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EU Urges Kazakhstan To Improve Rights

Kazakh President Nazarbaev in London on November 21. He will travel to Brussels next week (epa) BRUSSELS, December 1, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The European Commission today said that while it is in favor of Kazakhstan's bid to chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2009, Astana must first make further progress toward complying with OSCE rights standards.

Commission spokeswoman Emma Udwin said the EU's external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, supports the Kazakh bid.

"Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner herself has said in the past that she is personally in favor of this," Udwin said. "She thinks that any country that holds the presidency clearly has to show its commitment to OSCE standards and that aspiring to the [OSCE] presidency should be a force for further reform in the country."

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev will visit EU and NATO headquarters in Brussels on December 4.

Kazakhstan's OSCE chairmanship bid will be debated by an OSCE foreign ministers’ meeting that will also take place in Brussels on December 4-5.

During his stay in the Belgian capital, Nazarbaev will also sign energy cooperation deals with the EU.

(RFE/RL correspondent in Brussels)

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