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10/08/08

Special Issue No 16


KAZAKHSTAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS WASHINGTON FOR
HIGH LEVEL TALKS WITH US OFFICIALS

Category: General
Posted by: admin

 
Kazakhstan
News Bulletin
Released by the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United States of America

 

Special Issue No 16, October 8, 2008

For Immediate Release

KAZAKHSTAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS WASHINGTON FOR
HIGH LEVEL TALKS WITH US OFFICIALS

On October 1-2, 2008 Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister, Honorable Marat Tazhin, visited Washington, DC for regular friendly consultations with top US officials.

Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister arrived to Washington from New York where he participated in the annual session of the UN General Assembly and held a bilateral meeting with State Secretary Condoleezza Rice.

On October 1 Minister Tazhin met with Dr. Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State, thus demonstrating Kazakhstan’s commitment to the continuity of its relations with the United States, from administration to administration.

Later that day Minister Tazhin delivered a major speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace stressing Kazakhstan’s growing role in “a globalizing world” (please find a brief outline of the event by the Carnegie Endowment below).

In the evening Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister spoke at the US launch of the English edition of the book “Kazakhstan Way” by President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the “Newseum”. The event, organized by the Asia Society and the Embassy of Kazakhstan, featured three other speakers – Ambassador George Krol, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador Richard Swett on behalf of the Asia Society and Mr. William Veale of the US-Kazakhstan Business Association.

On October 2 the Heritage Foundation hosted a lunch for Marat Tazhin where he spoke of the energy security in Central Asia – a major topic against the background of current situation in international markets and recent developments in the region (please find a brief outline of the event by Mr. Ariel Cohen below).
 
The same day Minister Tazhin held an array of meetings with top US and international officials. He met with Vice President Richard Cheney, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and World Bank President Robert Zoellick. US officials thanked Kazakhstan for its pro-active role in reconstructing Afghanistan and support of coalition efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

The visit was a good opportunity to discuss a number of issues on the agenda of Kazakhstan-US strategic partnership which is becoming truly global in its scale and importance. Regular high level exchanges between the countries, including Secretary Rice’s visit late last week to Kazakhstan, highlight the significance of the bilateral relationship as well as its tremendous potential.


  

News Bulletin of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Contact person: Zhanbolat Ussenov
Tel.: 202-232-5488 ext 104; Fax: 202-232-5845
E-mail:zhan@kazakhembus.com
 Web-site: www.kazakhembus.com  

 


Kazakhstan in a Globalizing World
Carnegie Endowment
Kazakhstan’s vast energy resources, rapidly growing economy, and important geographical position make the country a key player both in global energy markets and regional power relations. The Carnegie Endowment hosted H.E. Marat Tazhin, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, for a discussion of Kazakhastan’s position in an increasingly globalizing world.
Despite U.S.-Russia tensions over the conflict in the Caucasus, Tazhin underscored that Kazakhstan has developed its own considered position.  Kazakhstan recognizes the humanitarian catastrophe that occurred in South Ossetia and in the neighboring regions of Georgia, and has offered assistance to victims on all sides of this conflict.  Secondly, Kazakhstan has criticized Georgia for initiating hostilities on August 7, and believes that this was a mistake in judgment on the part of the Georgian leadership. Most importantly, Kazakhstan offers its strong support to the plan brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, which was endorsed by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.  This plan offers the legal framework to address the situation and Kazakhstan urges everyone to be guided by its positions.  Finally, as to the question of Kazakhstan’s possible recognition of the independence of south Ossetia and Abkhazia, Astana does not see this as the immediate issue and is not ready to make a decision without a proper study of what is a very complicated issue.
Tazhin made clear that Kazakhstan gives priority to its own economic development.  Economic development interests also play a substantial role in shaping its foreign policy objectives.
Kazakhstan’s Role in the World
Tazhin explained that Kazakhstan’s foreign policy stance is defined by its geographical situation.  A nation located between major powers, Kazakhstan pursues a balanced policy. The nation sees itself as a bridge between the East and West and understands that its location ensures that it has an important stake in geopolitical matters. Tazhin asserted that regional cooperation between the five Central Asian countries is crucial and needed.
Bilateral Relations
Iran’s close proximity to Kazakhstan ensures that Iran’s nuclear ambitions remain a vital issue for the nation. Kazakhstan points to its own rejection of nuclear weapons as an example of the path on which Iran should proceed. Tazhin stressed that a military solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions would be catastrophic for the region and the world.
Although Kazakhstan has sent humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Tazhin said that Kazakhstan’s priority should focus on investing in Afghani industries. However, he also pointed out that doing so has not been easy given the current decision-making process within Afghanistan.
Kazakhstan is committed to bilateral cooperation with the United States. Tazhin identified several key areas where this cooperation may continue to strengthen, including trade, energy, and nonproliferation.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
Tazhin stressed that the SCO’s goal is not to serve as a counter block to NATO. Instead, he hopes that in three to five years it will serve as a mechanism for increased economic cooperation.

 


Kazakh foreign minister insists balanced foreign policy remains intact
by Ariel Cohen

Kazakhstan is known for its balanced, multi-vector foreign policy, which takes into account its strategic location between Russia and China, as well as established ties with Europe and the US. Yet after the Russo-Georgian war in August, many in Washington expressed concerns about whether this balanced approach can survive in the long term. The answer to that was provided in a presentation by Marat Tazhin, foreign minister of Kazakhstan, to the Heritage Foundation on October 2.

The relationship with the US, Tazhin said, is among the top priorities on Kazakhstan's foreign policy agenda. According to Tazhin, his country values the strategic partnership with Washington based on mutual trust, shared national interests, regional stability and security, and economic cooperation.

Energy is a vital comonent in the Kazakhstan-US strategic partnership. The centre of this energy partnership is the development of Caspian oil and gas reserves, but it goes beyond this. This year, KazAtomProm, Kazakhstan's national nuclear company became a co-owner of Westinghouse, the leading US energy company. Today, joint projects in oil and gas, as well the development of technical and service support for offshore and onshore fields in the Caspian Sea, are implemented with the assistance of US companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and others.

An energy security priority for Kazakhstan and the rest of Central Asia is the construction of reliable pipeline and transportation networks to provide access to international markets. Energy demands in Asia and Europe are higher than ever and China, in particular, is interested in increased energy imports from Kazakhstan. The increase in China's energy demand will drive the construction of the second oil pipeline from Kazakhstan to Xinjiang and beyond, and the gas pipeline from Turkmenistan via Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to China.

On the diversification of exports routes to international markets, the Baku-Tibilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline project, which enabled the transport of oil from the region to Europe avoiding Russian soil, is the best sample of such cooperation. Kazakhstan has worked with the US, Georgia and Azerbaijan to make the project a complete success. Here the national interests of the US, Europe and all participating states match: Europe secures its supplies of energy, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan enhance their export capabilities and independence, Georgia gets transit revenues and cheaper energy to fuel its economic growth, and the US moves forward in strengthening global energy security.

The conflict in the Caucasus in August seriously jeopardized the future of existing plans, according to Tazhin. However, Kazakhstan won't stop participation in the BTC project. Kazakhstan has started the building the Kazakhstan Caspian Transportation System, which aims to deliver oil from the Kashagan and Tengiz oil fields by tanker. Kazakh oil will then flow through BTC, which will allow an increase in the volume of oil exports by 23m tonnes in the near future. Energy exports remain a major source of Kazakhstan's revenue and it is planning its future economic policy based on the capabilities of the BTC and its possible expansion. The total amount of oil and gas output in 2007 consisted of 67.2m tonnes of oil equivalent. This year Kazakhstan expects to reach 70m tonnes, and by 2015, Kazakhstan plans to extract 100m tonnes of oil, most of which will be exported.

In cooperation with China, Kazakhstan has started construction of the "Western Europe-Western China" transcontinental highway, which would connect Berlin and Beijing. Kazakhstan plans to invest $7.5bn in this project.

Poppy problems

The important dimension of this strategic partnership is in the non-proliferation sphere. Kazakhstan fully supports the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) proposed by President George W. Bush in May 2003, which it joined it in 2005. PSI is a global initiative aimed at stopping shipments of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and related materials worldwide. PSI recognizes the need for more robust tools to defeat the proliferation of WMD around the world, and specifically identifies interdiction as an area where greater focus will be placed.

There is also the expanding bilateral military and security cooperation between Kazakhstan and the US. This January, Kazakhstan and the US extended the five-year Plan of Military Cooperation. The Plan provides delivery of weapons and military equipment, US assistance for training of Kazakh military personnel, joint military exercises, and develops military infrastructure in the Caspian, Tazhin said. This is a unique arrangement for a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which Russia views as a Moscow-led military bloc.

Kazakhstan continues to participate in the US-led coalition's efforts in Afghanistan. Kazakhstan, together with Turkey and United Arab Emirates, is one of only a few countries in the Muslim world to have supported the international coalition in Afghanistan. A small Kazakh contingent soldiered through in Iraq, saving the lives of hundreds of Iraqis, including many children.

Many in Eurasia recognize Afghanistan as a source of instability and drug smuggling, Tazhin said. Kazakhstan is providing $3m of assistance to Kabul, and Prime Minister Karim Masimov is planning to visit the country. Kazakhstan will build a school in the Samangan province, a hospital in the Bamian province, a highway in one of Afghan provinces, and will establish regular grain deliveries.

Kazakhstan also proposing to provide training for Afghan police and military forces, and teaching engineering and geology to Afghan students in Kazakh universities. At the Paris Donor Conference on Afghanistan in June, Kazakhstan announced that it has been working on an enhanced assistance package for 2009-2011.

In conclusion, Tazhin shared the latest news of economic and political development in Kazakhstan. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has mooted the creation of a new legal mechanism that would allow at least two parties in the Parliament, facilitating the registration for political parties, the improvement of election procedure, and the elimination of excessive bureaucratic barriers regulating the activity of media. Lawmakers are working intensively on this legislative package, and Tazhin believes that these amendments will be approved by the parliament before the end of this year.

Finally, Kazakhstan is also working on the adoption of a new Tax Code. This new Code is designed to modernize the existing obsolete systems of tax exemptions for companies and businessmen, to help to decrease corruption; to make taxation easier, while preventing the spread of "gray" and black sectors of the economy. The forthcoming tax legislation would and promote diversification of the economy by decreasing taxation for non-oil sectors while increasing taxes on oil producers, Tazhin concluded.

Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and the author of Kazakhstan: the Road to Independence (2008)