A multi-vector foreign policy has always been a priority for Kazakhstan. Since independence, the government has signed a multitude of treaties establishing partnerships and working relations with neighbours far and wide.
Organisations such as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), the EurAsian Economic Community (EEC), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the UN, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the World Bank, and many others know Kazakhstan to be a reliable and predictable partner that manages to balance interests and agendas while pursuing its own development goals. The most recent accession to the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which took place at the Milan summit on Oct. 16-17, follows that path of dialogue and international cooperation.
Kazakhstan aims to build interconnections in central Eurasia and provide connectivity between East and West, North and South. Major projects in partnership with China, Russia, European states and the United States demonstrate success in this respect. As President Nursultan Nazarbayev stated during the ASEM Milan summit, the task is to find joint responses to modern challenges and threats, which means states in Europe and Asia unifying their agendas. The Ebola epidemic, the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the evolution of ISIS are the latest and loudest issues that need to be addressed systematically and conjointly.
The most effective way to overcome the international crisis, according to President Nazarbayev, is to use the integration potential of the Eurasian region. He called for a change in the paradigm of international cooperation, which involves taking real action in matters of elimination of protectionist barriers, opening markets and increasing bilateral trade. Current sanctions against partner states can affect Kazakhstan in unpredictable ways and are counter-productive to the world economy.
He also pointed out the need for the transformation of the global financial architecture in general so as to overcome imbalances in the financial sector and develop an effective model for the regulation of international capital flows. In today’s turbulent world, there is a need for new financial bridges, and regional financial centres, such as Almaty, have lot of potential to be the new spaces for business. The effects of the global financial crisis are still having a negative impact on international markets and stimulating them needs to be a cooperative effort.
Kazakhstan is also interested in strengthening the transport and transit infrastructure, in particular, the revival of the Silk Road, which will provide the shortest way between Europe and Asia. The Western China-Western Europe highway megaproject is part of that Eurasian integration vision promoted by Kazakhstan and other continental countries. Beyond bricks and mortar, a modernised world order also needs to provide a system of fair access to modern technology and energy resources. Kazakhstan, being a stable supplier of energy to Europe and Asia, is making efforts to further diversify energy routes.
Creating a continental infrastructure, a key element of which is to become the Eurasian Economic Union, is a priority for the sustainable development of the region.
It is worth noting that the participants of the Milan summit widely discussed the situation in Ukraine. Nazarbayev noted that the conflict should be resolved exclusively through the negotiation process, and Kazakhstan, for its part, is making all the necessary efforts.
Of all the countries in Central Asia, only Kazakhstan has been invited to the ASEM summit, which was attended by the heads of state and government of more than 50 countries. This demonstrates the level of trust placed on the country and involves Kazakhstan in the most relevant discussions.
Such forums provide an opportunity to exchange views on topical issues with other heads of state. In particular, at the summit, President Nazarbayev held meetings with the leaders of Britain, Japan, Germany, China, South Korea, Hungary, Italy and the Netherlands aimed at expanding collaboration, as well as identifying new ways of development cooperation.
“These meetings raised the prestige of our country in the world, expanding opportunities for attracting investment in Kazakhstan in a difficult situation in the global economy, as well as form a favourable attitude towards our country. Many countries are seeking to invest in Kazakhstan, which creates incentives for economic development, create new jobs and improve the lives of our people,” Nazarbayev said afterwards.
As a reliable partner on the world stage and a full member of the Asia-Europe Meeting forum, Kazakhstan is ready to provide all possible support to promoting dialogue and cooperation on the continent.
It is the policy of Kazakhstan to be flexible and continue with a multi-vector approach. As such, the country will continue to strengthen relations with Russia in all spheres of political, economic, trade and cultural cooperation on the basis of the Treaty on Good-Neighborliness and Alliance in the 21st Century. It will also deepen the comprehensive strategic partnership with China within the framework of high-level political dialogue. Developing energy, investment, technology, trade and economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation with China is as important as maintaining full-scale relations with the European Union – the largest economic, trade and investment partner of Kazakhstan, with whom Kazakhstan has just agreed on a new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
Recent developments in Kazakhstan’s foreign and trade policies, – from its joining the Eurasian Economic Union with Russia and Belarus and completing the talks on a new agreement with the European Union, to acceding to the ASEM forum and building the physical transcontinental infrastructure – all point to the steady progress Kazakhstan has been making in realising its overarching goal of turning its landlocked position in the heart of Eurasia from an impediment into an advantage, benefitting not only itself but everybody around.