Kaza­khstan's 20 Years of In­de­pen­dent De­vel­op­ment: Proac­tive En­gage­ment with In­ter­na­tional Com­mu­nity Key to Suc­cess

*Yer zhan Kazykhanov Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fair s of Kaza­khstan

The Diplomatic Insight - - Editor’s Desk - 4

Kaza­khstan is a young na­tion with a vi­brant so­ci­ety and dy­namic econ­omy. Yet, 20 years ago in De­cem­ber 1991, when Kaza­khstan had just re­gained its in­de­pen­dence, it wasn't at all clear that, two decades later, itwill be like that. I have been for­tu­nate enough to be a wit­ness to some wa­ter­shed de­vel­op­ments that have turned an ob­scure con­stituent repub­lic of the for­mer Soviet Union into a fast grow­ing econ­omy, a rec­og­nized leader of the Cen­tral Asian re­gion and a re­li­able in­ter­na­tional part­ner. We have demon­strated the ef­fi­ciency of our pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion, im­ple­mented mar­ket re­forms and es­tab­lished an in­sti­tu­tional frame­work of an open democ­racy. Pre­serv­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in a multi-ethnic and mul­tire­li­gious so­ci­ety has al­ways been our pri­or­ity. Es­tab­lish­ing in­ter-faith di­a­logue and tol­er­ance, we tried to fol­low a clas­si­cal prin­ci­ple of democ­racy: ex­press­ing the will of the ma­jor­ity while safe­guard­ing the in­ter­ests of the mi­nor­ity. With more than 130 ethnic groups liv­ing in the coun­try, rep­re­sent­ing 46 con­fes­sions, each hav­ing its own cul­tural codes and tra­di­tions, we have opted for a con­trolled pace of so­cial changes and thus we have man­aged to avoid se­ri­ous in­ter-ethnic or in­ter-re­li­gious con­flicts. Kaza­khstan's prac­tices of in­ter-con­fes­sional in­ter­ac­tion gained ap­proval of lead­ers of world re­li­gions at­tend­ing tri­en­nial Con­gresses of World and Tra­di­tional Re­li­gions held in­As­tana. The first such Congress took place in­As­tana in 2003, be­com­ing a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to in­ter­civ­i­liza­tion and in­ter­cul­tural di­a­logue. We strongly be­lieve that the lib­er­al­iza­tion of so­cial sys­tems can be suc­cess­fully achieved only on the solid ba­sis of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Poverty, be­ing a bad part­ner for democ­racy, of­ten be­comes the first pre­con­di­tion for so­ci­ety's frag­men­ta­tion and the tri­umph of in­sta­bil­ity. The in­trin­sic con­nec­tion be­tween lib­eral econ­omy and open so­ci­ety is quite clear to us. Fol­low­ing the ma­jor lib­er­al­iza­tion of the econ­omy in the 1990s, Kaza­khstan has seen its econ­omy dou­bling in size by 2008, com­pared to 2000. With solid foun­da­tions and sound eco­nomic poli­cies, Kaza­khstan man­aged to pre­vent the re­ces­sion, seen in many coun­tries due to the global eco­nomic cri­sis, and in 2010-2011 our eco­nomic growth was as high as 7 per cent. To­day, we con­duct the strat­egy of eco­nomic mod­ern­iza­tion and post-cri­sis in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion. Our ef­forts to trans­form Kaza­khstan into one of the world's top 50 most com­pet­i­tive economies in­clude open­ing up the na­tional econ­omy to in­ter­na­tional in­vestors. For­eign direct in­vest­ment into Kaza­khstan ac­count for about 80% of all cap­i­tal in­flows into the Cen­tral Asian economies, with EU coun­tries be­ing the most im­por­tant source of in­vest­ments. The highly de­vel­oped bank­ing sys­tem, sta­ble in­sti­tu­tions and in­vest­ment- friendly gov­ern­ment poli­cies fur­ther en­cour­age for­eign in­vest­ment. Kaza­khstan con­tin­ues to deepen its in­te­gra­tion into the global econ­omy. The treaty found­ing the Eurasian Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity ( EEC) was signed in Kaza­khstan's cap­i­tal As­tana in 2000. The Cus­toms Union, bring­ing to­gether Kaza­khstan, Rus­sia and Be­larus, is an im­por­tant part of Kaza­khstan's in­te­gra­tion initiatives. Cus­toms bar­ri­ers be­tween the three mem­ber states were abol­ished in July 2011. This opens up greater op­por­tu­ni­ties for Kazakh com­pa­nies to in­crease their sales on the global mar­ket and ex­pand op­por­tu­ni­ties for for­eign com­pa­nies work­ing in our coun­try. The es­tab­lish­ment of the Cus­toms Union and the sub­se­quent cre­ation of a Sin­gle Eco­nomic Space will mark a real turn­ing point in Kaza­khstan's for­eign pol­icy and ex­ter­nal eco­nomic strat­egy, aimed at gen­uine in­te­gra­tion in the in­ter­ests of our peo­ple. For sev­eral years, we have also been work­ing to­wards ac­ces­sion to the WTO, and we be­lieve we are get­ting closer to that goal with ev­ery sin­gle day.

Since the first days of our in­de­pen­dence, Kaza­khstan has

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