Delivered in Plenary - 14th March 2012
Kazakhstan is a geopolitically strategic country in Central Asia with large energy reserves. It is also a model of peaceful Christian/Muslim coexistence. It has recently offered a secure route to evacuate British ISAF troops as a substitute for the precarious Pakistani route. I have no illusions that this country is a Western-style democracy, but neither is it a repressive totalitarian state.
I sympathise, of course, with the tragic loss of life in December, and this must be fully investigated and any police who use disproportionate force must be brought to justice. I do feel, however, that there can be no doubt that there is a real risk of jihadi violence in this vast country, and we should support their fight against terrorism.
More reform is necessary in terms of media freedom, democracy and fundamental human rights, and this is incredibly important. But we must not drive Kazakhstan into the arms of Russia and China, who have little or no interest in human rights at all.