Kazakhstan has launched its 2010 chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe with ambitious pledges to bridge divides between East and West and to play a key role in promoting tolerance and conflict resolution. At the same time, Astana also threw down the gauntlet to the 56-member organization by calling its current trajectory into question and urging it to rise to the challenges of the 21st century.
As the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Permanent Council met in Vienna on January 14, two weeks after Kazakhstan took over the rotating chairmanship, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev led calls for the organization to embrace change and to move with the times.
"A defining question for the future of the OSCE is whether it will be able to take shape as a structure recognizing the diversity of the world of the 21st century or remain an organization fragmented into blocs, in which the traditional West stands aloof from the space east of Vienna," Nazarbayev told delegates in a video address broadcast to the Permanent Council.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.