Kazakhstan – The Land of the Great Steppe: 25 years of Independence
On December 16, Kazakhstan marks its 25 years as an independent nation.
Despite its size as one of the world’s largest countries, in 1991 few could probably find Kazakhstan on a map and what they knew at that time, about this country, was described just by words such as “remote” “landlocked” , “underdeveloped”, “multi-ethnic, burdened with environmental problems – and surrounded by powerful neighbours”.
Today, 25 years on, Kazakhstan is widely recognized as a success story, reaching this stage of development through perseverance, diligent use of natural resources, implementation of wide-ranging market economic and political reforms .
This jubilee is an excellent opportunity for the entire country to sum up all the pluses of this period characterized by a creative and innovative industrial development and by steady efforts to position Kazakhstan as a visible international player, whose voice now may well be heard worldwide.
In addition, after 25 years of independence, Kazakhstan has truly secured its role of a genuine geographic, economic and political bridge between East and West and the nation does its best today to function as such and to consolidate the respected status it enjoys today.
The 25th anniversary of Independence is a good occasion for the Kazakh people to celebrate what has been achieved so far, but also to reaffirm commitment to continue progress and to set out the goals for the future.
Kazakhstan taking 100 steps toward a new nation
Last year Kazakhstan has embarked on some of the most ambitious reforms in its independent history as President Nursultan Nazarbayev launched the “100 Concrete Steps to Implement Five Institutional Reforms” Plan aimed at giving the country a clear sense of the direction to be followed in order to join the 30 most developed countries in the world.
“One hundred concrete steps are a response to global and local challenges and, at the same time, it is a plan for the nation to join the top 30 most-developed countries in the new historical conditions. One hundred concrete steps will give Kazakhstan a margin of safety that will help the country through a difficult period, implement the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy and strengthen Kazakh statehood. The plan lays out radical changes in society and the state, the main goal of which is treatment of systemic diseases, not just smoothing their exterior symptoms,” outlines the preamble to the document.
At a recent government meeting of the National Commission for Modernisation , President Nazarbayev noted that the implementation of the Plan of the Nation 100 Concrete Steps to implement the five institutional reforms is meant to strengthen the rule of law, develop public service, create favourable conditions for business, strength social stability and form an open government accountable to citizens. According to Mr. Nazarbayev, “fulfillment of these five steps will be the next stage for Kazakhstan to join the 30 most developed countries in the world”.
Kazakhstan, an active leader in nuclear disarmament worldwide
In August 1991, four months before independence, President Nazarbayev announced the closure of the Semipalatinsk site. Shortly after gaining the independence, another bold decision of President Nazarbayev was to give up the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal of more than 1,400 warheads, which Kazakhstan inherited from the Soviet Union.
Since then, Kazakhstan has been an active leader in nuclear disarmament worldwide. Together with its neighbours, the country has established the Central Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, an initiative, which has won the backing of all the major nuclear powers.
In 2012, President Nursultan Nazarbayev launched the ATOM (Abolish Testing. Our Mission) Project, an international education and civic activism campaign against nuclear weapon tests and nuclear weapons ultimately. Currently approximately 300,000 people from about 120 countries have supported The ATOM Project’s online petition calling on global leaders to ensure the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
In addition, Kazakhstan has tabled a resolution, adopted in 2009 at the 64th UN General Assembly, to proclaim August 29as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, and this day is commemorated annually now contributing to raising global awareness of the still present danger of nuclear annihilation facing humanity.
In 2013, Kazakhstan hosted two crucial meetings in Almaty between the P5+1 countries and Iran, concerning the latter’s nuclear programme. The Almaty talks paved the way for the eventual resolution of the issue and the adoption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) last year. In August 2015, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Kazakhstan signed the host country agreement on the establishment of the world’s first Low-Enriched Uranium Bank, in an effort to provide countries with secure access to nuclear fuel, without the need for them to possess enrichment technology.
A multi-vector foreign policy
As Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov underlined in his speech at the Conference “25 years of Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan: Outcomes. Accomplishments. Vision for the Future ”Throughout all 25 years of independence” held in Astana on November 28 , “Kazakhstan has never subscribed to a zero-sum view of foreign policy, instead considering itself free to choose partners independent of their membership in any existing alliance. This open and at the same time bold foreign policy approach has earned Kazakhstan many friends and allies over the past two decades. This is the essence of what we call the multi-vector foreign policy of Kazakhstan, inspired and formulated by President Nazarbayev from the very beginning of our independence”.
Thanks to this inspiration and consistency in foreign policy matters Kazakhstan has been successful in establishing mutually respectful and beneficial cooperation within Central Asia, with Russia and other members of the Eurasian Economic Union, all the while deepening ties with China, the United States, Europe, and other nations in the Asia and around the world.
Being landlocked at the heart of the Eurasian landmass, Kazakhstan has no option other than promoting interconnectedness between East and West through developing massive transcontinental transport corridors crossing our country. The ongoing construction and launching of the Western Europe – Western China transportation corridor, whose lengthy part is crossing Kazakhstan, is to make this nation a globally visible part of transcontinental economic links. According to Mr. Idrissov, the implementation of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt programme, along with Kazakhstan’s Nurly Zhol infrastructure development programme, will provide the best mechanism for achieving the goal of reconnecting the East and the West via land.
Another huge diplomatic success of the Kazakh Government is the accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2015 as its 162nd member state, which became a culmination of Kazakhstan’s full integration into the global economic system.
“This step once again reaffirmed our openness and commitment not only to be an economically competitive nation and to join the list of 30 most developed countries, but also to share the responsibility for the global economic environment,” Mr. Idrissov also underlined in his speech held at the Conference.
Ambitious tasks for the mandate of non-permanent member of United Nations Security Council
With just a few weeks until Kazakhstan takes its seat as one of newest non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the nation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is one of the busiest governmental departments. The country, like its counterparts that will have a seat at the table for 2017-2018, is preparing an agenda for its term.
As the first Central Asian nation elected in the organisation’s 71-year history, Kazakhstan’s main priority will be the security and development of the region coupled with issues of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, the fight against terrorism and extremism and promoting peace making and peace-building. In an effort to effectively represent the interests of its neighbours, Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov is in the midst of visits to a number of local capitals to gain input from his colleagues.