One of the most important issues on the international agenda, as well as for Kazakhstan’s foreign policy, is a solution to the crisis in Ukraine. Regretfully in recent weeks, the situation seemed to be moving further away from this goal. We continue to hope, however, that all the parties involved in this difficult situation will still be able to come to a reasonable solution, including on the basis of the Minsk agreements, to end the bloodshed and help Ukraine return to the path of sustainable socio-economic and political development.
The crisis is especially painful and sensitive for Kazakhstan. For centuries the Kazakh, Russian and Ukrainian people have lived together in peace. And in Kazakhstan today, of course, Kazakhs, Russians, Ukrainians, Germans, Poles, Koreans, Greeks and other communities continue to live and work in harmony. We are raising children together, strengthening unity and friendship and building the future of our country.
This history and personal links explain why Kazakhstan, although not directly involved in the conflict, has been so active in multilateral efforts to resolve the crisis. It was partly thanks to the personal intervention of President Nursultan Nazarbayev that the leaders of Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus with the President of Ukraine and the EU High Representative met in Minsk in August to begin the process of finding a peaceful settlement. In December, he held telephone discussions and personal meetings with the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine in Astana, Kiev and Moscow to revive the so-called “Normandy format” talks between the four countries. These efforts continued in early January when President Nazarbayev held informal talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Later last month, he also discussed the crisis and the steps needed to settle it during a telephone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama. We have also provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
Once again we urge all those involved to avoid escalation of the conflict and the tightening of tit-for-tat sanctions and instead to step up the search for peaceful diplomatic means to resolve differences. Kazakhstan welcomes and supports the continuation of negotiations in any format and at all levels, including the “Normandy format” talks. We are ready, if needed, to host such negotiations. Our principal aim is an early ceasefire leading to a sustainable solution to this painful conflict.
The author is Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan.