Every year, Victory Day on May 9 marks the moment when we celebrate the end of the Second World War and commemorate those who gave their lives. Kazakhstan sent many of its sons and daughters to fight on the front lines of World War II and many others worked hard to supply food and ammunition in the common effort against the enemy. The victory came at a huge price for those that defended their homeland. Kazakhstan lost approximately 410,000 of its citizens, who fought the Nazis as part of the Soviet Red Army. Their sacrifice is remembered forever through the eternal flame that burns at the Park of 28 Panfilov Guardsmen in Almaty.
The tragedy of World War II is a reminder that every nation, no matter how peaceful, needs to have a strong military that can protect its land and people. This is especially the case at a time when our world is facing many challenges, including global terrorism.
This year Kazakhstan is marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of its Armed Forces. As stated in our Constitution, since 1992 they have been tasked with guaranteeing the preservation of the independence and sovereignty of the state and the integrity of its land.
Despite being a young and peaceful nation, Kazakhstan has not been reluctant to develop a proficient and powerful military. According to the 2017 Global Firepower list, Kazakhstan holds the 53rd position out of 127 countries. Of course, we hope to never need to deploy the military forces we have established, but it is a testament to the great work our armed forces and the Ministry of Defence have done since our independence.
In tandem, Kazakhstan has been consistently committed to dialogue, partnership and peace ever since our independence. As well as Kazakhstan’s tireless efforts to promote a world free from nuclear weapons, the country has also contributed to the resolution of regional and global conflicts, including in Syria and Ukraine. Our military exists purely for peaceful purposes. Indeed, Kazakhstan’s strong defence capabilities have enabled it to contribute to United Nations’ peacekeeping missions in Haiti, Western Sahara, Ivory Coast and Liberia.
It is important to remember that keeping peace is only possible through international cooperation. The ongoing crisis in Syria and the fight against terrorism have demonstrated that, only by working together, can conflicts be resolved peacefully. For this reason, Kazakhstan has continued to push for closer global cooperation on major international issues. This is why Kazakhstan has good relations with all of its neighbours, as well as with the European Union and the United States. These relations translate into important partnerships in defence as well. For instance, Kazakhstan is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Since its establishment in 2001, the SCO has been working towards maintaining peace, stability and safety in the region, as well as promoting the development of economic and humanitarian cooperation. Kazakhstan currently holds the SCO presidency and will host its next summit in June.
Looking further afield, Kazakhstan also aims to establish defence cooperation with states and organisations beyond its region. For this reason, Kazakhstan has been closely cooperating with NATO on security and other defence-related issues. Kazakhstan has designated a motorized infantry battalion called KAZBAT for potential deployment in NATO-led peace support operations, under UN Security Council mandates. Kazakhstan has also been cooperating with NATO in the fight against terrorism through the Partnership Action Plan on Terrorism (PAP-T). This involves sharing information and analysis with NATO, enhancing national counter-terrorist capabilities and improving border security.The country has also been participating for a number of years in the multinational training exercise Steppe Eagle, which has played an important role in the development of Kazakhstan’s Armed Forces and its peacekeeping potential.
As Kazakhstan celebrates the 25th anniversary of its Armed Forces, we can be certain that the future of the country’s defence is clear. Kazakhstan’s military has all the attributes and possibilities to play an important role in contribution to peace and security at home and around the world. But it will also be important to build on the level of cooperation that has been established between our armed forces and other defence organisations. Through international collaboration, as well as joint military exercises and initiatives, Kazakhstan and its armed forces will be able to more effectively strengthen regional and global security in order to keep our citizens safe.