On Jan. 1, Kazakhstan became the first former Soviet republic to take over chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Kazakhstan views the OSCE, with its unique geographical coverage, tools and experience, as one of the vital mechanisms for ensuring international security and cooperation from Vancouver to Vladivostok. Yet perceptions of "dividing lines" and "zero-sum-game" thinking have not gone away with the end of the Cold War and continue to limit efforts to build indivisible security in the OSCE area.
Together with other OSCE member states, Kazakhstan fully supports efforts aimed at bringing East and West together to develop better understanding of the key issues facing the modern world.
In this context, the trust placed in us by fellow OSCE member states is of special importance for Kazakhstan. Building a democratic society has been a conscious choice of our people, and we will continue further political liberalization of our country while at the same improving living standards.
The motto of Kazakhstan's chairmanship is four T's: "Trust, tradition, transparency and tolerance." Trust is needed by all of us and cannot be taken for granted at a time of such great historical change. Tradition describes Kazakhstan's commitment to the fundamental principles and values of the OSCE. Transparency means maximum openness in international relations, the absence of double standards and dividing lines as well as a focus on constructive security cooperation. Tolerance is a reflection of the increasing importance of intercultural and intercivilizational dialogue.
Kazakhstan views strengthening of the consensus on the OSCE's future development as a priority task for the organization. Ten years have passed since the last OSCE summit, and we must accept that the consensus within the organization is in stagnation; some would even say in crisis. We therefore call on our fellow OSCE member states to support Kazakhstan's initiative to convene a summit in 2010 to renew and strengthen the consensus on the challenges facing the OSCE.
The substance of the summit should include topical matters on the security agenda in the OSCE area of responsibility as well as the situation in Afghanistan and issues of tolerance. It will be an opportunity for leaders of OSCE member states to demonstrate the political will to develop new approaches to critical security challenges facing our countries.
The OSCE is an organization that cannot be replaced. Its stagnation or disappearance will create a dangerous vacuum in the Euro-Atlantic area.
Kazakhstan's chairmanship will seek to achieve an equal balance of effort between the OSCE "baskets" (politico-military, economic and environmental, human). This approach will help the organization look at security problems in their entirety and treat their causes, not just their symptoms.
Kazakhstan is looking forward to its chairmanship, not only because of the opportunity it affords to strengthen the OSCE, but also because it will provide an occasion for deepening Kazakhstan's already strong partnership with the United States and other key members of the OSCE. The United States has long perceived Kazakhstan as a leader in nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, a force for stability in Central Asia, an exemplar of tolerance among Muslim-majority nations, a reliable partner in combating terrorism, and an increasingly important source of energy for Europe and Asia.
We welcome the chance to become a stronger partner in multilateral diplomacy as well. To that end, our foreign minister, Kanat Saudabayev, will be visiting Washington in the near future to discuss our priorities for the OSCE, European and Asian security, Afghanistan and other issues of mutual interest.
Nursultan Nazarbayev is president of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
THE WASHINGTON TIMES