As OSCE head, Kazakhstan to focus on regional security, Afghanistan rehabilitation

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New Delhi, Feb.28 (ANI): Strengthening regional security, promoting inter-ethnic and inter-religious tolerance, enhancing the scope for introduction of further measures to reduce proliferation of nuclear weapons, solving the problems of energy and food security and a more positive role in the post-conflict rehabilitation of Afghanistan are priority areas that Kazakhstan will focus on during its chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010-11.

Kazakhstan is the first CIS and Central Asian country to assume the OSCE chair, and also the first country with a majority Muslim population to head the grouping.

With the international community appreciating Astana's contribution to both global and regional security, and to the processes of non-proliferation and disarmament, besides its constant support for the fight against terrorism, religious extremism and promotion of dialogue between civilizations, cultures and religions, Kazakhstan has unquestioningly occupied the position of a key OSCE leader in the 56-member grouping.

Aware of the new challenges that confront the OSCE, Kazakhstan has signaled that its main objective during its chairmanship will be to maintain stability withing the grouping in general and, in particular, in Central Asia.

Insofar as the rehabilitation of Afghanistan is concerned, the OSCE chair has enjoined upon all member states to extend "necessary support to the appropriate leadership of the State bodies", as Astana is of the view that a stable and reconstructed Afghanistan is "an indisputable strategic necessity."

The struggle against the proliferation of hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction will be another issue in focus, as Kazakhstan has assumed a leadership role in indisputably contributing to the disarmament process since it became independent from the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1990-91.

The future of European security will also be of equal concern and significance. Kazakhstan has taken upon itself the responsibility of convincing other OSCE member states to arrive at a consensus for creating a "Treaty" that ensures "comprehensive and indivisible security". The first steps have been taken through what is called the "Corfu Process", which was initiated in June 2009.

On the economic front, Kazakhstan will this year assume the chair of the 18th Economic Environment Forum (EEF), which the main economic decision-making body of the OSCE.

The preparatory conference of the 18th EEF will take place in Kazakhstan in November this year, and the focus is expected to be on realizing transit and transportation potential.

The transport sphere is particularly being given attention to ensure a mutually-beneficent partnership between Kazakhstan and the European Union under the framework of the program "Way to Europe". A draft has been finalized for consideration at a meeting in Austrian capital Vienna. A discussion on appropriate management of intersection/border points, security of overland transport and improved facilitation of international road and railway communications in the OSCE region will take place along with several sub-themes.

Action is also expected to be taken on regional environmental problems that have global impact. Kazakhstan has assumed the chairmanship of the International Fund for Aral Sea (IFAS) in January and hopes to give it UN status during its occupation of the chair.

During its chairmanship, Kazakhstan will also seek to meet the requirements of national minorities and harmonize inter-ethnic ties. As OSCE chairman, it intends to appoint three personal representatives on religious tolerance to realize this initiative and to focus on ending anti-Semitism and discrimination against Christians and Muslims.

During its chairmanship, Kazakhstan hopes to give new impetus to all OSCE initiatives and respond to modern threats and challenges adequately. By Ashok Dixit (ANI)

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