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US embassy promises to provide non-restricted access to House of Army in Almaty

16 october 2013, 14:18
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Checkpoint at the entrance of the House of Army in Almaty. Photo by Alisher Akhmetov©
Checkpoint at the entrance of the House of Army in Almaty. Photo by Alisher Akhmetov©
The scandalous checkpoint of the U.S. Consulate General in Almaty was discussed in a meeting at Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry last week, Tengrinews reports citing the Ministry’s official representative Zhanbolat Ussenov.

Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry invited the U.S. temporary charge d’affaires in Kazakhstan Michael Klechesky to discuss the situation with the checkpoint installed near the House of Army in Almaty.

"Michael Klechesky expressed his respect to veterans and their service to the country and assured that the American diplomatic mission would take all measures to provide non-restricted access of Kazakhstan citizens to the House of Army and the neighboring park,” Ussenov said at the briefing.

The Foreign Ministry called the U.S. Mission to resolve the solution as soon as possible as it involves interests of a large number of people, including the local authorities, veterans and the U.S. Consulate General in Almaty.

"The Foreign Ministry promised to support the American diplomats in their steps to their ensure safety in Almaty in compliance with the obligations undertaken by Kazakhstan under the international law and the rules and regulations existing in Kazakhstan,” the official representative said.

He added that several media published reports of a certain protest note allegedly sent by the American diplomats to the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry. “We would make a statement that no protest notes have been sent to the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry by the American diplomatic missions in this relation,” he said.

The U.S. Consulate General commented the situation with the checkpoint in Almaty by saying that “the United States Consulate General in Almaty recently met with representatives of the Coordinating Council of Public Associations of Veterans and Disabled Veterans of Afghanistan at their request, and had an open and constructive discussion about their concerns with the current perimeter security measure in place. We are working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Almaty city administration to resolve this situation, bearing in mind the needs of all concerned parties, including those of the Veterans.”

“The U.S. Consulate General is also committed to providing the highest standard of security to its American and Kazakhstani employees and to visitors to its offices in Almaty,” the diplomats assured.

The veterans are outraged with installation of the checkpoint that blocks the only road leading to the two buildings 2 months ago. One of them (the House of Army) hosts veteran organizations and the other one has offices of the U.S. General Consulate and the USAID mission.

“Our disabled veterans standing on the land they fought for now have to faces such humiliations. Guards in American uniform bar their way and search them. Americans now set their own rules making the veterans get out of their cars, open their trunks and hoods,” chairman of Almaty Coordination Council of Afghanistan War Veteran Organizations Murat Abdushkurov said.

Medeu Regional Administration that is in charge of the area where the Embassy and its checkpoint are located said that the checkpoint was installed without any coordination with the local authorities or any appropriate approvals.

Representatives of the organization that manages the House of Army and Kazakhstan GIS Center believe that the checkpoint and the checks done by the American organizations’ personnel obstruct the activities of the House of Army.

The U.S. Embassy insists that the checkpoint was installed legally and in compliance with all the rules. According to the Embassy, the checkpoint serves to enhance security not only of the American Embassy personnel, but also of Kazakhstan citizens.


By Renat Tashkinbayev

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