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Address by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, at the first Meeting of Speakers of Eurasia Countries’ Parliaments “Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation for Joint Prosperity of Eurasian Countries in the 21st Century”
Moscow, April 19, 2016 (Unofficial translation)

Dear participants of the Meeting,

At the outset, I would like to thank Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Mr. Sergey Naryshkin and Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea Dr. Chung Ui-Hwa for the excellent organization of this important parliamentary forum. Kazakhstan supports initiatives promoting inter-parliamentary interaction among Eurasian countries.

Eurasia is the backbone of the modern world. It is the largest continent representing three quarters of the world population, producing over 60% of the global GDP and blessed with abundant natural resources.

Four officially recognized nuclear powers and a number of unofficial nuclear states are located in Eurasia, a place the most prone to violent conflicts inflicting 200,000 human casualties every year. The bloodiest wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as millions of refugees fleeing these countries have been affecting the whole continent.

Situated in the heart of Eurasia Kazakhstan has been deeply concerned about these developments. Mutual distrust, mounting militarism and terrorism, other cross-border threats to international security have been jeopardizing the future of humankind.

A thoughtful analysis of the consequences of wars raging on the planet has been made in the Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century” published recently by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. Eventually leaders of all nations should demonstrate political will to free the modern civilization from frequent armed conflicts and deadly wars. It is necessary to recognize that the well-being of the people around the world is doomed if joint efforts are not taken by all nations. Violence breeds violence. Attempts to resort to military means and sanctions to settle disputes push our civilization backward. We have been witnessing this process in the last decades.

The fight for peace is a political and moral duty of every state regardless of its size and power. World military expenditures have reached almost USD 2 trillion. This figure proves that at governments’ insistence some parliaments pass budgets where military expenditures prevail over development allocations.

A crisis of trust between states, the disregard for international law, an aspiration to dominate in global affairs, disrespect for history and culture of other people represent the main challenges in the modern world.

On August 29, 2016 we are marking the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Kazakh Presidential decree that closed down the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. It was the first and the last case in nuclear disarmament history. Therefore this memorable date is a good occasion to recall the utmost importance of achieving lasting peace in Eurasia and beyond.

Members of Parliaments should clearly say “No” to nuclear disarmament. We can demand complete disarmament from the world powers, advocate for the implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Eurasia is indivisible and so is its security. Six years ago the OSCE Summit in Astana adopted a Commemorative Declaration stating that “the security of each participating State is inseparably linked to that of all others”. This point is more than ever relevant today for all states in Eurasia. Trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings, terrorism, illegal migration, environmental disasters spill over geographical and political borders.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia underscored the importance of inclusive dialogue, close cooperation and joint actions in response to growing international tensions. We, the Eurasian states, should support the central role of the United Nations in global affairs,oppose any restrictive measures and military actions violating the UN Charter.

It is essential to promote economic interaction and trade to benefit our people. China's Silk Road Economic Belt is emerging as an important strategy. The President of Kazakhstan put forward an idea about Great Eurasia that would embrace big integration initiatives on the continent.

For its part Kazakhstan has launched huge projects to build motor and railways, modernize logistics infrastructure as part of the Western Europe – Western China route and the “Nurly Zhol” Programme (The Shiny Path) to establish transport corridors across Eurasia.

It is my pleasure to note that a number of countries are keen to cooperate with the Eurasian Economic Union which may become a pillar of the global economy.

Pursuing closer integration we should prepare our young people to new high-tech and robot-based economy. Lagging behind in this area may have a devastating effect on our nations. Especially when 75 million out of 210 million of the unemployed are aged under 25.

Against this background parliamentary diplomacy has become more important than ever. Amid global turbulence and growing distrust parliamentarians have a key role to play to enhance friendship and cooperation between different nations.

Members of parliaments should rise to the challenge of extremism in particular the religious one. On May 31, 2016 Astana will host the conference “Religions against Terrorism” that will bring together parliamentarians and representatives of religious leaders. This kind of forum will be held in Eurasia for the first time. Its goal is to foster dialogue among civilizations and cultures.

In conclusion I would like to express my best wishes for a fruitful meeting which no doubt will go down in inter-parliamentary history. We support the proposal for the continuation of such parliamentary meetings.

Thank you for your attention.

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