Berlin conference highlights German political, social and scholarly support for Kazakhstan’s global nuclear disarmament efforts
Dec 04. MFA
A conference titled, “Kazakhstan’s Role in Global Action against Nuclear Weapons,” took place Dec. 3 in Berlin at the Academy of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The conference also featured a photo and art exhibition detailing the consequences of Soviet-era nuclear tests at Kazakhstan’s now-closed Semipalatinsk nuclear test.
The event was organized jointly by the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Germany and theKonrad Adenauer Foundation.It was attended by members of the German Bundestag, representatives of German ministries and government departments, members of Germany’s socio-political and scientific communities, NGOs and the media. Representatives from Kazakhstan included KazakhstanAmbassador to GermanyNurlan Onzhanov, Ambassador-at-large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Roman Vassilenko, as well as the ATOM Project Honorary Ambassador andrenowned Kazakh painter Karipbek Kuyukov who presented his artwork.
The conference was well received by the German public and political circles, as well as German anti-nuclear organizations, which expressed broad support for the Atom Project, an initiative of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, as well as Kazakhstan’s efforts as a whole in the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation movement.
In a speech at a major international parliamentary conference in Astana on Aug. 29, 2012, Nazarbayev announced the launch of The ATOM project as a mechanism to generate global public support for a final and irrevocable ban on nuclear weapons testing and for ultimate eradication of nuclear weapons.
Before the start of the Dec. 3 conference in Berlin, a video produced by the ATOM Project was shown detailing Kazakhstan’s nuclear weapons legacy inherited from the former Soviet Union, as well as the horrific consequences of nuclear testing in Kazakhstan, which adversely affected the health and fate of more than one a half million people in the region.
In his address to the conference, Frank Priess,director forEuropean and International Cooperation of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation,praised Kazakhstan’s role in global nuclear disarmament and stressed the timeliness and practical goals of the ATOM Project in the international anti-nuclear weapons effort.
Ambassador Onzhanov remarked on the global and historical significance of President Nazarbayev’s decision to close the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in Kazakhstan and unilaterally disarm what was then the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal. These decisions were unprecedented in the history of international politics, he added.The Kazakh diplomat also drew attention to the harmful humanitarian, economic and environmental effects of nuclear testing in Kazakhstan.
Ambassador-at-large Vassilenko presented the ATOM Project at the conference noting the consistent growth and broad international support for this initiative. According to Vassilenko, people frommore than 100 countries have already signed an online petition calling for world leaders to end nuclear testing and bring the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) into full force.
Support from the international community for Kazakhstan’s efforts can also be seen in the unanimous adoption in 2012 by the UN General Assembly, on the initiative of Kazakhstan, of a resolution declaring Aug. 29 the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.
Vassilenko also noted that the example of nuclear disarmament by President Nazarbayev is of particular relevance in the modern world, facing the threat of the further spreading of nuclear weapons and their acquisition by terrorist organizations.
During a panel discussion at the conference, Deputy Commissioner of the Federal Government of Germany for Disarmament and Arms ControlAmbassador Christoph Eichhorn, noted the similarity of the views of the foreign ministries of the two countries on this issue and stressed the importance of building multilateral efforts toward global nuclear disarmament.The German diplomat praised the outcome of an international conference in Astana in 2012, which included theparticipation of German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
Bundestag Deputy Jürgen Klimke, warmly welcoming the Kazakh delegation on behalf of the German parliament, praised Kazakhstan’s steps in promoting the idea of global nuclear nonproliferation. He noted that Kazakhstan is a living example of active and concrete actions of the state according to the principle of “do good things and speak about them.” Also noting the dynamic and progressive development of economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and Germany,Klimke stressed the importance of further joint efforts and close cooperation between the two states in the international arena in the field of nuclear disarmament.
In conclusion, Honorary Ambassador of the ATOM Project Kuyukov presented an art exhibition of his paintings and reminded the audience of the tragic consequences of nuclear testing, which had an impact on the lives of millions of people in Kazakhstan, including his family. He urged support for the ATOM Project and Kazakhstan’s efforts to permanently end nuclear weapons testing and to free the world from all nuclear weapons.
The Konrad Adenauer Foundation is the largest political fund in Germany and adheres closely to the views and the spirit of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Party. Holding the conference at such an authoritative political organization indicated broad support for the anti-nuclear initiatives of Kazakhstan by the German social and political circles. It also created a solid foundation for the two countries to continue cooperative efforts towards a world free of nuclear weapons.