MINISTER RUDD: It's good to be in Astana, this is a very important conference. It's the rebirth of the OSCE. This is an institution which has played a very good role in the history of Europe, since 1975, but in the last decade has died away.
What Kazakhstan has done in hosting this important summit here in Astana is bring it back to life, and that's important because we still have security challenges to deal with in Europe and for those of us in Asia there are things that we can cooperate on in the unresolved security challenges in our part of the world, in the Asia region as well.
At a bilateral level, Australia is delighted to be here with our friends in Central Asia and Kazakhstan in particular, there are some good relationships.
Kazakhstan is a vast country, it's as wide as Australia, it's a country rich in mineral resources like Australia and we in Australia have a deep affection for this country, so I look forward to pursuing our bilateral relationship when I meet with both the Prime Minister and other representatives of the Kazakh government.
QUESTION: Australia is partner of the OSCE for cooperation and it's interesting to know what Australia thinks of the work Kazakhstan has done as a chairman of OSCE.
MINISTER RUDD: Well the first thing that the President of Kazakhstan has done is to "rebirth" the OSCE. The OSCE was tired and dying, he has brought it back to life.
This is a good thing, because it has a strong history. There are many current challenges on security, not just in central Asia but in the Caucuses and elsewhere and therefore the OSCE has a continued role to play, on specific security challenges but on the broader questions of human security as well, and of course human rights. For us in Asia we have many unresolved security challenges. I believe OSCE also has a role to play in building confidence and security building measures also in our part of the world.
QUESTION: Well, can you tell me please, Day 1 of the summit is coming to an end, how do you estimate this first day and what deserves the special attention of the guests.
MINISTER RUDD: I've spoken today with many heads of government. I've spoken with the Russian President, the German Chancellor, and with the British Deputy Prime Minister, the Italian Prime Minister and many other leaders. I've been sitting next to the President of Afghanistan.
All believe this first day has been a great success because it's brought together the countries of this wider region, reaffirming one core principle: the peaceful resolution of outstanding security problems in the wider region. That's what's been important.
In terms of what has stood out, I believe the President of Kazakhstan's opening address was very strong and very clear. If I could, from an Australian point of view, say one thing, the President of Kazakhstan's emphasis on the importance in security of inter-religious and interfaith dialogue is an important theme, and we need to develop it more in the OSCE and we also need to develop it more in Asia.
In Asia we have six of the world's great religions, we are a region of vast diversity. Therefore interfaith dialogue is important in our region as it is of course in the family of the OSCE as well. The President of Kazakhstan emphasised that clearly in his opening remarks.
QUESTION: There was a suggestion today that OSCE has the number of three dimensions, OSCE dimensions: such as energy, safety and interactions. What do you think about this?
MINISTER RUDD: Well, safety underpins the whole security agenda, and that is both the security of states, but also human security and people; security from such terrible afflictions as human trafficking and human slavery.
I've just been talking to Prime Minister of Mongolia, also a partner with the OSCE, about the work which Mongolia is doing with the OSCE on combating human slavery and of course that is linked to human trafficking.
As for the other themes you mentioned, they are also very important within the OSCE family, but if we look at the spirit of the Helsinki accords in 1975 – firstly it's about security between states, secondly it's about human security within states and thirdly it's also about developing the cultures of cooperation and peaceful dispute resolution rather than resorting to violence. These are good traditions, they need to be entrenched, reinforced. They are important for Europe; they are important for central Asia; they are important for all of Asia.
QUESTION: Is the question of accession of Australia into the OSCE being somehow viewed?
MINISTER RUDD: Well that's a question you should put to everyone else.
We Australians are very active around the world. Remember, what is Australia? We are the fourth largest economy in Asia, after Japan, China and India. We are the 12th largest economy in the world. We are a member of G20. We are a founding member of the United Nations. We are active in every institution in Asia.
Therefore it is natural we would associate ourselves with this institution. It does good work. We've looked at it closely and we'll be very active partners both with the OSCE but with all the countries of Central Asia.
It's been my privilege today to spend time with representatives from Kazakhstan but also from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and from other countries in the region, and I'll do that tomorrow as well.
Thank you very much.
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