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Kazakhstan a Strong Contender for UNSC Seat: Dr Shahid Qureshi   

(London Post – Cambridge): – Senior Independent British journalist and academic, Dr. Shahid Qureshi emphasized Kazakhstan’s key geo-strategic position between Russia and China. He praised Kazakhstan’s ability to preserve its cultural identity despite the Soviet period. The speaker recalled Kazakhstan’s experience in chairing the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), consisting of 54 Islamic countries. He said that Kazakhstan could count on the support of the OIC member states to achieve membership in the UN Security Council.

Dr. Shahid Qureshi noted that Kazakhstani diplomats and intellectuals have more groundwork to do in order to spread knowledge about Kazakhstan in English-speaking countries. In his view, filling this gap can help to gather support for Kazakhstan and win over Thailand, another contestant for the non-permanent Security Council membership from the Asia-Pacific group.

He was attending a panel discussion on the 21st of January 2016, Cambridge University hosted a round-table on the subject of Kazakhstan’s bid for the 2017-2018 membership in the United Nations Security Council.

The panel was moderated by Dr. Shailaja Fennel, Cambridge University, and was attended by over 25 participants, consisting of university students, members of academia and international experts. Speakers included Gani Bekenov, Embassy of Kazakhstan in the United Kingdom; Dr. Shahid Qureshi, Chief Editor of The London Post newspaper; David Parry, founder of Eurasian Creative Guild; and Mark Akhmed, publisher and co-founder of the Open Central Asia magazine. Kazakhstani diplomat, Mr. Bekenov, underlined the importance paid by Kazakhstan to getting the non-permanent member seat in the UN Security Council.

The initiative first appeared after Kazakhstan’s successful chairmanship of OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) in 2010.  Expected to be voted upon in June 2016, the country’s bid is based on four pillars of global security: nuclear, water, food and energy.

According to Mr. Bekenov, Kazakhstan is not new to promoting these security domains: it supports them on national and regional levels. If elected, Kazakhstan will maintain a balanced and consistent foreign policy in line with the UN goals and collective security approach. It will be also a first-time opportunity for Kazakhstan to be a voice of Central Asia in the UN Security Council.

Dr Shahid Qureshi and Gani Bekenov senior diplomat of Kazakhstan with PhD students at Cambridge University
Dr Shahid Qureshi and Gani Bekenov senior diplomat of Kazakhstan with PhD students at Cambridge University

David Parry, mentioned his individual positive impressions from visiting Kazakhstan. A great fan of Central Asia, Parry praised the young, intelligent and engaged population of the country. He complimented the nation’s enthusiasm and willingness to participate in the global future. Parry said that, in his view, Kazakhstan truly deserves a place in the UN Security Council. He also said whether it gets it or not will depend on the actions of Kazakhstan and the support it obtains.

Mark Akhmed, UK publisher and expert mentioned Kazakhstan’s substantial diplomatic experience which could help the country to gain membership. Kazakhstan took part in the OSCE and OIC peace initiatives and it got involved in the Iranian nuclear program talks. Kazakhstan also assisted the negotiations between Ukraine and Russia following the Crimea crisis. More recently, Kazakhstan participated in talks between Turkey and Russia, whose relationship was tarnished in 2015.

While Thailand has a previous experience as a Security Council member, its geographic location, frequency of military coups and terrorist attacks may make it less “relevant” for the Eurasian security. Kazakhstan, on the contrary, is a key country in Central Asia, part of Eurasia. In the speaker’s view, Kazakhstan’s political stability, strategic position as well as ability to mediate in international conflicts should matter to win the membership. The roundtable was followed by a Q&A session. It was suggested that Kazakhstan’s membership could indeed obtain better results for the international security. The country’s location and diplomatic weight can assist to address security concerns in Central Asia, South Asia and former USSR countries. Given the complexity of global politics, panelists and the audience also agreed that Kazakhstan will have to be prudent about its choices and decisions. Last but not least, it was mentioned that a new member in the UN Security Council could bring a breath of fresh air to the group. It was emphasized that Kazakhstan’s membership could potentially help the UN Security Council adjust to the realities of the 21st century world.

Round-table was organized by Silk Road Media/Open Central Asia magazine in partnership with Kazakh Students Association of Cambridge University

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