Kazakhstan foreign policy – successful model, U.S. Ambassador
US Ambassador to Kazakhstan Richard Hoagland: “I have always said clearly that democracy is a process – a long and difficult process. Each country’s democracy needs to grow organically from its history, traditions, and culture. The democracy of India is different from the democracy of Germany is different from the democracy of South Korea. Kazakhstan is developing, in its own national way, its own democracy”.
ASTANA. May 19. KAZINFORM. /Narymbek Ismagulov/
“The U.S.-Kazakhstan relationship is poised for significant new growth, for greater high-level consultation, for enhanced cooperation. We will work to build a respectful, consultative, mature relationship of mutual respect and strong collaboration”, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the USA to Kazakhstan Richard Hoagland has said in the interview with a Kazinform correspondent.
– In your opinion, what has changed in U.S. policy since the new administration has taken office? Can you comment on the prospects of the U.S.-Kazakhstan bilateral relationship?
– President Obama and his foreign policy team, including Secretary of State Clinton, are fully committed to a foreign policy that is based on reality, not on prejudice and ideology. In my view, this is a very welcome statement of policy because it returns the United States to its grand foreign-policy tradition that listens with respect to others and welcomes multiple partnerships.
Of special interest, I believe, is President Obama’s desire to build new relations with the Muslim world. He recently told the Turkish Parliament, “I want to be clear that America’s relationship with the Muslim community, the Muslim world, cannot, and will not, be based only upon opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree.”
I am convinced that the U.S.-Kazakhstan relationship is poised for significant new growth, for greater high-level consultation, for enhanced cooperation. There is really very little that separates us and so much that we have in common. We will work diligently to build on these positive impulses. We will work to build a respectful, consultative, mature relationship of mutual respect and strong collaboration.
– You have worked in Kazakhstan since September 2008. What is your evaluation of Kazakhstan’s foreign and domestic policies? Which of their steps look most positive to you?
– Kazakhstan’s multi-vector foreign policy that confidently balances its relationships among the global powers is a successful model that other countries would do well to emulate. Regionally, Kazakhstan is a self-confident and peaceful country that does not threaten its neighbors in any way and on a very regular basis offers to provide responsible leadership for the region and its broader neighborhood. We congratulate Kazakhstan for this principled leadership.
On specific issues, Kazakhstan is an acknowledged world leader on the important issue of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and it continues to look for ways to enhance this leadership and play an ever more constructive global role, for example its offer to host a nuclear fuel bank for the International Atomic Energy Agency. This is a bold step that the United States warmly welcomes and supports. Further, the United States is grateful that Kazakhstan continues to look for opportunities to play a positive role with other international partners to develop security and stability in Afghanistan. Domestically, multi-ethnic, multi-confessional Kazakhstan is a country that champions tolerance and domestic accord. This is a significant achievement that is a model for other countries in the region, and, indeed, in the entire world.
– Please discuss the actual direction for Kazakhstan’s foreign and domestic policy while it chairs the OSCE in 2010.
– Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the OSCE in 2010 will be historic. First, it will be the first time a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States has ever held the chairmanship. Second, 2010 will mark the 35th anniversary of the Helsinki Accords that led to the establishment of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. I understand that Kazakhstan is considering an appropriate way to mark this historic anniversary, perhaps with a review conference that would reconfirm OSCE’s three basic dimensions: human, economic, and security. We would welcome such an initiative that would review, update, and reaffirm all three dimensions. We look forward to consulting closely with the government of Kazakhstan, in the spirit of equal partners, in the period before and during this historic chairmanship.
– What is your opinion of democratic reforms in Kazakhstan.
– I have always said clearly that democracy is a process – a long and difficult process. Each country’s democracy needs to grow organically from its history, traditions, and culture. The democracy of India is different from the democracy of Germany is different from the democracy of South Korea. Kazakhstan is developing, in its own national way, its own democracy. This question is especially pertinent because of Kazakhstan’s 2010 OSCE chairmanship. In preparation for this important responsibility, Kazakhstan made first-step amendments to its election, political party, and mass media laws. We welcome these initial steps and look forward to consulting closely with Kazakhstan on further steps. For example, on the issue of mass media, Kazakhstan might consider decriminalizing libel. On election law, a next step that would be very useful would be to guarantee by law fully independent elections commissions that include members of all registered parties as well as civil-society members.
At the moment, there is one issue of special concern – the so-called Internet Law that the Parliament is currently considering. The simple fact is that the Internet cannot be regulated, because technically there are always ways for web sites to find new hosts and for users to find those new hosts. Attempts to regulate political content on the Internet are not going to be successful. Especially as Kazakhstan prepares for its 2010 OSCE chairmanship, I would respectfully suggest that this is not the time to make what will ultimately be a futile attempt to regulate the Internet.
– What is your assessment of the government of Kazakhstan’s anti-crisis measures?
– First, I have to tell you I am not an economist. However, the experts in my embassy and I continue to consult closely with a broad range of economic experts: Kazakhstani government economists, representatives of the International Financial Institutions, and private-sector international bankers. The general consensus of all the experts is that Kazakhstan is taking a flexible, realistic, and responsible approach to meeting the very difficult challenges of the global economic crisis. Surprises continue to erupt, especially in the banking sector. But we have confidence in the highest-level professionalism of the government of Kazakhstan’s economists. Many countries around the world, including the United States, are struggling to come through this crisis so that our citizens are protected and so that, in the end, the world financial structures will be stronger than they were before the crisis. Because Kazakhstan is very much part of the global economy, I fully expect it to emerge from the current crisis stronger than before.
Thank you for the interview.