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2005-05-20 12:28:00
US Office Almaty
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						UNCLAS  ALMATY 001938 



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary. On May 19, Charge briefed Deputy Foreign
Minister Aleksey Volkov on the Department's decision to
request a national security interest waiver of Section
578's requirement (Foreign Operations) that Kazakhstan
demonstrate significant progress on human rights in order
to continue funding for a range of U.S. assistance
activities. Volkov went to great lengths to express
"disappointment" with the determination and called it a
"step backward" in the bilateral relationship. The
certification decision, he maintained, was a "black mark"
which would damage Kazakhstan's chances to gain the OSCE
Chairmanship in 2009. The DFM insisted that security would
continue to be Kazakhstan's first priority. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Charge briefed DFM Volkov on events that led to
the Secretary's decision to request a national security
interest waiver rather than certification for Kazakhstan.
While there had been a few bright spots since last year's
certification, unfortunately numerous negative developments
made it impossible for the Secretary to certify that
Kazakhstan was making "significant" progress in improving
human rights. He noted that the flawed September 2004
parliamentary elections, the liquidation of opposition
party Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK), the electoral
law amendment restricting the right of assembly following
elections, the closing of opposition newspaper
"Respublica," the continuing harassment of NGOs, and
limitations on the parole status of Galhymzhan Zhakyianov
had all contributed significantly to the decision.

3. (SBU) Charge highlighted the strong relationship between
the two countries and the ability to speak frankly with a
partner. The United States wanted to look forward and work
with Kazakhstan to avoid a similar decision on Cooperative
Threat Reduction assistance. Emphasizing U.S. respect for
Kazakhstani sovereignty, Charge outlined a number of areas
where important progress on human rights was within reach,
and encouraged the DFM to view the areas as guideposts. He
noted that certification decisions were not permanent.
(Note: Charge passed a non-paper with the benchmarks along
with other background materials at the end of the meeting.)

4. (SBU) Volkov spent considerable time relaying
Kazakhstan's "disappointment" with the decision. There had
been other years, he said, with difficulties where
certification had been possible -- why not this year?
President Nazarbayev had just signed a foreign policy
decree for release on June 7, designating the United States
as a strategic partner. The decision not to certify ran
counter to establishing such a relationship and provided

support to "destructive forces" in Kazakhstan. Astana's
bid for the OSCE Chairmanship in 2009, Volkov maintained,
had been damaged. News of non-certification would almost
certainly generate a "lively" reaction in the press and
from government figures. The opposition would undoubtedly
take great pleasure in the decision, seeing it as a "black
mark" against Kazakhstan.

5. (SBU) As President Nazarbayev travels around Kazakhstan,
Volkov continued, he meets people who are happy and don't
want to see a repetition of the unrest and violence that
have marked Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Security is the
primary concern, the DFM said, of the public and the
government. Astana foresaw trouble ahead in the next 2-3
years in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and would not take any
risks with Kazakhstan's stability. Kazakhstan wants a
leadership role that strengthens the region, but the U.S.
decision had undermined that concept.

6. (SBU) Guaranteeing Kazakhstan's security, Volkov
insisted, will be made without reference to the views of
"outsiders." He argued the United States had not consulted
others on its security after September 11. Astana's felt
strongly that NGOs had to be accountable for their
activities and that this was the goal behind the draft NGO

7. (SBU) Charge said that the impact of the NGO draft law
could make it all but impossible for U.S. funded NGOs to
operate in Kazakhstan. He asked rhetorically if that was
really what the GOK wanted, given the fact that such
assistance directly supported the goals the President had
annunciated in his state oQthe nation address. The Charge
added that the best way for Kazakhstan to distinguish
itself from its neighbors was to conduct fair presidential
elections in 2006, and adopt proposals in the benchmark
document. Much had already been done on political and
economic reform, but President Nazarbayev, the Charge
pressed, had an opportunity to parlay his popularity into a
secure Kazakhstan that also fully respected civil

8. (SBU) Charge concluded that the United States wanted a
dialogue that would led to progress in the area of human
rights, much as had happened in the past with Kazakhstan's
advances in addressing the problem of trafficking in
persons. For this reason, the Secretary was requesting a
waiver of the certification requirement so that assistance
programs could continue. Such assistance benefited not
only U.S. national security interests, but also supported
the ambitious goals the President had set for his country.
Ultimately, whether Kazakhstan achieved these goals,
including the OSCE chairmanship, depended on its deeds and
not just rhetoric.

9. (SBU) Comment: Volkov seemed genuinely surprised by
our certification decision, despite the fact that
Ambassador Ordway had clearly informed Foreign Minister
Tokayev last week that this outcome was all but certain.
Volkov's reaction made it clear just how seriously the GOK
views the issue of waiver vs. certification in terms of
former's impact on Kazakhstan's international image and its
aspirations to regional leadership.