09ASTANA479, KAZAKHSTAN: SMOOTH OPERATOR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA479 2009-03-17 09:23 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO1521
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK
RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNEH RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #0479/01 0760923
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 170923Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4930
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1371
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0748
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1451
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0435
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2213
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2543

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000479 
 
DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC 
DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC 
 
DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC 
CIA WASHDC 
DIA WASHDC 
NSC WASHDC 
SECDEF WASHDC 
JOINT STAFF WASHDC 
CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, EEB, ISN, DRL 
AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT FOR FAS 
ANKARA FOR AGRICULTURE COUNSELOR 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM EAGR SOCI KNNP UZ KG KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  SMOOTH OPERATOR 
 
REF:   (A) ASTANA 0431 
 (B) ASTANA 0412 
 (C) ASTANA 0147 
 
1.  (U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for public Internet. 
 
2.  (SBU) SUMMARY:  On March 13, the Ambassador had lunch with 
Nurbakh Rustemov, the Chairman of the International Affairs, 
Defense, and Security Committee of the Mazhilis (the lower house of 
the parliament), and Romin Madinov, the Chairman of the Mazhilis's 
Agrarian Committee.  Madinov made a case for greater U.S. investment 
in Kazakhstan's agricultural sector.  Rustemov said that the 
Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Agreement will be considered at a 
plenary session of the Mazhilis on March 18.  He expects it to pass 
with no changes and to move quickly through the Senate.  Both 
parliamentarians expressed hope that a "new chapter" of 
U.S.-Kazakhstani relations will begin under President Obama and said 
that a POTUS visit to Kazakhstan would be most welcome.  We strongly 
suspect the real reason for the lunch, although it remained 
unspoken, was for the Ambassador to see the "friendly professional" 
side of Madinov who has become rather notorious as the plaintiff 
against the opposition newspaper, Taszhargan" [ref A].  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
CHINESE INVESTMENT WORRISOME? 
 
3.  (SBU) Nurbakh Rustemov, the Chairman of the International 
Affairs, Defense, and Security Committee of the Mazhilis (the lower 
house of the parliament) invited the Ambassador to lunch on March 
13.  Rustemov's colleague, Romin Madinov, the Chairman of the 
Mazhilis's Agrarian Committee and chairman of the Agrarian Party now 
folded into the ruling Nur Otan party, also attended the lunch. 
Madinov pitched extensively for greater U.S. investment in 
Kazakhstan's agricultural sector.  He recommended that the United 
States and Kazakhstan diversify their bilateral economic 
relationship and focus more attention on agriculture.  He claimed 
that the "the Arabs and the Chinese" have already expressed interest 
in Kazakhstan's agricultural sector, but he would prefer "to deal 
with American companies." (NOTE:  See ref C for discussion of Arab 
investments in Kazakhstani agriculture.  END NOTE.)  "You don't have 
to worry about the Americans like you do the Chinese -- Americans 
will not want to bring their own workers, they will not put down 
roots and stay," maintained Madinov, voicing the unease with which 
some Kazakhstanis view their large neighbor to the East. 
 
CTR AGREEMENT ON TRACK FOR PASSAGE 
 
4.  (SBU) Rustemov told the Ambassador that the Cooperative Threat 
Reduction (CTR) agreement will be considered at a plenary session of 
the Mazhilis on March 18.  He expects it to pass quickly and go 
immediately to the Senate.  The Senate has 30 days to review the 
legislation, but Rustemov believes the agreement will be approved by 
the Senate much quicker, since the text has already been 
"pre-negotiated" with the Senate's relevant committee.  The 
Ambassador thanked Rustemov, noting that Senate Chairman Tokayev 
promised him that he would push the CTR agreement through the Senate 
quickly (ref B). 
 
"NOTHING PERSONAL IN POLITICS" 
 
5.  (SBU) Rustemov said that President Obama inspires "big hopes" 
and that a POTUS visit to Kazakhstan would be most welcome.  Madinov 
expressed hope that President Obama's election would open a "new 
chapter" in U.S.-Kazakhstani relations.   He alleged that during his 
2002 trip to the United States, "someone high up in the State 
Department" chastised Kazakhstan for lagging on democratic reform 
and pointed to Uzbekistan as the "democratic example" to follow. 
Madinov said he hopes the new Administration will have a new, "more 
nuanced" approach to Kazakhstan.  "There should be nothing personal 
 
ASTANA 00000479  002 OF 002 
 
 
in politics," he said.  Rustemov emphatically agreed, telling the 
Ambassador that "we are ready to help" in providing Washington with 
a more complete picture of Kazakhstan. 
 
KYRGYZ DECISION ON MANAS "HARD TO UNDERSTAND" 
 
6.  (SBU) Rustemov told the Ambassador that Kyrgyzstan's recent 
decision to close the Manas base is "hard to understand."  The 
Ambassador suggested
 that some in the Kyrgyz leadership might not be 
comfortable with this decision.  Madinov joked that "now (the 
Kyrgyz) are trying to figure out how to keep Russia's money, allow 
you to keep your base, and increase your payments to them," all at 
the same time. 
 
REGIONAL COOPERATION -- "IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME" 
 
7.  (SBU) Rustemov said President Nazarbayev seeks to strengthen 
cooperation among all the Central Asian states and also to develop 
closer links among the Turkic states.  He admitted that Uzbekistan's 
President Karimov, whom he referred to as a "crazy person," 
continues to be a stumbling block for regional cooperation, however, 
"Karimov won't be around forever."  In the meantime, Kazakhstan will 
continue to lay the necessary groundwork for regional cooperation. 
"If you build it, they will come," he said. 
 
8.  (SBU) COMMENT:  Although it is not unusual for Kazakhstani 
officials to offer or to accept invitations for working lunches and 
dinners with foreign diplomats, we were a little surprised by this 
invitation, since there seemed to be no real agenda.  In fact, the 
lunch was unusually chummy, with more than one vodka toast - a 
practice most Kazakhstani officials avoid.  Further, there were a 
number of jokes, including one at the expense of the Putin-Medvedev 
tandem.  At one point, Madinov invited the Ambassador to join him 
for a weekend at a resort.  It was only after the lunch that we 
realized Madinov is the plaintiff in the case against opposition 
newspaper "Taszhargan," which resulted in the Almaty City Court 
fining the newspaper $200,000, which is sure to put it out of 
business.  We suspect the whole purpose of the lunch was to show the 
Ambassador Madinov as a "friendly professional" who only rarely 
chomps down whole newspapers. END COMMENT. 
 
HOAGLAND

Wikileaks

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