ALL THE RIGHT STEPPES

Kazakhstan 2016 | DIPLOMACY | INSIDE PERSPECTIVE

Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, on attracting investment, integrating the region through infrastructure, and the country's role as an intermediary between Europe and Asia.

Nursultan Nazarbayev
BIOGRAPHY
Nursultan Nazarbayev began his working career in 1960 at the Karaganda Metallurgical Industrial Complex. He entered politics in 1969 in the Karaganda region. In 1979, he started working as Secretary for the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan. In 1984, he then became Chairman of the Ministers Council. Between 1989 and 1991, he served as the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and Chairman of the High Council of Kazakhstan. He has served as the President of Kazakhstan since the nation gained its independence in 1991.

It was a notable year for Kazakhstan in 2015, with a number of significant events taking place over the course of the year. Firstly, we celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan. It was a year that marked the unity of our people, and once again we could recognize the peaceful coexistence of the 17 religious denominations and over 100 ethnic groups living in our country. We also celebrated the 20th anniversary of our Constitution this year, a document that remains the most important guarantor of the nation's growth, adopted by a referendum in 1995. Thirdly, we celebrated the Kazakh Khanate's 550th Anniversary, an era which still defines our people's destiny.

Now, on the 23rd Anniversary of its independence, Kazakhstan has become a strong state. Despite the complicated situation in global markets at present, our gross domestic product increased by 4.3% over the past year. We have completed the first five-year plan of our industrial innovation program. We have used 770 new products, created 75,000 jobs, and manufactured 400 new products that did not previously exist in Kazakhstan. We expect that during the second five-year plan, an additional 7,500 jobs will be made available through 75 new programs.

In 2014, we adopted the Nurly Zhol program. Our goal here is to restore the nation's transport infrastructure. We held an expanded government meeting to adapt the program to the external economic situation, and at this meeting we scrutinized and discussed the working plan. This program is an effective tool for tackling the negative influence of external factors on the economy. It will help attract investment as well as create new products and jobs. Around KZT500 billion was allocated for 2015 and for each additional year until 2017.
We also reviewed processing in agriculture, engineering, support for the small- and medium-sized businesses, infrastructure development, increase of public support for the industries, and market protection. We expect the growth of Made in Kazakhstan branded products. In this regard, the government of Kazakhstan will submit recommendations to the Parliament on budget expenditure optimization. The government's social obligations to the people will not end. We believe that the development of healthcare, education, and investment in human capital over the long term will become a basis for the future economic growth of our country. According to the Nurly Zhol program, infrastructural development in Kazakhstan will later affect global economic trends. Experts forecast that the trade turnover in Europe and Asia will reach 60% by 2020. We are acting with this in mind.

This year, Kazakhstan's part in the Western Europe-Western China project construction will be completed. This represents a 2,700km highway that will reduce delays in the delivery of goods from China to Europe from 45 to 10 days. Kazakhstan's railway system will become a key part of broader land transportation options on the Eurasian continent, too. It connects the Caspian Sea to the Pacific Ocean, and China to Central Asian countries and Western Europe. We have recently witnessed the launch of the major Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway project. All these measures are aimed at improving Kazakhstan's regional transport communication.
In 2015, new laws entered into force aimed at helping foreign investors. The industrial and innovative development program, Nurly Zhol, as well as EXPO-2017, will create the most effective and favorable conditions possible for the development of large combined projects with our foreign partners.
Elsewhere, 2015 was marked by the growth of dangerous threats and challenges on a global scale. Today there can be no doubt that terrorism has become a global problem and that the whole world should unite to counteract it. Kazakhstan strongly condemns all forms of terrorism and extremism and fully participates in international efforts to tackle this evil. We are ready to further strengthen our interactions with the world community to overcome this. When countering radicalism and terrorism, it is vital not to confuse the destructive ideologies on which they are based with traditional peaceful Islam and other religious beliefs. The fostering of sustainable inter-cultural and inter-religious dialog is essential to the fight against extremism. Kazakhstan makes a strong contribution to the development of inter-cultural and inter-religious links and conversations. The Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, which was initiated by our country, has become a recognized international platform for dialog. This has truly been a year that has encouraged deep reflection and frank conversation about the present international security situation.
The present crisis of confidence in international relations not only weakens the capacity of all states to overcome today's challenges, but also increases the threat of global military conflict. Given the growth of conflict flashpoints in the world, it is essential for us to strengthen the international security system. Firstly, restoring confidence and building a more stable world order is essential for reaffirming the fundamental principles of international law. It is critical that every country, without exception, adheres to its obligations under international agreements and treaties. Kazakhstan stands for confirmation of the principles of equality, mutual consideration of each other's interests, collective endeavors to solve major problems relying international law, and the central role of the United Nations.

Secondly, in December 2010 during the OSCE summit in Astana, all member states supported our idea of creating common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community. Today, this approach to ensuring security has become even more important. In light of the threats and challenges of the 21st Century, we suggest developing a new agreement similar in concept to the Helsinki Final Act of 1975. It requires the creation of new security system based upon mutual interests as well as practical issues for the implementation of the principles of the OSCE Astana Declaration. Leaders of all states must demonstrate political will, as well as the vision to look to the future with a global perspective.

Thirdly, close economic cooperation among nations is the most effective way to ensure security. Today, mutual economic sanctions by the West and Russia are exacerbating an already difficult situation in the global economy and damaging countries and peoples. Kazakhstan, as a member of the world community, is no exception. In this regard, it is important that the declaration, adopted in Minsk on February 12, which provides for a “commitment to the creation of a common economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean,” is taken forward. For our part, Kazakhstan is committed to the expansion of foreign economic relations and regional integration. On January 1, 2015 the agreement on the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union came into force. For the first time in Eurasia, an economic alliance with a powerful resource capacity and developed transport and energy systems has been established successfully.

I would like to stress that the EAEU is based upon the principles of respect for sovereignty, economic pragmatism, equality, and openness, without which no such association could exist. Dozens of countries have already expressed their interest in the creation of free trade zones with the EAEU, clearly demonstrating its inherent attractiveness. The completion of talks between Kazakhstan and the EU on the new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement is an important step forward. We also believe that Kazakhstan's membership of the World Trade Organization will also provide numerous opportunities for trade.