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Bridge from Europe to Asia: Kazakhstan — a new diplomatic force?
Material posted: Publication date: 15-11-2017
As China develop the project "One belt, one road", new States are becoming increasingly global significance. Many eyes are now looking at Kazakhstan, which is experiencing modernization and due to its economic and diplomatic successes turns into a regional player. Today Kazakhstan is at the crossroads of political and business interests of Russia, China, Iran and the United States of America. The country under the leadership of Nursultan Nazarbayev plays an important role in the UN, the organization of Islamic cooperation and the Organization for economic cooperation and development(OECD).

The state, which is located on the vast territories between Russia and China, is in this key geo-strategic position. His economic position is improving as foreign investment and structural reforms to change the country, and Astana is no longer dependent on foreign aid. Despite the fact that Kazakhstan has vast mineral and energy wealth, in his development program until 2025, the main emphasis is on the development of human capital. Kazakhstan aims to develop education, to diversify the economy, build modern infrastructure, business-focused, to expand the capacity of roads and transport corridors, and to develop a Eurasian financial center in Astana.

However, Kazakhstan faces some difficulties. Lower courts often do not understand or misinterpret the law. Foreign non-governmental organizations and international organizations are reminded of the need to establish in the country the rule of law. Kazakhstan is at the bottom of the corruption perception Index compiled by Transparency International, and occupies 131 place out of 176. So Astana will have to take severe measures to combat corruption, thereby increasing their chances of obtaining foreign investment. Kazakhstan's leadership understands these challenges. In 2015, President Nazarbayev has taken hundreds of concrete steps for the implementation of five institutional reforms regarding the rule of law, control of corruption, improving the quality of public services, support economic growth and strengthen national unity. This plan is the restructuring of state companies, the transition to non-resource economy, attracting foreign investment and the creation of a transport infrastructure which was the envy of the whole world. This helps the Kazakhstan Organization for economic cooperation and development, the meeting of which was held in Astana from 23 to 25 October and advanced the process of restructuring through partnership program.

Nazarbayev announced the third modernization of Kazakhstan in February and April of this year. It is expected that the Kazakh language will be translated from Cyrillic to Latin (by 2025, the process must be fully completed). It is intended as a step towards facilitating global integration. With hundreds of concrete steps the country's leadership wants to reduce corruption in the country. Also, according to the plan, Astana will become the main financial center of the Union of Independent States and the New silk road. Astana will become a special area with a separate judicial system based on English common law. This zone will be designed to provide services to capital markets and Islamic Finance to become one of the 20 leading financial centers in the world. An example for Astana is an international financial center for Dubai (DIFC) and its international activities based on high ethical and legal standards.

Of course, the question of oil production, the authorities do not overshadow. In addition to the expansion of production at Tengiz field, Kazakhstan has again started production at the Kashagan field. Kazakhstan now requires a revision of national quotas within the OPEC cartel and outside it. Internal OPEC agreement is valid until December 2017, and after this period the agreement can be amended, particularly because of the Saudi Vision 2030, presented to crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Astana expects to increase prices 70 — 80 dollars for barrel, and Kazakhstan is much I would give. Its energy sector is thriving. Over a 25-year period of independence of Kazakhstan the European Bank of reconstruction and development allocated to this state 200 million euros for projects in the field of solar and wind energy. Company Vitol, the world's biggest independent seller of energy, increased the amount of the transaction in advance of the supply of oil to $ 5 billion. However Nazabraev requires speedy and large-scale transition to the digital economy of the CIS.

In this economic picture is clearly seen and clear diplomatic component. In early June of this year, Kazakhstan was visited by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, XI Jinping, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra modi along with dozens of other world leaders. They all gathered on the summit of the Shanghai cooperation organization (SCO). At the same time in Astana opened the international exhibition EXPO-2017, which was attended by more than a hundred countries and a million visitors. Prolonged peace talks is also make Kazakhstan a new center of world geopolitics. Soon Kazakhstan will take presidency of the UN security Council, and now looking for friendship Nazarbayev, the leaders of many countries, including the United States. The Americans are particularly interested in building good business and political relations with Astana. Three hundred joint Kazakh-U.S. enterprises and hundreds of American firms operating in the market of Kazakhstan confirmed the desire to develop specific political relationships.

The government of Kazakhstan is its geographical position as a defining principle of foreign policy and a political symbol of independent Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev has repeatedly stated that it is a Eurasian country located between East and West, and this makes it a bridge between Europe and Asia. A similar idea is the basis of multilateral diplomacy Astana, which is designed to maintain good and trusting relations between Kazakhstan and the neighbors on the entire Eurasian space. At the same time, Nazarbayev wants Kazakhstan to defend the sovereignty from traditional Russian hegemony, so diversifitsirovat political and economic ties, focusing on the different major centers of power: China, the United States and the European Union.

New diplomatic force from Kazakhstan is not merely its geographical position, but rich natural resources, ethnic composition of the population and form of government. Since Kazakhstan has no direct access to the open sea and the notable lack of a communication resource, Nazarbayev forced from the beginning to develop cooperation with Russia and China, which allow Kazakhstan to enter the world. In an economy where 70% of exports are oil, providing 40% of budget revenues, diversification is simply necessary. When in December 1991, Nazarbayev came to power, the Soviet political elite was illegal from a national perspective. He remained a supporter of the reformed Soviet Union, even after the failure of the coup against Gorbachev in the summer of 1991, because he understood that in his new big country is home to many citizens of non-Kazakh origin. A large Russian minority lives in the North of the country, and for many years now because of this, the threat of Russian irredentism. In addition, there remain some unresolved territorial disputes on the border with China with a length of 1533 km.

The role played by Nazarbayev's authoritarian nature, which have always influenced foreign policy. Most of the international organizations says that Kazakhstan is not a free country, what she's going through transformation and hypercentralization that it is based on close relations between the President, its Creator, with his closest associates, while the remaining institutions have been marginalized. Also the President's circle — an example of a system in the spirit of neopatrimonialism, in which, however, still reigned nepotism, since the role played there is still a rational economic and administrative interests. Therefore, the election in Kazakhstan as a whole is not as important, although they are free (at least in the legislature). Some observers believe that the elite uses foreign policy to legitimize their own power as domestic policy failed to win the hearts and minds of citizens. Instead, Kazakhstan forms the image of the state elite, which incurs international responsibility and is supported at home. Foreign policy is much more noticeable in General less costly than internal programs, and has more symbolic weight. However, the steppe is formed Kazakh identity: the Kazakhs are a peaceful, open and liberal in economic terms a nation that has regional and multilateral institutions.

Vedran Obucina (Vedran Obućina)


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