European security body says Kazakhstan can win chairmanship if election fair

Kazakhstan could win its bid for the group's chairmanship if the country's December presidential election is fair, the head of Europe's largest security body has said, the Kazakh foreign ministry said Thursday.

Dimirtij Rupel, chief of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told Kazakh Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev during talks in New York on Wednesday that the OSCE will closely watch the election as an indicator of Kazakhstan's commitment to democracy, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

Kazakhstan has been campaigning to become the first former Soviet republic to take over the OSCE chairmanship in 2009. But its hopes were dampened when the group criticized Kazakhstan's parliamentary elections last year as undemocratic. Slovenia is the current chairman.

"If the (December) elections meet international standards, Kazakhstan will have all chances to chair the OSCE," the ministry's Russian-language statement quoted Rupel as saying.

To become chairman, Kazakhstan must win the support of the OSCE's 55 members.

The group will decide on Kazakhstan's chairmanship next year, reports the AP.

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