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Kazakhstan's U.S. Envoy Says No Ban On OSCE Election Monitors

Erlan Idrissov, Kazakhstan's ambassador to the United States

Erlan Idrissov, Kazakhstan's ambassador to the United States

WASHINGTON -- Kazakhstan's ambassador to the United States says that despite disagreeing with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) negative assessment of the country's January 15 parliamentary elections, observers from the body will be invited to return in the future.

Erlan Idrissov was speaking to reporters in Washington after Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev was quoted on January 18 as saying, "We are no longer going to invite to Kazakhstan experts hired by someone who criticize our elections."

"We see the OSCE report as not balanced. This is the official reaction," Idrissov said.

"But I want to interpret [it] for you [to say] that Kazakhstan is open for cooperation," he added. "Kazakhstan holds the OSCE as an important partner of Kazakhstan's growth and that cooperation is destined to develop. OSCE monitors will be invited to Kazakhstan next time."

The OSCE says the recent parliamentary vote "did not meet fundamental principles of democratic elections" and has criticized the barring of opposition parties from running and the restricted media environment.

Idrissov acknowledged that the political culture in the ex-Soviet republic showed "traces of the system we came from," but said, "certain organizations do not register changes and developments" in Kazakhstan's electoral conduct and instead rely on "cliches."