Foreign Policy


Overview

Kazakhstan’s foreign policy was formulated shortly after Kazakhstan gained its independence on December 16, 1991. The first President of the independent Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, indicated that diplomacy’s main objective was to create and maintain favorable conditions for steady development of the Kazakhstan based on political and economic reforms. The nature of these reforms determines the nation’s foreign policy priorities, impartiality, and a desire to be fully involved in both international and regional events.

Primary Goals

The primary goals of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy are as follows:

  • Protect national interests.
  • Provide favorable conditions for political and economic development.
  • Develop strategic cooperation with leading countries and regions of the world.
  • Improve cooperation with international organizations.
  • Strengthen democratic principles within the new world order.
  • Contribute to global and regional security and stability while opposing new threats such as, terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime.
  • Participate in the processes of regional and global economic integration.
  • Promote democracy as well as social and human development.
  • Protect the environment and sustain development.

Key Decisions

The Government made key decisions and adopted policies regarding:

  • The military
  • Politics
  • Economics
  • Democratic reforms
  • A new state governing system

These decisions were essential in easing Kazakhstan’s transition to the world community and helped create a foreign policy in harmony with the global political trend towards liberalization.

One of the most important decisions Kazakhstan made during the last 15 years was to become a non-nuclear state and pursue a policy of nonproliferation. Kazakhstan’s diplomacy was successful in developing positive relations with 140 countries and helping it to become a member of 64 international political and economic organizations. In March 1992, Kazakhstan was accepted into the United Nations Organization and has played an active role in its initiatives for the past 18 years. There have been no conflicts or confrontations between Kazakhstan and other countries to date, thus further underscoring the effectiveness of the nation’s diplomacy.

Global Integration

Kazakhstan has signed more than 1,300 international and intergovernmental contracts and agreements establishing a practical, contractual, and legal framework for relations with other countries. Furthermore, to create conditions required for integration into global and regional processes, Kazakhstan has established active cooperation with the majority of North American, European, and Asian countries as well as their chief regional organizations, including the:

Participation in regional and global affairs and events is necessary to strengthening Kazakhstan’s independence. The nation is involved in several global transformation processes that highlight the issue of interdependence. Problems that were once considered domestic or regional now have a larger impact on the world, causing globalization to become the dominant factor in world politics. Although interdependence is a factor in areas such as finance, technology, and information technology (IT), the globalization of the economy is gaining influence and importance in society as it affects major political decisions.

Foreign policy has become an integral part of Kazakhstan’s state policy. Consequently, the Republic has found ways to coordinate its own interests with those of other countries. Kazakhstan is represented by more than 70 diplomatic and consular offices worldwide. In the realm of diplomacy, the Republic has achieved several important milestones:

  • Enactment of the Law on Diplomatic Service of the Republic of Kazakhstan
  • Establishment of Kazakhstan's foreign policy and international cooperation
  • Gaining respect in the international community
  • Increasing recognition of the Republic’s foreign policy’s principles within the diplomatic community

For the first time in its history , Kazakhstan was elected to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in November 2006. It gained the support of 187 of 192 UN member states at the General Assembly—significantly more than the required two-thirds vote.

Regional Alliances

Kazakhstan continues to develop regional alliances in every corner of the world because of the increasing significance of globalization and economic integration. Many countries recognize their national goals can only be achieved through developing regional cooperation. For this reason, Kazakhstan has undertaken efforts to promote regional economic integration. For example, the city of Astana has increased its cooperation with the:

  • Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
  • Eurasian Economic Association
  • Central Asian Economic Association
  • Shanghai Cooperation Organization

In early 2005, Kazakhstan called on its neighbors to help establish the Central Asian Union based on the following shared characteristics:

  • History
  • Ethnicity
  • Culture
  • Economy
  • Challenges
  • Future interests

During a 1992 meeting with the UN, President Nazarbayev called for an initiative to establish the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building measures in Asia (CICA), designed to develop and strengthen security and related organizations. Many Asian nations encouraged this initiative and a number of international organizations, including the United Nations, supported the process. In June 2002, the first CICA summit took place, and the “Almaty Act,” which outlines the principles of security and cooperation in Asia, was adopted.
Kazakhstan continues to develop regional alliances in every corner of the world because of the increasing significance of globalization and economic integration. Many countries recognize their national goals can only be achieved through developing regional cooperation. For this reason, Kazakhstan has undertaken efforts to promote regional economic integration. For example, the city of Astana has increased its cooperation with the:

  • Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
  • Eurasian Economic Association
  • Central Asian Economic Association
  • Shanghai Cooperation Organization

In early 2005, Kazakhstan called on its neighbors to help establish the Central Asian Union based on the following shared characteristics:

  • History
  • Ethnicity
  • Culture
  • Economy
  • Challenges
  • Future interests

During a 1992 meeting with the UN, President Nazarbayev called for an initiative to establish the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building measures in Asia (CICA), designed to develop and strengthen security and related organizations. Many Asian nations encouraged this initiative and a number of international organizations, including the United Nations, supported the process. In June 2002, the first CICA summit took place, and the “Almaty Act,” which outlines the principles of security and cooperation in Asia, was adopted.

Kazakhstan’s Stance on Current International Issues

Kazakhstan believes new threats to regional and global peace and stability require collective political will and global effort. Such threats include:

  • International terrorism
  • Drug trafficking
  • Interethnic and religious conflicts
  • Humanitarian crises
  • Poverty and epidemics
  • Illegal migration
  • Man-made environmental disasters

The root causes of these threats lie in economic and political underdevelopment and degradation. Therefore, comprehensive agreement on collective mechanisms and instruments is essential to successfully address these threats.

Afghanistan

The UN and its Security Council are the most appropriate commissions to accomplish this two-fold task. Kazakhstan supports the UN and looks to it to undertake effective efforts to address these new threats. The UN can play a decisive role in preserving cultural diversity and civilization in Afghanistan

Kazakhstan favors a comprehensive and continued international effort, led by the UN, to bring lasting peace, economic recovery, and humanitarian relief to Afghanistan. Illegal drug production and trafficking in Afghanistan remain major international concerns, particularly for neighboring countries like Kazakhstan. Consequently, Kazakhstan joined the International Antiterrorist Coalition and pledged assistance to the Afghan Government at the 2006 London Afghanistan Compact Conference. At the international conference in Afghanistan later that year, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister offered a concept of a “broader Central Asia” that envisions Afghanistan’s active economic cooperation with Central Asian countries. The institution of this concept could greatly contribute to the recovery and integration of Afghanistan both regionally and globally.

Iraq

Although the 2005 election was an important milestone in Iraq’s recovery, Kazakhstan believes the UN should continue to play an active and effective role in the nation by cooperating with Iraqi authorities and the international community. Joint efforts should ensure the following for Iraq:

  • Independence
  • Territorial integrity
  • Sovereignty

In cooperating with international efforts, Kazakhstan has sent a unit of 30 military engineers to join the International Stabilization forces in Iraq.

The Middle East

Kazakhstan supports the “road map” for the Middle East developed by the United States as a framework for establishing the peaceful coexistence of Israel and Palestine. To achieve this vision, the four sponsors of the Middle East Process must come to a consensus on how to fairly determine the legitimate interests and rights of both parties. Additionally, it is essential that Israel and Palestine demonstrate serious and significant signs of commitment before any additional steps are taken.

Iran’s Nuclear Program

As a state that voluntarily denounced nuclear weapons, Kazakhstan is committed to the principles of nonproliferation and the peaceful civilian use of nuclear energy. Therefore, Iran’s nuclear program remains a major concern as it affects both regional and global security.

Kazakhstan supports the Treaty of the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which allows nations to undertake nuclear research and use atomic energy for peaceful purposes. However, they must cooperate closely with the UN and comply with the transparency and non-proliferation safeguards under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Kazakhstan believes diplomatic means must be employed by all invested countries to resolve the international issue related to Iran’s nuclear development program.

Commitment to Assist Afghanistan

Kazakhstan as a pro-active actor in the world scene regards the situation in Afghanistan as a priority on its foreign policy agenda and exerts serious efforts to facilitate reconstruction in this country which plays a crucial role in the long-term security and stability in Central Asia. That’s why rehabilitation of this country is a major foreign policy priority of Kazakhstan who strongly favours a comprehensive and continued international effort to bring lasting peace and economic development to Afghanistan.

Over the last years Kazakhstan made significant contribution to stabilization of Afghanistan. In 2001 Kazakhstan provided no-cost over-flight rights for “Enduring Freedom” operation. Similar arrangements have been developed and adopted between Kazakhstan and Germany at the end of 2007. In 2002 Kazakhstan offered its emergency landing air fields for US military and cargo planes. Being one of the key parts of so-called Northern Distribution Network through which about 35% of all US cargo arrives to Afghanistan since 2009 Kazakhstan made its rail and motor roads available for transit of non-lethal shipments needed for NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

In accordance with Bonn Process, 2006 London Conference, 2008 Paris Donor Conference on Afghanistan during 2006-2009 Kazakhstan has undertaken a number of steps like humanitarian aid to Afghanistan ($ 1 mln.), scholarships for 100 Afghani students to study in the national universities (geology, engineering, etc.), training programs for Afghanistan’s police and internal security service, signing with Government of Afghanistan the Protocol of Intentions to build railway road Termez (Uzbekistan) – Kabul (Afghanistan) with further access to the transport infrastructure of India, creation of the Kazakh-Afghan Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Kazakhstan is the only Central Asian country which has the Assistance Program on Reconstruction of Afghanistan. In 2007-2008 Governmental Action Plan on Assistance to Afghanistan has been successfully accomplished. Total financial funding in sum of $ 3 mln. has been provided to restore agricultural seed supply of Afghanistan ($0.5 mln.), to build a school in Samangan province ($0.28 mln.), a hospital in Bamiyan province ($0.57 mln.) and a road ($ 1.65 mln.).

Under the next Governmental Action Plan on Assistance to Afghanistan for 2009-2011 Kazakhstan allocates $5 million for projects related to water supply, infrastructure development and delivery of grains and other commodities. Besides, Kazakhstan is ready to provide an enhanced education program to Afghanis in a variety of fields. The Action Plan allocates considerable resources for providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. The aid will include the delivery of commodities and materials as well as construction of four bridges crossing the river running through the town of Aibak and strengthening the river banks. According to the Action Plan, Afghan government will receive two aircrafts from their Kazakh counterparts: a MI-171 (to use for humanitarian cargo and rescue operations) and an IL-76 (for transporting humanitarian aid cargo from the United Arab Emirates to Afghanistan within the UN World Food Program).

Another important step was decision by the Government of Kazakhstan to allocate $ 50 mln. to implement the Agreement on Cooperation in Education with Afghan Government. Under the Agreement Kazakhstan will educate 1000 Afghan people from 2010 to 2014. Education of Afghan people will be carried out in the universities of Kazakhstan in such specialties as healthcare, agriculture, police, border control, engineering, teachers and educators.

Kazakhstan also stands for more regional involvement to the solution of Afghan problem and, in this regard, fully supports US strategy on Afghanistan declared by President Barack Obama which contains comprehensive vision on how to operate in «AfPak» zone. Stabilization of Afghanistan was and continues to be one of the most important issues to discuss during high-level exchanges between Kazakhstan and USA.

Contributions to International Security

Nonproliferation has been the cornerstone of relations between two countries that traveled a long way from newly born cooperation to mature strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and the United States.

Kazakhstan’s adherence to building peaceful world resulted in open and constructive Kazakh-US cooperation in nuclear nonproliferation based on the Nunn-Lugar Initiative “Cooperative Threat Reduction Program”.

In August 1991 President Nazarbayev has signed a historic decree to close the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. Kazakhstan by then dismantled its infrastructure, and had signed agreements concerning nuclear armaments. Now Kazakhstan is implementing the proposals made by the President N. Nazarbayev during the Disarmament Conference to include Kazakhstan’s seismic stations in the International Monitoring System.

On the 29th of December 1991 the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine signed the Almaty Declaration in which they agreed on the control mechanisms over the operation of the nuclear arsenal of the former USSR and affirmed their international obligations concerning the strategic arms reduction.

On the 23rd of May 1992 in Lisbon the representatives of Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and USA signed a five party Protocol to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. At the same time Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, as the states possessing nuclear weapons, committed themselves to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Thus Kazakhstan has made a historical decision to renounce its nuclear heritage which was an important step strengthening the statehood of our country as an integral part of existing world civilisation.

In accordance with the Lisbon Protocol, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine, as successor states to the USSR in terms of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, have agreed to participate, along with Russia and USA, in the work of the joint Commission on observance and inspection. They have also agreed to conclude agreements on the limits and restrictions specified by the Treaty. Kazakhstan ratified the Treaty and the Lisbon Protocol, which is an integral part of the Treaty, on the 2nd of July 1992. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty came into force in 1994 and paved the way to disarmament and the elimination of more than 9,000 nuclear warheads under strict supervision.

Kazakhstan was the first among the participants of the Lisbon Protocol to implement the provisions concerning removal of nuclear warheads. On the 21st of April 1996 the process of removal of 1416 nuclear warheads from Kazakhstan territory was completed. On the 30th of May 1995 the last nuclear test warhead, which was located in a gallery on the Semipalatinsk test site, was destroyed. Finally Kazakhstan had got rid of its nuclear inheritance forever.

During the Soviet era, Kazakhstan was the site of the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal of more than 1000 deadly ICBMs which posed a menacing, if not dangerous, threat to international peace, depending on the leadership and direction of that country when it became independent in 1991. Fortunately, that leader was Nursultan Nazarbayev who acted decisively to order the dismantling and removal of the country’s entire nuclear weapons system. In 1994, Kazakhstan transferred more than a half-ton of weapons-grade uranium to the U.S. In 1995, Kazakhstan removed its last nuclear warhead and, with U.S. assistance, completed the sealing of 181 nuclear test tunnels in May 2000. Kazakhstan has signed the START Treaty (1992), the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1993), the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (2001).

On March, 21, 2009 the Treaty on Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in Central Asia, signed on September, 8, 2006 in Semei, Kazakhstan, went into force. Kazakhstan welcomes the Treaty’s becoming effective and believes that it will contribute to global non-proliferation process and promote regional and international security. The new denuclearized zone in Central Asia has a number of unique features. First, one of the zone’s state namely, Kazakhstan, in the past possessed the forth largest nuclear arsenal. Secondly, for the first time the denuclearized zone is created in Northern hemisphere. Thirdly, this Treaty becomes the first multilateral agreement in security area which brings together all five Central Asian countries. And finally, for the first time the denuclearized zone has been created in the region which borders upon two nuclear states. The Protocol on negative security assurances is an integral part of the Treaty. Under the Protocol, the nuclear weapon states pledge not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any states member to the Treaty.

On June 18, 2009 over 25,000 locals, Kazakh dignitaries and world media gathered in Semey city to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan's decision to stop nuclear tests at the Semipalatinsk Test Site. The meeting was held in Semey where President Nursultan Nazarbayev addressed an appeal to the international community to back up the peaceful mission of Kazakhstan. In his speech, President Nazarbayev emphasized that refusal to conduct nuclear testing has become possible due to courage and enthusiasm of millions of Kazakhs that put an end to the crimes against lives and health of the whole people of Kazakhstan. Besides he noted that “starting from the first days of the country’s independence, Kazakhstan did not leave its citizens alone with their problems. The work on social rehabilitation of the population and the territories suffered the harm of the nuclear tests is being constantly carried out. For these purposes the state utilized nearly KZT 34 billion (approximately $215 million)”.

In December 2009, the UN General Assembly unanimously accepted a resolution put forward by Kazakhstan proclaiming August 29, the day when in 1991 President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree on the closure of Semipalatinsk Test Site, as the ‘International Day against Nuclear Tests’. Recognizing the negative impact of nuclear testing on human life and the environment, as well as the importance of ending nuclear tests as one of the key means of achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world, the Resolution sets out to commemorate a significant date in Kazakhstan’s – and, indeed, - the world’s history.

The international community has fully appreciated Kazakhstan’s contribution to this nuclear disarmament programme.
Paying a visit to Kazakhstan in April 2010 U.N. Secretary General Ban Kim-moon said “I highly commend the extraordinary leadership of president Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, who courageously closed this nuclear test site and initiated the nuclear weapon-free zone in Central Asia. That’s a big milestone”.

During the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. in April, 2010 Obama praised President Nazarbayev "as really one of the model leaders in the world on nonproliferation and nuclear-safety issues". U.S. President B. Obama and other leaders also took positive view on President Nazarbayev's proposition to establish an International Nuclear Fuel Bank on the Kazakh territory. President Nazarbayev highly appraised the antinuclear initiatives and achievements of the U.S. President in ensuring international security, namely, convocation of the Global Nuclear Security Summit, signing the New START Treaty with Russia, adoption of the new US nuclear posture review which had become a great step towards establishment of the nuclear-free world.

The Government of Kazakhstan’s contribution to the nuclear disarmament program demonstrates its commitment to the objectives of global security, establishing Kazakhstan as a critical member of the world community.

Domestic and OSCE Political Agenda

In May 2007, Kazakhstan modified its Constitution by:

  • Allowing for two consecutive presidential terms of five years each
  • Increasing the powers of Parliament
  • Introducing a proportional representation to elect members of the Majilis (Lower House)
  • Establishing a party-based parliamentary system

Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Marat Tazhin outlined the agenda of Kazakhstan’s priorities and further political reforms at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Ministerial Meeting on November 29, 2007 in Madrid. The Madrid commitments were incorporated into the 2008 “State-of-the-Nation” address, in which President Nazarbayev declared that the government, judiciary, and legislature, in close cooperation with the ODHIR/OSCE, international NGOs, and Kazakh civil society, are to define and implement upcoming political reforms.

OSCE Chairmanship

In its role as the 2010 OSCE Chairman-in-Office (CiO), the Republic of Kazakhstan intends to follow the “Ministerial Troika” of 2009-2011 and the newly developed “Quintet” format. Kazakhstan, the first non-European CiO, will pay specific attention to its Chairmanship agenda by focusing on longstanding OSCE agenda items, such as:

  • Democracy
  • Human rights
  • Unresolved conflicts

At the same time, Kazakhstan intends to introduce its own agenda:

  • Security – Strengthening security in Central Asia is one of the most important priorities of Kazakhstan’s efforts within the OSCE. In addition, Kosovo’s independence can potentially help end unresolved conflicts in Transcaucasia (Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia) and other European regions (Crimea, Moldavia).
  • Inter-religious tolerance – Kazakhstan will enhance international laws that strengthen inter-religious and ethnic tolerance within the OSCE’s zone of responsibility. Foreign Minister Tazhin’s 2008 commitments to cooperate with the OIC and OSCE also illustrate Kazakhstan’s determination in strengthening inter-religious and interethnic dialogue at all levels.
  • Energy security – In support of the European Union energy security agenda, Kazakhstan will strengthen alternative energy. This corresponds with the United States’ policies of energy security, such as the Clean Technology Fund, that focus on alternative energy and the development of clean energy technologies.
  • Economic dimension – The core of Kazakstan’s economic vision consists of the following goals:
    • Promote systemic market reforms
    • Enhance healthy financial systems and markets
    • Improve governance
    • Increase transparency
    • Expand anti-corruption efforts

These goals, along with additional assistance and significant investments, will be directed towards OSCE member countries, including:

  • Georgia
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Tajikistan
  • Armenia
  • Ukraine
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria
  • Turkey

Political integration

Kazakhstan is the only Central Asian (CA) country to adopt a government plan to provide $3 million in aid to assist Afghanistan. Accordingly, Kazakhstan will construct a highway, build a school and hospital, and supply agricultural stock to Afghanistan. This nation has also become one of Kazakhstan’s national security priorities; consequently, methods to enhance cooperation are being discussed in the following fields:

  • Trade
  • The mining sector
  • International auto and air communication
  • Mutual protection of investments