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Kazakhstan: Former U.S. President Clinton Extends AIDS Initiative

  • Gulnoza Saidazimova

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, paying a visit to Almaty on 6 September, hailed what he called Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev’s commitment to introducing political and social reforms to the Central Asian country. In talks with Health Minister Erbolat Dossaev, Clinton signed a memorandum that would include Kazakhstan in the Clinton Foundation’s Procurement Consortium, a group providing reduced-cost antiretroviral drugs and HIV/AIDS diagnostic equipment to more than 40 countries.

Prague, 7 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Calling him “an old friend,” President Nazarbaev welcomed Clinton for their eighth personal meeting and recalled how he and the then U.S. president first established ties between their countries after Kazakhstan gained independence in 1991.

“President Clinton and I were the ones who established the foundation of cooperation between Kazakhstan and the United States, and in 1993 we signed an agreement between our countries that was called the 'Democratic Partnership,’" Nazarbaev said.

Nazarbaev also recalled that it was Clinton who persuaded Kazakhstan and other former Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Belarus to give up nuclear weapons on their territory by signing an agreement in 1995 in Budapest. He also praised the former U.S. president’s role in bringing foreign investments to Kazakhstan.

Praise For Nazarbaev

Clinton, for his part, praised progress Kazakhstan has made in recent years under Nazarbaev’s leadership.

“I am, I must say, very impressed and pleased by the enormous economic progress made by Kazakhstan in the last few years, and I'm very grateful that when I was president we had a chance to support the economic reform that you undertook, Mr. President, and today they are bearing fruit," Clinton said.

The main outcome of the Almaty meeting was a memorandum between the Kazakh government and the Clinton Foundation's Procurement Consortium.

The group founded by Clinton has made the battle against HIV/AIDS a focal point of its work. It provides antiretroviral drugs and diagnostic equipment to more than 40 countries at reduced prices.
"The memorandum that was signed today brings hope to those who suffer from AIDS, and we can say loudly that they can live their normal lives further on without fear of death -- now they think they necessarily will die." -- President Nazarbaev


Experts say antiretroviral medication has changed AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable disease in the United States and other developed countries.

Cheaper AIDS Medications

The agreement formally makes Kazakhstan a member of the consortium and is expected to improve the country's efforts to fight HIV/AIDS.

Nazarbaev said it also gives hope to those with AIDS in Kazakhstan. "The memorandum that was signed today brings hope to those who suffer from AIDS, and we can say loudly that they can live their normal lives further on without fear of death -- now they think they necessarily will die," Nazarbaev said. "The medicine which we would be receiving will be one-third the cost."

The daily “Kazakhstanskaya pravda” reported on 7 September that the agreement “will open an opportunity to speed up research and treatment of HIV/AIDS and give more chances to Kazakh citizens diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.”

About 4,600 HIV/AIDS cases have been registered in Kazakhstan, but health officials say the actual number could be closer to 20,000.

Nazarbaev also pledged to donate an undisclosed sum to a new fund established by Clinton and former U.S. President George H. W. Bush to assist people affected by Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast on 29 August.

See also:

"European Commission Warns Of 'Resurgent' HIV/AIDS Epidemic"

"Report Denounces Discrimination Against Mothers and Children With HIV"

"Central Asia: AIDS Project Seeks To Avert Epidemic"
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