Key Link for East and West Approach

Key Link for East and West Approach

By Donald Moon

In a wide range of foreign policy interests of Kazakhstan and assurance of its national interests, special place is taken by the cooperation of the country with Muslim world. This June Kazakhstan takes up the post of the Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), uniting 57 states of Islamic world being the second biggest Organization after the UNO considering the number of participants.

Although the sphere of the problems, the OIC deals with, in reality is too wide, recent events in North Africa and Near East force to focus not only on the issues of economic inequality elimination, but also on solution of regional conflicts.

Regarding economic sphere of activity of the OIC, today the scope of trade between its states is a bit higher than 16%. 

Except for that,high level of inhomogenuity of economic development of the Organization’s states is the source of disagreements, impeding to use its potential “at full throttle”. On this issue the main goal of Kazakhstan for the period of Chairmanship is the initiative on the establishment of the free trade zone in the frameworks of the Organization in order to increase the share of internal goods turnover up to 20% by 2015 at the first stage. As for the urgency of regional conflicts, it is first of all conditioned with the grown social tension. If earlier the Near East conflict was mainly observed through the prism of Palestine-Israel relations, then today instability in the states of this region creates a favorable ground for new flash-points of intolerance and extremism. Even alarm forecasts have appeared anticipating the probability of Iran-Iraq war. That is why the sooner they find the solution of former and new problems, the lower shall the be risk of their emergence in future. In this aspect the practice of Kazakhstan can and should be implemented.

In 2010 Kazakhstan demonstrated its abilities in the sphere of regional conflicts solution, being the Chairman of the OSCE. Participation in the regulation of the situation in Kirgizia was underlined by the OIC during the 37th Session of Foreign Affairs Ministers of the Organization. Nevertheless, the problems of Near East have a bit another ground and here great hopes are related with the role of Kazakhstan as the country which is able to establish constructive dialogue between Muslim East and secular West.

Kazakhstan representing Muslim majority is a secular country, with perfect combination of West and East values with various religions, the most popular among which is Islam. In this sense it best fits the role of the key link within East and West approach, and promotion of fruitful cooperation between the OIC and OSCE due to the efforts Kazakhstani diplomacy.

The main principles of the OIC is full equality, respect of the right of each people on self-identification, non-interference into domestic affairs, respect of sovereignty, independence and integrity of the territory of states, solution of acute issues between the OIC member-states in a peaceful way via talks, intermediary or arbitrage, non-implementation of force or threat of its implementation. All these correspond completely to the corner-stone principles of the UNO activity. For last 20 years the OIC has gone through a number of complicated situations, related to the growth of disagreements between Muslim states.

Respectively, the crisis of trust to the OIC itself has occurred, and probably, that is why significant political problems in the region have been “delegated” to another organization – the League of Arab States.

Considering its scale and initial potential the organization is indeed powerful, the biggest after the UNO regarding the number of member-states, but internal collision shall not allow implementing this potential. And here by the way, we can draw parallels between the OIC and the OSCE: big number of members, signed documents, but at the same time structural incapacity, high level of bureaucracy within decision-making and crisis.

Political weight and significance of the OIC are defined by the fact that the bowels of Muslim states hide more than two thirds of world stocks of hydro carbon energy carriers. Following the increase of oil prices the ruling circles of these states actively use the levers of influence on international economy, fair distribution of world wealth.

As it happened so that the OIC stopped its participation in debates and consultations, it has become similar to the UNO in the frameworks of Muslim world. Which means it deals more with the issues of cultural and humanitarian cooperation, provision of aid for poor Muslim states and peoples. There are independent funds inside the OIC, as well as in the UNO: the fund of aid for refugees, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO, like UNESCO).

Development of close interaction with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) gives Kazakhstan the possibility to accomplish successfully such regional projects as preservation and reconstruction of cultural sites, practice exchange in the sphere of learning and teaching of languages, history and culture of Islamic states. In terms of the urgency of elimination of existing contradictions on value guides of different cultures and civilizations important is the reforming of the OIC in order for it to correspond to the currently existing realities in the world.

It’s also worth noting that similarly to the World Bank they have founded the Islamic Development Bank.

The OIC member-states traditionally support Kazakhstan within ecologic problems solution. In course of the OIC Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers they upheld the “Science and Technology” Resolution, initiated by Kazakhstan on the “Situation in the regions of Islamic world, suffered from ecologic disasters, in particular the basin of Aral Sea and the region of Semipalatinsk”.

Besides, the principle of Islamic cooperation gives the possibility to count on support of the OIC member-states by the promotion of Kazakhstani candidates to other international institutions, particularly to the UNO bodies.

This way the Chairman of Kazakhstani Parliament Senate Qasım-Jomart Toqayev was appointed the General Director of the UNO Office in Geneva. He has become the first representative of Asia at this post. Due to the occupation he has become the General Secretary of the Disarmament Conference working in Geneva. The Chairmanship of Kazakhstan at the Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers of the OIC is the manifestation of trust, respect towards one of new members (Kazakhstan has joint the OIC in 1995).

And Kazakhstan can play now a very significant role to shake up the Organization, the same as it happened with the OSCE. It’s a commonly known fact that the Astana Summit was the attempt somehow to “revive” the OSCE.  Following the results of the talks within the frameworks of the OIC the delegation of Kazakhstan enlisted the support of all the member-states in respect of Kazakhstan candidacy to the member of the UNO Peacemaking Commission for the period of 2008-2010 and to impermanent members of the UNO Security Council for the period of 2011-2012.

Kazakhstan has achieved qualitatively new level of interrelations with Muslim world. Regarding policy, further intensification of relations with Islamic states corresponds the long-term interests of the country and the provisions of the Messages of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbayev to the people of Kazakhstan.

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