Thursday, December 02, 2010
not with a bang but a whimper
the widely (in kazakhstan) heralded OSCE summit is over. considering the intensity of the hype i saw in kaz heading up to the conference, i was wondering how much coverage it would get here.
the answer is: not much. sure, if i go to news sites i can find a single article about the conference. if i do a news.google.com search, i can find a whole bunch of articles that mention the summit. but a lot of those are really about the wikileaks controversy because hillary clinton happened to be in astana at the summit when reporters hassled her about the leaked cables.
and to the average person outside of kazakhstan, nothing special happened. i have brought up the summit with a few people here and not one was aware it was going on, much less what the OSCE is. the kazakhstanis seemed to think that this was the event that was going to put kazakhstan (and astana) on the map for people around the world. but i don't think an international summit, even a fairly big one, is the way to do it if you're interested in the attention of more than just international diplomacy geeks. and to those geeks, the summit will probably be remembered as a failure that couldn't even produce wording to describe the conflicts between georgia and russia or between armenia and azerbaijan.
i wonder if it was worth all the expense that kazakhstan invested in the thing. was it worth pulling astronauts out of orbit, closing the entire airspace of that massive country and effectively making the entire workforce in astana stay home? (and what about those guys i saw, risking their life scaling khan shatyr to scrub it clean?)
what was really surprising is how much of a non-event the summit was even on blogs that specialize on central asia (at least the english-language ones i can read). it never came up in registan.net. neweurasia had a link to a live twitter feed from someone at the summit yesterday, but now the link is gone and there's no reference to the OSCE anywhere on the front page. and if you click on the "kazakhstan" tab at neweurasia to bring up recent kaz posts, you still can't see any sign that the OSCE summit happened. even KZblog, a site run by an ex-pat in astana and who had posted about some of the anticipated summit disruptions, hasn't posted since the summit began.