[Congressional Record Volume 152, Number 134 (Thursday, December 7, 2006)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E2117-E2118]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                         TRIBUTE TO KAZAKHSTAN


                        HON. ROBERT B. ADERHOLT

                               of alabama

                    in the house of representatives

                      Wednesday, December 6, 2006

  Mr. ADERHOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the country of 
Kazakhstan on the occasion of its 15th anniversary of independence from 
the former Soviet Union on December 16, 1991. Kazakhstan has been at 
the crossroads of trade and empires for centuries along the ancient 
Silk Road, and today plays an increasingly important role in the 
stability and security of the Central Asian region, and of our world.
  I had the privilege of visiting Kazakhstan along with Congressman Jim 
McDermott, Congressman Maurice Hinchey and former member Don Bonker in 
January of this year to see first hand the accomplishments that have 
been made since 1991. While in Kazakhstan we spent considerable time 
with members of the President's Cabinet and the current speaker of the 
senate, Nurtai Abykayev learning about current work going on in their 
country and their endeavors in making Kazakhstan a real leader in Asia 
and the world.
  In the first few years after independence, Kazakhstan successfully 
rid itself of the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world and 
closed the world's largest nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk, an 
unwanted legacy from the U.S.S.R., and continues to be a model for the 
global community. In 2005, the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted a 
resolution congratulating Kazakhstan on the 10th anniversary of the 
removal of all nuclear weapons from the country and commended 
Kazakhstan-U.S. cooperation in this sphere as a ``model.'' Earlier this 
year, this House unanimously adopted resolution 905 congratulating 
Kazakhstan on the 15th anniversary of the closure of the world's second 
largest nuclear test site in the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan and 
for its efforts on the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
  Kazakhstan condemned the terrorist attacks against the U.S. on 
September 11, 2001 and has been a staunch supporter of the U.S. led 
international coalition against global terrorism since. Kazakhstan 
provides free overflight rights and a major international airport for 
U.S. and coalition aircraft for operations in Afghanistan. Kazakhstan 
works with the international community to bring peace and stability to 
Iraq following the U.S. led campaign to end Saddam Hussein's regime. 
Kazakh military engineers in that country have destroyed more than 4 
million pieces of ordnance since 2003.
  On a visit to Astana in 2005, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza 
Rice said, ``Today, Kazakhstan is poised and ready to break a path for 
a new Silk Road, a great corridor of reform . . . A strong and 
prosperous and democratic Kazakhstan will once again energize the 
global transmission of learning, and trade and freedom across the 
steppes of Central Asia. This nation has a glorious past and it is 
destined for a hopeful future. Kazakhstan's greatest days lie ahead of 
it. And the United States wants to be your partner.''
  During his 2006 visit to Washington President Nazarbayev and 
President George W. Bush signed a joint statement which says, ``We are 
satisfied with the progress made by

[[Page E2118]]

Kazakhstan and the United States of America in the promotion of our 
strategic partnership, and announce our commitment to promote 
stability, prosperity and democratic reforms in Central Asia and 
outside of the region.'' The joint statement also stipulates the U.S. 
support for Kazakhstan's plan for accession to the group of the 50 most 
competitive countries in the world, according to the strategy of 
President Nursultan Nazarbaev, and for Kazakhstan's membership in the 
WTO. The document recognizes Kazakhstan's leadership in regional 
integration, considering its significant contributions in Eurasia and 
Afghanistan. The joint statement outlined a number of directions of the 
bilateral cooperation underlining ``we announce our intention to 
further strengthen our strategic partnership via strengthening 
strategic dialogues on energy, military collaboration, trade, 
investments and democratization. We express solid confidence that our 
enhanced strategic partnership will assists to security, prosperity and 
democracy development in the 21st century.''

  President Nursultan Nazarbayev has called for a massive 
transformation of Kazakhstan's political life and strengthening the 
country's move to democracy in a March 2006 speech to the first session 
of the State Commission. The priorities include significant 
strengthening of the role of the national Parliament, increasing the 
numbers of deputies in both houses of Parliament; continuing the 
introduction of elections of akims--mayors--at district levels, and the 
introduction of a bill on local self-government. ``Democracy is the 
choice of civilized people, and it is our choice too,'' President 
Nazarbayev said.
  Mr. Speaker, because of Kazakhstan's peaceful transition to 
democracy, its strong commitment to eliminating nuclear weapons, and 
her strong support for our country in the wake of the September 11, 
2001 attacks, I rise today to congratulate all her people on the 
occasion of the 15th anniversary of their independence.