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Astana, October 30: Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, Speaker of Kazakhstan's Senate, shared his views on Astana's commitments to agreements within the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe during his meeting with a group of ambassadors to the OSCE from several countries.

Vienna-based ambassadors from Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Russia and Slovenia travelled to Astana this week in the run-up to Kazakhstan's chairmanship next year.

Tokayev stressed the importance of exchange of views with high-ranking diplomats for a country getting ready to chair the OSCE. Noting the importance of OSCE institutions in promoting democracy around the region, he underlined the positive role played in the process by its Parliamentary Assembly, of which Tokayev currently is a vice chairman. The Speaker said Kazakhstan's Senate plays a positive role in preparing the country for an "important juncture," noting that legislative activities provide great opportunities for improving the political system in line with OSCE standards.

Tokayev believes capabilities of the international community to confront intolerance, xenophobia and racism would significantly strengthen if OSCE member states continued encouraging a culture of tolerance. "Promoting values of tolerance is one of the top priorities for President Nursultan Nazarbayev, both in domestic and international politics," Tokayev stressed.

On the issue of media freedom, Tokayev noted recent amendments in national legislation have been adopted in accordance with international experience: "We are very serious about debates on the issues, which in fact must be viewed from different angles."

Tokayev also commented on specific amendments that equated all Internet resources to the traditional media: "If you read these amendments more closely, you will find no reason for concern. As for the content of information transmitted over the Internet, the situation has not changed in any way since before the adoption of those amendments." He added the amendment did not restrict the rights of Internet providers: " Kazakhstan's amendments are not unique. International experience has also been analyzed."

The guests expressed appreciation of the way Kazakhstan prepares for its chairmanship in 2010 and expressed confidence Astana would fulfill this honourable and important mission successfully.

Secretary of State - Minister of Foreign Affairs Kanat Saudabayev also received OSCE ambassadors on the same day, discussing Kazakhstan's priorities for OSCE chairmanship and initiatives to commemorate a number of OSCE-related anniversaries next year. These include the 35th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act, the 20th anniversary of the Paris Charter for New Europe, as well as the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II.

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