Kazakh Foreign Ministry Briefs International Journalists Ahead of SCO Summit

ASTANA—The Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a briefing for international journalists to discuss Kazakhstan’s foreign policy, bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit on July 3.

Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko with international media journalists. Photo credit: The Astana Times

Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko welcomed journalists from the Czech Republic, Germany, India, Italy, Lebanon, Malaysia, Serbia, South Korea, and Spain. He discussed topics related to the SCO summit, including region-specific bilateral and multilateral cooperation, trade and investment ties, culture, connectivity, peace preservation, and nuclear security.

“Your presence here is a testament to the importance of this event,” said Vassilenko.

He noted Kazakhstan expects approximately 10,000 delegates and reporters to attend the summit.

“The SCO has played a key role in fostering regional security, economic growth, and multilateral cooperation. As one of the founding members of the SCO, Kazakhstan has always prioritized the development and success of this organization as part of our balanced foreign policy,” said Vassilenko.

He outlined that the summit is an opportunity to reaffirm Kazakhstan’s commitment to mutual respect, equality, and consensus building. Under Kazakhstan’s year-long presidency, the country organized over 150 events covering energy, digitalization, and environmental protection. Reflecting its commitment to sustainability, Kazakhstan initiated the designation of 2024 as the SCO Year of Ecology and established cooperative relations between SCO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The SCO summit aims to address security challenges, enhance trade and economic cooperation, promote environmental protection, and strengthen the bonds among SCO member states.

Vassilenko also mentioned President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s initiative, “On World Unity for a Just Peace and Harmony,” which emphasizes cooperation among member states.

“It has received unanimous support and is expected to be adopted at the summit tomorrow under the name On World Unity for a Just Peace, Harmony and Development,” he said.

Vassilenko said Kazakhstan has become a hub for international diplomacy, frequently visited by world leaders seeking closer ties.

In addition to the SCO, Kazakhstan is chairing five other international organizations, including the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Organization of Turkic States (OTS), the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFSA), and the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS). Kazakhstan is also planning to host the sixth Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia, more colloquially known as the Central Asian summit, in August.

“Our approach emphasizes maintaining constructive relations with all major global players, including our eastern and western partners. As President Tokayev recently stated, this strategy is rooted in our commitment to multilateral cooperation and adherence to the United Nations Charter. Kazakh diplomacy, with its focus on finding solutions to complex international issues, will hopefully contribute to the success of this SCO summit,” said Vassilenko.

As the largest economy in Central Asia, Kazakhstan accounts for 60% of the overall GDP of all Central Asian states. It registered 5.1% economic growth in 2023, nearly twice the projected global growth rate. The country attracted $23 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) and recorded a foreign trade turnover of $140 billion in 2023.

Vassilenko noted the launch of a new investment cycle and the establishment of a high-powered investment board under the Prime Minister to oversee strategic investment projects. He added that Kazakhstan’s strategic location and rich resources make it a critical link in the global supply chain, offering untapped opportunities in critical raw materials.

In light of geopolitical developments, the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) is gaining popularity as an alternative trade route. Cargo transportation along this route exceeded 2.76 million tons in 2023, a 65% increase compared to 2022 and three times more than in 2021. Vassilenko noted that it is expected to grow further to 4.2 million tons this year, while plans are afoot to bring this volume to 10 million tons by 2030.

Vassilenko also highlighted domestic reforms initiated by President Tokayev since 2019, including political, social, and economic initiatives.

“These reforms reduced presidential powers, strengthened Parliament, and enhanced local governance. The emergence of six political parties in our parliament has fostered healthy debate essential for democratic growth,” said Vassilenko.

“President Tokayev’s vision of a new political reality supports the freedom of speech, open competition and constructive dialog between authorities and society,” he added with the ultimate goal of building a Just and Fair Kazakhstan.

Speaking of upcoming events, Vassilenko highlighted the fifth World Nomad Games to take place in Astana Sept. 8-13, that are expected to welcome around 2,000 athletes from 85 countries competing in 21 sports. “This will be a big and great celebration of sports and culture, and we hope for up to 100,000 visitors to come and join us in enjoying this holiday.”

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