Letter to the European Green Party

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On October 7, 2008, the Ecological Society Green Salvation and Crude Accountability sent a letter to the participants of the meeting of The Greens/EFA and the European Green Party (Paris, October 9-12, 2008) to bring attention to the question of observing the human right to a healthy environment in Kazakhstan.

October 7, 2008

To: Mrs. Frassoni, Mr. Cohn-Bendit, Mrs. Harms
mfrassoni@eurparl.eu.int; dcohnbendit@europarl.eu.int; rharms@europarl.eu.int
cc: Mrs. Meer, Mr. Ozdemir
abeer@europarl.eu.int; cozdemir@europarl.eu.int
Members of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament

Dear Colleagues!

The Ecological Society Green Salvation (Almaty, the Republic of Kazakhstan) and Crude Accountability (Alexandria, VA, USA) welcome the participants of the meeting of The Greens/EFA and the European Green Party to Paris, October 9-12, 2008 and wish them success in their work. We have been observing the efforts of the European Green Party and its representatives in the European Parliament with great interest.

We separate the programmatic arrangements of the European Green Party as follows:
  • In the period of globalization, environmental and social problems do not start and stop at the borders of the country-members of the European Union;
  • the efforts of the European Union must be based on the provision of peace and protection of human rights throughout the world;
  • The European Union must reassess its economic priorities so that environmental protection and assurance of the wellbeing of people have a greater priority than private interests (A Green Future for Europe, 2006).
The theme of the Paris meeting on "EU Policy: Human Rights or Economic Cynicism," also attracted our attention because it holds relevance for the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The country’s ruling elite, strengthened during the past decade through predatory exploitation of natural resources, increasingly blatantly ignores human rights and is deeper and deeper mired in corruption. This is confirmed by numerous facts, which are published abroad and in the national press. Kazakhstan ignores its international obligations. In particular, the country does not fulfill a series of provisions of the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. This was recognized by the decisions of the Compliance Committee of the Convention and the meeting of the parties of the Convention. However, as of this writing, the government of Kazakhstan has not fulfilled the decisions of the Committee and the Second Meeting of the Parties (www.unece.org/env/pp/compliance); (http://www.greensalvation.org/en/index.php?page=Arhus-en).

 Taking advantage of the weakness of state organs and the undeveloped and unstable legislation, a high level of corruption and the arbitrariness of bureaucrats, a number of major corporations, including European companies, are violating the right of the citizens of Kazakhstan to live in a healthy environment. This allows them to reduce expenditures on environmental protection and place the burden on the shoulders of consumers.

We offer several examples.

1.    The company, "Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, B.V." (KPO), which includes the well-known firms British Gas and Eni (www.kpo.kz), has extracted oil and gas in extreme proximity to the village of Berezovka. The activities of KPO are financed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). An enormous corruption scandal is connected with the activities of KPO, in which the American company Baker Hughes was implicated (http://www.crudeaccountability.org/en/index.php?page=baker-hughes).

Because of threats to the life and health of the population (1367 people), which have occurred in connection with the onset of the activities of KPO, the residents of the village, which is located within the boundaries of the sanitary protection zone, must be relocated to a different location. However, neither the authorities nor the company have done anything about their relocation for the past six years (http://www.crudeaccountability.org/en/index.php?page=karachaganak).

The residents of Berezovka, together with partner civil society organizations, have submitted three complaints to the ombudsman of the IFC (http://www.cao-ombudsman.org/html-english/kazakhstan_karachag_III.htm).

2.    A subsidiary of the steel casting giant ArcelorMittal Temirtau is one of the leading corporate polluters in the country, whose activity is conducted with massive violations of the rights of the enterprise's workers, including worker deaths and the right of local residents to a healthy environment (http://bankwatch.org/documents/mittal_local_impacts.pdf). The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development financed Ispat-Karmet Steel Works (Mittal Steel Temirtau "MST") for a long time and continues to finance ArcelorMittal Temirtau.

3.    Glencore International AG of Switzerland holds 69 percent of the shares of the company "Kazzinc" which manages three metallurgical enterprises in Eastern Kazakhstan Oblast (http://www.glencore.com/pages/a_kazzinc.htm). The Enterprise "Kazzinc" is one of the major polluters of the cities of Ust Kamenogorsk, Ridder and Zyrianovsk, which lead the country in levels of atmospheric pollution.

We could continue this list, but we would like to bring your attention to the most important issues. The activities of a number of major companies and the international financial institutions that support them provide support to the authoritarian regime and contribute to the violation of human rights in the Republic of Kazakhstan. As a result, the conditions for conducting normal business by European companies worsen and local residents develop a negative relationship towards western business, several representatives of which have found "a common language" with local corrupt bureaucrats.

We would like to stress that the situation described above is happening on the eve of the imminent chairmanship of Kazakhstan to the OSCE in 2010.

In light of the above mentioned facts, we hope that the question of observing the human right to a healthy environment in Kazakhstan will be raised during the course of your meeting.

We wish you a productive working session.

The Ecological Society Green Salvation
The Republic of Kazakhstan
050000, Almaty
St.Shagabutdinov, 58-28
Phone/fax: +7 (727) 253-62-56

Crude Accountability
P.O. Box 2345
Alexandria, VA 22301, USA
Tel./Fax: 703.299.0854