Kazakhstani scientists fight diseases at the new U.S.-supported Central Reference Laboratory.

Ambassador at Large Senbayev, Dr. George, and distinguished guests – it is a great pleasure to be here with all of you.  Over the past 25 years, cooperation between the United States and Kazakhstan has made the world a safer place.  We can point to many examples, from our work to secure material from the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site to Kazakhstan’s key role in the historic nuclear agreement reached last year with Iran.  We are here today to celebrate another example of successful cooperation, another step that will help bring the world further from the brink of potential catastrophe.

For while nuclear weapons hold vast destructive power, the threat posed by deadly disease is no less critical.  The laboratory that we open today on the campus of the Kazakh Scientific Center for Quarantine of Zoonotic Diseases is a cornerstone in a collaborative effort to respond quickly and effectively to deadly outbreaks of infectious disease.  It will protect the health of the people of Kazakhstan, of Central Asia, and indeed of the entire world.  In this facility, we see what we can accomplish when the best minds of our great nations work together in the spirit of scientific progress and mutual trust.

I would like to thank the Government of Kazakhstan for many years of productive partnership on global health issues, and for its leadership in countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including biological agents.  The Ministries of Energy, National Economy, Education and Science, Health and Social Development, and Agriculture have all contributed significantly to these efforts.  A few people deserve special thanks:

  • The Chief Sanitary Doctor of Kazakhstan, Dr. Zhandarbek Bekshin, and the Director of the Kazakh Scientific Center for Quarantine of Zoonotic Diseases, Dr. Bakyt Atshabar, who have contributed key expertise and leadership to the planning and development of this facility;
  • and the Akim of Almaty, Bauyrzhan Baibek, and his staff, who have helped integrate the laboratory into the local community.

Biological pathogens do not observe boundaries, which is why it is imperative that experts from all nations work together to defeat these threats at the source.  That is the work this laboratory makes possible.  Scientists employed in this laboratory will work closely with experts from the international community, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.  As new outbreaks emerge in Kazakhstan or in other parts of Central Asia, the scientists in this center will stand ready to counter them.

Once again, I thank all whose hard work and commitment to partnership made this day a reality.  May that work continue long into the future.  Together, I have faith that we can preserve the health and security of our nations, the region, and the world.

Thank you.