Kazakhstan FM Outlines Priorities, Peacemaking Initiatives at UN

Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov provided his country’s view of the problems and crises facing the world today in his first appearance at the UN General Assembly September 21, describing in particular the efforts of President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and the country’s government to achieve some breakthrough in the six-year-long bitter, violent conflict in Syria.

In his address during the Assembly’s General Debate, Abdrakhmanov noted that Kazakhstan had achieved harmony within its “multi-ethnic and multi-religious society” and was currently in the midst of a major three-pronged modernisation of its economy, political system and national identity with an ultimate goal of reaching the top 30 most developed nations by 2050.

The foreign minister also touched on one of the issues in which Kazakhstan has a leading role: nuclear nonproliferation. “In our inter-dependent and connected world, nuclear weapons are no longer an asset but a danger,” he said. “It is with moral authority and responsibility emanating from my nation’s bitter experience of the hundreds of nuclear tests that my President states that eliminating the nuclear danger is the most urgent task of humanity in 21 century. It includes a whole range of important and urgent steps – a complete ban on nuclear testing, the total prohibition of nuclear weapons and complete and verifiable destruction of nuclear arsenals.” He also condemned North Korea’s recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Abdrakhmanov reviewed Kazakhstan’s recommendation of a four-part plan of action on nuclear disarmament: A summit of all states possessing nuclear weapons to discuss how to reduce their arsenals, the enhancement of the role of nuclear weapon-free zones, a renewal of the process of global nuclear security summits, and joint efforts to make the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty effective by 2020.

Regarding the crises in the Middle East, the foreign minister expressed sadness at the “unspeakable suffering of millions of people in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.” Kazakhstan is hosting the Astana process on Syria, six rounds of talks between three so-called guarantor states – Russia, Turkey and Iran – along with the Syrian government and armed opposition, to help bring about a peaceful settlement to the conflict there. “We believe that the Astana Process, which commenced earlier this year with the support and direct involvement of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, has brought obvious positive results aimed at strengthening the ceasefire regime, creation of the de-escalation zones and developing monitoring mechanism. Success in the Geneva and Astana platforms is critical and should be supported by all as saving innocent lives in Syria is a moral imperative for all of us.”

Kazakhstan joined the UN Security Council this year with a promise to bring Central Asian issues before the body. Abdrakhmanov did not ignore Kazakhstan’s neighbourhood in his address. “[W]e are focusing on creating in our region of Central Asia a model for a regional zone of peace, security, development and cooperation,” he said. “We also strive to strengthen further regional cooperation and integration among our brotherly nations of Central Asia in various spheres such as water management, trade and development, transportation, et cetera.”

The Aral Sea catastrophe is of particular consequence, he said. “The International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea remains the only permanent platform for dialogue among heads of Central Asian states. We believe that it could be used to combine our efforts to elaborate a mid- and long term strategies of regional development.”

The foreign minister ended on a note of caution: that on some issues, the world cannot afford to be wrong. “I would like to stress the utmost importance of preserving peace and stability and to ensure the incremental and sustainable development of our fragile world. We don’t have the luxury of being able to make mistakes and then going back to correct them. We call on all world leaders to redouble their efforts and goodwill to head towards lasting peace and prosperity for all.”