ALMATY, May 21, 2009 (AFP) - Human trafficking, arms control, terorism and the rebuilding of Afghanistan will top Kazakhstan's priorities when it takes over the chairmanship of the OSCE in 2010, the government said Thursday.
The powerful speaker of the Kazakh parliament, Kasymzhomart Tokaev, laid out his country's vision as it prepares to become the first Central Asian nation to head The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
"Among the priorities of Kazakhstan's presidency are such concrete themes as the joint struggle against terrorism, narco-trafficking, the traffic in arms and people, and also the restoration of a distressed Afghanistan to the status of OSCE partner," Tokaev said in a press release.
"Our country views its forthcoming presidency as a good opportunity to breath new life into the interaction of the member states of this organization on a broad range of questions."
But the statement from the ex-Soviet state comes amid growing criticism from human rights groups and NGOs over its commitment to tackling reforms and enforcing basic rights for its own citizens.
In a 16-page report issued Wednesday, New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch took the Kazakh government to task for failing to make good on promised reforms ahead of its OSCE chairmanship.
"Kazakhstan has made a number of modest improvements in the past several months," Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a press release.
"But it should be doing a lot more to show that it is ready to lead an organization that works to make sure human rights are respected."