Kazakhstan to head OSCE

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New Delhi, Dec 22 (UNI) Kazakhstan will be the new Chairman of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), becoming the first country from the post-Soviet era to head the 56-nation security grouping in Europe.

The decision was announced at the 15th meeting of the Ministerial Council of the OSCE in Madrid after discussions on Kazakhstan's bid for the chairmanship of the organisation, sources said here today.

The decision also marks culmination of the oil-rich Central Asian Republic's five-year long campaign for the OSCE presidency.

The OSCE is the world's largest regional security organisation whose 56 participating States span the geographical area from Vancouver to Vladivostok.

The OSCE was asking Kazakhstan to usher in democracy in the country to strengthen its claim for the post. Most European nations were opposing Kazakhstan's bid saying it was a Presidential form of government.

However, the August 18 elections in the country, which marked the country's transition from a Presidential to democratic form of government, strengthened its claim.

''We have gained really a great victory... Kazakhstan has managed to prove that it meets all criteria of the organisation's head. It is a recognition of Kazakhstan's efforts at promoting democracy,'' a senior official of the Kazakhstan embassy here said today.

Kazakhstan's initiative of a Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), an 18-nation security grouping of which India is also a member, was one of the reasons that strenghened Kazakhstan's claim, the official said.

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