THE HEART OF ASIA

Kazakhstan 2016 | DIPLOMACY | GUEST SPEAKER

John Kerry, US Secretary of State, on Kazakhstan's potential, economic integration, and strengthening mutual relations.

John Kerry
BIOGRAPHY
In February 2013, John Kerry was sworn in as the 68th Secretary of State of the United States, becoming the first sitting Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman to become Secretary in over a century. Shortly before he graduated from Yale University, Secretary Kerry enlisted to serve in the US Navy, and went on to serve two tours of duty, returning home from Vietnam with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Combat V, and three Purple Hearts. In 1976, Secretary Kerry received his Law Degree from Boston College Law School and went to work as a top prosecutor in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He was elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in 1982 and two years later he was elected to the US Senate, where he served for 28 years.

Only 25 years ago, people in Central Asia were cut off from the world. Today, many Kazakh citizens study in the best universities and colleges in the US, Kazakhstan, and elsewhere, while Kazakhstani boxer Gennady “Triple G" Golovkin has shown in his own unique way that people from this region can reach the highest levels of their professions at an international level.

The US is keenly aware that the security and stability of Central Asia is a crucial building block for broader global security. The region includes such international players as Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, and China, and Kazakhstan sits at the center of some of the most significant foreign policy and security issues on the planet.

However, the US stake in Central Asia extends far beyond security. We do not want to see a struggle between China and Russia and the US as a zero-sum game. We want to see a Central Asia that claims its place as an engine of growth at the heart of a modern and dynamic Asia. When we invest in each other's countries, all our societies can benefit.

The future of Kazakhstan and this region will be determined and should be determined by the local population, and not by the US or any other country. We want to partner with Kazakhstan in every way possible. We know that there is a strong platform on which we can now build together. A Kazakhstani proverb teaches us that nothing is as remote as yesterday and nothing is as close as tomorrow. We know that we better do everything in our power, all of us, to take every opportunity to prepare ourselves.

I am convinced that together we are well positioned to take on three of the toughest challenges of our era. Consider first our economic partnership. Today, there are millions of young people who are ambitious, linked by technology, and eager to share in this globalized world. But many of these people lack any real chance to do so, creating a race between opportunity and frustration. That is a race that we cannot afford to lose, and that is the challenge.

Today, a nation's interests and the wellbeing of its people are advanced not just by troops, but also by entrepreneurs and business groups, and by the companies that they build. They are advanced by the workers that they employ, the students that they can train, and the prosperity that they create that can be shared by everybody at all stages of the economic hierarchy.

In Central Asia, you are not only blessed with a rich array of natural resources, but also with strong human resources. Your citizens are young and entrepreneurial. Half the population in Kazakhstan is under the age of 30. To deliver on the aspirations of this new generation, we want to help Central Asia build a solid basis for prosperity by integrating it into a global rules-based system. That is why we have supported Kazakhstan's successful efforts to join the World Trade Organization, and it is why we are promoting connections across the region to what we call our New Silk Road Initiative, which will link Central and South Asia in four key areas: energy, trade and transit, customs and border operations, and connecting businesses and people.

Economic integration is not and should not be a zero-sum game. To succeed does not mean that somebody else has to lose. From the north to the south, we can support trade. From the east to the west, we can do the same. We can link Eurasia with markets in Europe, China, and Russia. The world will do better if we do that, and the US fully encourages Central Asian nations to develop the broadest range of partners possible.