Foreign Minister Idrissov hands over to Djibouti
On November 15, Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the 57-country Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) drew to a close. Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov handed over the reins to his counterpart in Djibouti at the meeting of the Council in the East African nation on November 15 – 16.
In a commentary published in the Gulf Times on November 16, Minister Idrissov reflected on the achievements of Kazakhstan during its tenure as chairman since June 2011 and on Kazakhstan’s ambitions for the future of the OIC.
Kazakhstan took on the chairmanship for two reasons, he said: because the OIC provides an important mechanism for uniting the Islamic world at a time when pan-Islamic unity and solidarity is much needed; and secondly, because Kazakhstan believed that it could add important new impulses to the Organization’s long-standing objectives of promoting modernization in the Islamic world in line with the values of Islam based on peace, tolerance and human dignity.
Mr Idrissov recalled that when Kazakhstan assumed the chairmanship in June 2011 it was a particularly challenging moment, just after the events of the “Arab Awakening”, which were in some cases evidence of the lack of economic and social modernization that had delayed progress and deprived people of justice, stability and a positive outlook for the future.
Kazakhstan continues to believe that the OIC’s main focus should be on promoting economic development and competitiveness through trade and investment policies based on effective investment in education, science and technology.
Accordingly, the major initiatives proposed by Kazakhstan during its chairmanship included the establishment of a dialogue platform for the ten leading Islamic economies; the creation of an international center for innovation; support for the small and medium-sized business sector; and the development of a system of food security within the OIC.
Kazakhstan also placed strong emphasis on formulating and implementing the OIC Special Program for Central Asia, a set of measures to promote economic and social development in the region and in neighboring OIC member states.
Another area of focus was the promotion of interfaith and interreligious dialogue within the OIC, in keeping with Kazakhstan’s experience as a country where Islam and Christianity co-exist peacefully along with numerous other faiths.
Afghanistan was a priority focus and Kazakhstan continued its support for the OIC’s long-standing efforts to promote a sustainable peace through socio-economic development and reconstruction. Through its bilateral assistance program, Kazakhstan is devoting considerable resources to re-developing agriculture in Afghanistan in order to support the economy and reduce unemployment.
Looking to the future, Minister Idrissov defined three main priorities for OIC countries: regional stability, gradual political modernization and strengthening the capacity of the OIC itself. He pledged Kazakhstan’s ongoing support for the efforts of the OIC to maintain a bold and purposeful agenda reflecting new priorities, while further strengthening its international role both through its own initiatives and interaction with organizations such as the G20, the EU, the OSCE and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.