Photo: First President of Kazakhstan, Elbasy H.E. Nursultan Nazarbayev
Photo: H.E. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev President of Kazakhstan
H. E. Kanat Tumysh, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the Republic of South Africa
13 December 2021
Very soon, Kazakhstan will commemorate its 30th Independence Anniversary. How has your country in the heart of Eurasia changed during the last thirty years? What are the most significant initiatives and achievements the Kazakh leadership has garnered?
Throughout this year, Kazakhstan has been celebrating a glorious and memorable landmark event for our country – the 30th Anniversary of our
Thanks to our First President and Leader of the nation H.E. Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev’s forward looking policy, Kazakhstan has registered notable
success and has become known all over the world. In unity and harmony, we were able to build our newly independent state, as our greatest accomplishment.
We have strengthened the spirit of the nation by laying a solid foundation for development.
Our people have built a strong statehood; thus, sovereignty is not just an empty slogan. It is important for us that every citizen should enjoy the fruits of
Independence – a peaceful life, social harmony and improved well-being. All our endeavours are aimed at this. Thanks to the unity and constructive labour of the people of Kazakhstan, we have successfully overcome all difficulties and trials.
Our country is about to enter the fourth decade of Independence. It is already clear that this period will not be easy. Therefore, we must be ready for any
challenges and threats.
During the first years of our Independence (1991 to 2021) we joined the World’s Top-50 most competitive
countries with high GDP per capita, which grew more than twenty times (currently $26,500).
In His Excellency’s article entitled “Independence is the Most Precious Treasure”, published in the
Kazakhstani leading media outlet Egemen Qazaqstan in January 2021, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
shared the following milestones in our modern history:
The first decade of our Independence entailed the laying of the foundation for a new Kazakhstan. At the time, under the leadership of Elbasy, the symbols
of our statehood were established, and the state governmental system, i.e., administrative authorities and powers were formed. We created our Armed
Forces in 1992, and we adopted our Constitution in 1993-1995. Our national currency Kazakhstani Teñge came into circulation in 1993. We established
diplomatic relations with 183 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, FIFA, UEFA and many others. Kazakhstan managed to close the world’s
second largest nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk and voluntarily dismantled the planet’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal.
In the second decade of our Independence, we defined development priorities for the Kazakh state. The position of our country strengthened and our economic potential increased. We 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 are also:
• Initiated tri-annual Congresses of the Leaders of
World Traditional Religions (in 2003);
• Co-established as the founding fathers of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States (Turkic Council) in 2009, which was renamed the Organization of Turkic States and enforced in November 2021. Its current members are
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan, while observers are Hungary and Turkmenistan. This structure is an important priority of our foreign policy.
• 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, 11th and 17th Summits of (2005, 2011 & 2017);
• Inaugurated and chaired the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in
Asia (CICA) and hosted its 1st and 2nd Summits (2002&2006) and will host the 6th Summit in NurSultan in 2022;
• Tabled, following the Initiative by the Kazakh leadership, the UNGA Resolution 64/35 of 2009, which established International Day against Nuclear Tests, observed annually on 29th of August
(very special day in 1991 when the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site was shut down once and forever);
• Сhaired OIC and hosted its historic 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”;
• Co-established as the founding fathers the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), comprising 5 post-soviet states located in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (2014);
• Attracted significant foreign investment into 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
In the third decade of our Independence, our country grew and became a prosperous state. We adopted the Strategy “Kazakhstan2050” and
planned to join the top 30 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, we finally resolved all the border issues with our neighbours. We were elected to the UN Security Council for 2017-2018, a first for a country from Central Asia, and chaired this authoritative UN body in January 2018. In summer and autumn
2021, respectively, we were also elected to the UN Economic and Social Council and UN Human Rights Council, for 2022-2024. Kazakhstan joined the Second Optional Protocol of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, abolishing the death penalty.
In the same decade pioneered several significant international initiatives including:
• 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 the goals of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty through online petitions and other
• G-Global Platform (2013) a global coalition for a green economy and development, an international
ICT virtual project, a platform with the expert community, who have constant interactive, open and public discussions and debates on global issues;
• 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.
What are the major new goals and objectives that H.E. President Tokayev has initiated for the next decade of Kazakhstan’s Independence?
As our country and people are entering the fourth decade of our Independence, the entire world has entered a completely new era and faces unprecedented new challenges. The path of development of our civilization and the fundamental basis of the global
architecture are undergoing radical change. The main task is to overcome the consequences of the Covid-19
pandemic. The 21st year of the twenty first century is a turning point for entire humanity, as it sets the tone for the coming decade.
In such difficult times, we should not waste time for even a moment. Therefore, in the year of the 30th
Anniversary we carried out comprehensive reforms
in our country. Our leadership proposed successful economic and social programmes for the Kazakh
people. President Tokayev signed a historic Decree “On further measures of the Republic of Kazakhstan
in the field of human rights,” which instructs the Kazakh Government to adopt measures and approve
the nation-wide action plan setting out human rights as a priority area for our state. These measures align with the recommendations by the National Council of Public Trust and aim at addressing human rights issues innovatively and protecting our citizens,
especially children and youth, from cyberbullying, and combat human trafficking and torture.
Working together (as the famous proverb of my and many other nations says – 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.
We will focus 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 by focusing on real results. We are directly involving all active citizens in this large-scale work,
inter alia, in making decisions that affect the country.
The long-term development of our state is based on the principles of Continuity, Justice and Progress.
The Kazakh leadership is pursuing the main goal of making consistent changes/reforms in all areas.
We introduced a service model of interaction with our citizens. We ensured public security utilising new digital technologies. Our Parliament strengthened the legal framework for the principles of the rule of law, fair competition, and protection of property.
Today, we are working on several legislative proposals
Yet, the biggest task of the fourth decade 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.
Our new tasks and priorities for the years to come include:
І. Economic development in the post-pandemic
II. Effective social policy targeting the following:
• Improving the efficiency of our health care system
• Ensuring quality education for our people
• Formation of an effective labour market
• Improving domestic and regional policies
III. Political modernization and protection of human rights
Economic development. Our major goal
for economic development is to create a strong competitive national economy, attract foreign investment, as well as ensuring digitization and a green economy. We also want to promote innovation and industrialisation to enable us to join the ranks of
the most advanced 30 developed countries. We aim for a state that boasts healthy, educated, and prosperous
people. Therefore, the main task of our state is to create conditions for e fully-fledged development and prosperity. By 2025, we will create an effective
institutional and infrastructural environment for every citizen.
Effective social policy is key to building a strong and inclusive society. That is why our President Mr Tokayev successfully implemented his concept of “a State that listens to the voice of its People” (in short, a ‘Listening State’) in 2019. We intend to utilize the
creative potential of our nation.
Our leader also emphasised education and science. Recently, Kazakhstan has made progress in reforming these sectors. The world is moving towards the “knowledge economy.” The post Independence generation makes
up more than 50% of the population today. Today’s children and youth
will dominate the labour market of Kazakhstan by 2050. The prosperity of our country in the future depends on their competitiveness. It is important to
understand that being a “young nation” gives us longterm benefits, but we need to take advantage of the same. We shall thus carry out consistent work on the
development of human capital. Investment in young people will certainly pay off many times over.
To this end, we have developed, and are
implementing a special national project. The modernization of national healthcare is particularly important. In the context of the pandemic, the
urgency of this problem has become obvious. Thus, our government is taking a definitive step towards the creation of a healthcare system that will be patientcentric. The transition to such a model is possible through personalisation, the introduction of digital tools, and expansion of people’s access to qualified medical care.
Kazakhstan is paying special attention to the development of most important industries that connect all our regions into a single economic space,
inter alia, transport, energy and digital infrastructure. Our authorities are striving to promote centres of
development, given the advantages of managed urbanization. We are prioritising the improvement of
infrastructure that connects regions, cities, districts and villages.
This year, our country started to modernize more than 3,500 villages. We will completely repair roads to each village and highways of national importance, which are the bedrocks of surrounding settlements. To improve local self-governance further, we plan
to simplify budget procedures and increase the independence of local representatives and executive bodies.
Political modernization. This January we
conducted truly free and transparent parliamentary elections. The main principle of our political modernization is to make all changes/reforms in an
evolutionary way, based on nation-wide dialogue and compromise. Political reforms provided new opportunities for parties and gave impetus to the
democratic development of our country. I would like to briefly outline the main principles of our President’s package of political reforms:
• Registration barrier for creating political parties was halved;
• A 30 % quota was introduced for women and youth on electoral party lists;
• Institution of parliamentary opposition was formalised and strengthened;
• Decriminalisation of Article 130 (defamation) and humanisation of Article 174 (inciting social discord) of the Criminal Code were initiated;
• A new law on assemblies was implemented, which made it easier to organise and participate in rallies;
• Transition to the first-ever direct elections of rural akims/administrative heads (successfully conducted on 25 July 2021).
• Elaboration of the Concept for the Development of Local Self-Governance and the Law on Public Control;
• Creation of a single institution for online-petitions;
• Improvement of the legislation to combat torture, human trafficking, and protect citizens (especially children) from cyberbullying;
• Accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure;
• Increasing the political competition.
Because of these reforms, qualified and respectable people came to the Majilis (National Assembly), Maslikhats (local representative bodies) and rural authorities. The introduction of a proportional system for Maslikhat elections has increased the activity of parties in the regions. Involving citizens as much as possible in the local political process in our regions also proved
helpful. The institution of parliamentary opposition significantly strengthens the role of small political forces. Thus, we have given a significant impetus to
the development of a multi-party system as well as to strengthening of parliamentarism in our country.
In the future, we will create a list of party
members and other related procedures online. It will be beneficial to use the opportunities of the E-Government for this purpose.
In Kazakhstan, the Parliament has a control function alongside the legislative one. We have proven its effectiveness. The efficacious use of this most
important competence will significantly reinforce the institutional basis of modern parliamentarism in Kazakhstan. This is in line with President Tokayev’s
political formula entitled, “Strong President. Influential Parliament. Responsible Government”.
Honourable Ambassador, could you please kindly tell us briefly about the history of Kazakhstan?
Kazakhs are Turkic people. Our ancestors duelled Eurasian steppes, even Anno Domini and domesticated horses for the first time in the World’s
We are legitimate inheritors of the Golden Horde, vast and great Eurasian Empire. Its 750th Anniversary was prettily commemorated last year in Kazakhstan and worldwide. As our President has mentioned, “Golden Horde is included in the important links of
the cultural code of Kazakhs”.
I would like to stress that Kazakhstan is in essence and in geography, a Eurasian state. Of course, most parts of our territory are located in Asia. However,
we must not forget that another part of Kazakhstan comparable to the territory of several UN member states is located on the European continent.
After the dissolution of the Golden Horde, we formed the independent Kazakh Khanate in 1465, which administratively was divided into the three hordes – Senior (Uly Jüz), Middle (Orta Jüz) and Junior (Kishi Jüz). They grouped together in settlements and lived in dome-shaped tents made of
felt material, called yurts. Nomadic Kazakhs migrated seasonally within the Khanate’s territory to find pastures for their herds of sheep, horses, goats and
In 1917, after the October Revolution in the Russian Empire, we created our sovereign state called Alash
Orda (Horde of Alash) that existed between 1917 and 1920 on the approximate territory of the present-day
Republic of Kazakhstan. The capital city was “Alash Qala” (City of Alash, currently Semey).
Nevertheless, after three years, in 1920, this establishment lost its sovereignty and Kazakhstan became part of the USSR as an Autonomous Republic.
In 1936 Kazakhstan became a constituting part of the Soviet Union as a full-fledged Republic. Unfortunately, the same year governmental authorities
also started a mass campaign of political repression in the Soviet Union, usually called the Great Purge. They
forced Kazakhs to settle on collective and state farms. The result of repression against some ethnicities was that large numbers of their representatives were
deported/exiled to our Republic.
Praise be to Almighty, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, in 1991, we gained our cherished Independence.
To summarise, I would like to underscore that the eternal triad of our Sovereignty consists of:
• Our vast land, stretching from Altai mountains in the east to Atyrau (Caspian Depression) in the west, from Alatau mountains (other names: Täŋirtau, Mountains of Heaven) in the south to
Saryarqa (Kazakh Uplands) in the north:
• Our sacred language, which is nourished by our mother’s white milk; and
• Our prosperity and unity that our ancestors protected and provided to our nation as their legacy despite all difficulties.
We cherish these three values.
Finally, what are your wishes to the peoples of Kazakhstan and South Africa?
Today we are experiencing an unprecedented time with challenges such as global turbulence, trade wars
and the Covid pandemic, which has seriously affected the citizens of both of our countries. Therefore, I would like to wish our peoples good health, stability,
prosperity and fruitful cooperation. We have also witnessed the fact that due to the pandemic, many people have lost their jobs and are undergoing extremely difficult times.
I sincerely hope that our governments will be able to quickly and effectively implement the whole package
of measures against the Covid crisis. I have no doubt that the able leadership of Presidents Tokayev and Ramaphosa will soon impact very positively on the
socio-economic plight of our citizens, as our Heads of State are doing their best for the good of our peoples.
The paths of both states are unshakable, and the ultimate goal is clear. We know what needs to be done to achieve it. We consistently transform our plans into reality, and we will complete all our endeavours. We are ready for any challenges and difficulties. Today, in order to complete the tasks that we have, it is necessary to consolidate the state and the society. Otherwise, tomorrow it might be too late.
Kazakhstan and South Africa are now entering a decisive stage in our development. In this vein, their
state systems are obliged to function as effective mechanisms. Only in this way will we ensure the achievement of the set goals.
The cohesion of the nation is the main factor in the success of every country. When we are one, we are
invincible. It is not for nothing that the people say: “Where there is agreement, there is happiness.”
Our strength lies in unity! Let us therefore restore the 1956 Bandung spirit of Afro-Asian co-operation!
Together we shall work for the good of our esteemed countries, our beloved Asia and Africa, and the entire
May our sacred Homelands live eternally!