30th Anniversary of Kazakhstan’s Independence:

Landmark Jubilee from Kazakh Embassy to RSA perspective

25 February 2021

The City of Tshwane

Q-1: Your Excellency, Ambassador Kanat Tumysh, this year Kazakhstan celebrates the 30th Anniversary of its Independence. Please tell us how your esteemed state has changed during these 30 years? What are the most significant initiatives of the country’s leadership, as well as the main achievements of modern Kazakhstan during the period of independence?

A-1: Kazakhstan has entered the year of a glorious, memorable and landmark event for our country – the 30th Anniversary of our cherished Independence. Throughout the years of our Independence, we have entered the group of the World’s Top-50 most competitive countries, and our GDP per capita has grown almost tenfold – from USD 1,512 in 1991 to 11,250 in 2020.

In His Excellency’s Article entitled “Independence is the most precious treasurepublished in the Kazakhstani leading media outlet – Egemen Qazaqstan on 5 January 2021, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan shared the following milestones within our modern history:

The first decade of our Independence entailed the laying of the foundation of a new Kazakhstan. At the time, under the leadership of Elbasy (H.E. Mr Nursultan Nazarbayev, the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Leader of the Nation), the symbols of our state were established, and the governmental system (state system, powers, administrative authorities) was formed. Our national currency Kazakhstani Teŋge (KZT) came into circulation. We created our Armed Forces, and we adopted our Constitution. We established diplomatic relations with foreign countries, including South Africa on                      5 March 1992. We shifted our capital from Almaty to Nur-Sultan in 1997. Our country has become a member of authoritative and reputable international organizations, such as UN, OIC, OSCE, CIS, CSTO, SCO, Interpol, International Olympic Committee (IOC), FIFA, UEFA and many others. Kazakhstan managed to close down the world’s second largest nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk and voluntarily dismantled the planet’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal.

The second decade of our Independence was a period of defining the development priorities of the Kazakh state. During these years, the position of our country strengthened and our economic potential increased. We defined and established the legality of all our land borders. We implemented the “Cultural Heritage” programme and recorded our history. We saved the North Aral Sea and reclaimed the receding sea. We have also:

  • Initiated tri-annual Congresses of the Leaders of World Traditional Religions                        (in 2003);
  • Chaired the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and hosted its 7th Summit (2010);
  • Chaired the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and hosted its 5th and 11th Summits of (2005 & 2011);
  • Inaugurated and chaired the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and hosted its 1st and 2nd Summits (2002&2006);
  • In 2009, following the Initiative by the Kazak leadership, UNGA by its Resolution 64/35, we established International Day against Nuclear Tests, observed annually on 29th of August (incredibly special day in 1991 when the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site was shut down once and forever);
  • Also chaired OIC and hosted its Ministerial Council in Nur-Sultan (Astana) in 2011, where the Organization managed to change its logo and name – from the “Organization of the Islamic Conference” to the “Organization of Islamic Cooperation”;
  • Attracted significant foreign investment in our country;
  • Turned our capital Nur-Sultan, which grew up on the banks of the Esil River, into our national showpiece.
  • Launched major infrastructure projects, such as the Western Europe – Western China international transportation corridor.
  • Accelerated housing construction at an unprecedented pace.

In the third decade of our Independence, our country grew and become a prosperous state. We adopted the Strategy “Kazakhstan – 2050” and planned to join the top thirty developed countries. We implemented large-scale Programmes such as, “Sustainable Industrial-Innovative Development,” “Nurly Jol” (lit. “Radiant Path”), “100 Concrete Steps” in each region.

On foreign policy track, we have finally resolved all the border issues with our neighbours.  Kazakhstan in that very decade put forward several significant international initiatives, such as:  

  • The ATOM Project (August 2012) an international campaign by the Nazarbayev Centre of Kazakhstan. The primary goal of the campaign is to build international support for the abolishment of nuclear testing. ATOM stands for “Abolish Testing. Our Mission.” The aim is to achieve a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty through online petitions and other methods);
  • The Universal Declaration on the Achievement of a Nuclear Weapon-Free World (adopted by the UN General Assembly with its Resolution 70/57 in December 2015);
  • The Code of Conduct towards Achieving a World Free of Terrorism (adopted in New York in 2018), joined to the date by around 90 states;
  • Kazakhstan at that decade also gained the status of the Member-Observer of the African Union in 2013.

The big task of the forthcoming fourth decade of our Independence is to become a powerful country and a mature nation. Along that road, we need to continue the process of political and economic reforms and modernization of our consciousness, to form a new identity of the nation adapted to modern requirements.

Working together hand-in-hand (As the famous proverb of my and many other nations – Jumyla kötergen jük jeŋil, i.e. Many hands make light work) all the Kazakhstanis have created the necessary conditions for a confident future. We intend to keep this pace up and not stray from our course.

However, as our country and people enter the fourth decade of our sovereignty, our state and its citizens are facing unprecedented new challenges and threats. Not only us, but also the whole world has entered a completely new era. The path of development of our civilization and the fundamental basis of the global architecture are undergoing radical change. There are many challenges, risks, and threats ahead. However, the main task for all of us is to overcome the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. The twenty-first year of the XXI century will be a turning point for entire humanity. This year will determine the main path of the coming decade. In such difficult times, we should not waste time and relax even for a moment.

Therefore, in the year of the 30th Anniversary of Independence we will carry out comprehensive reforms in our country. Our population wants successful economic and social programmes. We will focus all our efforts on building an effective state and a just society. The main priority of our country’s leadership is to improve the quality of life and welfare of our population. Our People focus on real results. We involve all active citizens in this large-scale work. They are directly involved in making decisions that affect the country.

To summarise, I would like to underscore that the eternal triad of our sovereignty consists of:

  1. Our vast land, stretching from Altai mountains in the east to Atyrau (Caspian Depression) in the west, from Alatau mountains (other names: Täŋir Tau, Mountains of Heaven, Tian Shan) in the south to Saryarqa (Kazakh Uplands) in the north:
  2. Our sacred language, which is nourished by our mother’s white milk; and
  3. Our prosperity and unity that our ancestors protected and provided to our nation as their legacy despite all difficulties.

We cherish these three values.

Q-2: Could you please kindly tell us about the latest trends in the electoral and legislative process in your country?

A-2: We realize that one of the key preconditions for our long-term success is the carrying out of reforms through quality legislation. That is why we renovated our Parliament this year.

Truly democratic elections successfully held on 10 January 2021 turned a new page in the development of our country. This important event once again proved the strength of our statehood. It demonstrated Kazakhstan society’s strong political culture and civic maturity. By holding elections at the beginning of this year, we not only overcame big difficulties, but also paved the way for modernization. The results of the voting in all regions showed that our people fully support the strategic direction of the state. The common goal of all the political parties is to make Kazakhstan a strong country. The new multi-party composition of the Majilis and Maslikhats (local representative bodies) at all levels has shown an increase in political competition in our society. The Nur Otan (ruling party in Kazakhstan, lit. ‘Radiant Fatherland’) Party, led by the Leader of our Nation (Elbasy), has retained its leadership position. Other parties, representing the interests of certain segments of our population, also received mandates of confidence.