09ASTANA285, KAZAKHSTAN: CZECH PRIME MINISTER PROMOTES SOUTHERN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA285 2009-02-18 10:12 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO5326
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #0285/01 0491012
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181012Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4651
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1214
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0597
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1303
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0045
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0053
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 2153
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0010
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0535
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0437
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0776
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0692
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY 1226

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000285 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, EUR/ERA, EUR/SCE, EEB/ESC 
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USTDA FOR DAN STEIN 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR ECON EPET EINV KDEM KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  CZECH PRIME MINISTER PROMOTES SOUTHERN 
CORRIDOR TO ENHANCE EUROPEAN ENERGY SECURITY 
 
ASTANA 00000285  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1.  (U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for public Internet. 
 
2.  (U) SUMMARY:  Representing the rotating presidency of the 
European Union (EU), Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek visited 
Astana on February 12 to discuss European energy security, bilateral 
trade and investment, and other issues with senior government 
officials.  Energy Officer spoke with a Czech embassy officer to 
discuss Topolanek's visit, the May 7 Eastern Partnership/Southern 
Corridor summit in Prague, and the investment and political climate 
in Kazakhstan.  END SUMMARY. 
 
EUROPE EAGER TO REDUCE DEPENDENCY ON RUSSIAN GAS IMPORTS 
 
3.  (U) After meeting with Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Karim Masimov 
in Astana on February 12, Topolanek told the media, "In light of the 
recent gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine, it has become 
obvious that the EU is very vulnerable and dependent on gas 
shipments from Russia.  We need to look for other solutions." 
According to Topolanek, "the EU is interested in the diversification 
of transport routes and gas supply sources and thus, will be 
encouraging the development of gas transportation projects from 
Norway, Iraq, Central Asia, and certainly Russia."  He stressed that 
the gas transportation projects being considered by the EU are not 
in conflict with each other.  "They are complimentary, rather than 
competitive.  One does not have to choose either Nord Stream or 
Nabucco," he said. 
 
KAZAKHSTAN PRAISED AS A REGIONAL POWER 
 
4.  (U) During his visit, the Czech prime minister emphasized 
Kazakhstan's special role in the Central Asian region.  "We see 
Kazakhstan as a regional power," he told the press, "with immense 
influence on the surrounding countries and the entire region." 
Topolanek also observed that, "the EU is very positive about 
Kazakhstan's upcoming presidency of the OSCE in 2010 and supports 
Kazakhstan's ambitions to join the WTO.  We also very much welcome 
the role Kazakhstan is playing within the framework of the mission 
in Afghanistan and in the area of regional security." 
 
NAZARBAYEV DECLINES SUMMIT INVITATION 
 
5.  (SBU) On February 17, Energy Officer met with Michal Chabros, a 
Polish diplomat temporarily assigned to the Czech Embassy in Astana 
to assist with issues related to the EU presidency.  Chabros 
attended Topolanek's meetings with Prime Minister Masimov and 
Foreign Minister Marat Tazhin, and was briefed on Topolanek's 
meeting with President Nazarbayev.  He said Topolanek invited 
Nazarbayev to attend the launch of the Eastern Partnership in Prague 
on May 7, but Nazarbayev politely declined the invitation and 
instead suggested Energy Minister Sauat Mynbayev.  Chabros said the 
Czechs will push to have Prime Minister Masimov attend instead. 
(NOTE:  The Eastern Partnership is designed to increase financial 
and diplomatic support to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, 
Moldova, and Ukraine.  Chabros said the Czechs will host another 
summit the following day with countries involved in the southern 
corridor natural gas transportation route from the Caspian region, 
through Turkey, and into Europe.  Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, 
and Turkey have been invited to attend the southern corridor summit. 
 END NOTE). 
 
KAZAKHSTAN SUPPORTS EUROPEAN ENERGY SECURITY... 
 
6.  (U) After his meeting with Topolanek, Masimov told the press 
that Kazakhstan is prepared to help Europe meets its energy security 
needs.  "The supply of energy resources from Kazakhstan to Europe 
has always been the fundamental basis for our bilateral 
relationship," he said.  In a deft display of Kazakhstan's vaunted 
 
ASTANA 00000285  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
multi-vector foreign policy, Masimov quickly added, "The EU and 
Kazakhstan have built strong relations through constructive 
dialogue, including with the Russian Federation as well." 
 
BUT IS UNLIKELY TO SUPPLY NABUCCO IN THE NEAR-TERM 
 
7.  (SBU) According to Chabros, Masimov said that Kazakhstan is an 

"interested observer" in the Nabucco gas pipeline project, but has 
no plans to become a significant gas exporter in the near future. 
(NOTE:  On February 18, Giorgio Battistini, deputy country manager 
for BG Group, the largest producer of natural gas in Kazakhstan, 
told Energy Officer that Kazakhstan exports approximately ten 
billion cubic meters of gas to Russia annually and "will not be a 
big gas player in the short term."  Battistini noted, however, that 
reinjected natural gas and gas condensate will remain in the ground 
after the main prize -- crude oil -- is extracted, and he said 
Kazakhstan could produce significant quantities of natural gas at 
some point in the next 15-20 years.  "It will still be sitting there 
in the reservoir, like a big gas tank," he said.  END NOTE). 
 
KAZAKHSTAN WILL NOT PULL OUT OF GEORGIA 
 
8.  (SBU) Chabros said he was surprised that one issue was mentioned 
repeatedly, without prompting, during each of Topolanek's three 
meetings in Astana:  Kazakhstan's investments in Georgia.  According 
to Chabros, Nazarbayev, Masimov, and Tazhin all emphasized 
Kazakhstan's intention to remain in Georgia.  Masimov reportedly 
said, "We are strategic investors in Georgia and we plan to stay 
there for a long time.  We are not pulling out." 
 
MILD CRITICISM OF INVESTMENT CLIMATE, POLITICAL REFORMS 
 
9.  (SBU) Over lunch in a Czech-owned restaurant in downtown Astana, 
Chabros was asked for his opinion of the investment climate in 
Kazakhstan.  He said that large, wealthy multinational companies in 
the oil and gas sector had the patience and the capital to pay 
environmental fines and higher taxes, but small-scale foreign 
investors and entrepreneurs faced a tougher time due to petty 
corruption, onerous bureaucracy, and uneven enforcement of laws and 
regulations.  Chabros also criticized the recent amendments to 
Kazakhstan's election law, calling the changes "superficial" ones 
that will not affect the exercise of political power in Kazakhstan. 
He said that although the amended law ensures that there will be 
more than one party in future parliaments, the ruling party can 
simply pick a "pocket party" that would offer only symbolic 
opposition. 
 
HOAGLAND

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