CIS Ministerial Council Condemns Religious Discrimination
During its April 7 regular meeting in Tashkent, the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) affirmed its commitment to religious equality in the region and signed several important agreements on cooperative future projects and reforms to the body itself. Taking part in the meeting was Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov, who also had useful meetings with his Central Asian colleagues.
In a statement adopted by the council condemning discrimination and intolerance against Christians, Muslims and other religious groups, the role of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions was highlighted. The congress, established by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, has become a platform for global religious dialogue to counter religious discrimination and find solutions to the spread of extremism, among other tasks.
The foreign ministers also signed multiple agreements developing other initiatives suggested by Nazarbayev, among them reforms to the CIS court and law enforcement work, to help the organisation adapt to the evolving global situation. The agreements were proposed at the CIS Summit hosted by Kazakhstan October 2015.
The CIS Economic Court has been restructured to a new, ad-hoc format. Judges are no longer to work permanently on the court, which will allow staff to be reduced and help optimise the budget.
Regarding law enforcement, delegation heads approved measures to implement legal, organisational, informational and analytical work approved by the gathered ministers that is intended to strengthen interaction between CIS member states in police matters.
The council also set into motion new cooperative cultural and humanitarian projects, including throwing their support behind the “Cultural Capitals of the Commonwealth” draft programme. Kazakhstan proposed Shymkent as the cultural capital of the CIS in 2020. Goris, in Armenia, will be cultural capital for 2018; Brest, Belarus, in 2019. Astana was the cultural capital of the CIS in 2012 and Almaty in 2014.
In a smaller format meeting, the foreign ministers discussed regional and global issues, as well as Kazakhstan’s work on the UN Security Council. Abdrakhmanov informed his colleagues on his country’s activities over its first 100 days as a nonpermanent member of the council. He stressed the priorities laid out by Nazarbayev to the members of UNSC.
During the subsequent meeting of the foreign ministers of Central Asian states, Abdrakhmanov again briefed his counterparts in detail on the course of Kazakhstan’s work on the UNSC, highlighting Kazakhstan’s efforts to promote Central Asian issues in the global body. Kazakhstan is focused on activities that will help transform Central Asia into a “zone of peace, cooperation and security,” words used by Nazarbayev in his address to UNSC members.
At that meeting, members also engaged in a thorough exchange of views on current regional issues, methods of intensifying regional cooperation in priority areas and avenues for strengthening cooperation within international and regional organisations.
On the sidelines of the larger group meetings, Abdrakhmanov met individually with his counterparts from CIS member states.
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan reaffirmed their commitment to a strong and developing relationship during the meeting of the neighbouring foreign ministers. Symbolically, Abdrakhmanov’s meeting with Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan Erlan Abdyldayev was held on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Eternal Friendship signed by Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic in Almaty on April 8, 1997.
With Foreign Minister of Tajikistan Sirojiddin Aslov, Abdrakhmanov looked forward to the coming exchange of ratification instruments for the entry into force of the Strategic Partnership Agreement between Kazakhstan and Tajikistan signed in Dushanbe Sept. 14, 2015.