Kazakh, European Experts Discuss Reforms, Regional Shifts in Central Asia

ASTANA – The Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development (CIRSD) hosted an event devoted to reforms and geopolitical shifts in Central Asia via video conference on Dec. 15. 

In his welcoming remarks, CIRSD President Vuk Jeremić noted increased friction amongst global players and transformative developments in worldwide security and the economy. In this regard, connectivity plays an essential role for policymakers and experts around the world.

“There is an increased interest of global players from near and afar in the developments in various countries of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, in particular. Kazakhstan is the largest, and in many ways the most consequential actor in the region of Central Asia,” said Jeremić.

Jeremić recalled that the reforms in Central Asia were the focus of the recent meeting at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna with the participation of Kazakh and European politicians. 

Jeremić also praised the multilateral diplomatic efforts that Kazakhstan and other countries of Central Asia are pursuing in these tumultuous times. “I am sure that the leaderships of Central Asian countries continue striving to change it to reform their respective systems for the betterment of their nations and the pursuing of the ideal of regional and global peace,” he said. 

Bolat Nurgaliyev, who serves as the Chairman of the Board of the Foreign Policy Research Institute under the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Central Asia and European countries are geographically distant. Still, certain similarities between them serve as a foundation for closer cooperation.

Central Asia is committed to modernization and regionalism. The region is interested in strengthening stakeholders, protecting national security interests, and ensuring the successful implementation of long-term goals. 

“Regional integration and interconnectivity are important for Central Asia,” he said. “Kazakhstan’s foreign policy priorities have been focusing on developing relations not just with neighbors but with the broader world in the spirit of implementing multi-vector foreign policy.”

Kazakhstan’s multi-vector foreign policy also manifests in its participation in many international structures. 

“In Kazakhstan, from the early stage of independence, we are pursuing this proactive approach to foreign policy based on the understanding that only if you have a wide network of partnerships will you be able to assure your security, territorial integrity and political independence effectively. The reforms that are being implemented under the leadership of President Tokayev envisage close cooperation with all the countries,” he said. 

Nurgaliyev said the reforms will be implemented step by step in the country. After the tragic events in January, the authorities rethought the pace of reforms and their direction and turned the policy into “the concept that we need a different foundation for the structure of governance, that is the state for the people, instead of the people for the state.”

According to CIRSD Senior Research Fellow Stefan Antić, Kazakhstan is experiencing a huge reformist wave. He said he believes the country has made immense progress toward democratization in the last three years. 

“What we are seeing in Kazakhstan is democratization because it contains all of the traits of the democratization process, including sharing of power, personalized representation in the lower house of Parliament, more regionalism, and basically, a shift away from a super presidential system toward more power distribution, more pluralism, more participation for the different levels of society,” said Antić. 

The CIRSD is a public policy think-tank registered in Belgrade and New York. The organization sees its mission as providing high-quality, independent analysis and offering innovative, practical recommendations for states and institutions.

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