ASTANA – Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev addressed international concerns, emphasized priorities to enhance the activities of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and outlined plans and tasks for the future at an Oct. 13 meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of State in Bishkek, reported the Akorda press service.
Addressing the participants, Tokayev thanked President Sadyr Zhaparov of the Kyrgyz Republic for the warm reception and commended the effective work of his country during its CIS chairmanship.
Tokayev described the establishment of partner and observer statuses in the CIS a milestone, which indicates the maturity of the organization and marks its transition to a new phase of development.
Challenges on the global agenda
Noting the growing geopolitical tensions, Tokayev pointed to increased volatility in the global economy and expressed Kazakhstan’s opposition to the use of economic sanctions, “which have the most disastrous negative impact on global trade and the well-being of states.”
Tokayev also spoke about the current situation in the Middle East, denouncing the use of terrorist tactics to address pressing international problems.
“You cannot resort to violence against civilians or resort to terrorist acts to achieve tasks that have not been resolved for decades. This cannot be justified in any way,” stated Tokayev.
He emphasized that Kazakhstan advocates for the principle of justice in international relations, for their democratization, taking into account the legal and sovereign rights of all members of the international community.
Given the current impasse in the United Nations (UN) Security Council, the President believes it is possible and necessary to strengthen the role of the UN General Assembly as the most representative body of this organization.
“At the same time, we should not rush reforming the UN Security Council. This most important body should be represented by states from all regions of the world, including the Global South. It is gratifying that this position is shared by the heads of state present here,” said Tokayev.
Enhancing engagement within CIS
Referring to emerging challenges, the President called on the meeting participants to maintain active engagement within the CIS to address issues and explore avenues to strengthen productive cooperation.
“The development of close trade and economic ties remains a key task within the CIS. Last year, the CIS countries accounted for more than a quarter of Kazakhstan’s foreign trade turnover. This positive trend continues this year. In seven months, Kazakhstan’s trade turnover increased by 4.5% and reached $20.5 billion. We need to take full advantage of existing opportunities to strengthen trade ties,” said the President.
According to Tokayev, eliminating trade barriers, creating favorable tariff conditions, and simplifying administrative procedures should be prioritized. He also highlighted the importance of developing transport corridors in the CIS and encouraged counterparts to leverage geographical advantages and connect global markets, turning the region into the largest transport and logistics hub.
“This direction is acquiring strategic importance amid the reshaping of the economic geography of the world and increasing trade flows. Today, nearly 80% of land transit traffic between Europe and Asia passes through Kazakhstan. We pay significant attention to the development of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), the North-South Corridor, and harnessing the full capabilities of the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway. Kazakhstan aims to accelerate the implementation of the Dostyk-Moiynty, Bakhty-Ayagoz, Darbaza-Maktaaral railway sections,” said the President, highlighting the importance of measures to modernize existing infrastructure, simplify administrative procedures, and introduce integrated logistics solutions, including digital, to strengthen the transit potential of countries.
Tokayev proposed developing a concept for connecting the main transport arteries passing through the territories of the CIS member states. He believes this document will become a new transit and logistics code of the Eurasian space, aligning with the interests of the CIS countries.
The President also addressed priorities in ensuring food security by creating favorable conditions for the exchange of best practices, establishing production and supply chains, and simplifying phytosanitary and veterinary requirements.
Addressing the pressing issue of global climate change, President Tokayev highlighted its potential detrimental effects on the sustainable development of nations.
“Amid environmental deterioration, expanding desertification, and depletion of water resources in many CIS countries, we should not ignore this problem. The UN estimates that by 2050, due to climate change, drinking water shortages could affect more than 5 billion people. The Central Asia countries are experiencing significant problems caused by an increase in the average temperature on Earth,” the President warned.
New decisions and development prospects
Tokayev also raised cultural and humanitarian cooperation, mentioning the special role of the Russian language in the multifaceted cooperation between the CIS countries.
“Today we will make a historic decision to sign the Founding Treaty and Charter of the International Russian Language Organization. Efforts to promote the Russian language in the CIS and on a broader international scale do not diminish the push to strengthen the national identity of our countries. Kazakhstan will continue the policy of strengthening the status of the Kazakh state language,” the President said.
He also pointed out the importance of consolidating the efforts of volunteer associations of the CIS.
“We welcome designating 2024 in the CIS as the Year of Volunteer Movement. The good deeds of volunteers make a significant contribution to strengthening solidarity, kindness, and compassion in our societies. It is important to fully support these noble aspirations,” said Tokayev.
The President proposed establishing an annual Forum of Commonwealth Volunteers and giving it the status of a permanent CIS platform.
The CIS presidency will pass to Russia in 2024, with the subsequent summit scheduled for the following autumn in Moscow. In addition, the CIS Badge of Honor was awarded to the President of Uzbekistan for his contribution to the CIS development.
The meeting was also attended by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Zhaparov, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and CIS Secretary General Sergey Lebedev.