NUR-SULTAN – The recent events in the post-Soviet space are challenging, but they will not derail Kazakhstan’s march forward, said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in an article released on the National Interest’s website on April 4.
Tokayev called the Russian-Ukraine conflict a tragedy, “which the European continent has not experienced since long ago.”
Kazakhstan has been focusing on recovering its economy after the January tragedy when the peaceful demonstrations escalated to massive unrest that swept across the country, he said.
“Eurasia has always been a dynamic region, but concerted efforts must be made to keep it peaceful, open, and prosperous… As states that share the longest border in the world, Kazakhstan and Russia enjoy special relations of mutual cooperation. Meanwhile we also have deep traditions of friendly relations with Ukraine. We respect its territorial integrity—as the overwhelming majority of the world does,” said Tokayev.
The President expressed hope for a fair resolution of the conflict in accordance with the UN Charter and reminded that Kazakhstan is both willing and able to continue its role as international mediator.
Tokayev stressed that the new reforms “will build upon and accelerate Kazakhstan’s modernization” and address the socio-economic challenges.
“The country is embarking on an unprecedented decentralization of state power, enhancing checks and balances. Corruption and nepotism will not be tolerated. Concentration of political power and accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few must be reversed if this country is to prosper,” said Tokayev.
Reforms are also expected in the President’s Office, the Parliament, local administrations, and the judiciary, and the law enforcement system. Zero tolerance for torture is a priority.
Political powers will be rebalanced from a “super-presidential” to a “normative presidential” model of government.
The amendments to the Constitutions will be adopted to strengthen the Parliament, introduce a mixed voting system including political party lists and single-seat districts.
“I have voluntarily curtailed the power of my office by reducing the number of presidentially appointed senators from fifteen to ten. Of the ten appointees, half will now be recommended by the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, a consultative body that unites the various ethnic groups in our nation. Perhaps most importantly, constitutional changes will place more power in the hands of akims (governors) of the districts, cities, and rural districts. From now on, they will be totally accountable to the people,” said Tokayev.
The reforms are aimed to show that the government “has listened carefully to civil society and public opinion.”
The government is also set to address inequality with a salary increase and poverty reduction.
“These reforms represent an inflection point for our people. We choose to accelerate rather than to stagnate. And we are determined. We still have far to go. Both domestically or internationally, partnership is still the only way to build a better common future of peace and prosperity. We want to strengthen our three-decade strong friendship and cooperation with Europe and the United States. Only together can we steer Eurasia towards this goal,” noted Tokayev.