SECURITY & COOPERATION IN EUROPE:
U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION
KAZAKHSTAN’S LEADERSHIP OF THE OSCE
HIS EXCELLENCY KANAT SAUDABAYEV,
REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN
THE HEARING WAS HELD FROM 10:02 A.M. TO 11:26 A.M. IN 1100 LONGWORTH HOUSE
OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C., [REP. ALCEE L. HASTINGS (D-FL), CO-CHAIRMAN,
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2010
REP. ALCEE HASTINGS (D-FL): Our hearing will now come to order of the
Cooperation (sic) on Security and Cooperation in Europe and this hearing is
entitled, “The Kazakhstan Leadership of the OSCE”. For those that are in our
audience on channel two on these headsets is in English and channel 10 is in
Russian. I’ll wait for the minister to get miked up. First, it’s an honor and
a privilege for me to welcome my good friend, the foreign minister Saudabayev
back to Washington in his new role as chairman in office of the OSCE.
Mr. Minister, before I go further with my statements, I’d like to acknowledge
the fact that Sen. Cardin, the co-chair of the commission is in attendance at a
funeral this morning of former Maryland senator, Charles Mathias. And it’s for
that reason that the senator is unable to be with us here this morning.
Foreign Minister Saudabayev and I have known each other for many years, going
back to when the minister was ambassador here in Washington. As most of you
know, I long supported Kazakhstan’s chair to the OSCE. I urged the United
States government to back the proposal and was pleased when the United States
joined consensus at the 2007 Madrid ministerial based on certain assurances.
Some thought that there were problems with Kazakhstan’s record on
democratization and human rights, but I believed then as I do today that
inclusiveness was and is the best way to proceed. I was in Madrid and heard,
Mr. Minister, your predecessor make specific pledges of reforms on behalf of
your government. I believe that promises are meant to be kept and I have every
expectation, Mr. Minister, that your government will continue working to
translate its Madrid promises into actions consistent with OSCE commitments.
I look forward to hearing more about Kazakhstan’s for an OSCE summit this year,
which I might add, I certainly encourage. I hope that a summit would be not
only substantive but also conducted in line with past practice, including being
fully open to NGOs and civil society.
In that vein, the now-celebrated case of Yevgeny Zhovtis has received a great
deal of attention here in this country and elsewhere. He’s the best-known
human rights activist in Kazakhstan and has testified before this commission on
several occasions, two of which I was in attendance. I understand that he has
submitted an appeal to the Kazakhstan supreme court and I am sure that this
matter will move forward accordingly.
As the former president of the OSCE parliamentary assembly – and I’d like to
take this moment to acknowledge the presence of the secretary-general of the
parliamentary assembly of OSCE, Spencer Oliver, who is in attendance with us
here this morning – and I’d also ask you, Mr. Minister, to look at ways to
strengthen the relationship between the parliamentary assembly and the
governmental side of the OSCE. I strongly believe that the parliamentary
assembly has abundant expertise to offer on a wide range of issues, including,
of course, election observation.
As you may know, over the past several years, some have suggested – and I have
been among them – that the OSCE work more closely with the CIS in the field of
election observation. I believe it to be an interesting idea and one that
should be explored in cooperation with other election observation partners for
future election observation missions.
I also ask that you continue to make a priority the whole range of issues
covered under the OSCE tolerance rubric: racism, anti-Semitism, racial
profiling and blatant discrimination continue across the OSCE region as
evidenced by recent violent attacks on African populations in Italy. An
increased focus on racism, in addition to efforts focused on migrants, must
continue to be at the top of the OSCE’s agenda and I hope will be a topic at
this year’s high-level tolerance meeting, which I’m hopeful that I, as well as
other members, will be able to attend.
The desecration of a Jewish cemetery in France on the 65th anniversary of the
liberation of Auschwitz further demonstrates the need to maintain a focus on
combating anti-Semitism. The increased political focus on Muslim populations
in many countries, including banning minarets and face-veils, also requires
attention. Efforts of the ODIHR tolerance unit, the chairman-in-office
personal representatives on tolerance and the OSCE high commission on national
minorities are critical to addressing these issues.
Mr. Minister, your leadership is going to be very important to the OSCE this
year. We all support you and hope that Kazakhstan’s chairmanship will be a
tremendous success. We appreciate the good working relationship that has
developed between your embassies – and I’m pleased to note your ambassador here
to the United States is with us this morning – and the cooperation developed in
Vienna with the Helsinki Commission. And I look forward to continuing that
throughout this year and beyond.
At this time I would like to acknowledge my good friend from American Samoa who
is in attendance with us this morning, Eni Faleomavaega, for any comments he
may wish to make.
DEL. ENI FALEOMAVAEGA (D-AS): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I do want to offer
my personal condolences and sympathies of the late Sen. Charles Mathias,
certainly one of the stalwarts and leading senators of our nation and I can
fully understand and appreciate why our co-chairman Sen. Cardin could not join
us this morning.
This is a very special occasion for me, Mr. Chairman, to the extent that I’ve
decided to wear a cultural tie that was given to me by one of my brothers from
the Indian Oneida Nation which is symbolic of the bear clan. As you can see,
it is made – I have got a claw of a bear, as well as it was from the part of
the bear where it was carved, – hopefully that I might receive some extra munna
(ph), if you will, because sometimes, Mr. Chairman, some of our friends here in
Washington, when you say, “tribe” – it kind of gives a connotation like the
lesser civilized people coming from various tribes don’t seem to have any sense
of modernity or to the extent that they don’t have culture.
Very interestingly enough for the tremendous problems that we’re faced with not
only in Central Asia that there was a number of tribes in Afghanistan that
finally gave the demise to the former Soviet Union after 10 years of
occupation. I think it was also the nation of Israel are still in formal of
tribal recognitions – whether you’re from Judah or Manasseh or from Ephraim or
whatever. So I think it’s good to understand that even great nations like
Kazakhstan – they still have their little tribal organizations; they’re very
proud of it.
As I’m very sure that our distinguished guest who’s our key witness this
morning happens to be my very dear friend whom I’ve had the privilege and honor
of knowing for all these years, formerly as the ambassador of the Republic of
Kazakhstan to our country for some 7 years and then before that an outstanding
diplomatic career in his own right, Dr. Kanat Saudabayev, now both as Secretary
of State and as appointed recently as foreign minister by the President
Nazarbayev. I’m very, very privileged and honored that he has joined us this
morning, hearing from him for the issues that are now before us concerning the
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Helsinki
Commission regarding Kazakhstan’s leadership of the 56-nation Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe. This is undoubtedly an historical event
for both the OSCE and Kazakhstan, given that Kazakhstan is the first former
Soviet republic to serve in the top leadership role of an organization best
known for promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
As early as 20 years ago, the idea of any post-Soviet states’ active
participation in the OSCE was inconceivable. And for one of those states to
assume the chairmanship of the organization was unimaginable. Yet Kazakhstan’s
bid to chair the OSCE was unanimously supported by all 56 member nations in
recognition of the bold steps that President Nazarbayev has taken to bring
Kazakhstan out from under the yoke of communism or, for that matter,
colonialism for some 80 or 90 years before they became independent some 18 or
19 years ago.
As chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Asia, the Pacific and the
Global Environment, which also has broad jurisdiction on U.S. foreign policy
affecting Central Asia, I supported Kazakhstan’s bid to chair the OSCE. And I
have every confidence that OSCE chairman-in-office Kanat Saudabayev will fairly
represent the interests of all member states. Having worked with His
Excellency Kanat Saudabayev for some 7 years during his tenure as Kazakhstan’s
former ambassador to the United States.
I can unequivocally state that he spared no efforts in strengthening
U.S.-Kazakh relations and because of his work in Washington remains
unsurpassed. I have every reason to believe that this skilled and seasoned
diplomat will spare no effort also in making the OSCE more valid, more useful
and more effective.
This is why I also support President Nazarbayev’s call for the convening of a
summit of OSCE leaders in Kazakhstan this year. It has been 10 years since the
OSCE held a security summit and since then the world has changed drastically
and dramatically as a direct result of 9/11. Now more than ever it is critical
that we bring together all member states to discuss and come to solutions
regarding the security of all nations. While I have serious reservations about
U.S. involvement in Afghanistan –
I have a very interesting observation, Mr. Chairman, on this issue. We already
have 68,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. We’re going to be sending another 30,000
soldiers, numbering almost 100,000 soldiers who are going to be looking for
Taliban, which numbers about 27,000 and a couple of hundred al-Qaida. And by
the way, these 27,000 Taliban, I would venture to say 99 percent are Pashtuns.
Twelve million Pashtuns, I believe, live in Afghanistan, but right on the
border between Pakistan and Afghanistan – 27 million Pashtuns live there too.
Is it any wonder why it’s been difficult for us even to locate Osama bin Laden
after all these years? Because of the problems of tribal organizations that I
think we have very little understanding or appreciation of the cultures of
these areas. And I might say, very, very serious implications of the role that
Central Asian countries will play on what’s going to come out in Afghanistan in
other areas of this very critical region at this time.
Kazakhstan aims to use the OSCE fair to press for a resolution to the conflict
in Afghanistan. And for this reason, I believe the United States would do well
to support Kazakhstan in its effort to hold a summit. For this reason my
colleagues and I have spearheaded an initiative which we have called upon the
Obama administration to support an OSCE summit for purposes of bringing
together all member states to discuss and come to solutions regarding the
security of all nations, particularly in this region of the world.
Mr. Chairman, I submit, I think we really need to look a little more deeply at
the fact that this is not just going to cost us arms and body blood but a
tremendous drain even in our own national treasury when it comes to this issue
of Afghanistan. Without Central Asia’s support, in my humble opinion, Mr.
Chairman, we have no hope in Afghanistan. Central Asia is key to stabilizing
Afghanistan and Kazakhstan is the only Central Asian country to have an action
plan to assist in the reconstruction process.
As we noted in our letter to President Obama, and I quote, “In 2007/2008,
Kazakhstan provided $3 million for social and infrastructure projects,
humanitarian aid and training for Afghan law enforcement and border patrol
officers. Last year, Kazakhstan committed an additional $5 million to improve
the water supply for the shipments of grain and other commodities. And most
recently, Kazakhstan has announced a major education initiative for Afghan
students, providing them opportunities to study abroad.”
Because Kazakhstan is situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, it is in a
position to build bridges between the East and the West and at a time when U.S.
support is waning. I firmly believe that as a nation we must support
Kazakhstan and its chairmanship of the OSCE. No doubt there will always be
critics’ intent on setting Kazakhstan back in its attempt to move the OSCE
forward, but again, all 56 member states unanimously voted in favor of
Kazakhstan’s chairmanship and it is time for us to come together as a
commission and an organization to support Kazakhstan and its ambitious agenda.
About efforts to improve implementation of commitments regarding fundamental
human rights and freedoms, as David Wilshire, head of the delegation of the
parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe noted, and I quote, “Building a
democracy is a long and hard task.” And given the time it has taken America to
elect its first African-American president, Mr. Chairman, I submit I tend to
agree with Mr. Wilshire’s assessment.
As a Pacific islander whose people know first-hand the horrors of nuclear
testing, I also want to make a final comment about human rights. While
Kazakhstan, like many other nations including our own, still has challenges
ahead as it seeks to provide food, shelter and political rights for its people,
we must not forget that when it mattered most, President Nazarbayev changed the
course of history, in my opinion Mr. Chairman, and dismantled the world’s
fourth largest nuclear arsenal which was larger than the combined nuclear
arsenals of Great Britain, France and China.
President Nazarbayev also made a tough choice to close and seal off the world’s
second largest nuclear test site. While the U.S., Great Britain, France, China
and Russia continue to possess thousands and thousands of nuclear weapons,
while human rights groups continue to point fingers at Kazakhstan, I submit Mr.
Chairman, only Kazakhstan had the moral courage to renounce nuclear weapons all
together for the sake of all mankind.
I also wish to point out that according to U.S. polling data, more than 63
percent of the people of Kazakhstan have a favorable opinion of the United
States. And I believe this is a direct result of President Nazarbayev’s
leadership and commitment in the service of his people.
Since 9/11 in regards to the U.S. coalition operations in Afghanistan,
Kazakhstan allowed overflight and transshipment to assist U.S. efforts.
U.S.-Kazakh accords were signed in 2002 on the emergency use of Kazakhstan’s
Almaty airport and on other military-to-military relations. The Kazakh
legislature also approved sending military engineers to Iraq in May 2003. And
I think it was just recently in a week ago that we’ve also had an agreement
with Kazakhstan for shipment of allowing our shipment of goods going through
passes in our efforts in building up our military capacity in Afghanistan.
On many of other important issues, Mr. Chairman I submit, Kazakhstan has also
stood with the United States and I hope the United States will now stand with
Kazakhstan in support of an OSCE summit. Again, I commend Kazakhstan for its
chairmanship of the OSCE. I sincerely thank you, Mr. Chairman, for giving me
this opportunity to share with you my thoughts concerning this very important
matter and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses this morning. Thank
you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HASTINGS: Thank you very much, Mr. Faleomavaega. We’ve also been joined,
and I would have the minister to note, we will get to his testimony, but I’d be
terribly remiss if I did not acknowledge and allow any statement that he may
wish to make at this time, by my colleague and good friend from California, Mr.
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA): Thank you, Chairman, and I would ask unanimous
consent that my entire statement be put in the record. And since so much has
been said, properly, by my colleagues here, and since I really, more than
anything else, want to welcome my former ambassador here, and my good friend,
and often we call each other our brothers, because we did form a bond since
2001 that was very close, just as our nation continues to form a tighter bond
with an emerging democracy, and as Mr. Faleomavaega said so well, the only
country ever to dismantle its nuclear capability.
It gives us an opportunity to look further. With the summit coming up in 2010,
certainly I want to join with my colleagues to support that. It’s a bold move,
in a place that is both beautiful and warm in the summer, and bitter cold in
the winter. So I commend you for finding the right season for a summit, also.
And with that, Mr. Chairman, I look forward to hearing his entire testimony and
REP. HASTINGS: Thank you very much, Mr. Issa. If you will give your statement
to staff, then we will make sure that it’s included in the record.
Before proceeding further, I’d like to note the presence at today’s hearing of
our two fellow parliamentarians from another OSCE-participating state, namely
Macedonia. My understanding is that Mr. Eliodemoshi (ph) and Mr. Stankovi (ph)
are visiting the United States under the auspices of the Department of State’s
International Visitor Leadership Program. Gentlemen, where are you? I think
you’re out there somewhere. I’d like to welcome you here to the hearing, in
order to see the Helsinki Commission in action.
I’d also like to acknowledge my good friend, the United States ambassador to
Kazakhstan. Ambassador Hoagland – where are you, Ambassador? – is here with us
today as well. Thank you so very much.
With all of those amenities and courtesies out of the way, now we hear from my
good friend, the foreign minister, secretary of state, of Kazakhstan, Mr.
Saudabayev. The floor is yours, sir.
And let me remind you all again that channel two is in English on the headsets,
and channel 10 is in Russian.
HIS EXCELLENCY KANAT SAUDABAYEV:
(Note: The English translation of the beginning of Mr. Saudabayev’s remarks
was not captured in the recording. His translated remarks begin in progress
below. We are awaiting traslation from Russian.)
The fundamental human values – the cultural and human diversity of our reality
should serve as the basis for this kind of work and in this regard, I’d like to
emphasize this, to acknowledge this new spirit that has emerged in Washington –
this aspiration to set the bridges connecting the East and the West.
The preparedness of the United States to listen to the world, to listen to
other countries’ opinions, which I think was quite brilliantly demonstrated by
my friends, a congressman who spoke this morning. I think that we can feel
quite optimistic that we are here sharing our goals, sharing this path and we
can continue serving, expanding the mutual understanding and connections
between different civilizations.
Exactly in this human dimension, we would like to have the joint session in a
conference in Copenhagen, which will also mark the 20th anniversary of the
Copenhagen document adoption in 1990, one of the founding documents for the
human dimensions in OSCE, as you probably know. So we hope that this
conference will be devoted to the review of compliance with the founding
principles and freedoms by the countries who are members of the OSCE.
We think that the annual review conferences on human rights in Warsaw is also
very important events – very important efforts conducted by the OSCE and we
will take it – the preparation for this event very seriously. As you know,
Kazakhstan is the country that encompasses the representatives of 140
nationalities and representatives of all kinds of different confessions (sic),
which is one of the greatest accomplishments, I think, of the president of our
country, Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Contrary to many forecasts and contrary to many apprehensions, he succeeded in
maintaining stable peace in the country that’s as diverse and as expansive as
Kazakhstan. And actually, we think that preservation of this multiculturalism
is the founding principle for our development today and tomorrow. And I think
that this can be transposed – this experience that we have accumulated can be
accumulated to our international experience.
For example, we already have conducted the meeting of the highest
representatives of three major religions of the world in Kazakhstan and we
actually plan to incorporate the issues of tolerance as one of the top –
religious tolerance as one of the top priorities of OSCE. This is why on June
29 and 30, we are planning to conduct a conference on tolerance and
We have already started preparing for this important event. It involves the
active engagement of three representatives on tolerance. One of them is from
the United States, Andrew Baker, the rabbi who is now the high representative
of the United States on religious tolerance and fighting anti-Semitism.
We do hope that the United States will contribute to a significant degree to
the preparation of this event. We are very happy to see that Secretary of
State Clinton is paying so much attention to the advancement of the issue of
gender balance and we think it’s very important direction for our work. And
this is why we’re proposing to conduct a joint session that will be devoted to
the issues of the equal opportunities for women’s participation in political
We also attribute a great importance to fighting human trafficking, especially
trafficking in children, which seems unfortunately to have acquired a
transnational character. Unquestionably, as a chairman, Kazakhstan will pay
very significant attention to the rule of law, religious tolerance, the
enforcement of equal access to equal justice, equal law and the efficient work
of the penitentiary system.
We would like to say that we’re planning to advance those freedoms, advance
those principles in Kazakhstan. And actually, the 18 years of our independence
is a clear testimony to the fact that we have been adhering to this path for
all of this time. For example, just a few years ago, we incorporated very
significant amendments in our legislation on elections on the freedom of mass
We have adopted the national plan on human rights and their implementation for
the years 2009, 2012, as well as we have the national plan that is scheduled
for implementation through 2020 in the area of the reinforcement of human
rights and their protection.
The law on equal rights and equal opportunities for women, protection from
domestic violence and improvement of the forensic system work, social
protections from various categories of citizens, various means and methods that
exist for carrying out sentences in the criminal court system.
The head of our state announced that he is going to start the implementation of
the new legal reform which will be targeted at the humanization of our
legislation. So this is why in the near future the parliament of our country
is going to consider the draft of the legislation that will provide for a very
stringent controls and monitoring for all of the activities in the area of
So here is an example of the few goals that we have declared as our main
principal goals in the role of the chairman of OSCE. Elections monitoring. In
the year of our chairmanship, we are planning to monitor 15 elections in
various countries of the world. And we are, of course, planning to pay due
attention to this process.
I’m happy to declare that our monitoring of the first elections round in
Ukraine was very successful. They complied with OSCE requirements and we hope
that the next round is going to be just as good. And we would like to call
upon ODIHR, the inter-parliamentary assembly of the OSCE to continue
contributing efficiently and constructively to this process of monitoring the
elections in different countries.
Now, with respect to the second basket that has to do with economic reforms,
I’d like to point out that we are planning to continue our efficient work in
improving the efficiency of border control and the land transportation.
There’s quite a few acute issues in this regard and we are planning to tackle
them this year.
The other aspect is the environmental security. As you know, we have inherited
two manmade environmental disasters. One is the Semipalatinsk test range and
the Aral Sea. The Aral Sea is a problem that actually is acute for all
countries in the region. It has been proven beyond doubt that this sea also
has a negative impact on the European countries who currently do get reached by
the salts originating from the Aral Sea.
And I’d like to emphasize here that in the year of our chairmanship, Kazakhstan
would like to intensify our activities that have to do with the stability in
Afghanistan. As it was correctly pointed out by Congressman Eni Faleomavaega,
we have been providing steady support to the United States and the
international coalition on stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan.
However, today, we are convinced that the military efforts, by themselves, are
not sufficient enough to stabilize this country. Now is the time to expand the
humanitarian constituent part of the international efforts. On our part, in
the course of a number of years, we have been providing significant support in
the construction of hospitals, schools, providing various humanitarian aid
And in fact, in the course of the Afghani – as a consequence of the
Afghani-Kazakh agreement, intergovernmental agreement, we will provide the
training for 1,000 officers from Afghanistan. Despite the difficult economic
situation in the world, we have found the time and we have found the means to
allocate $50 million for the training of those officers. And we hope that we
will be able to become major contributors to the efforts of the OSCE in this
regard and that our efforts will go along with the efforts announced by the
president of the United States, Barack Obama.
Insofar, however, there is a drastic need to provide the international support
to the humanitarian aspects of life in Afghanistan, the various social support
programs are required. This is what was discovered – this is what was
discussed on the 27th, 28th of January in London, the conference that was
devoted to the issue of Afghanistan and this is what I expressed at this
Since the issues of Afghanistan are especially acute for those countries that
are present in the region, we intent to continue intensive and efficient work
on reinforcement of borders, the national borders of various countries that are
bordering on Afghanistan, as well as strengthening the capacity of the border
control troops that serve on the border with Afghanistan as well as continue
contributing to the training of the officers in the Border Control College as
well as the customs.
Our country, as an acknowledged leader of the world in nonproliferation
process, supports the initiatives of President Obama in terms of nuclear
disarmament, his commitment, he confirmed in his State of the Union Address to
Congress. As chairman in office of the OSCE, we highly appreciate the
American-Russian negotiations to develop a new START treaty.
A real contribution of the OSCE to the transnational threats and challenges
including terrorism, religious extremism, drug trafficking and organized crime
must be the conference for the prevention of terrorism in Astana. Here, we
support the – we appreciate the support of our American colleagues.
Kazakhstan will also try to make a contribution to the solution of so-called
prolonged conflicts, three of which are raging in the post-Soviet space.
Bearing in the mind the historical commonality and mental closeness of
Kazakhstan to all the parties to the conflicts and also in view of the high
authority and trust enjoyed by President Nazarbayev, we hope to give an impetus
to this process.
This is what I’m planning to do in my forthcoming visit to Southern Caucasus,
starting February 15th. At the same time, we believe it’s important to prevent
such conflicts which lead to tragedies and humanitarian disasters. And to this
end, to use the potentiality of the OSCE in terms of monitoring and prevention
of such situations.
Mr. Chairman, as you know, the year 2010 is momentous for OSCE by several
anniversaries. It is the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki
Accords, the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the 20th
anniversary of the Paris Charter for the New Europe and the 20th anniversary of
the Copenhagen Document. Beside, it will be 11 years since the latest summit
on the OSCE in Istanbul.
Unfortunately, the first decade of the new century has not made our world safer
or better. Thus, the 9/11 tragedy changed the usual notions of enemy and war
and the international terrorism became an enemy without the address or
nationality. The architecture of security in Europe has changed.
In spite of the many years of international effort, Afghanistan continues to be
the source of international terrorism and a major drug supplier. Not only have
the prolonged conflicts not been extinguished, but new conflicts arose. Even
in the most comfortable countries of Europe, they are facing, now, acute issues
of tolerances, international and inter-religious tolerance.
And it’s all within the zone of responsibility of OSCE. So these are problems
that demand consolidated attention and discussion by the leaders of the OSCE.
That’s why President Nazarbayev called to call a summit of the OSCE in 2010.
These concrete recommendations for the summit has already been built into the
Council of Foreign Ministers, a document in Athens, and supported by the
Permanent Council in Vienna. The leaders of a whole number of several
countries among the OSCE – of OSCE not only support this suggestion, but also
make an important contribution to the development of agenda.
Kazakhstan also wants to continue the good tradition laid down by our
predecessor, Greece, and invite the ministers of foreign ministers of OSCE to
the informal meeting in Almaty this coming summer to exchange opinions on the
pressing issues and hopefully, achieve a consensus on the summit agenda.
I would like to note that as a result of a long absence of the United States in
OSCE meetings, it’s much more difficult today to find consensus. Today, OSCE
demands proper attention on the part of one of the key countries that laid the
foundation of this organization. Full-fledged, active participation of the
United States will impart the needed impetus to our organization.
I’m quite sure that the idea of the summit is in full accord with the noble
goals and efforts of the United States to promote security and improving the
trust and cooperation over the whole zone of responsibility of OSCE from
Vancouver to Vladivostok.
As the chairman in office of OSCE, I grasp this opportunity to call upon your
distinguished colleagues, not only to extend our gratitude for your support,
but also I call upon you to show your strategic vision, political will and
leadership and support by the United States of the successful summit of our
unique organization in the name of security and welfare of the peoples that
created our organization.
Indeed, in the 35 years of its history, the OSCE created an unprecedented
system of collecting universal and indivisible security. However, as noted by
President Nazarbayev, the positive historical resource of OSCE has its limits
and today, we should not continue the so-called redlines or zero-sum games
I’m quite sure that our common task is in the light of new challenges and
threats to make OSCE even more useful and more effective. Winding up, Mr.
Chairman, I would like, once again, to thank, from the bottom of my heart, our
chairman, distinguished Congressman Hastings, my friend and brother, Enid
Faleomavaega and obviously, Darrell Issa.
He reminded me of 2001, when within these same walls, under an entirely
different atmosphere, a hearing on Kazakhstan was held and that was the only
voice raised by a U.S. representative who came out to support an emerging
democracy in our country. So it’s been only 9 years, but my country has
changed beyond recognition.
The United States has changed and today, we feel how reliable our strategic
partnership is, looking forward into the future. Thank you very much and let
me take this opportunity today to extend my gratitude to Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton, which used to be an active member of your distinguished
As chairman in office of the OSCE, let me assure you that myself, personally,
and Kazakhstan will always continue close and constructive cooperation with the
Helsinki Commission, the Congress, the government and nongovernmental
organizations of America with which Kazakhstan has formed a relationship of
true strategic partnership. Thank you very much.
REP. HASTINGS: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister, for a very comprehensive
presentation. If you don’t mind, we would turn to a few questions. But I’d
like to take the prerogative of the chair initially to say that while I have a
long list of questions, and in the interests of time, I would not present each
of them, I would like, with your permission, to place in writing to your good
offices, as chair-in-office, many of the questions that I would seek an answer
to, and with your permission, upon their being answered, to place them on our
Web site, so that all can see what the questions were, and what the answers are
to those questions. And I don’t expect that to take place in any two- or
three-day period, but certainly, if you can, within this month, answer the
questions that I would submit.
Mr. Chairman, I was particularly interested in your comments when you spoke
about the invisible walls that are residue or the remains of the Cold War. One
of the reasons that I supported Kazakhstan as Chair-in-Office was to be able to
dramatize the fact that there are countries that are moving forward, in a
progressive manner, as is Kazakhstan, and it would be my hope that that will
show the way, not only in the OSCE sphere, but indeed, the world.
I think you rightly point out our shortcomings with reference to not having a
formal ambassador in Vienna. I do know that you do know that an
ambassador-to-be has been nominated for this position. It would be my hope
that he would be confirmed, and I’ll use the term “fast,” or “expeditiously.”
I think it has been too long in the coming, and it would be my hope that the
United States Senate will exercise its confirmation prerogatives most
immediately with reference to the nominee. The thing that I – there are two
areas that I wish to highlight, then I’ll allow, if you wish to answer – those
are two questions – and then turn to my colleagues.
Mr. Minister, I think you know, that for 15 years, that I, and I’ll use that
pronoun, have participated in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe, principally as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly. During that
period of time, I don’t think there is any other member of the United States
House of Representatives, and I can think of at least six members of various
parliaments of the OSCE sphere, that have participated in as many election
observations as I have.
As you know, I am just recently back from the observation mission in Ukraine,
which was my third election observation in Ukraine. While I agree with you
that ODIHR and the Parliamentary Assembly are, indeed, are required, to conduct
themselves efficiently and constructively. And in some respects, Ukraine had
some measures of success in that regard. I won’t bore you or those in
attendance with just how important I believe this cooperation, understanding to
But I would like for you to take away from this meeting the fact that, here in
the United States, particularly in the United States State Department, the
ODIHR who do extraordinary work on the ground in election observation are
referred to as the gold standard. I’m going to say to you what I said to
Christian Strohal, who at one time was the head of ODIHR. Christian had been
there a considerable number of years. I was 12 years in as an election
observer. We were in Maastricht when I made the statement to him that he
hadn’t been elected to anything, and I had been elected, at that time, seven
different times, and six different times. And that I knew more about elections
than he would know if he was to start all over again as a bureaucrat.
And I’ll say to this State Department, and anybody here, and if I offend you,
it’s deliberate – not you, Mr. Minister, but the others – that ODIHR is not a
gold standard, they are one of the standards that are necessary in the OSCE
sphere. But when it comes to election observation, elected officials have no
And I just wish that to be clearly understood, so as how as we go forward, that
those constructive and efficient undertakings of the Parliamentary Assembly are
taken into account. Let me use yet another example. The OSCE governmental
side took credit for and implemented, rightly, the anti-Semitism conferences
that have been held under the aegis of OSCE – three of them.
The idea for those conferences came from the Parliamentary Assembly. They came
from the co-chair of this committee, Ben Cardin, and myself; Steny Hoyer, who
now is the majority leader; Chris Smith, who was the ranking member of the
Helsinki Commission and at the time, at different times, chairman of this same
Helsinki Commission; Jerahmiel Grafstein, a senator from Canada; and Gert
Weisskerchen, a member of the Bundestag. The six of us – (inaudible) – the
resolution that ultimately became the manifestation of the anti-Semitism
Those ideas generated transparency in that arena, and we have made other
suggestions along those lines, particularly fiscal accounting. Perhaps mine is
not a question: It is, as you are my friend and brother, a suggestion about
how we go about viewing the work of the various institutions of OSCE as they
proceed in their critical missions.
The one question that I would ask you to respond to is, Turkey hosted the last
OSCE summit in Istanbul in 1999, and was prepared to hose the entire review
conference that precedes a summit. Mr. Minister, a year is going to go by a
lot more rapidly than most of us think. A month is gone already in the year
2010, and you point out the significant anniversaries that come about in this
year. But would your government be willing to hold an OSCE review conference
in Kazakhstan, in connection with the decision to convene a summit under your
And I suggest that that would be a very wise thing to do. I also would allow
that wisely, you are proceeding to arrange for an informal conference. It
would be my view that that should take place sooner than you are suggesting in
an effort to give vent to the remaining undertakings that are going to be
necessary to achieve a summit. You’ve heard the three of us suggest that we
favor a summit. But I certainly favor the kind of review that the informal
conference can proceed with, and with the participation of NGOs and others, in
a more rapid-fire manner, to develop a substantive agenda. I hope out of that
is a question, and if so, then I invite you to respond.
MR. SAUDABAYEV: Mr. Chairman, as I have already pointed out, we already have
started the substantive preparations for the summit. And after the formal
agreement on the dates, we definitely will take into consideration proposals
that were made here in favor of the summit and if necessary, if in addition to
the informal council of ministers of foreign affairs, we should also hold the
review conference. We will do that and we will be able to support its
effective and efficient implementation.
REP. HASTINGS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Faleomavaega?
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would be remiss if I did not
also recognize the presence of our good ambassador from Kazakhstan, my good
friend, Ambassador Erlan Idrissov, who is also with us here. I do want to say,
for the record, that in my humble judgment, I don’t know of anybody that has
spent so much of his precious time and his dedication and commitment to the
operations and the – all aspects of how OSCE has taken its course, and
especially with the active participation of those of us representing our
government before this organization that is comprised of 56 countries, and I
take this special tribute to you, Mr. Chairman, and also to Sen. Cardin, and
our other colleagues that you had indicated earlier.
I also have a list of questions, and for the sake of time, I’m just going to
submit it for the record and also for the foreign minister, Saudabayev, to
respond. But I do have some – I think, to follow up on your question, Mr.
Chairman, that I think it’s important, and always has been, the question is to
justify having a summit that has been requested by the chairman. That not only
will it require substance, but something that will be making, that will be
important to the extent that not only does it have a direct bearing on the
national interests of each country making up the OSCE, but certainly on issues
that are now before us, that has tremendous impact on these countries that are
members of the OSCE.
I noted with interest, Mr. Foreign Minister, you have indicated several aspects
of several issues that could be part of the overall process of planning for the
summit: issues related to religious freedom, elections, human trafficking,
human rights, economic reforms, transportation, environmental – all of this,
put together, I think they are important. But one issue that I’d like to share
with Foreign Minister Saudabayev, and that is: We are right at the center of
an issue that has very, very serious and broad implications, not only for the
recent decisions that were made by my own government, or our own government –
and I make reference again to the crisis, the problems in Afghanistan.
I think no other issue can probably, will bear more attention, Mr. Foreign
Minister, on how this might relate to the interests that may be expressed by
the 56-member country, and the serious implications of how, what role, how
important, is this to the member countries that make up Central Asia. I have
said over the years – and now, most recently, because of the crisis that we’re
faced with: the war in Afghanistan – I have always said, what are the serious
implications will this be, for the Central Asian countries?
I note with interest that when you say “Afghanistans” or “Afghans,” you don’t
really mean that they are all a homogeneous people living in Afghanistan.
You’re talking about – and I’ve got a little listing here – of a country that
is made up of 42 percent Pashtuns, 11.9 million Pashtuns; 7.9 million Tajiks,
who are from Tajikistan in Central Asia; 2.5 million Hazaras; 2.5 million
Uzbeks – and by the way, Uzbekistan borders Afghanistan, their population is
about 28 million Uzbeks that live there.
My point here, Mr. Chairman, and I want to note this: Will the issue of
Afghanistan be considered as a primary, and a very substantial issue that OSCE
should seriously undertake and consider in its deliberations, if a summit is to
be held? And the reason I suggest this, Mr. Chairman, and I wanted to note
with interest if Foreign Minister Saudabayev will share with us some insight.
We’re about to expend well over 30 to $40 billion in sending another 30,000
soldiers in Afghanistan. You’re talking about another expenditure of probably
$100 billion a year if we’re going to stay there for another 18 months, as has
been proposed by the administration. Now, while this may be just on a
unilateral basis, where my country or our country is involved in this, but it
does have serious implications throughout Central Asia, and I suspect that
every member of the OSCE country will be affected by what will be happening in
the coming weeks and months in Afghanistan.
And I wanted to ask the good minister if the question of Afghanistan is being
seriously considered as an issue that should be discussed openly and actively
among members of the OSCE, and if there’s a possibility that this issue could
also be taken up as part of the agenda and the program on the summit, if there
will be a summit, this year.
REP. HASTINGS: Thank you very much. Mr. Minister?
MR. SAUDABAYEV: It’s a very, very accurate comment. I think you have been
quite correct in pointing out the importance of, I think, the consultations
that we have held so far attest to the fact that the issue of Afghanistan’s
stabilization is going to be one of the primary items on the agenda of the
And it’s actually the issue on which we have the most consensus since 43
countries of the overall number of OSCE members have displayed their serious
interest in the stabilization of the environment in Afghanistan. And I think
if we do not consolidate our efforts in the absence of stabilization in
Afghanistan, we cannot speak about the sustainable development of our region as
well as the overall OSCE space.
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I note with interest, also, Mr.
Foreign Minister, that over the years, OSCE has had this little push-and-pull
relationship, kind of like a mini-Cold War effort, where we see Russia, again,
playing a very critical role, and being critical also of some of the programs
and the suggestions in terms of its proposal to have a security umbrella that
is to be composed of European countries.
And I’m just curious, Mr. Foreign Minister, in terms of what is Kazakhstan’s
role in trying to be a referee, I suppose? Because we see this: the crisis in
Georgia, the problem of missile test – I mean, missile bases in the Czech
Republic, or in Poland – all these things. And I think in view of the current
administration’s latest proposals and policies, and I’ve just wondered, from
you, Mr. Minister: How do you view Russia’s role in the OSCE in terms of how
we can develop a more, a friendly atmosphere, so that we will have a tendency
to say, let’s be uniform?
I like the idea of consensus-building in terms of how agreements or decisions
are made within the OSCE, but I’m just curious: From our foreign minister,
what exactly do you see the Central Asian countries’ role towards Afghanistan,
when we view this? And how does this imply, for the activities that we hope
that the OSCE members will play in that respect?
Now, in my discussion with some of the leaders of the Asian, Central Asian
countries, we don’t need to send more bullets and guns to kill other Talibans
who are actually Pashtuns. We need to provide more humanitarian assistance and
education and health, agriculture development, so these people can be more
self-sustaining. And I was just wondering if there was a feeling among Central
Asian countries. What is the sense among Central Asian countries towards the
crisis that we’re faced with right now in Afghanistan, may I ask?
MR. SAUDABAYEV: First of all, with respect to Russia, Russia is one of the
OSCE members and it’s a very substantive – Russia is a very substantive and
weighty player in the international space and in this organization as well.
And all countries who are members of OSCE have equal rights, we know that,
which is why the proposal that Russia made vis-à-vis the European Security
Treaty that was advanced by President Medvedev, I think, is a valid proposal
that deserves attention and consideration by the countries who are members of
Secondly, with respect to the situation around Afghanistan, I think the recent
strategy announced by President Obama is correct. It’s a good decision and as
a country, we support it. We think that in the absence of adequate conditions
that would make it possible for the government of Afghanistan to take upon
itself the responsibility for the security in the country, for the social and
political evolvement of the country itself, we cannot talk about the postwar
development of this country.
And alongside the military efforts, we need to enhance what you have just
pointed out, our common efforts in the social and economic initiatives of the
development of this country, investments in the humanitarian infrastructure of
this country, which is why it’s so important to engage the capacities that are
available in the bordering countries such as Tajikistan, Uzbekistan,
Those are the countries who are strategically close. They’re in the proximity
of Afghanistan and of course, they have the religious and ethnic affinity with
Afghanistan. Therefore, of course, we have experience in working with those
countries. For example, Kazakhstan can present alongside the educational
programs, we can also present the following proposals, that we can invite the
international donors to use the agricultural opportunities that exist in
We can provide seeds, for example, the seed bank to Afghanistan. We can also
help with the transportation infrastructure, i.e., for example, can help with
the construction of railroads and restoration of railroads. So of course,
we’re facing the schedule on the removal of troops from Afghanistan. But that
should be done in parallel with the other processes of a gradual – it should be
a gradual process.
The reduction in the number of troops should be very gradual and it should be
accompanied by the parallel process and I think the goal of having the
300,000-strong police and military force, there’s going to become a very strong
factor in bringing Afghanistan to normalcy and creating opportunities for its
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: Thank you, Mr. Minister. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HASTINGS: Thank you very much. Mr. Issa?
REP. ISSA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Foreign Minister, I have a series of
questions which I thought my staff was very wise to say, why don’t you just ask
to have your friend answer them in writing later? It seemed like an original
idea before the other two asked for the same thing. So with your indulgence, I
will abbreviate my questions, and with your kindness, perhaps you can answer
them at your leisure.
But there are a couple of items that I think bear discussion here today. One
of them is, throughout the region, not just in Kazakhstan, not just in
Afghanistan, there has been a difficult time in the democratization of
producing competing parties, although in your country – and I’ve had the honor
of visiting, and I have a former staff member who works on democracy in
Kazakhstan – there are competing movements. They seldom – the seeds don’t
sprout, and so you don’t have a two-, three-, four-party system in which they
have representation in your parliament.
I want to share with you something here today. Washington, D.C., is exactly
the same. This is a one-party town, even though there are people who are not
Democrats. And this town has decided to have representation, at least one
member of the council, who is chosen simply to represent minorities.
And I might plant that seed, that throughout the emerging democracies, even
though it would not usually fit in the U.S. democracy system, we all have to
struggle to find a way to ensure that those who cannot get enough votes, but
who represent other forms of diversity, find a way to actually get
representation within parliaments, city councils, and other bodies. I plant
that not as a question for you, but as a thought, because I know that your
country has worked – you are not by any means the greatest democracy, nor are
you least democracy (sic), but a struggling democracy trying to find the right
way to lead your country in a post-Cold War period. So that’s not as much of a
question as food for thought.
My question, though, has to go to the summit. And I’m not asking you for a
question that you answer yes or no, but more as what is your vision or your
view of what can be accomplished at a summit. And my question is this: Since
I’ve been only less than 2 years on the commission, I’ve observed one thing,
which is, our problems that we discuss most of the time are problems that are
never solved: the problems of the Roma, the problems of anti-Semitism, the
problems of universal rights of women, certainly that related to freedom of
religion throughout the world. Those did not start during my tenure or even
during our chairman’s tenure, and they will not finish, because those are ones
we always must improve on.
But there seems to be in Afghanistan, as the others mention, there seems to be
member states, and non-member states around the world who are struggling to
reach the baseline, the lowest level of acceptance in the world. I spent a
week in Afghanistan over our Christmas holiday, and it was the longest time I’d
ever been in the region. And I was there long enough to realize that with less
than 18 percent literacy among men, and almost zero among women, this is a
country where for you to find those thousand officers to train, must be very
hard, because to find people with enough education that you can help them
become leaders is difficult.
I flew over poppy fields for hours each day, and discovered that we had no
eradication program because we cannot take on the very – these people, at this
point, because there is no substitution. Afghanistan is somewhat unique, and I
know that if there’s a summit, it will dominate a great many of the forum, but
what is your vision for raising the question of what is the base level for
every nation of the world? And how do we rise to those base levels?
So this may not be the only thing the summit is about, but my question to you
really has to be, do we have a summit in which we talk about the progress on
those areas where the whole world continues to move, or can your summit be
about the world rising, the least among us, in a way that we all work together
on? Because for me, if there’s a summit, and I support a summit, that would be
the greatest goal, is for what we call it often in the U.S., the weakest links
to be stronger, rather than talking about making all the links stronger. So I
would appreciate your vision on that, as my only question.
MR. SAUDABAYEV: Thank you for a very interesting vision of – (in Russian). I
think the chief result of the summit – this is my personal opinion – should be
development of united political will of the leaders of the OSCE countries to
concentrate their efforts on the social and economic rehabilitation, to lay
down the foundation or create conditions, therefore a transition to peaceful
life because the military aspects are taken care of by NATO and there is an
established international coalition.
But now, to mobilize the OSCE countries in order to solve the socio-economic
aspects, to train personnel, you have noted, very assuredly, that without an
availability of – a cadre of educated people, it’s very difficult to talk about
adaptation of the people to a peaceful life, particularly considering the
history of 30 years of incessant warfare.
So the helpful point of the agenda should be to marshal the resources and the
efforts and everybody understands that such a summit must be held and the
Afghan issue is the most pressing issue.
REP. HASTINGS: Mr. Minister, you’ve been very generous of, with your time, and
forthcoming with your answers. It’s deeply appreciated by all of us. I’m sure
that we look forward to seeing you in Vienna.
We wish the chair-in-office a tremendous success during the next 11 months, and
again, I would urge that as we are establishing the schedule, that we be
mindful that a year is swift. But during that swift year, it is our great hope
that there will be such a dynamic force coming from the chair-in-office, and I
know, as my friend and little brother, that you will do a good job with those
in your entourage.
If you have time, Mr. Minister, after greeting those who may wish to say hello
to you, we’ve arranged – and I believe your staff will know – a brief, or
intermittent visit, in the rear of the room. Our staff will point you in that
direction. If you have the time, at the very least, do stop in and say hello
and goodbye to us. And we’ll see you later this evening, I hope, too, at 6:30
in the CVC. All right, with that, the hearing is adjourned.