Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, on Kazakhstan as a leader in socio-economic development, peace, and cooperation.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the collective voice of the Muslim world, looking to safeguard and protect the interests of Muslims in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various peoples of the world. Kazakhstan, as an active and important member state, is playing a key role in supporting the OIC as it achieves its objectives.
The organization has come a long way to make its impact felt not only among the member states, but internationally as well. President Nazarbayev said in his speech at the opening of the 38th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Astana, “The organization is a unique structure that performs the role of the UN of the Islamic world uniting 57 states on four continents.”
Inspired by the new vision and lofty objectives of the Charter and the 10-Year Program of Action (TYPOA), adopted at the Third Extraordinary Summit in Makkah in 2005, we have managed to elevate the OIC profile, endowing it with greater significance that has engendered respect and trust. The OIC now enjoys greater visibility in the international scene; it has become more involved as an indispensible actor among international institutions. Many circles at a regional and international level have expressed their continued interest in nurturing a sustained dialogue and in opening lines of communication and cooperation with the OIC.
With its peacefully active policy on the international scene, Kazakhstan was able to maintain its Muslim identity, yet remain on track toward modernization. It has been a member of the OIC for a decade and a half. It has since developed a high level of cooperation with the OIC in areas such as culture, education, science, and technology. The OIC appreciates Kazakhstan’s role in promoting inter-civilization and inter-faith dialogue, and recognizes the country’s pivotal role in bridging communication between East and West.
In June 2011, Kazakhstan took the Chairmanship of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM). As the Chairman of the 38th CFM, Kazakhstan has shown its preparedness to lead the Ummah during this difficult time of our history. From day one of its chairmanship, Kazakhstan has focused on continuing its efforts to strengthen multifaceted intra-OIC cooperation and reinforce the OIC’s standing as a well-respected organization by mainstreaming and consolidating its international relations. Cooperation between Kazakhstan and the OIC in the past years has indeed proven mutually beneficial.
Kazakhstan took the chairmanship of the OIC during a period of time when the Muslim world is facing numerous challenges with direct impact on its stability, unity, prosperity, and development. Today, most conflicts and trouble spots in the world are situated in the Muslim world. This sad reality obviously needs to be tackled decisively if our aspirations for progress are to be achieved. It is therefore logical that the OIC, the second largest international grouping after the UN and representing over 1.5 billion people, assumes its rightful place and plays a leading role in the maintenance of international peace and security. The OIC is better equipped to understand the nature and ramifications of conflicts in its member states and evolve appropriate mechanisms that could effectively address them.
The OIC Charter and the TYPOA, guided by the principles of moderation and modernization, are both based on a perceptive vision that carries in its folds appropriate solutions for the unrest we are witnessing today in the Muslim world. Therefore, there should be stronger commitments from the OIC states to see to the implementation of the TYPOA, particularly in the domain of good governance and the rule of law.
The TYPOA also underlines the importance of intra-OIC economic development and cooperation. As the disturbances in some states have indicated, one of the major factors behind that is the stagnation in socio-economic development. Kazakhstan, with its successful economic policies and its strategic location at the heart of Central Asia, can be a guiding example for other OIC member states to achieve prosperity and social progress.
In line with fostering relations between the member states, there are now encouraging signs of growing interest in Central Asia. Central Asia occupies an important geostrategic location in the world. It is situated at the crossroads of cultures and transit routes like the Silk Route and connecting the Islamic world to many parts of the globe. The region is hugely endowed with natural resources in different fields and sectors. The history of Central Asia bears testimony of its immense contributions to the building of a rich culture that was, during its era, second to none. This glorious history flourished upon the advent of Islam in Central Asia. Despite the impediments and hardships faced by Muslims in this region, Islam remained an essential component of the identity and everyday life of the people in Central Asia. Today, the Muslim world takes pride in the magnificent heritage of the great and illustrious scholars, thinkers, historians, scientists, and geographers who were natives of the region and who played prominent roles in advancing Islamic culture and civilization.
In light of the existing resources, capabilities, and potentials in Central Asia that further explore and integrate the region into the larger Muslim world for the benefit of a strong Ummah, an OIC Plan of Action for Cooperation with Central Asia was adopted at the 38th Session of the CFM in Astana. Through this project, the OIC will boost trade, investment, and the implementation of industrial projects of mutual interest both to Central Asia and the countries of the Muslim community.
Furthermore, Kazakhstan has made several concrete proposals to boost intra-OIC cooperation. At the Seventh World Islamic Foundation, held in Astana in June 2011, President Nazarbayev offered to create a dialogue platform for the top 10 Muslim economies, which produce 80% of the total GDP of the Muslim states. The President had similarly proposed to develop and adopt a joint action plan within the OIC for investment in energy sector. At the 38th Session of the CFM, President Nazarbayev also proposed creating a secure food supply system within the OIC. This proposal is now under implementation with the suggested OIC Office on Food Security to be headquartered in Kazakhstan. The OIC thus greatly values the inspiring and innovative participation of Kazakhstan in its activities and programs.
© The Business Year