the United Kingdom and the United States, – gave guarantees not to use nuclear weapons against the parties to the treaty.
According to Nazarbayev, another pillar of the lasting peace and global stability was strict observance of international law.
“It is necessary to strengthen the UN mechanisms to monitor and take effective action in case of violation of the standards adopted by the international community. As you know, Kazakhstan has put forward its candidacy as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018. We intend to make a significant contribution to the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, promote energy and food security, a solution for water and energy issues and other issues,” he said.
He added that Kazakhstan was also giving top priority to transforming the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) into a full-fledged international organization. Kazakhstan will also continue cooperating with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as well as negotiating on its accession to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Referring to collaboration with the Islamic world, the President stated that this year’s events under the auspices of “Almaty – the Capital of Islamic Culture” would give new impetus to deepening relations with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as well as completion of the procedures to establish the OIC’s Islamic Organisation for Food Safety, headquartered in Astana. Kazakhstan was also interested in strengthening economic, cultural and humanitarian ties within the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking Countries (Turkic Council).
Moreover, Kazakhstan adopted the law on official development assistance, becoming the first donor state in the CIS.
Elaborating on details on bilateral cooperation, Nazarbayev highlighted Russia, China and the Central Asian states as priority directions of foreign policy, while stressing further development of ties with the EU, the United States and Asian-Pacific nations. In respect to Middle Eastern countries, he said Kazakhstan would be establishing partnerships, as well as advancing cooperation among the regional organisations. He added that Kazakhstan would continue fostering Afghan economic and social development and negotiations on the Iranian nuclear programme.
He also underlined enhancing relations with Latin American and Caribbean states in light of the recent opening of Kazakh embassies in Brazil and Cuba.
In his remarks to Nazarbayev and the diplomats in response to the presidential speech, Mikhail Bocharnikov, Russian Ambassador to Kazakhstan who also serves as the dean of the diplomatic corps, stressed the economic aspects of Astana’s cooperation with foreign nations.
“In the context of deepening problems of the world economy in 2014, the State Programme of Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development has confirmed its validity, completing the first five-year period and passing to the second. Indeed, in light of the anti-crisis measures, special attention was paid to the President’s Nov. 11 Nurly Zhol programme, which essentially formulated the new economic policy of Kazakhstan for the upcoming years on the basis of infrastructure development,” he said.
Bocharnikov commended the implementation of the President’s initiative to establish the EAEU and successful completion of negotiations on a new agreement with the EU, underlining that “after the expected signature and entry into force of the agreement, Kazakhstan will actually become a connecting bridge between the processes of Eurasian and European integration.”