|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
President Nursultan Nazarbayev
Astana, Kazakhstan, April 15, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV: (in Russian) Madam Secretary, members of the delegation, I would like to say how happy I am that you have come here to pay your first visit as Secretary of State of the United States to Astana. When I was in Washington in December, at my last visit. I extended my personal invitation to you and we are very, very pleased that you have accepted and have come to visit us.
Madam Secretary, the United States was one of the first countries to have recognized the independence of Kazakhstan and starting from 1992 we have maintained a very active cooperation with the United States. We are working in the field of nuclear weapons disarmament, nonproliferation, economic integration, we have established a joint commission with the United States and we’ve also signed a document with the United States on democratic partnership. Our dynamism in the dynamic that is now developing in our cooperation is very, very active and we are very pleased that it is going in this direction. There have been three Secretaries of State of the United States who have paid visits to Kazakhstan. However, Madam Secretary, you are the first Secretary of State of the United States to come to our new capital of Astana and for that we are very, very grateful to you.
Madam Secretary, President Clinton told me in our discussions when we last met, there are three countries that have Joint Commissions with the United States. We are one of them. Our Joint Commission is headed by on your side by the Vice President of the United States and on the other side by the President of Kazakhstan. We have established a framework for holding these Joint Commission meetings and there we have created three groups, one on security, one on economic development and one on democratic partnership. We spent today sitting down and talking about the issues of how are we really doing in all of these areas where we have taken various obligations upon ourselves. This is what we focused our attention on today.
Madam Secretary, we value very highly our relationship with you. The fact that we can discuss all of our issues very openly, in a very friendly fashion, and very directly. This also has to do with our discussion of the global scenario. I thank you again very much for coming, very much for participating in our discussions, and now I pass the floor to you Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much Mr. President, it’s indeed a great pleasure for me to be here and, as you have pointed out, not only is this my first visit to Kazakhstan but the first visit by an American Secretary of State to this country’s new capital of Astana. I am very glad to be here and very grateful to you Mr. President and to the Foreign Minister for your hospitality and the remarkable speed with which you put this capital up is something that many people could learn lessons from. The United States was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan in 1991 and since that time we have maintained a strong commitment to your sovereignty and independence. These principles have assumed even greater importance in recent years as Central Asia has seen an increased threat from the cross-border flow of arms, drugs, and terrorist groups. These flows threaten us all and I informed President Nazarbayev today of our readiness to provide increased assistance to bolster Kazakhstan’s border security capabilities. This will include training and equipment for counter terrorism and counter narcotics and to strengthen Kazakhstan’s nonproliferation export controls and emergency communications system. At the outset we will make more than $3 million available for these purposes. I am also pleased that Kazakhstan will be sending a delegation to a counter terrorism conference for the states of Central Asia, which the State Department will host in Washington in June. The Government of Kazakhstan has made good progress in strengthening its export controls since last year’s transfer of military aircraft to North Korea. We both understand the importance of preventing such transfers and punishing those responsible when they occur. President Nazarbayev and I had a frank discussion on this issue.
True democracy is the only foundation on which to build true stability, security, and prosperity and it’s precisely because we support Kazakhstan’s desire for security, stability and prosperity that we support your democratic development. As a participant in the OSCE, Kazakhstan has taken on important commitments concerning the creation of democratic institutions. Today I was encouraged to hear President Nazarbayev’s support for full participation in the All-Party Democracy Roundtables that the OSCE will sponsor this spring and I look forward to meeting with representatives of those parties immediately after we answer your questions. As you know, the United States has expressed its disappointment with the conduct of last year’s elections and I discussed with President Nazarbayev the importance of implementing the OSCE election report recommendations and make possible a more inclusive and democratic political system. This afternoon I told the President that the United States will increase its support for independent media in Kazakhstan and I described our plan to open another four public access Internet sites here.
The President and I also had a full discussion of economic and energy issues where the United States and Kazakhstan have strong common interests. I was pleased to learn of the government’s decision to eliminate the cap on oil exports and we applaud that action as a signal of Kazakhstan’s intention to improve the climate for foreign and domestic investors. We also had a good exchange on the importance of establishing multiple routes for the Kazakhstan energy exports and we welcome the priority that the Government of Kazakhstan attaches to the Baku-Bilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and hope that when it is completed it will be a major transport path bringing Kazakhstani oil to world markets.
Finally, the President and I also noted a number of agreements concluded in connection with this visit including the one on climate change and two on air safety and air traffic control.
In closing, let me say that this afternoon we had an excellent review of many issues in the U.S.-Kazakhstani relationship, highlighting many important common interests. In fact the discussion was so interesting that we went overtime, and I would like to thank the President once again for his great hospitality for his invitation and I consider this one of my most important trips.
QUESTION: President Nazarbayev, some observers are saying that Kazakhstan is looking more towards Russia. Do you feel this is true? Are you looking more towards Moscow? And if so, how successful has Secretary Albright’s visit been in turning your attentions more toward the West, and Madam Secretary, if you could also make some comments on this issue.
PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV: (in Russian) I am kind of surprised that we still have remnants even back in the West of some imperialists’ kind of thinking. The government has to face one direction or another they say. You know in the history of our people we have fought forever in trying to gain our independence and, our independence finally won, now our major tasks are providing for the economic welfare of our people and for our own physical independence--that is number one. You know Russia is our God-given neighbor and nobody really has a chance to choose who their neighbor is going to be. Look, we have a common border with Russia of over 7000 kilometers and Russia is our economic, cultural and political partner. And now that we’re neighbors, geographically, we would like to establish with Russia a very fine partnership on an equal basis so that we are equal partners in economics, in politics, and just be good neighbors.
You know we, Kazakhstan, our territory lies both in the European part and in the Asia part and what we would like to do is get ourselves to a position where we can enjoy universally accepted human values and share them along with everybody else. The United States has helped us to a great extent, as a matter of fact; they have given us over these years up to $550 million of assistance so we just want to be an open democratic country enjoying all these human benefits. You know every state has to weigh its national interests and really it’s kind of false to say look you either go this way or you either go the other way. What would it be like if you ask the United States who do you love better, do you love Canada better or Mexico better? And with the United States, Kazakhstan could enjoy a very friendly, very confidential, very good, friendly partnerships and relationships into the future.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: And from my part, as I made clear in my statement, I came here in order to make clear our very close relationship with Kazakhstan and our support for their independence and sovereignty and their economic development and democratic evolution. And we definitely are not involved in some zero sum game.
QUESTION: (in Russian) Madame Secretary, this is a question to you. Is it possible, do you think, that Kazakhstan could become a really good important member of this region of the countries that not only live here but also look at the so-called Shanghai 5? From a historic perspective, what kind of development into the future do you see Kazakhstan enjoying in the context of the kind of combinations that one might imagine in this region.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well I think that it is very important to see this area as a region where a great deal of cooperation can take place rather than competition. The President and I discussed the possibilities of regional cooperation here in Kazakhstan playing its very important leading role in that. The countries have in the region obviously have a great deal in common, common interests and the greater cooperation, the greater the possibilities for a good life for all the citizens in the 21st century.
QUESTION: (in Russian) My question is for Secretary Albright. It regards the sale of the MIGS. Over the last few months one of the defendants in the case was amnestied, another was acquitted and, more recently, both senior officials who had been dismissed in the case have been rehabilitated. Does that satisfy your understanding of the assurances that Kazakhstan made prior to your decision not to sanction it and for President Nazarbayev, why did you decide to rehabilitate the two officials?
PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV: (in Russian) First of all, nobody was rehabilitated. There was a process, there was an investigation, then there was a trial. The trial found and came to a certain conclusion and the court used the existing legislation and the laws of Kazakhstan to carry out its mandate. This action was taken not by the government of Kazakhstan. It was taken by a number of people who operated and violated orders given to them by their superiors. What they in fact did was they changed the routing of that particular cargo and in return they received in cash $1,800,000 for themselves. And, thankfully, these aircraft, when delivered, were not arriving with any spare parts or any weaponry or munitions. We have as a result appealed to the government of North Korea to return the aircraft that were sent there. The persons who were accused and tried were given sentences of imprisonment for criminal activities. There are two others who are at large and are now being sought. Now the two high level officials, one the Foreign Minister and one the Minister for State Security, I did not fire them. They, as officers, resigned of their own volition; I did not have to remove them whatsoever. Now those two Ministers, the court found, were absolutely guiltless and innocent. They could have come to me and the court could have appealed to me to reinstate them. However, I felt that as a moral issue this was not the right thing to do, therefore, the government of Kazakhstan then, not the Presidency, the Government, went out and gave them jobs three levels less than what they had previously. We felt that that was sufficient punishment for those two Ministers. However, it is not the place of the Secretary of State of the United States to decide which of the Ministers or people in any particular case is the Government of Kazakhstan to reinstate or not to reinstate. However, it is to the credit of the United States to point out to us some of the weaknesses and faults in our legislation. We have legislation which circumscribes the way you behave with nuclear weapons but none that talked about how you behave with conventional arms. We have tried to correct that situation. We are now toughened the legislation so that all arms fall into the same kinds of categories and to prevent any future breaches of shipments of these kinds of armaments.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that we obviously had a discussion about this subject and I did in fact express our surprise and disappointment at the outcome of the trial and the transfer of the two people discussed. I think what the President said however is very important in terms of what they have done to tighten their export controls and their dedication to greater cooperation in all these areas.
QUESTION: (in Russian) After today’s meeting what is the status of the strategic partnership between the United States and Kazakhstan and after talking about it today what are some of the new things that might be introduced or done in strategic cooperation?
PRESIDENT NAZARBEYEV: (in Russian) …(inaudible) nobody knows what the term of service of that agreement is (inaudible). Ladies and gentlemen in response to that I just want to say that when we talk about a relationship we use the term democratic partnership. In here lets look at what we have in fact done concretely. From the economic portion of our partnership alone we have a statement which describes our common interest. We use to have a Kazakhstan-U.S. Joint Committee. Now, we have converted that to a U.S.-Kazakhstan Joint Commission. We have in fact raised the level of this body. On our part, I am the Co-Chair, on the U.S. part it’s the Vice President Gore who is the Co-Chair. Now there we have three working groups as I said. One of these working groups deals with security, anti-terrorism, we’re talking about drugs, we’re talking about support to armed forces, technology. We also have their help from the United States to help us with conversion. We look at the closing of nuclear test sites; we look at improving missile technology, guarantees and assurances. On the economic, it’s the second group; we have also done a lot a tremendous amount to move up the level of cooperation in economic integration. Here we are helping small and medium size businesses and we are really moving ahead in trying to get economic integration going. In December we mentioned that our rate of achieving the goals that we set for ourselves in that Joint Commission is 97 percent. As you can see it’s a lot better than we are doing in the CIS. So we discussed with Madam Albright how we are going to improve that cooperation, what type of specificity we are going to add to it, and in general and how to improve the relations between the two countries.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me just add that as a result of our discussions I think that it is very evident that we have a multi-faceted relationship that deals with many areas of common interests. And whether it is in cooperation on the oil issues or on nuclear nonproliferation or terrorism or trying to stop drug trafficking we have found not only when the President and I spoke but at other levels that we have a great deal in common. And as the President said, the fact that there are over a hundred American firms here is also a sign of our very close-knit relations. Well and I hope very much Mr. President that a result of our extended discussion and my trip that our relations will be even closer.
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