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Central Asia news

Kazakhstan is not going to chair the OSCE in 2009

04.12.2006 13:29 msk

Arkady Dubnov (Brussels)

Politics Kazakhstan

Two-day session of the OSCE Council of Foreign Ministers opening in Brussels today is supposed to decide what country to choose for the chairman in 2009. Diplomatic sources claim, however, that the session will come up with no decision - because of Kazakhstan, one of the claimants for the privilege, that all but made it its national idea in 2003.

The first CIS country in the OSCE to aspire for chairmanship in the European structure that unites West and East Europe, the United States, Canada, and post-Soviet Central Asia, Kazakhstan has both supporters and enemies in the matter. Needless to say, the former include Astana's partners in the CIS and some West European countries - Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. Enemies of the idea include the United States and Great Britain that do not think that Kazakhstan is up to a number of democratic standards, particularly in the sphere of human rights and readiness to arrange free and fair elections. Since a consensus is clearly impossible, sources claim that the decision will be postponed for until 2007.

The OSCE headquarters leans toward making Greece chairman in 2009, Lithuania in 2010, and Kazakhstan - perhaps - in 2011. The last message to this effect, not particularly clear, was sent to Kazakhstan during the CIS summit in Minsk, Belarus, on November 28. OSCE Chairman and Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Guht visited the capital of Belarus this day. Senior state officials of the Belarussian state including President Alexander Lukashenko himself are personae non grata in the European Union. Officially, De Guht came to Minsk to attend a meeting between presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan Robert Kocharjan and Ilham Aliyev. The dialogue between Yerevan and Baku over Nagorno-Karabakh has been under way for years, under the aegis of the OSCE Minsk Group whose chairmen from Russia, France, and the United States were also in Minsk that day.

Conversation at de Guht's meeting with Belarussian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov was centered around the agenda of the session opening in Brussels today. Sources in Vienna claim in the meantime that de Guht also met with representatives of the Kazakh authorities. First, de Guht told Astana that President Nursultan Nazarbayev needn't bother addressing the Brussels session in person to try and persuade opponents that Kazakhstan deserved the honor of chairing the OSCE. Second, he said that Kazakhstan could aspire for the privilege two years later.

It seems in the meantime that official Astana itself has decided to call it off. Well-informed and trustworthy sources there say that Nazarbayev himself was extremely critical of the idea of OSCE chairmanship at a closed conference the other day. It figures, if Astana doesn't want to lose face.

Vremya Novostei, December 4, 2006, p. 2

© Translated by Ferghana.Ru