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Almaty, July 17: OSCE Foreign Ministers informal meeting in Almaty on July 16-17 reached consensus on holding a summit in Astana this year and reinforcing OSCE assistance to Kyrgyzstan, said the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Kazakhstan’s Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev.

 “Today we decided that before the end of this year we shall hold a meeting of heads of state and government in Astana,” he told reporters at the news conference concluding the informal meeting of OSCE Foreign Ministers at the Ak Bulak resort outside of Almaty. 

“The forthcoming summit of OSCE leaders will be held after 11 years and will become a new and very important milestone in the life of our organization. We are convinced it will give an important impetus for strengthening security and developing co-operation.” Saudabayev noted.  

Formal decisions by the OSCE Permanent Council, including in relation to the dates of the proposed summit, will need to follow the foreign ministers’ agreement. 

According to Saudabayev, a key topic for the summit will be the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian community – “shaping a united and indivisible security space, free of dividing lines and different levels of security.” 

Other topics include reconfirming States’ commitments; reinforcing the OSCE's institutional foundation and its transformation into a full-fledged international organization; strengthening arms control; enhancing the OSCE toolbox in all three dimensions on early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation; joint development of ways to peacefully settle protracted conflicts; and increased attention to countering trans-national threats. 

He also said that boosting OSCE engagement, within its mandate, in international efforts to stabilize and reconstruct Afghanistan, countering economic challenges in the post-crisis period, strengthening the OSCE's potential to counteract challenges in the human dimension and enhancing OSCE institutions’ ability to monitor implementation would also be discussed. 

In his statement to the Ministers of the 56 OSCE participating States, Saudabayev said that the Organization's ability "to effectively react and resolve existing and new challenges, including the need to stabilize the situation in Kyrgyzstan, will be a test of the OSCE's vitality." 

“The OSCE is to play a key role in rendering assistance to Kyrgyzstan, including through the enhancement of the OSCE Centre in Bishkek and the proposed Police Advisory Group, an initiative which was supported by the participating States,” he said. “In addition, assistance from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights should be given for the upcoming parliamentary elections.” 

Security problems in the OSCE area, including Kyrgyzstan, dealing with current challenges through the Corfu Process and a decision on an OSCE summit were on the agenda of the Informal Ministerial. 

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, addressing the meeting, said: “The OSCE must prove that it was effective not only in times of the Cold War but that it remains an actively developing body, closely woven into the life of the modern global political and economic system.” 

“Conducting an OSCE summit in 2010, the year of the 35th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act, will give a unique chance to demonstrate to the world community the evolution of the Organization from Helsinki to Astana.” 

Nazarbayev said a summit would promote a common vision “for Euro-Atlantic, Eurasian and world communities based on shared principles and values,” help shape the post-crisis financial and economic system, foster tolerance and non-discrimination in the OSCE area, and enhance the international community’s engagement with Afghanistan. 

President Nazarbayev also announced Kazakhstan would give ten million dollars worth of emergency assistance to Kyrgyzstan, including materials for rebuilding houses and fuel. 

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office statement followed the Kazakh leader’s remarks. Saudabayev informed the meeting participants about the efforts of the OSCE Chairmanship to stabilize the situation in Kyrgyzstan in close co-ordination with international community, including “the process of agreeing on deploying a Police Advisory Group to Osh and Jalal-Abad provinces, on the request of Kyrgyzstan, in the nearest future.” 

The President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Petros Efthymiou, stressed the importance of the contribution that OSCE Parliamentarians can play in crisis situations, such as that in Kyrgyzstan. "The Corfu Process was an excellent start to bringing relevance back to the OSCE through dialogue. It is very important that focus has rightly moved toward strengthening the Organization’s capacity for early reaction to evolving crisis situations,” he said. 

The Corfu Process is an OSCE-anchored dialogue on the future of the European security that was launched at the OSCE's first informal ministerial meeting, held last June on the Greek island of Corfu. 

OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut said the Almaty meeting and the proposed summit were opportunities to renew the participating States’ shared ownership of OSCE commitments, to address problems dividing states, including protracted conflicts and arms control, and to act on common challenges such as transnational threats, the situation in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. 

“The participating States, under the guidance of Kazakhstan, have worked hard to identify problems and gaps of understanding. Steps have been taken to restore a sense of trust. The time has come to move to concrete action and step up the pace,” he said. 

Ambassador Herbert Salber, the Director of the OSCE Secretariat’s Conflict Prevention Centre, announced the news on the informal meeting’s first day on July 16 that the OSCE and Kyrgyzstan have agreed on principles and modalities for an OSCE Police Advisory Group that is to be sent to Kyrgyzstan pending a decision on deployment. He said the agreement marked a major step forward toward the deployment of the OSCE Police Advisory Group. A consensus decision by the OSCE Permanent Council, which comprises ambassadors from the 56 participating States, is needed before the deployment can take place. The agreement said the group would comprise 52 police officers with the possibility to send an additional 50 officers at a later stage. The group would be in Kyrgyzstan for four months, with a possibility to extend as needed and agreed.

“The task of this mission is first of all advising the Kyrgyz police. The Police Advisory Group will have contact with all parts of the population in southern Kyrgyzstan,” Salber said. “They will be assisting and also monitoring the Kyrgyz police. They will accompany them in their work with the communities there with the objective of strengthening the confidence in this area, in particular between the police and the population.”

The Ak Bulak resort in 35 km from Almaty, where the informal meeting’s key discussions took place on July 17, also hosted the meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia Elmar Mamediarov and Eduard Nalbandyan with the heads of delegations of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister of France Bernard Kouchner, and Deputy Secretary of State of the United States James Steinberg. Following the meeting behind the closed doors the three co-chairs released their statement, in which they reminded Azerbaijan and Armenia of their commitment to seek a peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, deplored recent developments which have increased tension in the region, including the serious armed incident of June 18-19, and inflammatory public statements. The heads of delegations of the Co-Chair countries renewed their commitment to support the sides in reaching a peace agreement, but reiterated that the primary responsibility to put an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict still remains with Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders.


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