ASTANA – Stressing the importance of maintaining inter-ethnic unity in the country and Kazakhstan’s close ties with neighbours Russia and China, President Nursultan Nazarbayev told delegates at the April 18 opening of the 21st Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan that while Kazakhstan did not choose its neighbours, it can choose to maintain excellent relationships with them.
“That is why there will always be a close relationship with our neighbours,” the President said in his opening remarks, attended by hundreds of leading figures representing Kazakhstan’s ethnic diversity.
Founded by President Nazarbayev in 1995, the Assembly is playing an integral role in the implementation of the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy, which the President said “reflects the wisdom of our great multiethnic nation.”
He added the strategy reflects the principles of the country’s unique culture of peace and spiritual accord.
Held at the Palace of Peace and Accord, the opening ceremony provided a rich visual spectacle with many of the delegates attired in the traditional costumes of their ethnic origins and regions of Kazakhstan. The Assembly is bringing under one umbrella the activities of more than 820 ethnic and cultural organisations from across Kazakhstan.
Turning to Central Asian affairs, President Nazarbayev noted that the state of international affairs underlines the need for Kazakhstan to maintain positive relationships with key neighbours Russia and China.
He declared that “today, Kazakhstan and Russia are good neighbours, allies and strategic partners.”
The President also underscored this year’s 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Virgin Lands programme: “We commemorate all who worked to raise the harvests of cereal and building of granaries in the country. I congratulate all those who built infrastructure in harsh environments and barren steppe.”
“Today, more than 300,000 of our citizens are Ukrainians. Ukrainian soil is strewn with many holy remains of thousands of Kazakhs, who heroically died in the battles for Ukraine’s liberation from fascism. Thousands of Kazakhs studied in Ukraine. You know that I’m one of those [students]. [In Ukraine], I learned the art of metallurgy,” the President noted.
“Therefore, we, Kazakhs, feel sympathy for the Ukrainian people and express brotherly hope for a quick restoration of stability and unity of the Ukrainian society. We are confident that the Ukrainian people should solve internal problems without external interference, through peaceful negotiations with all parties involved,” the President said.
The Kazakh President also emphasised that stability and unity are important to Kazakhstan’s development.
“It is, therefore, necessary to adopt a number of new measures to further promote the Kazakh model of tolerance and harmony,” he said.
The President also spoke about the current global situation and the Kazakh position in some key world issues.
“The world has entered a period of great change,” he said. “International relations are undergoing a major crisis. The information about the possible termination of cooperation of leading nuclear powers in the area of physical protection of nuclear materials really concerns me. This could seriously undermine the entire process of nuclear non-proliferation in the world and erase the progress made in this area over the last decade, including the recent Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.”
“We closed the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site backed by the will of the people and acquired a nuclear weapons-free status. We, the Kazakhs, remain faithful to the ideals of peace free from the threat of nuclear self-destruction,” Nazarbayev underscored.
The Kazakh leader believes that the G-Global platform could help resolve some key issues in today’s current political climate.
“Current global challenges can be overcome if there are profound changes in international law, foreign policy and methods of interstate relations. Therefore, our proposal on the principles of G-GLOBAL today can be useful to the world community. I am sure that they would help the world develop but not in a chaotic order as now, but in constructive one,” he noted.
“The Assembly has many international connections. I urge you all to use [these] international contacts to promote the idea of G-GLOBAL. Also, the Assembly should have its own distinct action plan to participate in the preparation for such major international events in our country as the World Exhibition EXPO 2017 in Astana and the Universiade-2017 in Almaty. At these events, we need to show the world our culture, tolerance, the multi-ethnic people of our country and our achievements in peace and harmony,” Nazarbayev urged.
To mark the historic 21st anniversary of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, the President also instructed the government and the Assembly to formulate a national action plan to govern the anniversary year.
He also noted that there are not many countries in the world in which most citizens speak at least two languages, saying that Kazakhstan’s multilingual profile contributed significantly to the welfare and prosperity of the country.
The President further confirmed that 2015 would be guided by the slogan “Astana – the city of peace and accord.”