Wishing every Kazakh Citizen, brother and sister, very many congratulations on this, their Independence Day. A day of celebration, joy and pride.
Being British, I’m sceptical about the value of defining a nation by acts of independence. In 1773 some trouble makers poured tea into the sea at Griffen’s Wharf in Boston and that is meant to be a role model for national rebirth? Frankly, it has to be one of the daftest acts of defiance, not least because it was their tea they ruined.
And Mel Gibson painting his face like a Smurf and screaming ‘Freedom’ hardly seems like a sensible basis for the creation of a nation state.
For some reason, when nation’s talk of independence, it is so often with a positive connotation. Why? When parents talk of their ‘independent’ teenager, that isn’t a compliment. ‘Independent’ record producers were, with a few exceptions, unexceptional. ‘Independent’ politicians rarely gain many votes. So why are independent nations considered to be successful?
Again, it’s easy to blame the Americans, but the reality is more complex. We feel that the grass is always greener. That new is better. And to reinvent is to improve. Study the effect of independence on Eastern Europe after the Berlin wall fell, and they transitioned from socialism to capitalism, and it is not a positive story. Transition was not kind to the countries or to the majority of people who lost everything.
So why were things different in Kazakhstan? Why is it a safe harbour of stability? Why does the nation celebrate entering it’s 30 year of independence on an ever upward trajectory? The answer lies in Kazakhstan’s realisation that to gain independence was not to throw away the past. Rather, independence was to embrace legacy, culture and tradition. To take the best from the past, and then to overlay a clear vision for the future. No other Central Asian nation has achieved as much as Kazakhstan over the past 30 years. No other nation has been as stable, as secure and as visionary. It is the jewel in the crown, and the beating heart, of a region on the rise and this is Kazakhstan’s time to shine. To use the strong foundations envisaged by the First President and built by the people of Kazakhstan, to further accelerate ahead of the competition in the CIS and beyond.
So, to the visionary leaders of Kazakhstan, and to the people who made Kazakhstan the great nation it has become in just three decades, may I applaud you. You have so much of which to be proud, and so much potential ahead. The nation has transitioned, but not at the expense of tradition. It has grown, but has not forgotten its youth. It has prospered, but has not erased from its psyche how tough life can be.
May this, the 30 year of your independence, be another remarkable one and may the next 30 years bring continued prosperity, opportunity and innovation.
Happy Independence Day Kazakhstan.
Mark Beer, OBE is an author and lawyer who has established Seven Pillars Law in the Astana International Financial Centre and advises investors wishing to access the opportunities of Central Asia through Kazakhstan.