Together with Freedom House, Global Witness, and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the Eurasia Democracy Initiative held a briefing on the margins of the 19th Session OSCE Parliamentary Meeting in Oslo, Norway today, attracting interest from delegates of multiple OSCE member states.
Consistent with the assembly's theme of 'Rule of Law: Combating Transnational Crime and Corruption,' representatives of these four NGOs called on the delegates to take concrete steps to fight rising corruption in the OSCE region precisely because it undermines democratic governance in multiple forms.
Eurasia Democracy Initiative's Director Peter Zalmayev pointed out the irony of Kazakhstan – OSCE's current chair and one of the region's most corrupt countries - presiding over an international gathering dedicated to the issue of corruption. Kazakhstan has failed to move beyond mere rhetoric and make good on the promises it made in Madrid in 2007, as part of its campaign to secure chairmanship. Instead, the government has been busy bestowing upon President Nazarbayev the title of "Leader of Nation," granting him and his family members lifetime immunity from prosecution and thus effectively putting him above the law.
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and the US delegation to the Assembly, joined the NGOs at the event and lauded them for raising these issues. Together with Senator Cardin, the NGO representatives responded to questions from delegates and the media about the planned OSCE Summit, politically-motivated persecution in Kazakhstan, and legislation on the floor of the U.S. Senate to require energy companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments.
Oslo, NORWAY, July 8.