09ASTANA494, KAZAKHSTAN: NATO REP FOR CENTRAL ASIA BRIEFS ON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA494 2009-03-19 09:43 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO3759
OO RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHNP RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTA #0494/01 0780943
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 190943Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4960
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY 1388
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0765
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 0452
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 1468
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY 0948
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY 0861
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 2557
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2227

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 000494 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, EUR/RPM, EUR/RUS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/19/2029 
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR NATO OSCE RS KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  NATO REP FOR CENTRAL ASIA BRIEFS ON 
HIS ASTANA VISIT 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland:  1.4 (B), (D) 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  NATO Special Representative for the 
Caucasus and Central Asia Robert Simmons told NATO 
Ambassadors in Astana on March 18 that the Euro-Atlantic 
Partnership Council (EAPC) Security Forum is administratively 
on track for June 24-25 in Astana, even though Kazakhstani 
officials made an effort to limit the agenda.  He estimated 
that Kazakhstan's commitment to its Individual Partnership 
Action Plan with NATO is "way down," and suggested this might 
be the fault of Minister of Defense Danial Akhmetov under 
Russian influence.  Simmons reported that Security Council 
Chairman Kairbek Suleymenov said Kazakhstan will be prepared 
to sign the NATO Transit Agreement at the EAPC in June, "now 
that NATO has restored its relations with Russia."  Following 
Simmons' briefing, NATO Ambassadors discussed whether his 
experience during this visit portends Kazakhstani attitudes 
during its 2010 OSCE Chairmanship.  Most agreed on the need 
for early and sustained highest-level engagement with 
President Nazarbayev in the run-up to the 2010 Chairmanship 
to ensure he receives the West's unvarnished views without 
any intermediation.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (C) NATO Special Representative for the Caucasus and 
Central Asia Robert Simmons briefed NATO Ambassadors in 
Astana on March 18 on his two-day visit to Kazakhstan.  He 
said his agenda included introducing the new NATO Information 
Officer for Central Asia, AmCit Evan Tracz (who might 
eventually be based in Tashkent or Bishkek); preparing for 
the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) Security Forum 
in Astana on June 24-25; reviewing next steps for 
Kazakhstan's Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with 
NATO; pressing for conclusion of the NATO Transit Agreement 
with Kazakhstan; and assessing Kazakhstan's interest in 
future NATO cooperation, especially in Afghanistan. 
 
JUNE 24-25 EAPC IN ASTANA ON TRACK 
 
3.  (C) Simmons reported that the EAPC, planned to take place 
in Astana June 24-25, is administratively on track and will 
be held in the Palace of Independence.  The NATO 
Secretary-General will arrive on June 23 for bilateral 
NATO-Kazakhstan meetings.  Simmons said NATO had already 
presented Kazakhstan the agenda for the EAPC that includes 
discussions on Central Asia and Afghanistan, the situation in 
the Caucasus, and energy infrastructure security.  He said 
Minister of Defense Danial Akhmetov and other senior 
officials pressed to have the Caucasus and energy 
infrastructure security removed from the agenda.  Simmons 
noted that NATO sets the agenda, not Kazakhstan.  In the 
ensuing discussion, Simmons and a few others conjectured that 
Kazakhstan was carrying Russia's water on the agenda.  Others 
speculated that Kazakhstan might feel the need to tell Moscow 
with a straight face that it had made a good-faith effort, 
but in the end would not seriously oppose the proposed agenda. 
 
INDIVIDUAL PARTNERSHIP ACTION PLAN 
 
4.  (C) Simmons reported "with some disappointment" that 
Kazakhstan's cooperation with NATO is "way down" since Danial 
Akhmetov became Minister of Defense.  Simmons acknowledged 
that Deputy Minister of Defense General Bulat Sembinov had 
recently visited both Kabul and Washington to discuss 
enhanced Kazakhstani military cooperation with NATO and the 
International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, but 
he questioned whether Akhmetov is "simply allowing Sembinov 
to do this."  The Ambassador suggested that the final arbiter 
is President Nazarbayev, who appears to want to keep his 
options open, and has allowed the unusual situation where the 
Deputy Minister of Defense at least appears to operate 
independently from the Minister of Defense.  Simmons noted 
that the Ministry of Defense has blocked him for two years 
from meeting with General Sembinov, even though both 
established a good working relationship before Akhmetov 
became Minister of Defense.  Simmons judged that the Ministry 
 
ASTANA 00000494  002 OF 003 
 
 
of Defense seems to have dropped interoperability with NATO 
as a goal.  (NOTE:  We have not seen any concrete evidence of 
this.  END NOTE.) 
 
5.  (C) According to Simmons, Akhmetov characterized 
Kazakhstani military officers travelling to NATO-sponsored 
information and training events
 as "military tourists" and 
reportedly said he "will not permit it."  Simmons said that 
all of this seems to him to be "the negative influence of 
Russia."  However, the Kazakhstani Peace-keeping Brigade 
(KazBrig), designated for international peace-keeping 
operations, seems to be moving forward.  Simmons also 
reported that the best cooperation between NATO and 
Kazakhstan is on Civil Emergency Planning (CEP) with Minister 
of Emergency Situations Sergey Bozhko.  NATO will conduct a 
CEP exercise in Kazakhstan in September. 
 
NATO TRANSIT AGREEMENT 
 
6.  (C) Simmons said that Security Council Chairman Kairbek 
Suleymenov told him, "Now that you (NATO) have restored your 
relations with Russia, we can sign the NATO Transit Agreement 
at the EAPC in June."  Simmons said NATO had provided 
Kazakhstan the draft text of the agreement in September 2008, 
but until now had not had "the courtesy of a reply."  Simmons 
said that during this visit he had a meeting at the Ministry 
of Transport, but found it less than useful because the 
ministry focused only on technocratic details.  (NOTE:  When 
we were negotiating the Northern Distribution Network for the 
commercial transit of non-lethal supplies for U.S. troops in 
Afghanistan, which we concluded successfully in January, we 
found the same situation at the Ministry of Transport, which 
is not a policy decision-making ministry.  The real 
decision-maker, giving his recommendation to President 
Nazarbayev, is Security Council Chairman Suleymenov.  END 
NOTE.)  Simmons said that NATO wants a clause in the NATO 
Transit Agreement that will provide "interim entry into force 
upon signature," because experience shows that formal 
Kazakhstani ratification can take "months, if not years."  He 
clarified that the agreement allows for the transit of 
non-lethal military supplies (including trucks, jeeps, etc.) 
but not troops. 
 
7.  (C) Simmons said he was struck by Suleymenov's "oblique 
warning" that NATO should not get too close to Uzbekistan or 
Tajikistan "because 'recent events' have shown there could be 
big changes coming in those countries."  Simmons said that 
Suleymenov neither explained the sources of this judgment nor 
elaborated on it. 
 
QUO VADIS? 
 
8.  (C) During the lively discussion that followed Simmons' 
briefing, Italian Ambassador Bruno Pasquino commented, "It 
seems your visits follow a pattern -- one is upbeat, the next 
is downbeat.  Is that an accurate observation?"  Simmons 
responded that the Russia factor plays a role.  He recounted 
a recent discussion in Brussels with the DCM of Russia's 
Mission to NATO, who had asked him, "How can you meet with 
our colonies without Russia at the table?"  Pasquino noted 
that Russian Ambassador in Astana Mikhail Borcharnikov seems 
to have latched onto him for detailed NATO information, 
having told him, "You must understand our intense interest in 
every single move NATO makes in our region of interest." 
 
9.  (C) Several Ambassadors wondered if Simmons' mixed 
experience during this visit portends what the West can 
expect during Kazakhstan's 2010 OSCE Chairmanship.  One 
asserted we can expect Kazakhstan "to shill for the Kremlin." 
 Others judged that Kazakhstan will be a tough but honest 
broker between Russia and the West.  Those who advocated this 
latter view emphasized the importance of early and sustained 
highest-level engagement with Nazarbayev in the coming months 
to ensure that he receives the West's unvarnished views 
without any intermediation. 
 
ASTANA 00000494  003 OF 003 
 
 
 
10.  (C) COMMENT:  We would observe that the current NATO 
Contact Embassy in Astana is the United Kingdom, which is 
small and, necessarily, has relatively limited opportunities 
for sustained contacts at high levels in the Government of 
Kazakhstan -- not the least because the UK Ambassador is also 
accredited to Kyrgyzstan and is frequently on the road.  We 
would note that the previous NATO Information Officer left 
Kazakhstan late in 2008; and so, NATO and Simmons might not 
have been as extensively briefed on the complicated, 
multi-layer current realities of Kazakhstan's multi-vector 
foreign policy as would have been desired.  Further, at least 
at this point, NATO seems to be a more hair-on-fire issue for 
Russia than the OSCE.  In our judgment, until we have 
real-world proof otherwise, Kazakhstan is likely to continue 
to play a hard-nosed but, in the end, honest broker between 
the West and Russia in international fora.  END COMMENT. 
HOAGLAND

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