07ASTANA2541, KAZAKHSTAN READY TO DEFEND RECORD AT OSCE HUMAN DIMENSION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA2541 2007-09-14 08:26 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO7654
RR RUEHAST
DE RUEHTA #2541/01 2570826
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 140826Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0680
INFO RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1827

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 002541 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM PREL OSCE KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN READY TO DEFEND RECORD AT OSCE HUMAN DIMENSION 
IMPLEMENTATION MEETING 
 
REF: State 126089 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: On September 12, Poloff delivered reftel demarche 
to Yerkin Akhinzhanov, director of the European Cooperation 
Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Akhinzhanov was 
joined by several members of Kazakhstan's delegation to the 
forthcoming OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, which will 
take place in Warsaw from September 24 through October 5. 
Akhinzhanov listened respectfully to the demarche points and 
appreciated the preview of USG concerns.  He then presented a 
vigorous and combative defense of Kazakhstan's record on all the 
points in a meeting that lasted two hours.  End summary. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
KAZAKHSTAN ACTIVELY PREPARING FOR WARSAW 
---------------------------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) On September 12, Poloff delivered reftel demarche to 
Akhinzhanov and several members of Kazakhstan's delegation to the 
forthcoming OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw. 
Kazakhstan plans to send a large delegation, which will be headed by 
Sagynbek Tursunov, chairman of the Presidential Human Rights 
Commission and newly elected Mazhilis deputy. Akhinzhanov said that 
the delegation is actively preparing for the meeting, and 
acknowledged that Kazakhstan's human dimension record will face 
close scrutiny in light of Kazakhstan's bid to chair the OSCE. 
 
3. (SBU) Akhinzhanov appreciated the preview of USG concerns 
contained in the reftel demarche, and provided Poloff with a 
thorough rebuttal or response to each concern during the two-hour 
meeting.  He also expressed frustration that Kazakhstan does not get 
enough credit for the many advances it has made over the past 15 
years, and urged Poloff to instruct the USG delegation to give 
Kazakhstan credit where appropriate and remember the broader 
historical and regional context. 
 
--------------------- 
ELECTION SHORTCOMINGS 
--------------------- 
 
4. (SBU) With respect to the recent parliamentary elections, 
Akhinzhanov said that all alleged violations have been recorded and 
documented, and the Central Election Committee (CEC) has or will 
conduct open and transparent investigations.  He said that the 
violations did not affect the final result of the election.  He 
criticized the ODIHR Election Observation Mission for refusing to 
provide details of the violations it described in its August 19 
preliminary report.  He said that many of the alleged violations 
could be "simple misunderstandings", but the CEC cannot investigate 
without specific information about where and when they occurred. 
Akhinzhanov said that the CEC operates far more transparently than 
the ODIHR Election Observation Mission. 
 
5. (SBU) Nevertheless, he said that the GOK is continuing to work 
with the OSCE and ODIHR to resolve outstanding issues and improve 
the electoral process.  He criticized the OSCE for not giving 
Kazakhstan credit for improvements in its electoral legislation 
since the 2004 parliamentary elections.  He also noted that 
additional election law amendments were still working their way 
through the legislative process, and that the GOK was trying to 
expedite some of these legislative reforms in time for the Madrid 
ministerial meeting in November.  However, Akhinzhanov was not 
certain that the legislation would be ready in time. 
 
----------------------------- 
RECENT CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS 
----------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) In response to concerns about the recent constitutional 
amendments, particularly the provision removing term limits for 
President Nazarbayev, Akhinzhanov said that the United States and 
other critics lack understanding of the unique situation in 
Kazakhstan.  He compared the situation in Kazakhstan to the 
situation in the United States during World War II, and said that 
President Nazarbayev is a key figure in Kazakhstan's development, 
much like President Roosevelt's leadership was crucial to the United 
States during World War II.  He said that if term limits had been in 
place for Franklin Roosevelt during World War II, the US government 
would have exempted him in the same way that Kazakhstani government 
just exempted Nazarbayev.  He also urged the USG delegation in 
Warsaw to recognize the legitimacy of the term limits change, 
because the change was made by the people through their parliament. 
 
7. (SBU) Akhinzhanov said that the Kazakhstani delegation would very 
much appreciate recognition of the positive aspects of the recent 
constitutional changes, including the removal of the power of arrest 
from procurators, which he characterized as a long, hard fought 
battle between the procurator general's office and other elements in 
the government.  He urged the USG delegation to recognize the 
 
ASTANA 00002541  002 OF 002 
 
 
broader historical context concerning Kazakhstan's progress, noting 
that Kazakhstan has made significant strides in 15 years and has 
done so while maintaining stability in an unstable region. 
 
---------------
- 
INTERNET FREEDOM 
---------------- 
 
8. (SBU) Akhinzhanov responded defensively to concerns about 
Internet freedom in Kazakhstan and the requirement for websites 
using the .kz domain to have servers physically based in Kazakhstan. 
 He said that the .kz domain is owned by the GOK, and "we can do 
what we want with it."  He also explained that any restrictions 
concerning the use of the domain were purely for technical or 
copyright reasons, and claimed that there is complete Internet 
freedom in Kazakhstan.  He said that Internet websites in Kazakhstan 
contain a wide diversity of viewpoints, and that the GOK's technical 
regulation of the Internet should not be turned into a political 
issue. 
 
------------- 
HARE KRISHNAS 
------------- 
 
9. (SBU) Finally, with respect to the Hare Krishna issue, 
Akhinzhanov repeated several arguments that various government 
officials have used in the past.  He emphatically stated that the 
dispute was not about religion; rather, he said, the Hare Krishnas 
obtained their land illegally, through forgery, and that the 
government was simply upholding the rule of law by evicting them. 
He explained that the GOK had actually gone out of its way to 
protect the Hare Krishnas by not pressing criminal charges for 
forgery and by offering to find them replacement land, which he 
criticized the Hare Krishnas for refusing to accept.  He reiterated 
that the Hare Krishnas are registered in 10 different oblasts in 
Kazakhstan and that any comments by local government officials 
hostile to the Hare Krishna faith do not represent official 
government policy. Akhinzhanov also introduced a new argument, 
stating that Kazakhstan must enforce the rule of law with respect to 
the Hare Krishna in order to avoid encouraging radical groups such 
as Hizb ut-Tahrir. Poloff replied that linking the Hare Krishnas to 
extremist groups such as the illegal Hizb ut-Tahrir would not help 
Kazakhstan's position on the issue, but Akhinzhanov did not take the 
point. 
 
10. (SBU) Akhinzhanov expressed dismay that the Hare Krishna issue 
was receiving so much attention, and said that continued USG 
pressure on the issue could damage the bilateral relationship 
between the United States and Kazakhstan.  He said that discussions 
to resolve the dispute were ongoing, but neither the United States 
nor Kazakhstani authorities in Astana had the right to interfere 
with court decisions. Poloff replied that the bilateral relationship 
between United States and Kazakhstan was much broader than the Hare 
Krishna issue, but that the bulldozing of Hare Krishna homes by 
local government authorities was bound to attract international 
attention, particularly in light of Kazakhstan's aspiration to chair 
the OSCE. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
MFA APPEALS FOR TOLERANCE AND UNDERSTANDING 
------------------------------------------- 
 
11. (SBU) At this, Akhinzhanov acknowledged that Kazakhstan's record 
would receive close scrutiny, because Kazakhstan is a 
"non-traditional" candidate for chair of the OSCE.  He said that no 
country is perfect, and that past chairs of the OSCE have had worse 
records in certain areas, but that Kazakhstan was prepared to defend 
and explain its record.  He expressed hope that the USG would be 
tolerant of Kazakhstan's unique circumstances and would acknowledge 
Kazakhstan's overall positive record in the last 15 years. 
 
12. (SBU) In conclusion, he said that Kazakhstan hopes to be more 
proactive in all three dimensions of the OSCE, and was sending a 
large delegation to the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting to 
show its commitment to the issue.  He also said that certain 
factions within the government, including the MFA, were leading the 
effort to promote reform and improve Kazakhstan's human dimension 
record, but that other parts of the government were opposed or 
uncooperative.  He appealed for understanding and patience, and said 
that harsh international criticism of Kazakhstan would consolidate 
and strengthen the factions opposed to reform in Kazakhstan. 
 
 
 
ORDWAY

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