Kazakhstan political experts criticize Russia's position on Baikonur

24 января 2013, 20:51

Kazakhstan political experts have commented on the ultimatum on Baikonur delivered by Russian Foreign Ministry to Kazakhstan, The document was cited by Izvestiya newspaper. It contains a list of steps taht Russia is ready to take if Kazakhstan does not reconsider its decision to restrict launches from Baikonur in 2013.

In response to limitation of the number of launches of Proton carrier rocket (from 14 to 12) and other decrees of Kazakhstan government, Russia has threatened Kazakhstan with termination of cooperation in all joint space projects. RosKosmos said that Kazakhstan party may be requested to reimburse the losses that Russian space companies will incur as a result of Kazakhstan government’s actions.

According to Kazakhstan political expert Aidos Sarym, “this is not the situation when one party should present the other party with ultimatums”, the issue should be solved via negotiations. Being a space nation, Russia will have to cooperate with Kazakhstan for at least another 5 years, he believes. But considering the alternative options available to Russia, like Vostochnyi cosmodrome, Kazakhstan should give a thought to its cosmodrome's future international projects. “There is some interest to it among European and Israeli agencies,” the expert said. Russians have to get used to the fact that they are not the only country in the world that has got political and other ambitions.”

Aidos Sarym

Aidos Sarym. ©Yaroslav Radlovskiy

The article in Izvestiya, according to Sarym, is timed to the visit of Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrissov to Russia for a reason. Baikonur issue will be discussed during Idrissov’s visit to Moscow for sure, Sarym said. “Kazakhstan should not allow itself to talk ultimatums to anyone. Nobody should present us with ultimatums,” Sarym said.

“If there are no collisions between the two countries' leaders, this means that there are lobbyists in the space sector who want to solve their issues by means of such publications, including to eliminate unfavorable negotiators like KazKosmos. Right now he (Talgat Mussabayev) is trying to sort out the agreements and remind the Russians that it is the lease agreement we are talking about. People are not used to working in new conditions and this causes the collisions.”

Kazakhstan political expert Nurlan Yerimbetov believes that the publication about the Russian note in Izvestiya merely coincided with the official visit. According to him, the wave around the situation is being created artificially. “There should be a simple, tedious, daily routine work,” Yerimbetov said, noting that there was no need to “diabolize” the situation around Baikonur. He called the exchange of notes and official statements a normal global practice. “I don’t think we should be speaking about exacerbation of relations between the countries,” he said. According to him, it is better to solve the issues via negotiations.

Nurlan Yerimbetov

Nurlan Yerimbetov. ©Yaroslav Radlovskiy

Yerimbetov even found a positive side in the situation. According to him, it helps make the situation around Baikonur more open. “Now we will know who really invests in development of the space sector, who really dictates the conditions and  what our agency is doing there, what our prospects are and whether Kazakhstan will be able to own the space harbor and use it by itself,” Yerimbetov said.

Political expert Sultan Akimbekov also believes that the disputes should be solved via negotiations. “Delivering ultimatums is neither appropriate nor constructive. The joint projects are already doubtful. And Mussabayev said in his speech that it is possible that bets will be shifted to Zenit rocket made in Ukraine. But that rocket is not just Ukrainian, it’s a joint Russian-Ukrainian booster. Our relations are a long way, a long road,” Alimbekov said.

Sultan Akimbekov

Sultan Akimbekov. ©Yaroslav Radlovskiy

Publication of the note prior to the visit of Kazakhstan delegation to Russia is one of the forms of pressuring the country, Akimbekov believes. “This is a really inappropriate way to present the issue; inappropriate towards the Minister, towards our Foreign Ministry and towards Kazakhstan,” the expert said. “Izvestiya newspaper plays an important role in Russia. This is part of a certain game, a certain relations system. Not all the capacities of negotiations have been used, including with our Minister.” According to the expert, a big leak of information has happened in the internal political “kitchen” and such ultimatums normally corner politicians, because now Kazakhstan is forced to respond.

This subject is being widely discussed in Russia as well. Editor-in-chief of Echo of Moscow radio Aleksey Venediktov has called the threats of the Russian government “a tough thing” and noted that he was expecting consequences. In his opinion, only Belarus and Kazakhstan are Russia’s real military and political allies in the region. “The confusion with Kazakhstan is not a joke. Nazarbayev remembers such things very well,” Venediktov wrote in his Twitter.

Aleksey Venediktov

Aleksey Venediktov. ©RIA Novosti

Russia’s rough respond was preceded by a statement of KazKosmos head Talgat Mussabayev about changing the terms of lease of Baikonur cosmodrome. Russia tagged Mussabayev’s statements “unreasonably rough and outside of his competence”. The situation was commented on by representatives of Kazakhstan President’s Central Communications Service and Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry. Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry noted that Mussabayev’s words “were distorted by some of the media reports”. “All the (journalists’) comments in those reports came down to Kazakhstan's alleged intention to curtailing its space cooperation with Russia. It is a misleading interpretation,” Yerlan Idrissov said.


Baikonur Cosmodrome. ©REUTERS

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