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Twenty-nine years ago, the Republic of Kazakhstan became an independent country after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then sweeping reforms have been made in many areas including state-building, advancing democracy, economic progress, human capital development. New constitution, legal and institutional frameworks have paved the way to a new social order.

Bold strides have been made to achieve a stable transition from totalitarianism to liberal policy, and from a planned to a market economy. The nation weathered many storms like the total deficit, disrupted economic links, hyperinflation, unprecedented unemployment, wide-spread bankruptcies and non-payments. Kazakhstan focused on advancing entrepreneurial freedom, economic liberalisation and increasing competitiveness.

 

The modernisation of society included creating civil society institutions, pluralism, a multi-party system, free mass media and non-governmental organisations. Crucial reforms were made to enhance the transparency and integrity of elections, advance the rule of law and human rights.

Kazakhstan became a member of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), established by the Council of Europe, to promote high anti-corruption standards.

Recent political developments further strengthened democracy in the country. A new law on peaceful assemblies was adopted, legislation on political parties, elections, parliament were amended. 

In practical sense, it became easier to establish a new political party. A 30 percent quota in political party lists for women and youth strengthens their role in the decision-making process. The next Parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan will take place on January 10, 2021 amid this dynamically evolving process of political modernisation. 

Interethnic accord and intra-national unity, freedom of conscience and religious tolerance have become a formula for the peaceful coexistence of diverse cultural fabric. More than 100 ethnic groups and 18 confessions and religions have been living in Kazakhstan, enriching and helping each other.

The Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan is the backbone of the unity in diversity principle. This institution has constitutional status and is empowered to elect nine members to the lower chamber of the Parliament, ensuring that all ethnic groups have a guaranteed say in the legislative body. Its work supports the preservation of many cultures, languages and traditions of the people of Kazakhstan.

There is a common aspiration in Kazakhstan to build an open, fair society and a strong democratic state that hears and responds to its citizens. To this end genuine national dialogue has been established through the National Council of Public Trust. The Supreme Council for Reforms and an Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms offer solutions and make steps to ensure far-reaching political, social and economic transformations.

Nowadays Kazakhstan is an upper-middle-income country. SMEs are a key element of sustainable economic growth and employment. It is expected that the share of small and medium-sized businesses in Kazakhstan’s GDP will reach 35% by 2025. 

Country’s economic growth is set to become increasingly green. Kazakhstan hosted the EXPO 2017 to promote the use of green technologies and sustainable energy. One of the most visited sites of the exhibition was the Finland’s Pavilion. 

Innovations and digitalisation are key elements of modern development. Digital transformation is advancing in all sectors of the Kazakhstan’s economy. International Technology Park of IT startups Astana Hub has become an important part of the digital infrastructure. Ultimately, digitalisation and development of AI technologies is intended to raise the competitiveness of Kazakhstan.

The importance of digital technologies was highlighted throughout the world during the pandemic. In Kazakhstan, many essential public services were swiftly moved online. Digitalisation is rapidly growing in such sectors as healthcare and education. High-speed internet access is becoming more widespread in rural areas of the country. Digital equality is part of social equality. 

Digital transformation had also been an important factor in reducing conditions conductive to corruption. Primary focus in application of digital technologies is to enhance business environment and improve day-to-day lives of the people. Further raising of the living standards remains one of the key objectives of the leadership of Kazakhstan. 

The quality of human capital is the key strategic resource of the nation. Science, ideas and technologies are regarded as the prime forces for progress. 

Kazakhstan is heavily investing in education sector. Many of the country’s universities have established partnerships with leading schools in Europe and the US to provide high-quality curriculum for the students.

Young people in Kazakhstan also pursue higher education abroad, including through the Bolashak Scholarship Programme. As a result, high skills, knowledge and new ideas are being brought to Kazakhstan with the returning young professionals.

Kazakhstan is a strong supporter of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. This policy dates back to the dawn of independence, when the country willingly gave up its nuclear arsenal and shut down a nuclear test site, effectively ending decades of devastating explosions on its territory.

One of the broader implications of such forward-looking policy was the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in Central Asia and ultimately strengthening of regional stability.

Kazakhstan ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and is a host country to the IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank. The Bank is part of international efforts to strengthen the safety of the global nuclear cycle.

The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia initiated by the first President Nursultan Nazarbayev back in 1992 was institutionalised, its headquarters is located in the Kazakhstan’s capital. Earlier this year Kazakhstan assumed its chairmanship of this forum.

The 2010 Summit of the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe was convened in Kazakhstan to recommit participating States to the vision of a free, democratic, common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community.

The capital of Kazakhstan hosts the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions where not only religious leaders but also politicians take part. This forum helps to promote interfaith and intercivilizational dialogue and the culture of peace.

The country has been a steadfast supporter of international mediation efforts. Two rounds of talks on Iran’s nuclear programme were held in 2013 in Almaty contributing to the resumption of negotiations between P5+1 and Iran. They paved a way for the Geneva talks that eventually led to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program.

As a neutral venue for peace negotiations, Kazakhstan hosted numerous rounds of Syrian peace talks involving the Syrian government and opposition groups complementing the Geneva process.

Kazakhstan made significant contribution to stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan.  In 2019, Kazakhstan together with the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme launched an educational program to train Afghan women in Kazakh universities.

The participation in UN peacekeeping missions demonstrates the firm commitment of Kazakhstan to the principles of peace, international security and stability. Kazakh military officers including women took part in UN missions in Nepal, Côte d’Ivoire, Western Sahara and Lebanon.  

Despite the global uncertainty, Kazakhstan has a clear strategy in terms of further political modernisation, economic transformation, social and environmental changes. As President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stated, there is no alternative to this policy and no turning back.

 

HT

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