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US Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), paid an official visit to Kazakhstan last week at the invitation of Euro-Asian Jewish Congress President Alexander Mashkevich.
The influential Mashkevich arranged for a series of meetings for Berkley with the country's high-ranking officials, including Secretary of State Kanat Saudabayev, Speaker of the Kazakh Senate Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, members of the Peoples' Assembly of Kazakhstan and heads of the national-cultural centers. Berkley also inspected the preparations for the local parliamentary elections, which are to be held on August 18.
"I am sure that the latest constitutional reform is beneficial for further development and democratization of Kazakhstan. I am impressed by President Nazarbaev's determination to involve as many observers as possible in parliamentary elections," she said.
The congresswoman visited several Jewish centers in the city of Almaty, including a local synagogue, and became acquainted with the life of the local Jewish community. She also discussed various issues concerning the community's well-being and national involvement with Kazakhstan's chief rabbi, Yeshaya Cohen. Berkley said she was "impressed by the integration of the Jewish community on all the levels of social and political life" in Kazakhstan.
"During my short stay here, I have come to understand that Kazakhstan is a country that looks ahead with confidence," the congresswoman said, adding that she actively backed further development of US relations with Kazakhstan.
As local Jewish media reports, Berkley was "impressed by the integration of the Jewish community on all the levels of social and political life" in Kazakhstan. "I am confident that tolerance towards other nations is a basis for successful development of every country", she said. As local analysts wrote, "the status of the Jewish communities in the post-Soviet states often corresponds with the level of democratic development. Flourishing and highly involved communities are a good sign of democratization processes and openness. Kazakhstan's Jewry constitutes an accurate example of such a concept, as its leaders support and promote the country's rapprochement with the West and with the United States in particular".
Berkley's host, Alexander Mashkevich, was very positive whilst describing her visit to Kazakhstan. According to reports by Kazakh media, Berkley's arrival was beneficial for both sides by giving a push to the US-Kazakh relations, along with emphasizing the role the Jewish community's activity in the country.