January 20, 2010
The United States is very pleased to welcome Kazakhstan as the OSCE’s 2010 Chairman-in-Office. Both President Nazarbayev and State Secretary-Foreign Minister Saudabayev have laid out a constructive and detailed plan of priorities. We firmly believe that Kazakhstan will provide strong and effective leadership for the OSCE and will have a successful Chairmanship year, playing the role of honest broker to build bridges between east and west. You can be sure that we will be your constructive partner in this effort.
The challenges facing the OSCE and the international community are real. Our strength comes from facing those challenges collectively, with a common purpose and a common determination to uphold the principles and commitments we have all made as members of the OSCE. The United States looks forward to working with Kazakhstan to meet these challenges and to achieve Kazakhstan’s goal to modernize and strengthen the OSCE, for the benefit of all participating States.
The OSCE faces a heavy workload in 2010, including continuing its positive work on the Corfu Process, focusing particular attention on Afghanistan, and addressing the expectation of member-states’ Ministers in Athens that a decision to hold an OSCE summit must result from measurable and substantial progress on priority issues we face. In that respect, we applaud the Chair’s commitment to ensure balance in each of the OSCE’s three dimensions.
The United States is eager to collaborate with Kazakhstan as it leads the OSCE by example and reflects in practice the principles of the organization in all three dimensions – security, economic, and human.
The OSCE’s work in the Human Dimension is a key priority and one where implementation of commitments must be taken most seriously. Kazakhstan has a critical and important opportunity to lead both by word and by deed. In some places, journalists still face professional and even physical dangers, and independent, pluralistic media are lacking, particularly in the broadcast realm. Elections that fail to achieve transparency and reflect the will of the people have also been a source of concern. Judiciaries too often serve as a tool of the few rather than a safeguard for the rule of law for all citizens. Fundamental freedoms of assembly, association, expression, and religious belief are sometimes denied to citizens in the OSCE area, including via burdensome registration requirements or selective application of laws. For these reasons, among others, we strongly support Kazakhstan’s commitment to the Human Dimension.
The United States also joins Kazakhstan’s call for continued dialogue on the future of European security and agrees that the OSCE is the best forum in which to continue these discussions. Your commitment to taking forward the Corfu Process – begun under the able leadership of the Greek Chairmanship – is essential to its success. The Russian Federation’s proposals on European security architecture are a contribution to those discussions and we look forward to discussing them in that context. The OSCE is ideally situated to address these issues given its comprehensive approach to European security, which incorporates its economic, human and political-military aspects.
We look forward particularly to in-depth discussions on strengthening the OSCE’s ability both to prevent and to resolve conflicts. We also look forward to implementing concrete steps and projects to address mutual transnational threats that have changed the dynamics of European security and threaten all of us.
Likewise, the United States fully supports Kazakhstan’s focus and personal intervention on the protracted conflicts in the OSCE region. We believe the OSCE has a meaningful role to play in stability within and along Georgia’s internationally recognized borders. To that end, we, along with many other participating States, remain committed to the re-establishment of an OSCE presence there that respects Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We also believe that the OSCE can continue to play a valuable role in efforts to resolve the Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh conflicts. We look forward to Kazakhstan’s leadership in resolving these long-standing issues.
The United States also strongly supports your expressed focus, Mr. Minister, on seeking new ways to include Afghanistan within the work of the OSCE. That starts with enhanced bilateral efforts and we welcome Kazakhstan’s generous allocation of 50 million dollars, in the face of pressing international financial circumstances, to fund scholarships for a thousand Afghan students in Kazakhstan.
We look forward to working with you and with the rest of our OSCE colleagues in implementing projects designed to strengthen Afghanistan’s Central Asian borders and to curb violent extremism, radicalization and narcotics trafficking in the region. We remain convinced, Mr. Minister, that the most efficient and effective way to accomplish these goals is for the OSCE to operate directly inside Afghanistan, and we hope to see that become a reality under your Chairmanship.
Mr. Minister, the high professionalism and enthusiasm of every member of your team – in both Astana and Vienna – bodes well for us all. We wish you, Minister Saudabayev, and your Mission at the OSCE in Vienna the greatest of success in the months ahead. We look forward to your visit to Washington next month. You can be sure of the support and constructive partnership of the United States during your OSCE chairmanship.