Interview: Republic of Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov

| November 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

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Erlan Abilfayizuly Idrissov (pictured) is the current foreign minister of Republic of Kazakhstan. He previously served as foreign minister in the government of Kazakhstan from 1999−2002. In June 2002, he became the Kazakh ambassador to the United Kingdom. After serving in London, Idrissov assumed the role of ambassador to the United States in July 2007. In September 2012, Idrissov was appointed foreign minister of Kazakhstan.

On 21 November, Foreign Minister Idrissov held separate bilateral talks with EU Presidency holder Lithuania’s Foreign Affairs Minister Linus Linkevičius and Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

The two sides discussed the EU promotion program for Central Asia, various aspects of political and economic co-operation, expanded access of Kazakh airlines to the European airspace and issues facilitating the citizens of Kazakhstan’s visa regime.

EU Reporter caught up with Idrissov during his busy schedule for a brief interview.

EU Reporter: Foreign Minister Idrissov, European Commission President Barroso feels that EU-Kazakhstan relations are “flourishing”. Would you agree?
Erlan Idrissov:
Yes, certainly – I feel at present that we are enjoying a very healthy relationship. It is very important, very promising, and we cherish it. Much can continue to be done to support the forward progress that I feel we are making, from both perspectives of increasing EU access for Kazakhstan’s citizens and improvements to our EU visas regime. The EU is already playing a significant role in the development of Kazakhstan in many areas. We want to see that role continue and expand.

And from Kazakhstan’s human-rights perspective?
This is very much a ‘work in progress’ – we are still very much a fledgling democracy, and we have hundreds of NGOs working both domestically and internationally on this very important area. Post-2014, there are both optimistic and pessimistic scenarios that can play out, but we are very much in support of the optimistic approach, and much can be done to support this scenario.

Does your country’s relationship with Afghanistan therefore play a part in this scenario?
We have at present a strong bilateral relationship with Afghanistan – we are very willing to build bridges with the country, and are very much a part of the Istanbul process.

In terms of energy trade, you have said that ‘the strategic rationale for energy co-operation is clear and convincing’. Could you explain this further?
Our country is the only one apart from Russia that can supply China with oil by direct pipeline, but current oil flows to China are dependent on Russia, and more importantly, the amount of gas that could potentially flow from Central Asia to Europe is not enough to change the paradigm of Europe’s energy relationship with Russia. We are seeking fuller engagement with Russia, and improvements to our own infrastructure – Russia is a very important historic, political and economic partner, as is Ukraine, and both can provide stable relationships to improve our own energy supplies and exports.

As far as Kazakhstan’s energy exports are concerned, our position is very clear and transparent, and we wish to be a reliable supplier for the North, East, West and South.

And nuclear weapons, and your potential role in supplying Iran with uranium?
Kazakhstan understands only too well how damaging nuclear weapons have been historically – we are the world’s largest producer and exporter of uranium, but our country willingly and without hesitation disarmed itself of the around 1,400 ICBMs that were left on our territory at the end of the Cold War, and we are staunch supports of complete nuclear disarmament, in full compliance with the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE) and the Atomic Energy Council (AEC). As far as Iran is concerned, I feel that it is all about keeping the constructive dialogue going.

Foreign Minister Idrissov, thank you very much.

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Category: A Frontpage, European Commission, External relations, Interview

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