Internal Affairs / Foreign Relations / Opinions / Kazakhstan

Op-ed: Kazakhstan’s chosen path and intentions

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12-12-2017, 19:53
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"Our state does not claim to be a great power, like the United States or Russia," Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev said in one of his speeches. "But we, as much as possible, we want to influence the course of events in the world, to mediate conflicts, to reconcile the parties, and we put forward initiatives for regional integration that allow us to preserve peace and provide opportunities for peaceful development.

Op-ed: Kazakhstan’s chosen path and intentions

Kazakhstan is a young but very ambitious country, which, in recent years, made great leaps in world politics. Its leadership has offered original initiatives, peaceful settlement of conflicts, interregional integration, active participation in the work of international organizations, protection of the environment - and that is by far not the complete list of what it has been known for.

Perhaps, one of the main merits of the country is its policy of nuclear weapons disarmament and nonproliferation -- the path the country has chosen at the dawn of its independence. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country inherited the world's fourth-largest nuclear arsenal. However, President Nursultan Nazarbayev closed the nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk. Furthermore, Kazakhstan signed the Lisbon Protocol, reduced its arms arsenal, and later Kazakhstan signed the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty.

Another bold move made by the young country was the transfer of the capital from the south -- Almaty to the center of the country, today -- Astana. Interestingly, this process started in the years when the nation of 17 million was undergoing a serious crisis. Now the new capital Astana is a modern city with developed infrastructure and original architectural design. Several million EXPO-2017 visitors, an exhibition which took place in the city past summer, could see the new capital for themselves.

In the post-Soviet space, Kazakhstan is widely known as the initiator and engine of integration processes. Since the late 90s, skillfully using its geopolitical position, the country consistently advocated the creation of strong economic, political and military interstate relations. Kazakhstan took an active part in the creation of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. About ten years later the post-Soviet republics united into a single economic space. First in the customs sphere - the Customs Union, and then in the trade - the Eurasian Economic Union. Needless to say, the Republic of Kazakhstan played a large role in this process.

The country's activity and its important role in world politics were noted by international community. The chairmanship of Kazakhstan in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010 can be described as a unique recognition of Kazakhstan’s reputation. A little later, Kazakhstan headed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). And, yes, it was in Astana that the OIC changed its name and format.

Year after year, gradually, Astana became the territory for numerous international meetings, and forums of different levels. Businessmen and financiers, investors and leaders of world and traditional religions, prime ministers and heads of state ... The neutral, multi-vector policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan proved to be optimal for meetings and negotiations, signing agreements and signing declarations.

Considering all of the above, the strict jury awarded the right to hold the International Specialized Exhibition EXPO-2017to Astana, which was dedicated to the development of alternative energy. The exhibition was attended by more than a hundred countries and more than a dozen of international organizations. The best environmental and technological developments were collected, several million people visited the capital of Kazakhstan, multimillion-dollar contracts were concluded following the results of the work. The best way to declare yourself as an economically stable and prosperous state could not be imagined.

But Kazakhstan didn’t stop at that. Despite the external neutrality and peacefulness, the country became famous in the international arena as an irreconcilable fighter with the challenges of modernity. Including the "social plague of the XXI century" - international terrorism and extremism. Speaking at the 70th jubilee session of the United Nations General Assembly (UN), Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev suggested setting up a single world network under the auspices of the United Nations to counteract these radical movements.

Kazakhstan voiced numerous bold ideas of a global scale at that session. The proposals concerned the creation of a supranational currency, the relocation of the UN headquarters to the Asian continent, the reform of the Organization and many others. The courage of initiatives and the firmness of the position were appreciated by the audience. It is not surprising that two years later, Kazakhstan became a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, and also headed a number of Committees, in particular, the Sanctions Committee 1267 concerning ISIS and Al-Qaeda, sanctions of the UN Security Council with respect to the above-mentioned international terrorist organizations and individuals associated with terrorist activities.

This year, in general, became significant for Kazakhstan in particular. Astana hosted a series of the Syrian peace talks, known as the Astana Process. The Kazakh capital was the host of the agreement on a ceasefire in a number of Syrian regions. Now, according to the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan, preparation are underway for the next round of talks. Furthermore, active work is being carried out to strengthen confidence-building measures between the parties, the result of which should be a gradual de-escalation of the conflict.

Summarizing the achievements of the country, it can be noted that having very modest starting positions, Kazakhstan, in a record time, just over a quarter of a century, managed to overcome a path, other countries spend centuries on. What is the secret of such success?

"Our state does not claim to be a great power, like the United States or Russia," Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev said in one of his speeches. "But we, as much as possible, we want to influence the course of events in the world, to mediate conflicts, to reconcile the parties, and we put forward initiatives for regional integration that allow us to preserve peace and provide opportunities for peaceful development.

Probably, this is the most precise and capacious definition of the policy of Kazakhstan. 

 

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