Experts Weigh in on President Tokayev’s Big Interview

ASTANA – President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev gave a big interview to the Egemen Qazaqstan national newspaper on Jan. 3, covering the administration’s top priorities for 2024 and discussing crucial topics on the national agenda.

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The interview covered the tragic January events in 2022, ambitious economic plans, and the country’s foreign policy.

A significant part of the interview was devoted to economic issues. In his September address to the nation, Tokayev announced a transition to a so-called new economic model, signaling a stronger push towards strategic goals, including doubling the national economy to $450 billion in 2029.

In the interview, Tokayev responded to questions about the realism of the economic target, particularly in light of projections from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, indicating that the economic growth in Kazakhstan from 2023 to 2024 is expected to be no more than 3-4%.

Yerkin Tukumov. Photo credit:

Yerkin Tukumov, director of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies, noted that the goal set by the President is “entirely realistic.” 

“Moreover, I believe that if we consistently implement all planned measures, including the demonopolization of the economy, the development of energy and agriculture, and the overall transition to a knowledge-based economy as the main trend in the global economy, we can surpass this indicator,” said Tukumov. 

He warned against focusing just on numbers to avoid the situation that happened before in the country’s history when the country’s rapid economic growth and windfall oil revenues failed to materialize and make a difference in the lives of ordinary citizens.  

“The average citizen did not feel the GDP growth in their pocket,” said Tukumov. 

Besides crucial initiatives such as new investment, tax, and budget policies, he emphasized the importance of a new policy in the development of human capital. 

“We need real research universities – autonomous and reputable; high-quality and equal secondary education; investments in science exceeding 1% of GDP; developed healthcare not only in Astana and Almaty but also in every settlement; a good environment; training of personnel abroad. All of this is within our capabilities if we correctly prioritize, allocate resources, and delegate authority to local levels,” he said. 

Nikita Shatalov. Photo credit: Telegram @shatalkanal.

Nikita Shatalov, deputy of the Mazhilis, a lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament, said Tokayev’s interview is not a “traditional year-end review but a reaffirmation of his political perspectives and plans.”

“It is crucial not only to present new information but also to reiterate previously stated points, supplementing them with fresh details that elucidate and refine each event and decision,” wrote Shatalov in his Telegram channel. 

Shatalov asserted Tokayev has “no intention of breaking his promises.” 

“There will be no resetting of terms, early elections, or extensions of authority. The inevitability of reforms begins with the consistency of the head of state. The established system of checks and balances is reinforced by the will of the head of state, who will not make decisions affecting the fate of the entire nation without consulting the Parliament and the people,” wrote Shatalov. 

Foreign policy was also discussed in detail in the interview, with Tokayev reiterating Kazakhstan’s commitment to protecting its national interests and addressing strategic challenges.

He underlined that interest in Central Asia is growing significantly worldwide, leading to an increased demand for the C5+ dialogue platform. Kazakhstan is expected to host the next Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia this year.

The nation will also play host to several large-scale international events and will chair six international organizations in 2024. 

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