Peacekeeper on Fidelity to the Eurasian Brotherhood

 Two weeks of dramatic testing, among other things, showed how important is the access to reliable information in an information vacuum. We couldn’t help but notice this short post, which began with the words “Everyone is arguing about the role of the CSTO here ... As the first Kazakhstani UN peacekeeper who served in the UN Mission in Kosovo, the former Yugoslavia, I will say “Thank you and all those who helped keep peace in our international Kazakhstan". We are glad that Rizvan Sadykova agreed to discuss the latest developments in the country with the correspondent

– Rizvan Eltaevna, I would like to start the conversation with the recent events in our country. Could you give your assessment of what happened, as a participant in peacekeeping missions and a witness to the consequences of military conflicts in Europe and Africa. In addition, you, as a specialist in the field of international relations and public law, had a chance to lecture on the legal aspects of the fight against terrorism

– I would like to note that there are several components in order to assess what happened. As a participant in a peacekeeping mission, I would single out three of them: the first is the political component, in terms of the threat to the constitutional order, the second is the counter-terrorism component, in terms of the threat to the security of the civilian population and the disruption of the work of important strategic life-support facilities that threaten life. And, finally, the third is the threat of a split along ethnic and religious lines, the international information component in terms of the loss of reputation, image and investment attractiveness of the country in the international arena.

I am not a political expert, so I would like to leave the assessment of the first component to the relevant experts. Considering that there was a threat to the safety of citizens, the question on the need for a peacekeeping mission turned out to be vital.

My experience in this matter in the former Yugoslavia was more related to the inter-ethnic component, where there was an inter-ethnic conflict between Serbs and Albanians speaking different languages. Literally in the first weeks of my stay there, my peacekeeper colleague from Bulgaria was shot dead by local Albanians just because he spoke to them in Bulgarian. They mistook him for a Serb. My experience in Sudan, Darfur as a coordinator of a humanitarian operation under World Health Organization was different. There, the conflicting parties spoke the same Arabic language, but hostility was not only on inter-ethnic, but also interreligious grounds, the Christian minority demanded autonomy in a country with a Muslim majority.

It is important to note that post-Cold War UN peacekeeping activities, which were originally carried out as a means of resolving inter-state conflicts, have increasingly extended to situations related to intra-state conflicts.

Modern, multifaceted peacekeeping operations will continue to advance the political process, protect civilians, assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants and help restore the rule of law.

The mission in Kosovo was one of the largest in the history of the UN, the first head was Bernard Kouchner, founder of Médecins Sans Frontières, later Minister of Health and Minister of Foreign Affairs of France.

We peacekeepers were fortunate enough to personally meet with world leaders and politicians, including UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, President Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Sergey Lavrov and many others. It was an invaluable experience.

– Many disputes are still ongoing regarding the entry of the CSTO peacekeeping contingent into the country. How important was this step? Was it necessary? Isn't it you, the person who flew with Kazakh blue berets to Kosovo, who can assess such a step by the president of the country?

This was an extremely important and necessary step in a situation where the security of the civilian population was under threat, which is a priority function for any state. First of all, it was very clearly emphasized that these forces were called by the leadership of Kazakhstan to maintain peace in order to ensure the safety of the civilian population and protect strategic facilities.

As you know, the beginning of the CSTO was laid on May 15, 1992 by signing the Collective Security Treaty. The principal decision on the creation of the Collective Rapid Deployment Forces of the Central Asian Region (CRDF) was made by the CSC in May 2001 in Yerevan. At the time of the entry into force of the agreement in 1994, the CSTO had 9 members, at the moment - 6. The number of peacekeeping contingents is about 5 thousand people, which consist of national formations of the CSTO member states, which are autonomous military units with a full range of support units’ activities of combat units.

Now that the CSTO peacekeepers are leaving Kazakhstan, handing over the protection of the country's key facilities to the Kazakh security forces and, according to the statement of President Tokayev, having "successfully completed their mission", an important conclusion can be drawn: "it was an invaluable experience of the solidarity of the Eurasian Brotherhood." I am sure that this is a great contribution to strengthening the status and image of the EurAsEC as the most important regional player in the world

- Why is there so much negativity around this fact, both within the country and abroad, including in the media? Or is this a normal reaction?

I do not agree that there is a lot of negativity inside the country, but I admit that it exists outside.

Here we need to consider several factors that may affect this. Firstly, Kazakhstan is a country that owns huge reserves of natural resources, as one of the largest suppliers of uranium and energy resources, is closely involved in the contracts of transnational corporations, respectively, these dramatic events were immediately reflected in the stock markets. Secondly, we are the most important partner of Russia and a member of the Eurasian Union, respectively, we cannot remain out of the field of view of analysts and experts in the geopolitical aspect, and especially the problems that have most acutely manifested themselves recently in the modern world. It is possible that this is connected with the latest fierce debate on NATO expansion to the East and international security issues between the West, especially the United States and Russia.

At the same time, speaking about the legality of the involvement of the CSTO, foreign partners forget that over the past two decades, several regional blocks have participated in numerous peacekeeping operations in vulnerable regions of Africa. In fact, we are seeing the creation of several peacekeeping or security missions under the auspices of the African Union and the European Union (EU). The largest of these are: The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the Lake Chad Basin Commission Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the Group of Five Joint Force for the Sahel (G5 Sahel). More recently, a French-led EU task force known as "Takuba" has joined other missions in the Sahel.

It should be noted that we have official bodies and structures that are designed to prevent the appearance of negative assessments by foreign media (that is, engage in counter-propaganda), in particular, the Committee for International Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was they who had to show great efficiency in creating a worthy professional expert and analytical component in foreign languages ​​with the involvement of authoritative experts with experience in international organizations, not to mention UN peacekeeping missions. Now there is serious work to be done to improve the image of our country in the international arena and restore investment attractiveness. But let's be optimistic, I already have some ideas on strategically important steps to solve the above problems, and I hope that it will be in demand in the near future

–Kazakhstan has always been proud that over 100 nationalities live on its territory, and they all find a common ground. Do you think this dogma still works? Or are we no longer the multinational society that we were 30 years ago?

As for “more than 100 nationalities”, perhaps we are talking about the diversity of ethnic groups that we hear about all the time, maybe it's time to clarify? Moreover, in recent years, only a blind man has not seen the outflow of our citizens abroad, especially specialists and youth. However, the dogma that ordinary Kazakhstanis are a wonderful international community, no matter what works! I am glad to state that during the riots, there were no inter-ethnic provocations and confrontation on an inter-ethnic basis!

Nevertheless, I will leave the thesis that we may already be “not the multinational state that it was 30 years ago for many reasons” for discussion by our numerous historians and sociologists. Finally, they will start working not only for reports, but also to draw conclusions…

– Today we live in a common economic area, trying to build certain relationships. The parties are not always satisfied with the result. It may be necessary to establish cultural, scientific, educational ties in order to better understand each other?

– I am convinced that it is necessary to deepen and expand integration ties in all areas, not only in matters of finance, customs legislation and business, not in words but in deeds. I will give a simple example. We, as part of a group of professors from the old academic school, advised the Ministry of Healthcare after the start of the pandemic on reforming the healthcare system. So, I was shocked by the fact that medicines produced by well-known pharmaceutical manufacturers in Russia and Belarus, other CIS countries, which, of course, are much cheaper, undergo examination in our Scientific Expertise Center for up to 6 months, on the same conditions as from far abroad. A natural question arises, what then does membership in the Eurasian Economic Community mean for us and where is this integration! I think that it is necessary to seriously revise the strategy for the real deepening of integration processes in all areas.

By the way, I recently had a conversation with the chairman of the republican council of generals, Makhmut Telegulov. So, he noted that veterans with great professional and combat experience are ready to participate in the reform of law enforcement agencies, the education of young officers - defenders of the Fatherland, together with colleagues from the countries of the Eurasian Union.

You could then touch on the issue of meritocracy, which was raised in the January theses of the President?

Commitment to the principles of meritocracy is the most important component of any civilized society. A wealth of professional experience and a spotless reputation, combined with relevant education, implemented tasks, real results and successful projects, should be the basis for making high-level appointments.

One of my idols and an example of the ideal of loyalty to one's profession is Noam Chonsky, a great linguist whose works were translated back in Soviet times. He is now 94 years old, he tirelessly shares his knowledge, writes new books, dozens of universities are after him. I remember one of his quotes: “Complication of the simple is the favorite game of intellectuals: the more incomprehensible, the better. You yourself do not fully know what you are talking about, but you are provided with power, prestige and influence.

Therefore, let's not complicate things, we will reward everyone according to their deserts, we will demand from everyone according to their work.

The return of traditional respect for the status of the Teacher is also an important message of the President, but it especially touched me. My mother was the director of the school for many years, and her former colleagues and students still speak of her with deep respect and warmth. As the daughter of a mining engineer, one of the discoverers of ore deposits in the Karaganda region. Now Kazakhmys, I cannot help but welcome the idea of ​​attracting young people to the engineering and technical industry. The return of respect for a person of work, moral values, traditions of mentoring and much more, which was very correct in the era of our parents and grandfathers, will help make our youth more optimistic, contribute to the consolidation of society, which is now vital.

– On your Facebook page, you wrote: “both Russia and Kazakhstan, in terms of their natural resources underground, should live no worse than Norway!” Why did you compare with this particular country? Yes, it is rich, but this does not mean that they live well there. For example, the price of electricity can change several times a day and people are forced to calculate when it is better for them to turn on the washing machine. Thank God we didn't get to that point. As they say, everything is in comparison.

– As you know, as a synonym for such concepts as “quality of life” or “standard of living”, they use the Human Development Index (HDI) - an aggregate indicator of the level of human development in a country, which is compiled by the UN Development Program. It is also often referred to as an index of the level or quality of life of countries. When determining the rating, many factors are taken into account, such as the situation in the field of human rights and civil liberties, social security, access to information, health, unemployment, crime, environmental protection and others.

And so in this rating, according to the last report, Norway takes the first place. Our country is in 51st place, Russia is in 52nd place Belarus is in 53rd place…

By the way, many representatives from Norway worked in Kosovo, I often had to visit the Norwegian KFOR Battalion ... They were not only true professionals in their field, but also hospitable, open, friendly, always ready to help.

Norway is also famous for its Oil Fund. Now it is called the State Pension Fund, into which the excess profits of the Norwegian oil industry are deducted with their further investment in international assets. As of 2021, the fund owns stakes in 9,202 companies in 74 countries around the world, with a value of just over $1.3 trillion in assets, which is approximately equal to 1.5% of the global stock market, making it the world's largest national wealth fund. I think our large army of economists and financiers have something to think about.

These days many Kazakhstanis have understood how fragile peace is and how important it is to preserve it. What would you wish for us all?

I very rarely write on social networks, but due to the numerous requests of my friends, colleagues, I actually wrote a couple of posts on my Facebook page. I want to repeat: "Thank you and all those who helped keep the peace in our international Kazakhstan." Many decades ago, he received everyone with warmth and became the Motherland, for those, the historical dramatic ups and downs of fate threw them to its vast expanses. And the evacuated Belarusians, and Ukrainians from the Western Front during the Second World War, and deported Germans from the Volga region, Chechens and Ingush, Kabardians and Balkars of the Caucasus, Lithuanians and Estonians from the Baltic states.  And thanks to the brothers Belarusians, Kyrgyz and Tajiks - members of the Eurasian Brotherhood! Both Russia and Kazakhstan have been neighbors and close peoples for centuries, valued traditions, culture, education, have cool Eurasian genes, hospitable and open, international, not greedy, talented and hardworking, and even with humor they both are all right.

Our countries are very tasty morsels for many world players! And recent events are living proof of this ... "

But our countries are also neighbors. There is a saying “A good neighbor is your closest relative”. Who better than us Kazakhs to understand what it means to be a close relative? We all saved the peace together, let's now set about building a society in which everyone can be sure of a happy future for their homeland and children.

Editor’s notice:

Dr. Rizvana Sadykova, scientist, PhD (biochemistry), and lecturer (Public international law), MA (Diplomatic Academy, Moscow), LLM (Amsterdam University), taught in Academy of Public Administration, Kazakh University of the Humanity and Law in Astana. From 1992 was Head of World University Service in CIS and Switzerland, from 1999 served as Civil Affairs officer in UN Mission in Kosovo, former Yougoslavia/UNMIK,, where become first Kazakh UN peacekeeper, in 2004 was Emergency coordinator for World Health Organisation in Darfur, Sudan.

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