State Counselor Karin Outlines Core Principles of Tokayev’s Political Vision

ASTANA — Kazakhstan’s State Counselor Erlan Karin unveiled the transformative vision of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s political course, emphasizing a bold new direction for the nation in an article published in the Kazakhstanskay Pravda newspaper on June 5.

National Kurultai in Atyrau, March 15. Photo credit: Akorda

The essence of a Just and Fair Kazakhstan

President Tokayev outlined the nation’s ideological platform for a new stage of development in his keynote address at the third meeting of the National Kurultai (Congress) in Atyrau in March.

This ideology is based on a universal concept of “fairness.” Consequently, the key ideology of the ongoing state course is a just and fair Kazakhstan.

In his first speech upon taking office as President, Tokayev stated: “At this important moment in the development of our state, the entire society must rally around the idea of ​ building a prosperous, democratic, and fair Kazakhstan.”

 ​Fairness resonated with society’s demands and the state’s vision, becoming a consolidating idea. It is important to clarify the semantic meaning of the terms “fairness” and “fair state.” Fairness is not universal equalization. It is primarily about the equal distribution of rights and responsibilities. Every aspect of reform is centered around this interpretation and understanding of the idea of “fairness.”

The President’s policy of a Just and Fair Kazakhstan, which has been implemented since 2019, is founded on five fundamental concepts: different opinions but one nation, a listening state, law and order, a strong President with an influential Parliament and an accountable Government, and the concept of Adal Azamat [honest citizen in Kazakh].

Irreversibility of change

According to Karin, changes do not happen overnight. 

“Implementing reforms requires enormous effort and time, which, for an ordinary observer who is not immersed in all the complexities and nuances, often seems unreasonably long. However, changes are happening. Any reform is painstaking and complex work. Regardless of what anyone says, Kazakhstan continues to follow the path of reform,” he wrote. 

Karin highlighted that the reforms have irrevocably changed the nature of social relations, bringing about changes to the nation’s political mentality, increasing civic activity and participation, as well as solidarity. 

“Public opinion has become a significant element of political life. These changes in political culture are already irreversible. Thus, fundamental changes have occurred and continue to occur in the country. Systemic reforms are being implemented, and they can no longer be stopped,” he wrote. 

New public ethics

Karin wrote in the article that large-scale reforms in politics and economics will not bring results if outdated stereotypes and complexes in the public consciousness and behavioral patterns are not eliminated. “Archaism and progress are incompatible,” he said. 

“A new value matrix should be formed through the everyday actions of each member of society, through the elements of everyday life. That is why the government is actively promoting the Taza (Clean) Kazakhstan environmental campaign. Many have probably noticed that the President speaks about the importance of this national campaign in almost every public speech. The renewal of the country starts with the cleanliness of our own home entrances, yards, and streets, with a change in the culture of behavior of each of us,” Karin wrote.

Thus, forming a new social ethic is a key condition for the country’s progressive development, ensuring that the ongoing reforms remain progressive.

Redline of public discussions

According to Karin, Kazakhstan’s society encompasses a range of political views. They all promote different political ideals and values. Therefore, it is important to focus primarily on common national interests and the development of pluralism.

“It is important to define the so-called redline in public discussions, beyond which there are threats to social stability and a conflict with the nation’s interests,” he wrote. 

Redlines are not a taboo, censorship, or a ban on discussing certain topics and questions. Instead, they are a call for civility and moderation in political discussions.

“The state will firmly prevent any attempts to split our society while acting strictly within the legal framework. The main principle here is the unacceptability of extremes. We are for spirituality, but against fanaticism and obscurantism, for patriotism, but against xenophobia and nationalism, for liberalism but against permissiveness and nihilism. All citizens, especially those involved in social and political life, regardless of their political views and preferences, must put national interests, and the preservation and strengthening of statehood above all else,” he said.

Dialogue between government and society

Karin also focused on the importance of maintaining social stability. According to him, it continues to be the state’s top objective in internal policy, including preserving national unity, civil peace, and interethnic and interfaith harmony.

Work in the field of internal policy requires a constant search for new methods, new tools, forms and mechanisms to build points of social consolidation and ensure domestic political stability.

“Internal policy involves direct work with the population. You just need to talk to people and maintain constant dialogue. However, it is crucial to avoid the error of thinking that the loudest voices represent the entirety of public opinion. What is needed is not just dialogue but constructive and  meaningful dialogue,” he wrote. 

Creative agenda

Karin emphasized the unique aspects that define Kazakhstan’s national identity. He highlighted the importance of preserving and strengthening these foundational elements, which he believes set Kazakhstan apart from other nations.

“These are our historical roots, the peculiarities of our mentality, our multiethnicity and multilingualism, the diversity of cultures and religious tolerance, our ability to find a common language with each other, our inherent mutual support and solidarity. All this together constitutes Kazakhstan’s way of life,” he said. 

“In other words, it is important for us, as a progressive nation, to always and in everything pursue our own strategic path, to firmly and consistently defend our national interests and our way of life. We do not need to be fooled by external provocations and information dumps, nor do we need to follow other people’s information and ideological agendas. We should focus only on our own internal agenda, which is not directed “against someone or something,” but “for the sake of” and “for the good.” Its creativity, along with its emphasis on growth, modernization, and reform, are found here,” he added. 

In conclusion, Karin reiterated that Kazakhstan builds its domestic and foreign policies not to please anyone or follow trends. According to him, the country focuses on its own development agenda and national interests. 

“In the world of global politics, there is no room for sentimentality and naivety. The opinion that a multi-vector or neutrality policy is the simplest and most convenient is a myth and amateurism. The balanced multi-vector policy pursued by Kazakhstan involves enormous efforts and is incredibly difficult, especially now when the polarization of the world is rapidly increasing. Such a policy is not easy. However, this is the most optimal course, taking into account our geopolitical location and the interests of the country,” he said.

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