08ASTANA64, KAZAKHSTAN: PROGRESS ON PFP TRAINING CENTER, BUT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA64 2008-01-14 10:19 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO1155
PP RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHTA #0064 0141019
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 141019Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1483
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY 0361
RUCNCLS/SCA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 2230
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY 0085

C O N F I D E N T I A L ASTANA 000064 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR SCA/CEN M. O'MARA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/14/2018 
TAGS: KZ NATO PREL
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: PROGRESS ON PFP TRAINING CENTER, BUT 
CONCERNS REMAIN ON NATO COOPERATION 
 
 
Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Steven Fagin, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1. (C) Summary:  Kazakhstan appears poised to move forward 
on opening up a Partnership for Peace (PfP) training 
center, as it had promised to do by the end of 2008. 
However, concerns remain about progress in Kazakhstan's 
cooperation with NATO.  End Summary. 
 
2. (C) Tugay Tuncer, Astana-based NATO liaison officer for 
Central Asia, told polecon chief on January 9 that 
Kazakhstan appears ready to move forward in opening up a 
regional Partnership for Peace (PfP) training center. 
Tuncer had previously informed polecon chief in November 
that the training center effort was largely stalled, as 
Kazakhstan did not take part in the annual PfP training 
center meeting in Monterey in October and had moved the 
proposed site of the training center to a building in 
extremely bad condition. 
 
3. (C) According to Tuncer, Deputy Defense Minister 
Sembinov assured a visiting NATO School assessment team in 
December that Kazakhstan was committed to opening up the 
training center by the end of 2008, as it had originally 
promised, and that Defense Minister Akhmetov firmly 
supported adhering to this timetable.  The assessment team 
and the Defense Ministry came to an agreement on next 
steps.  The Kazakhstanis promised to upgrade the training 
center building, finalize a curriculum by March, and 
expeditiously appoint training center personnel.  NATO in 
turn will send experts to assist each month for the next 
three months, and another assessment team will come to 
Kazakhstan in April to review where things stand. 
 
4. (C) Tuncer explained to polecon chief that while the 
latest news regarding the PfP training center is a positive 
sign, he remains concerned about other developments in 
Kazakhstan's cooperation with NATO.  Tuncer said that 
Kazakhstan intends to subscribe to only 80 Individual 
Partnership Plan (IPP) activities this year, down from 180 
last year.  (Note:  The Kazakhstanis told Tuncer that 180 
was too many given their capabilities.  They only managed 
to actually participate in about 90 activities last year. 
This, they stressed, is the reason they are subscribing to 
fewer this year.  End Note.)  In addition, Tuncer claimed 
that Sembinov had intended to visit NATO headquarters in 
Brussels in late January to reinforce Kazakhstan's 
commitment to NATO, but Akhmetov decided to nix the trip. 
 
5. (C) Tuncer also reminded polecon chief that the Ministry 
of Defense last year reduced the size of its NATO 
cooperation office from ten staffers to just three. 
Minister Akhmetov told NATO Special Representative Robert 
Simmons in November that he had made this staffing cut 
because the quality, not the quantity, of the personnel is 
what matters most.  However, according to Tuncer, the three 
current staffers are weak in comparison with staffers 
previously assigned to the office. 
 
6. (C) Comment:  Tuncer contends that there have been 
increasing problems with Kazakhstan-NATO cooperation since 
Akhmetov replaced Mukhtar Altynbayev as defense minister in 
January 2007.  Akhmetov's actions -- he took, for example, 
eight trips to Moscow during his first eight months as 
minister -- certainly indicate that he has pro-Russian 
inclinations.  That said, we believe the principal problem 
with Akhmetov is that he does not have the breadth of 
professional experience to fully understand the potential 
benefits of enhanced cooperation with western partners, 
including NATO.  In contrast, Deputy Defense Minister 
Sembinov has gradually come to grasp the pluses from 
productive mil-mil ties with the U.S. and West, and has 
been a staunch supporter of both our Humvee and Huey-II 
helicopter programs.  Akhmetov and Sembinov's differing 
views on this issue are reflected in the internal rivalry 
in the Defense Ministry between their respective factions 
-- a rivalry which complicates our ability to work 
effectively with the ministry.  End Comment. 
ORDWAY

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