2012 was one of the most fruitful years in the history of Kazakhstan in almost every sphere.
A successful start was made by an event that was historic in its scale for the young Republic. In the beginning of the year, a multi-party Parliament was elected as a new step towards a more developed and representative democracy. Since then, Kazakhstan’s Parliament has included representation from three parties, including the ruling Nur Otan Party, the Ak Zhol Democratic Party and the Communist People’s Party.
In 2012, the nation’s law enforcement agencies completed their re-certification process, after which one-third of their senior staff was replaced.
Last July, President Nursultan Nazarbayev introduced the “20 Steps Towards a Society of Universal Labour” programme, based on the principles of social justice. The programme was designed to motivate citizens of the country to work for the common good of the society.
In the summer of 2012, Kazakhstan’s surgeons became the first in Central Asia to carry out a successful heart transplant. Earlier artificial hearts had been implanted.
At the end of July and August, the nation eagerly watched its athletes compete in the Summer Olympic Games in London. It was a moment of unprecedented triumph and revelation as the national Olympic team took 12th place overall with 7 gold medals. Celebrations were held nationwide and united the people of Kazakhstan.
The year’s chain of remarkable events were capped at the end of the year when the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE) in Paris approved Astana’s bid to host EXPO 2017 over the Belgium city of Liege by a majority of votes. EXPO 2017 will be the first expo held in Central Asia. Preparations for it are already underway and its theme of “Future Energy” is expected to positively influence the socio-economic, scientific and technological development of the region and beyond.
The year ended on a high note when President Nazarbayev outlined the new “Kazakhstan 2050” strategy. In his annual state-of-the-nation address on December 14, the president announced a series of reforms and laid out a new long term strategy for the country. He called for the improvement of governance, welfare, the economy and development of the national infrastructure. The strategy will shape the direction of the country’s development for the coming decades and will build on the results of the “Kazakhstan 2030” strategy.
The “Kazakhstan 2030” strategy was aimed at including the country in the top 50 most developed states of the world and that goal has almost been achieved as the country now ranks No. 51. President Nazarbayev said Kazakhstan should next strive to be listed among the top 30 nations around the world by 2050. This long-term goal is comprised of smaller segmented aims and success in reaching them will advance the nation’s overall development.
Since gaining its independence, Kazakhstan has introduced a number of strategic programmes covering a wide range of issues. The Bolashak programme provides scholarships for students to study abroad. The State Programme for Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development and the 2020 Business Road Map are major programmes that are stimulating great industrial development and wealth creation around the country.
The global financial and economic crisis of 2008-9 had a negative impact on the economy of Kazakhstan. In order to overcome the crisis, the government introduced a number of amendments in economic policy allowing it to intervene in economic affairs. In 2009, the President of Kazakhstan said adjustments were made to adapt to changes in external economic circumstances. But he underlined that these changes did not alter the strategic development of the country.
In 1997, President Nazarbayev addressed the people of Kazakhstan and presented them with the ambitious strategy “Kazakhstan 2030.”At that time, its successful implementation appeared doubtful. By that moment, the country had only recovered from the collapse of the Soviet Union and from the failure of the old Soviet economic system and the survival of the state was still in question. Kazakhstan, like most former Soviet republics, was suffering from overall shortages, as well as high levels of unemployment and instability.
Nevertheless, setting defined goals and matching available resources with the strategic course of the country’s development allowed Kazakhstan to reach the phase of stable economic growth. Then the“Kazakhstan 2030” strategy was introduced in 1997 and although its target date for fulfillment was 2030, it could be said that the majority of its goals have been achieved already today.
In his December address to the nation, President Nazarbayev recalled the uncertainty and instability of the early days of sovereignty following the declaration of independence in 1991, and reviewed the achievements reached already under the “Kazakhstan 2030” strategy over the past 15 years.
The new “Strategy-2050” long-term development programme takes into account the realities of modern world civilization, and finds support among the general public in Kazakhstan and abroad.
President Nazarbayev noted the central features of modern state development, especially the need of countries to adequately and timely respond to the new challenges of a rapidly changing world. He, therefore, identified in his address the following 10 challenges on the global agenda:
1. Acceleration of historical time.
2. Global demographic imbalance.
3. Threat to global food security.
4. Acute water shortage.
5. Global energy security.
6. Exhaustible natural resources.
7. The third industrial revolution.
8. Increasing social instability.
9. The crisis of the values of our civilization.
10. The threat of a new global destabilization.
The new economic course that the president announced is based on comprehensive economic pragmatism and on the principles of economic feasibility to develop the global competitiveness of Kazakhstan.
As part of a radical liberalization of the economic system, state participation will be reduced to a minimum in the regulation of business and the role of the private sector in all spheres of activity will be increased.
The head of state announced a transition to new personnel, budgetary, fiscal and monetary policies and to new ways to manage the public external debt. This will seek to create the best conditions for foreign investment across Eurasia. The development of mineral resources and their export to world markets will be accelerated in exchange for access to advanced technologies and the creation of new industries within our country.
The president also tasked the government with increasing the contribution of agriculture to the country’s GDP by 500 percent by 2050 through a series of measures, including government stimulus packages.
Kazakhstan, as before, will be an active participant in regional economic integration, which should be based on the principles of mutual benefit and common solutions for pressing social and economic problems. A special programme called “Global Infrastructure Integration” will be developed in the frames of this strategy.
Great attention will be given to the development of innovation in national infrastructure. An important element of innovation should be the development of alternative energy sources with a focus on sustainability.
As part of social security policy and in line with the principle of personal responsibility, every citizen will be guaranteed minimum social standards of quality of life, health and education. The president defined key measuring marks of modern systems of education, training and re-training, knowledge and skills. He said a major task in this area was involving the self-employed, the unemployed and low-income citizens in active forms of employment. The “Employment Programme – 2020” will be implemented to achieve these goals.
The president also stressed the importance of paying more attention to protecting mothers and children and to supporting large families.
The fostering of a strong and proud patriotism is fundamental to the success of the country’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, the president said. He said the country’s children and grandchildren should prefer life at home because it is much better than in a foreign country.
Kazakhstan is firmly committed to the further progressive development of democracy with a focus on decentralization, anti-corruption, and gender equality.
The president has also approved sweeping government reforms. They will include a massive civil service reform, the decentralization of management, the introduction of new local government systems and the election of district mayors of cities and rural districts. Starting in 2013, 2,533 village and town mayors, or 91 percent of all mayors, will be elected. The new system of government will be based on the principle of public-private partnership.
Kazakhstan should become a model of increased tolerance and stability. Any ethnic group living in the territory of Kazakhstan is and will continue to be regarded as an integral part of the Kazakh nation. However, the preservation of the secular state with full respect for the great world religions remains a major challenge for our society. Kazakhstan will also move forward with the switching of the Kazakh language from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet before 2025.
Kazakhstan’s foreign policy will continue to be founded on the principles of balance, consistency and predictability. Kazakhstan is fully aware of its responsibility for regional security and intends to contribute actively to the strengthening of security in Central Asia and beyond. President Nazarbayev pledged to support “progressive international initiatives,” including political reconciliation in Afghanistan and reconstruction programmes in that country. The president emphasized twice in his speech that the country’s political sovereignty will not be infringed by the creation of a Eurasian Economic Union.
Kazakhstan remains committed to maintaining global stability and will be in the forefront of efforts to strengthen the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, promote the principles of ethnic and religious tolerance and combat extremism and terrorism around the world.
Great importance in the implementation of strategic priorities is given to the international partners of Kazakhstan. The country counts on them for support and cooperation in the implementation of these tasks, which will foster further cooperation between our countries and peoples.
By the year of 2013, Kazakhstan has become a globally recognized state and a dynamically developing nation that contributes to shaping global. Its young capital Astana serves as the meeting place for prominent experts at such major international events as the nuclear disarmament conference, the Congress of World and Traditional Religions, the Astana Economic Forum, the Eurasian Media Forum and other major annual and regularly-held events. Kazakhstan is recognized as a modern, forward-looking and confident nation and responsible partner in the international arena.
The country is seeking to become one of the world’s 30 most developed and prosperous nations by 2050, and its main national goal is to continue radically improving the quality and standard of living of its people.
In President Nazarbayev, his new strategy Kazakhstan-2050 and the new generation of citizens of a 21-year-young country, Kazakhstan has a leader, a vision and a people in order to achieve these high goals.