Kazakhstan ready to continue strengthening OSCE's role, FM declares

Kazakhstan delegation led by Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov attends the 18th session of the OSCE Ministerial in Vilnius, Lithuania, on December 6-7. The meeting reviews the progress achieved in 2011 and seeks to identify further steps in strengthening the organisation's role in the international arena.

After its successful OSCE chairmanship in 2010, Kazakhstan has continued its active work in the Troika format together with Lithuania, the current OSCE chairman, and Ireland which will chair the organization in 2012, the Kazakh MFA's press service reports.

Speaking at the Session Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov noted "The year 2011 has been a really important one, something that was predetermined by our common achievement - the Astana OSCE Summit and its final document. In Astana, we committed ourselves to work together to fully realize the vision of a comprehensive, co-operative and indivisible security community in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian region, free of dividing lines, conflicts, spheres of influence and zones with different levels of security".

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In 2011, in line with the priorities identified in the Astana OSCE Summit final document, the Forum for Security Co-operation, currently chaired by Kazakhstan, engaged in intensive discussions to update, revitalize and modernize confidence- and security‑building measures which resulted in the adoption of a historical decision on November 30 on reissuing the Vienna Document, a document that encompasses key OSCE confidence- and security-building measures.

"The first sign of progress, which we are proud to report on in our capacity as the Chair of the Forum for Security Co-operation, is that the 56 participating States have completed their work as tasked in the Astana Declaration and succeeded in issuing a new revised version of the Vienna Document", Yerzhan Kazykhanov said speaking at the council.

"The updated 2011 Vienna Document is a major breakthrough and a highlight of this year. Many of us have had very high expectations. Not all of them have been met; yet we have managed to lay the ground for an ongoing modernization process. This is especially important in view of the fact that we have not been in a position to update anything in that document since 1999," he added.

The document, which entered into force on December 1, 2011, is formally entitled "The Vienna Document 2011 of negotiations on Confidence and Security".

The delegations of Germany, France, Spain, UK, Portugal, Austria, Italy, USA, Ireland, Netherlands, Greece, Russia, Turkey, Belgium, the Vatican, Armenia, Belarus and the Czech Republic expressed their gratitude to Kazakhstan's chairmanship in the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation for its work, as the reissue marked the first update of the document in twelve years.

"The FSC's decision to reissue the Vienna Document represents a solid confidence-building measure as well. We are determined to continue to work hard and in a constructive manner on the remaining and future proposals to give substance to the next round of negotiations," Kazykhanov added.

This is seen as an important achievement of Kazakhstan's national diplomacy on the eve of the 20th anniversary of its independence, while reissuing of the 1999 Vienna Document bears high political importance, is a strong measure of confidence-building and a major step towards building common Euro-Atlantic security on a wide area from Vancouver to Vladivostok.

The summit in Astana "set before the OSCE the task of realizing the vision of our common Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community. This work must indeed be a team effort, and as an outgoing OSCE Troika member, Kazakhstan stands ready to continue rendering its support to the incoming Chairmanships - Ireland and Ukraine - in carrying this work forward, including in connection with reviewing the progress achieved in implementation of the Astana Declaration and developing a concrete action plan", Kazykhanov said.

The Vienna Document 2011 establishes the procedure for a regular update of the Vienna Document every five years. Other updates focus on, among other matters, the eligibility of air bases for hosting visits, the accuracy of co-ordinates of formations, combat units, air formations and air combat units, and the timing of verification activities and demonstrations of new types of weapon and equipment systems. The Document requires participating States to share information on their military forces, equipment and defence planning; provides for inspections and evaluation visits to any participating State that has armed forces; and contains mechanisms to prevent or decrease tensions and to reduce the risk of unusual military situations that could cause tensions. The first edition of the document was adopted in 1990. Previous updates were made in 1992, 1994 and 1999.

The Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) is one of the OSCE's two main regular decision-making bodies. The Forum was established at the 1992 Helsinki Summit to strengthen the Organization's focus on politico-military security.