The Kazakh parliamentary delegation – led by Senate Chair Kassym-Jomart Tokayev – took part in meetings at the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
During the Assembly’s plenary session, Mr Tokayev delivered President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s address on the occasion of the Assembly 25th Anniversary.
"The Almaty Agreement of 1992 on the establishment of the IPA CIS was a starting point for the international parliamentary movement in Eurasia. Today, the Assembly is a unique platform for the interaction and cooperation of CIS legislative bodies, and occupies a prominent place in the system of world parliamentarianism," President Nazarbayev said in his address.
The head of state expresses firm conviction that the Commonwealth is highly capable of broad political and economic cooperation. The Kazakh leader calls on CIS parliamentarians to continue working actively for the welfare of the people and states during this turbulent era.
In the following remarks, Mr Tokayev noted that President Nazarbayev’s address distinctly outlined Kazakhstan's approach to security and cooperation in Eurasia, and the exceptional importance of parliaments.
The Senate Chairman reaffirmed Kazakhstan's commitment to interparliamentary dialogue, and expressed appreciation to the Russian Federation for establishing favorable conditions that support the Assembly’s work.
"Taurida Palace, the IPA CIS headquarters, is of historical significance for Kazakhstan with many great Kazakh representatives – Alikhan Bukeikhanov, Mukhamedzhan Tynyshpayev, Bakhytzhan Karatayev and others – working here in the State Duma in the beginning of the 20th century," Mr Tokayev said.
Mr Tokayev added that he appreciated the role of the CIS IPA in developing national legislation and deepening cooperation within the framework of the Commonwealth.
At a time when parliamentary diplomacy has become a flexible and sometimes indispensable channel of communication between people and states, further strengthening of the CIS IPA’s potential is extremely important, said Mr Tokayev.
During a separate Assembly Council meeting, participants discussed the establishment of the International Day of Parliamentarianism; reviewed the results of monitoring the Kyrgyzstan referendum; discussed monitoring for 2017 electoral campaigns in CIS countries; and summarized the activities of the CIS Inter-parliamentary Assembly in 2016.
During the meeting, Chairman of the Federation Council of Russia, Valentina Matvienko, presented the Order of Honor to the Chairman of the Kazakh Senate, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, on behalf of President Vladimir Putin
Speaking at the Council of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO PA) meeting, Mr Tokayev characterized the CSTO as an authoritative international structure and important contributor to military and political stability in Eurasia. “Realizing the potential of the CSTO and strengthening its partnership within the Organization’s framework aligns with Kazakhstan’s interests and objectives. The Organization is at the center of President Nazarbayev’s attention, and he has spearheaded a number of concrete actions to enhance its activities,” the Speaker said.
Mr Tokayev believes the CSTO should strengthen its role as a key link of global and regional security. "Without active cooperation and interaction, it is impossible to consolidate the fight against international terrorism, to help stabilize Afghanistan, to settle protracted conflicts, or to conduct a broad dialogue on security, disarmament and confidence-building measures," he said.
While in Saint Petersburg, the Senate Speaker also addressed the Parliamentary Conference on Combating International Terrorism. This was jointly organized by the CIS IPA and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Mr Tokayev expressed his firm conviction that it is only possible to eradicate terrorism through joint efforts. He emphasized the relevance of the Global Anti-Terrorist Network – an initiative proposed by President Nazarbayev within the United Nations framework.
Mr Tokayev expressed the need to establish a legally and politically correct definition for the term "terrorism" in international law. The Speaker urged participants to refrain from hasty, reckless assessments of political processes. Doing so, he added, would ensure a prompt resolution for the most difficult problems. The Senate Chairman emphasized that "the effectiveness of this approach is demonstrated by the Astana talks, which facilitated the first ceasefire mechanism since the beginning of the Syrian conflict."
Mr Tokayev also spoke on the issue of cyberterrorism, suggesting that no country is protected from this threat. "It makes sense to think about issues of Internet regulation, keeping in mind security while fully acknowledging the importance of respecting human rights and freedoms. The main goal is to prevent extremist propaganda and recruitment of young people into the ranks of terrorist organizations," he said.
The Speaker paid particular attention to the role of legislative bodies in eliminating some causes of terrorism, including poverty, illiteracy, corruption, and infringement of civil rights and freedoms. Mr Tokayev proposed that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly consider the establishment of the Coordination Center for Combating Extremism and Terrorism.
The head of Kazakhstan’s upper chamber of parliament noted the important role of the Congresses of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in ideological standoff to the challenges of radicalism. He informed about the "Religions Against Terrorism" conference, held in May last year, which was attended by a number of high clerics, parliamentarians, and scientists from around the world.
Mr Tokayev also discussed the importance of recent constitutional reforms in Kazakhstan, which are aimed at improving the governance system and strengthening the rule of law by redistributing authority across branches of power. "As for countering terrorism, the Constitution has introduced a provision to strip Kazakh citizenship from those participating in terrorist activities," the Speaker said.
On the sides of Assembly meetings, Mr Tokayev also met with the Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Pedro Agramunt. The Speaker stressed the constructive nature of Kazakhstan's cooperation with the PACE. Kazakhstan is a participant to a number of important Council of Europe conventions, including the Venice Commission. The Kazakhstan Parliament and the PACE have signed a cooperation agreement, and Kazakh MPs regularly participate in the PACE plenary sessions in Strasbourg. Mr Tokayev believes that dialogue and fruitful cooperation must continue for the benefit of democratic development and humanitarian cooperation, as well as to meet new security challenges.
The Chairman of the Senate informed the head of the PACE of Kazakhstan’s constitutional reform, which has seen powers from the President significantly redistributed to the Parliament and Government.