Kazakhstan, USA Review Present State & Prospects of Strategic Partnership

A major international conference “Kazakhstan - USA: 20 Years of Partnership for Security and Development” took place at the Nazarbayev Center in Astana, the multifunctional research and educational public institution, on Friday May 18, 2012.

The conference summarized 20 years of Kazakhstan-U.S. relationship and is timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the first official visit of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to the U.S. in 1992 at the invitation of President George H.W. Bush.

Focusing on the development of cooperation between Kazakhstan and the U.S. in the areas of non-proliferation and reduction of nuclear weapons, energy, trade and economic sectors, in the field of technology as well as democracy building and regional security, the event charted further measures to raise Kazakhstan-U.S. relationship to a new high quality level corresponding to the current global challenges.

Opening the conference Director of the Nazarbayev Center Kanat Saudabayev read out the address of President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan: “In May 1992, at the invitation of U.S. President George H.W. Bush, I paid my first official visit to Washington, DC, as the head of an independent Kazakhstan. During that visit we laid a solid foundation for cooperation between our countries based on the principles of friendship, mutual understanding and respect. Today, looking back at the path covered, we can proudly say that over the 20 years of independent development Kazakhstan, in cooperation with the U.S. and other countries, has become a reliable and respected partner for the international community.”

“Your visit to Washington helped lay the groundwork for a unique, strategic partnership that continues to yield benefits not only for both our nations, but the world as well,” noted former U.S. President George H.W. Bush in his letter to President Nursultan Nazarbayev, which was read out by Kenneth Fairfax, the U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan.

The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged the leadership of Kazakhstan. “Kazakhstan is the model for efforts around the world to eliminate nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands,” the letter to President of Kazakhstan reads.

“The theme of the conference clearly and concisely reflects the process of establishing, strengthening and developing relations between the two countries, which today are reliable strategic partners,” Kanat Saudabayev stressed speaking on the aims of the conference.

Summarizing 20 years of partnership, participants discussed common areas of cooperation in details. Non-proliferation and the nuclear weapon reduction areas are inextricably linked to security issues. The 20 years of cooperation in this area proves Kazakhstan’s and U.S. mutual pursuit to fight this dangerous threat and opens new paths for common actions. Participants of the conference paid attention to the issues of cooperation in energy, financial and economic areas, technology, democracy and regional security areas.

“Both of our countries have benefited from the cooperation,” former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker said in his video message to the participants of the conference. “Even when the war in Afghanistan and antiterrorism efforts have strained relations in recent years, our two countries have continued to cooperate on economic development, education, regional policy and nuclear non-proliferation.”

The former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell also sent his video message to the participants of the conference, where he said “As a result of those courageous decisions that you made as a people with the leadership of your President, you have had a great relationship with the U.S for the past 20 years. If you had told me 20 years ago when I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that General Electric would be building locomotives in Kazakhstan I would have found that very, very difficult to believe. But it’s happened.”

The Minister of Industry and New technologies Aset Issekeshev, Minister of Oil and Gas Sauat Mynbayev, Minister of Environmental Protection Nurlan Kapparov, First Deputy Defense Minister - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Col. Gen. Saken Zhasuzakov, President of the KazAtomProm national atomic company Vladimir Shkolnik, leader of the “Ak Zhol” party and deputy of the Majilis of the Parliament Azat Peruashev, Secretary of the “Nur Otan” party Yerlan Karin, the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan and current Director of the Diplomacy Institute in the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the RK Tuleutay Suleimenov and other prominent representatives of political and public circles spoke at the conference on the Kazakhstan side.

Ambassador Kenneth Fairfax, U.S. Commissioner to the U.S.-Russian Bilateral Consultative Commission under the New START Treaty, former U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan John Ordway, the first U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan William Courtney, the Vice-Chairman and Executive Vice-President of Chevron George Kirkland, senior experts of the U.S. influential think tanks such as Martha Olcott from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Ariel Cohen from the Heritage Foundation and Vladimir Socor from Jamestown Foundation as well as the President of the International Tax and Investment Center Daniel Witt and others took part in the event on the U.S. side.

An exhibition, which includes archival photographic documents and reflect the history of the development of bilateral cooperation over the years of partnership, took place at the conference and will last for the next two weeks.