This year Kazakhstan will celebrate the 27th anniversary of its independence. No one can deny that the transformation which the country has undergone during that time has been nothing short of remarkable. In achieving independence in 1991, Kazakhstan, along with many of its neighbours, saw an end to the many decades of Soviet rule. All countries were rightly excited about what the future would hold.
In the following years, Kazakhstan made a point of developing peaceful relations with all its surrounding countries. This included agreeing on land borders, working to resolve the distribution of shared resources, such as the Caspian Sea, and, most famously, by becoming the first nation to voluntarily shut down a major nuclear test site and decommission its nuclear arsenal. It is in this spirit of working together with its neighbours and working for shared opportunities that Kazakhstan is proud of the role it plays as a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Kazakhstan has been a member of the Eurasian Economic Union since 2015, the economic organisation that was first proposed by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. It is through this cooperation that our businesses enjoy a free trade area, which stretches for thousands of kilometres across Eurasia. It is now possible for companies in Almaty to do business everywhere from Minsk to Vladivostok. It is clear that it is in Kazakhstan’s interest to see all member states working together for the collective benefit of all our citizens.
Being a country of considerable size, yet sharing land borders with five other countries, the importance of Kazakhstan’s multi-vectored foreign policy cannot be understated. Not only is it a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, but it also plays a crucial role in several other international organisations including the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Turkic Council, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Lying at the crossroads of the world, between North and South, East and West means that Kazakhstan has always seen itself as part of an interconnected world. Some states surrounded by the sea are often criticised as having an “island mentality” – meaning they are isolated and narrow-minded. As a landlocked nation, Kazakhstan is perhaps as far away from that mindset as can be possible. The country understands that to succeed it is vital to engage, listen and learn from other nations.
Earlier in September, President Nazarbayev attended the Summit of the Cooperation Council of the Turkic-Speaking States (CCTS), also known as the Turkic Council. As was reported in The Astana Times, the President called for young people across all member nations to “expand their knowledge about the cultural peculiarities of our countries.”
He also suggested the use of the new Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) as a way of creating partnerships between CCTS countries. This is just one example of the way Kazakhstan uses its membership of international organisations to bring people together, which can only be a way of bringing about a better future for all.
Of course, being active through international organisations is not a matter of simply taking the easy path. There are times when difficult matters, such as global security are confronted. In this regard, the world has seen Kazakhstan step up on the world stage. From its current membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to Astana’s hosting of several rounds of Syrian peace talks – the country continues to strive to resolve some of the most pressing and difficult challenges for peace in war-torn parts of the world. It is evidence that Kazakhstan doesn’t simply turn its hand to problems which are easily fixed but is committed to lasting solutions for some of the world’s most difficult matters.
At a time where many countries are in the news for leaving international organisations, leading to criticisms that they are avoiding their obligations to others, Kazakhstan is certainly steering a different path. The country understands that it is only by engaging with others through vital international partnerships such as the CIS, that we can work together to make a better future for future generations.