This year’s United Nations General Assembly session in New York was especially poignant for our country. Coming just before we celebrate our 25th anniversary and take our place on the United Nations Security Council, it presented an opportunity to show the world not just the great progress our country has made but the path we are paving for the future. As the dust settles, we can be proud of the efforts made by our representatives to promote Kazakhstan’s world-leading security initiatives.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov’s speech in the opening debate of the 71st United Nations General Assembly outlined our country’s priorities and strategy for our tenure on the Security Council. Idrissov clearly outlined how Kazakhstan’s approach to foreign policy is borne out of our deep-rooted belief in the power of dialogue and our country’s commitment to act as a trusted, objective and steadfast partner of the UN and all member states.
We face an increasingly complex and dangerous world – threats from terrorist organisations, globally networked criminal gangs, the impact of climate change, the continuation of nuclear proliferation, the mass movement of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa all pose real risk to the global community. It is vital we work together to develop a new clear-headed and mutually supported strategy for retaining global security and prosperity.
As the “new kids on the block” of global diplomacy, Kazakhstan can offer fresh perspectives and a revitalised approach to security issues. Our position as a bridge between Eastern and Western powers has meant Kazakhstan is uniquely placed to bring together different cultures, nations and religions to act as a stabilising force in times of crisis.
Idrissov’s speech made it clear that countering global threats depends on the country’s ability to overcome the barriers that divide us and find a common language. Over many years, we have seen how promoting dialogue and constructive relations has helped smooth over conflict and bring those in disagreement back to the negotiating table. From our President, Nursultan Nazarbayev’s, recent success in helping restore relations between Russia and Turkey, to our long-term strategy on Iran, this approach provides greater security to all parties.
It is right, therefore, that Idrissov outlined how this approach will define our tenure on the United Nations Security Council, informing how we make progress on the four key priority areas for achieving a more stable world: nuclear, energy, food and water security.
As the first country from Central Asia to be represented on the Council, our membership provides an occasion to draw attention to regional security issues, which affect stability globally. A priority for us is to work with others to secure a successful outcome to the situation in Afghanistan. Only through a genuine and inclusive political settlement can progress be made on the wider social and economic development of the country.
Idrissov used his address to highlight Kazakhstan’s investment of more than $50 million for educating Afghan students, as well as resources for building schools and hospitals and providing humanitarian assistance. Tackling the root causes of extremism through providing hope and prosperity is a cornerstone of our international development commitment and one that supports our security objectives.
Global terrorism has become one of the most pressing security concerns of our time. The foreign minister articulated how Kazakhstan’s strategy of encouraging dialogue aims to build cooperation between states to combat and destroy this threat. The Kazakh President’s idea of creating a global anti-terror coalition is at the centre of this approach and is designed to strengthen and synergise efforts between multiple counter-terrorism structures.
In this age of networks and globalisation economic sanctions are counter-productive, creating new division lines which serve to alienate nations, rather than drawing them together. This is why Idrissov called for the further re-integration of Iran in political and economic areas. Our record of promoting a mutually beneficial deal on the Iranian nuclear programme is well known. We can be proud that our country helped break the deadlock on the Iranian programme by supporting constructive dialogue among stakeholders and by hosting two rounds of multilateral talks.
The issue of nuclear security is one the world knows we hold extremely close to our hearts. Indeed, it was our country who initiated a General Assembly resolution on the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world, which was adopted in December 2015. Although we have just celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Treaty on the Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone, this was the last major breakthrough in global disarmament. Idrissov’s address put forward how upcoming efforts will be focussed on building a coalition of states that will help to stigmatise the possession of nuclear weapons and ensure that international treatise are respected.
As Kazakhstan plans the celebrations for its 25th anniversary, we can and should take pride in our country’s many achievements. As we enter this new chapter we have a responsibility to lead and shape a successful future not just for our country, but for the global community as well. In his final comments, Idrissov declared: “We approach this task with healthy optimism, but also healthy pragmatism.” A fitting reflection of our country’s confidence and experience in this special year.