Statement by H.E. Mr. Erlan Idrissov Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan at the plenary meeting of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly
September 26. MFA. New York
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Republic of Kazakhstan, I would first like to congratulate His Excellency Mr. Sam Kahamba Kutesa on his election as the President of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly. We offer our best wishes and full support.
I also extend our special gratitude to His Excellency Mr. John Ashe for his able leadership of the Assembly and commitment to the solution of pressing international problems.
The world today is undergoing major upheaval.
The global instability we face is a crisis of the global economy, of international law and, in a broader sense, of a lack of vision for our world’s future. To our deep regret, it seems that not all states yet recognize their full responsibility for the fate of their neighborhoods and the world as a whole.
Instead of well-thought, viable solutions, we are witnessing a disturbing escalation of problems, drawing in more countries and making our shared hopes of peace and stability ever more distant.
Rivalry between the major powers over perceived spheres of influence, markets and control over the production and transit of energy resources has increased. Tensions are on the rise, and the dangerous – and unacceptable – belief in the “right of power” in world politics has strengthened. As a result, we are witnessing a renewed arms race and the use of military force to impose and extend one’s influence.
Unilateral actions and “double standards” are destabilizing the international situation, exacerbating tensions, inciting ethnic and religious strife and threatening the security of other states. In today’s confusing media space, it is impossible to distinguish lies from truth.
This dire state of global affairs, and rising tensions and mistrust between states is undermining the efforts of the UN and entire international community to bring about a peaceful solution to any crisis by lawful means. It is also deeply worrying to see the established architecture of international law being dangerously eroded.
What is even more dangerous is that radical movements and extremist forces are skillfully exploiting the resulting uncertainty and instability in the international system.
We are particularly concerned with the continuing violence in the Middle East and Africa, and the growing threats posed to some Asian countries. We extend our deepest condolences to the citizens and governments whose civilians have been senselessly killed during the violence.
The situation in Ukraine is of special concern to Kazakhstan. The impact of the crisis now extends not just beyond its borders but beyond the entire region. Kazakhstan supports peaceful initiatives aimed at the speedy de-escalation of the conflict, including the Minsk peace agreements. The cease-fire must be used to implement the peace plans of President Poroshenko and President Putin. These give hope for the eventual stabilization of the situation in Ukraine.
We should also be concerned that the crisis in Ukraine has led to mutual sanctions being imposed by countries which together make up 60 per cent of the world’s GDP.
This will certainly have a damaging effect on global development and economic growth.
Now, more than ever, the world needs to come together to find an alternative model to solving problems based on equal partnership, broad dialogue, mutual respect and tolerance between all stakeholders.
We are confident that the UN Charter and the fundamental principles of international law provide the basis for this model.
The role of the United Nations must remain pivotal and primary, bringing states together and providing global leadership based on the equal participation of all Member States in this process.
The dynamics of our world today and the forecasts of what the future might hold must encourage world leaders to look beyond narrow national interests and to exercise the highest degree of judgment and political will. What is at stake is nothing less than saving our civilization from destruction. This is not an over-exaggeration. It is the harsh and threatening reality.
We call upon all Member States to support the UN and the Secretary-General in carrying out their mandates, through the rule of law, integration of policies and national action plans into the international efforts to build a liberal, prosperous and conflict-free world.
We are seeing a fundamental change in the structure of geopolitical, geo-economic and transnational relations. What is emerging is a polycentric system of international transactions. Within this framework, nobody has the right to determine global and regional processes unilaterally. No country has exceptional rights or advantages.
To help adjust to this emerging new multipolar world order and promote the widest possible involvement in identifying the way forward, in 2012 the President of Kazakhstan proposed the G-GLOBAL initiative.
It seeks solutions based on five principles – a strong preference for evolutionary rather than revolutionary policy change; the crucial importance of justice, equality and consensus; the promotion of global tolerance and trust; the need for global transparency; and finally the encouragement of constructive multilateralism.
The more difficult the times, the greater the need for collective decision-making, new approaches and bold actions to the world’s problems. Unfortunately, the decisions taken in the wake of the global financial crisis by G20 and G8 have proved to be insufficient because they were not all-inclusive in their elaboration.
Kazakhstan, therefore, encourages Member States to use the G-Global dialogue to help draw up plans to prevent future global crises, developed by all and acceptable for all. We have already embarked on this process through the Astana Economic Forum, which resulted in a draft Anti-Crisis Plan offered to the UN. We believe that this plan should be taken by the GA and ECOSOC for serious consideration.
At the 47th session of the UN General Assembly in 1992, President Nursultan Nazarbayev initiated the convening of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). Like the G-Global initiative, CICA emerged from the firm belief that international progress can only come through strong and effective partnerships, built in the spirit of solidarity between all countries, regardless of their political and economic development.
The Conference has since grown, and it now has 26 member states, seven observer states and four international organizations including UN. I would like to express our deep gratitude to all CICA countries for their support over the past 22 years which have helped it become an effective multi-national forum for enhancing cooperation and promoting peace, security and stability in Asia.
Kazakhstan supports the initiative of China, the current CICA chair, for a new Asia security concept based on the principles of common, comprehensive, co-operative and sustainable regional security. This will enable us, in the near future, to consolidate the CICA and transform it into an Organization for Security and Development in Asia. This will further contribute to strengthening Asia’s regional security architecture.
Kazakhstan is determined to play its full part in contributing to global peace and security. Two weeks ago, the UN General Assembly held an informal meeting to mark the International Day Against Nuclear Tests. We are pleased that all those present expressed their determination to bring about a world without nuclear weapons testing and, ultimately, nuclear weapons.
This is an issue close to the hearts of the people of Kazakhstan who have witnessed and continue to live with the terrible legacy of nuclear testing. This is why we proposed the 29thof August as the day to raise awareness of this important issue, an initiative unanimously adopted by the GA in 2009. And this is why President Nazarbayev has launched The ATOM (Abolish Testing. Our Mission) Project, a global education campaign on the perils of nuclear testing. Already, 100,000 people from more than 100 countries have signed The ATOM Project’s online petition calling for global decision makers to show leadership and work towards the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
The closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site and the renunciation of the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal – both inherited from the Soviet Union upon our independence – were defining moments for our nation and the starting point for the peaceful foreign policy we pursue today. We worked closely with the United States of America and the Russian Federation to ensure the nuclear facilities were made safe. This cooperation in the aftermath of the Cold War was, and still is, a model for partnership based on mutual trust.
Strengthening the global non-proliferation regime has remained one of the most important priorities of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. The signing in May this year of the Protocol to the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia (CANWFZ) or Semipalatinsk Treaty by the P5 marked a major moment for nuclear security in our region. Kazakhstan has been a key driver in pushing through the Treaty and the Protocol. Together with our partners in Central Asia, we have worked hard to secure negative security assurances from the nuclear powers. We now urge the “nuclear five” countries to ratify the Protocol as soon as possible.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons has been and remains the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime. We strongly encourage all stakeholders to uphold the provisions of NPT and work towards the entry into force of CTBT.
Sharing the objectives of the proposed Convention on General and Complete Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, we again call on all Member States to adopt the Universal Declaration on the Achievement of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World. This would serve as the first step towards the Convention.
Reaffirming our commitment to the principle of equal rights of all countries to access nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, Kazakhstan stands ready to host the International Bank of Low-Enriched Uranium under the auspices of the IAEA.
We also support the early political and diplomatic resolution of the situation around Iran’s nuclear program on the basis of strict compliance with the provisions of the NPT and IAEA regulations. Kazakhstan has helped break the deadlock in negotiations by hosting the first two rounds of resumed talks in Almaty last year. We welcome the latest P5+1 talks and strongly hope an agreement can be reached in November this year.
We, alongside the entire international community, are alarmed that terrorist groups are creating quasi-state entities to fight against legitimate governments and sow enmity and hatred.
Kazakhstan has co-sponsored the Security Council Resolution on Foreign Terrorist Fighters because we believe that the fight against international terrorism demands a long-term, comprehensive approach. It is an approach which must be built on greater regional and global cooperation with the active participation of all UN member states in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law.
Religious extremism and separatism is fuelling a rise in terrorism, as well as transnational crime and the illegal trafficking of narcotics.
We believe that the work of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre, in close cooperation with relevant regional agencies and coordinated by the UN, will further help in the battle against illegal drugs.
Kazakhstan fully supports the peacekeeping role of the UN and is stepping up its efforts in this area. Kazakh peacekeepers, as part of the Coalition Stabilization Force in Iraq have destroyed more than 4.5 million pieces of explosive ordnance and trained more than 500 locals for the Iraqi Armed Forces. Today, we are deploying military observers to four UN peacekeeping missions.
We strongly believe that inter-religious and inter-ethnic harmony is an essential pre-requisite for peace and security. Kazakhstan, a diverse nation of 130 ethnic groups and many different faiths, has worked hard to build a culture of tolerance and respect. Our independence and stability has been built on these values, which we have sought to promote internationally through the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, an event that has taken place every three years since 2003.
The Congress has become an important part of the global dialogue between civilizations, bringing together political, religious and civil society leaders from around the world. The congress and its participants have unanimously renounced violence and pledged their support for continued inter-religious dialogue between leaders of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and many other faiths. Just last week, a preparatory meeting of religious representatives for the Fifth Congress in Astana in 2015 issued a statement condemning extremism, violence and terrorism in the name of any religion.
Kazakhstan has also initiated the establishment of 2013-2022 as the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures. Greater dialogue and the exchange of ideas between different cultures greatly enhance international security.
The situation in Afghanistan, in the wake of the recent elections and the ongoing withdrawal of the coalition forces, is a matter of importance for the wider security of Central Asia.
We congratulate President-elect Dr. Ashraf Ghani and the people of Afghanistan on the completion of the electoral process. We look forward to close cooperating with Dr. Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah as they form and work together in the National Unity Government.
Economic development will be key to Afghanistan’s re-emergence as a peaceful and prosperous nation and good neighbor in Central Asia. Kazakhstan fully supports Afghanistan’s integration into the region’s expanding network of trade, energy and transportation links. We firmly believe that connectivity and access are fundamental to realizing the great potential of Afghanistan and the wider region.
Kazakhstan has taken practical steps to help the rehabilitation of our neighbor. The Government of Kazakhstan has allocated 2.38 million US dollars for the construction of social infrastructure and provided humanitarian food assistance of more than 17 million US dollars. We are spending 50 million US dollars to train around 1,000 Afghan students in Kazakhstan universities. The first group of civilian graduates will soon successfully complete their education and join the peaceful reconstruction process in Afghanistan.
Kazakhstan recognizes the leading role of the UN and its field presence, funds and programs in addressing acute security threats and development challenges.
It is clear that in Central Asia, we face a number of challenges that endanger stability not only in specific countries but the entire region. These include border conflicts, unresolved water and energy problems, and, as I have said, instability in Afghanistan.
There is little sign, regrettably, that these problems will disappear in the near future. That is why the UN and the international community must work in Central Asia more purposefully.
Within this context, Kazakhstan’s call for the establishment of the United Nations Regional Hub in the city of Almaty is highly relevant. The UN plays an invaluable role in addressing natural and man-made disasters and assisting countries in their sustainable development through the coordination of activities of national, regional and international actors.
We believe that, with the focus on humanitarian assistance and development, the regional UN Hub in Almaty would complement the work of the UN Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Ashgabat. The presence of these two regional UN bodies would cover a very broad range of challenges faced by countries in this vast region, including Afghanistan.
Most importantly, we believe a stronger UN presence in Almaty would allow the UN to better support Central Asia and wider Eurasia at a critical time in its history, ‘filling in’ the geographical gap between UN offices in Istanbul and Southeast Asia. We believe Almaty’s location, infrastructure and the human resources it offers make it an ideal site for a UN hub. And, of course, the Government of Kazakhstan stands ready to offer our full support in establishing and developing it.
Sustainable development is central to Kazakhstan’s ambitions for the future.
It can only be achieved if we, as a community of nations, tackle one of the most critical issues on the global agenda –the challenge of climate change. We commend the UN and the Secretary-General for convening the action-focused Climate Summit a few days ago. We are eager, as a country, to continue playing our role in tackling the threat of climate change.
Within our borders, we are working hard to achieve our national plan to transition to a “green” economy and have recently adopted voluntary commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. A national system for greenhouse gas emissions trading has already been put into operation.
We are also determined to support sustainable development globally.
In 2017, we are hosting in Astana the international specialized exhibition EXPO 2017 on the subject of ‘Future Energy’ which will promote best practices in the field of sustainable energy. We will provide support to representatives of around 60 developing countries to take part in EXPO 2017.
Kazakhstan, along with the ESCAP, is launching a project on the installation of biogas systems in nine Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Pacific.
At the same time, Kazakhstan and the UNDP are developing a training program in the sectors of oil and gas, agriculture and medicine for countries in Africa and Oceania. Kazakhstan is also allocating funds this year for the implementation of programs of the Organization of American States related to rights of women and disaster risk management in Central America and the Caribbean.
As the largest landlocked country, Kazakhstanis keenly interested in achieving a stable and mutually beneficial transit regime of goods to international markets, the reduction of tariff and other barriers for all “geographically vulnerable states”.
We attach great importance to the upcoming Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries in Vienna in November. The meeting aims to review and build on the Almaty Program of Action to produce a new road map for LLDCs that takes into account the challenges and threats that have emerged since the Almaty Plan was first developed over a decade ago.
Improving infrastructure and expanding transit options is a priority for landlocked nations and an area where we have made significant progress.
In 2015, we will finish construction of the Kazakhstan section of the “Western Europe – Western China” international transit corridor, which offers the shortest route from China to Europe and reduces transit times by up to 10 days, making it 4.5 times shorter than the sea route through the Suez Canal. By 2020, we expect the volume of freight traffic on the corridor between China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe to reach 33 million tons annually.
The construction of new rail routes is also linking our region together like never before. This November, we plan to open the Kazakhstan – Turkmenistan – Iran – Persian Gulf railroad, which will carry up to 10 million tons of cargo a year and allow us to increase our wheat exports five-fold. Another rail route, Uzbekistan – Turkmenistan – Iran – Oman – Qatar, which was first agreed in 2011, will also greatly increase international transit capacity for the region.
To make the most of these new links, we are investing heavily in our own infrastructure. Just last month, we opened two more railway trunk-lines, more than 1,200km in length, linking east and west of Kazakhstan.
As you know, Kazakhstan is a candidate for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for 2017-2018. It is a major step for our country which has never before served on the Security Council.
Our extensive engagement in international affairs, including chairing key regional organizations such as the OSCE and OIC, have given us relevant experience to bring to this important role.
We support the principle of fair and equitable geographical rotation and adequate representation of all Member States of the Asia-Pacific Regional Group on the Security Council. It is clear that the vast Central Asian region will remain strategically and vitally important on the global agenda.
We believe the priorities and challenges of this region should be represented in the Security Council and Kazakhstan is ready to play this role.
We are a peaceful, stable and fast-developing country, with a reputation for impartiality and an effective, balanced approach with a strong focus on multilateral cooperation, conflict prevention and mediation.
Kazakhstan can also provide ideas and experience in the key areas of nuclear, energy, food and water security.
Overall, we are confident that we can fully contribute to the maintenance of international peace, security and development as well as the improvement of the Council’s working methods.
Only by working together, with true equality and partnership of all UN Member States, regardless of their level of political and economic development or geographic location, can we achieve peace and security for all – a peace which is free from fear and violence and meets the needs of future generations.
Let me end by quoting the words of Nelson Mandela. He said: “People respond in accordance to how you relate to them. If you approach them on the basis of violence, that is how they will react. But if you say, ‘We want peace, we want stability,’ we can then do a lot of things that will contribute towards the progress of our society.”
Thank you for your attention.