30 september 2020

Central Asia news

OSCE's promise to Kazakhstan concerning chairmanship

06.12.2006 13:44 msk

Vremya Novostei

Politics Kazakhstan

Nobody knows what country will chair the OSCE in 2009. Annual meeting of foreign ministers representing all 56 member states that ended in Brussels yesterday failed to come to an agreement. Kazakhstan aspired for the privilege, but... The OSCE voted to table the matter. The decision will be made at the 15th meeting of OSCE Council of Ministers scheduled to take place in Madrid in December 2007 because Spain is about to assume OSCE leadership from Belgium.

Michael Laubsch, a German expert in Central Asian affairs and Director of the Eurasian Transition Group, believes that the failure of the meeting in Brussels is "unique". "This is the first time in OSCE history that its member states proved unable to reach a consensus over leadership," Laubsch told this newspaper. "Can't say it made President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev happy. He came to Brussels in person to try and persuade skeptics from the United States and European Union of the validity of his country's claim for OSCE chairmanship."

Nazarbayev was in the focus of everyone's attention all through the three-day visit to Brussels. He met with Jose Manuel Barrozu of the European Commission and signed the mutual understanding memorandum on energy cooperation with the European Union at the ceremony that took place on December 4, on the eve of the decisive voting. His talks with Barrozu over, Nazarbayev never bothered to conceal the fact that his thoughts were elsewhere. Elaborating on accomplishments of Kazakhstan where "representatives of 130 ethnic groups and 46 confessions co-exist in peace" (and praising it as "invaluable experience for the OSCE"), Nazarbayev said that "EU's support of Kazakhstan as a candidate will be invaluable."

Barrozu found himself cornered. "Sorry, but the European Commission does not have any position on the matter. Neither is it supposed to resolve the issue," was all he managed to say.

"Kazakhstan has a chance now that the matter has been tabled," Laubsch said. "Astana needs to carry out some domestic reforms and demonstrate conformity with OSCE standards in the spheres of human rights, freedom of the media, and political activities."

* * *

Arkady Dubnov (Brussels), Vremya Novostei, December 6, 2006, p. 2

© Translated by Ferghana.Ru