The challenges of
creating a modern democracy after more than two centuries of
foreign domination have made the Kazakh experience a valuable one
to be shared with other nations. Today, Kazakhstan has one of the
world's fastest developing economies with multibillion-dollar
foreign investment and a vibrant growing democracy and is walking
on the world stage as a full partner with much older countries.
history restarted again in 1991, after a hiatus of several
centuries. As the world predicted disaster for the nations reborn
from the fallen Soviet Union, Kazakhstan survived and achieved
quite a lot.
The first to
extend its hand of friendship to Kazakhstan was the United States,
with diplomatic recognition on December 25, 1991. The U.S. was
already anticipating certain developments in the former Soviet
Union by the late 1980s and was closely examining the idea of a
sovereign Kazakhstan as a partner on the international stage.
After the breakup
of the Soviet empire, the U.S. emerged as the single global
superpower with special responsibilities for global affairs
involving security, stability, and economic prosperity.
From the first
moment of our independence, we have relied on the support of the
United States of America. We shall always keep in our historical
memory the undeniable fact that it was the U.S. government that
underwrote, politically and legally, Kazakhstan's sovereignty. The
U.S. was the first to open a diplomatic mission in our capital. The
first big investment in Kazakhstan's economy came from American
Chevron paving the way for future multibillion-dollar investments.
American nongovernmental organizations have also been operational
in Kazakhstan since the early days of our independence.
Kazakhstan and the
U.S. are stable partners worthy of each other and needed by each
other. We share mutual long-term strategic interests free of change
from the winds of politics. Kazakhstan's foreign policy towards the
United States is consistent and predictable, which strengthens the
existing stable and broad partnership. Kazakhstan's diplomacy stems
from an understanding that friendly and stable relations with the
U.S. assure and protect our security, sovereignty, and economic
relations have evolved greatly over the past 14 years to reach a
level of a wide-ranging strategic partnership. This strategic
partnership has been built on our two nations' shared values. In
the early 1990s, Kazakhstan started off with a firm commitment to a
more secure world. We have also been committed to liberal values
both in economy and political life early in our independence. These
commitments are very strong and will not change.
Kazakhstan-United States partnership rests on three cornerstones:
mutual economic interests, security, and shared values of
Our shared values
made our hearts go out to the people of the Gulf Coast whose lives
were shattered by Hurricane Katrina and the floods that followed.
We are providing assistance to Katrina victims and wish them a
speedy return to a normal life.
values its extensive cooperation with the U.S. in the economic and
investment spheres. American companies are well known for their
pioneering activities in opening up the Kazakh market.
sustained commitment to economic liberalization, maintaining an
attractive investment environment, making pragmatic policy choices,
and pursuing cooperation with the West, Kazakhstan has emerged as
an indisputable economic and political power in Central Asia and
the Caucasus. Kazakhstan's economy is twice as large as the
economies of all other Central Asian countries combined.
In March 2002, the
U.S. Department of Commerce granted Kazakhstan market economy
status under U.S. trade law, recognizing substantive market reforms
in the areas of currency convertibility, wage rate determination,
openness to foreign investment, and government control over
production and allocation of resources.
U.S. companies are
by far the largest foreign investors in Kazakhstan, accounting for
more than $14 billion out of $45 billion in foreign direct
investment(FDI) so far. These investments focus heavily on the
hydrocarbons sector with Chevron, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, AES
Corporation, and Halliburton all having a considerable stake. With
the current upward trend in oil and gas prices in world markets,
this investment takes on special significance.
climate for U.S. companies in Kazakhstan is extremely favorable,
not only in oil and natural gas, but also in other areas including
technology, telecommunications, and food processing.
believe in the sanctity of contracts with foreign investors and
will not change this position under any circumstances.
cooperation with the United States is not driven by dollars alone.
Our close relationship is rooted in the days when Kazakhstan made a
crucial decision to renounce unilaterally the world's fourth
largest nuclear arsenal and accede to a pair of major treaties: the
Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
In the early
1990s, the Kazakhstan government received several appeals from
leaders of Arab nations urging the country to hold on to the
inherited Soviet nuclear arsenal as an "Islamic bomb." Kazakhstan
inherited 1,410 strategic and tactical nuclear warheads that had
been deployed on Soviet SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missiles
and Tu-95 bombers. Generous financial support and investments were
guaranteed by the suitors. However, Kazakhstan decided to
denuclearize completely and give up the weapons, which were
transferred to Russia in 1995.
appreciate the fact that the United States has signed the
Memorandum on Security Guarantees for Kazakhstan, which assures the
independence and territorial integrity of our country and
non-aggression, both conventional and nuclear, against it.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev called the memorandum a vital
instrument and the U.S.'s role "pivotal" for the security of
Kazakhstan's statehood and its continued existence as a non-nuclear
Kazakhstan and the
U.S. have cooperated closely under the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative
Threat Reduction (CTR) program designed to help Kazakhstan rid
itself of its unwanted nuclear legacy. CTR activities in Kazakhstan
have included the destruction of ballistic missile silos, the
dismantlement of former biological weapons facilities in
Stepnogorsk and parts of the Pavlodar chemical plant, and the
conversion of infrastructure at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test
site, as well as burial of spent nuclear fuel.
Another example of
Kazakhstan's commitment to the nonproliferation regime was the
shipment of 600 kilograms of highly enriched uranium to the United
States under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards
It is quite
understandable why Kazakhstan has been hailed repeatedly by the
U.S. as a model for nonproliferation activities.
until now no unified and fair approach in the international
community to the most pressing issues of nuclear proliferation has
been developed. Allegedly, non-state actors and terrorists have
gained possession of nuclear weapons. We in Kazakhstan strongly
believe that there must be no bargaining on issues of nuclear
nonproliferation. There must be no excuse for nuclear weapons
trade. There must be no mercy for the countries engaged in
production or sale of nuclear weapons. There must be no
differentiation between the "good" and "bad" countries so far as
nuclear proliferation is concerned.
given up its nuclear arsenal, Kazakhstan also urges nuclear weapons
states to do more, including further reductions in their arsenals
of non-strategic nuclear weapons and the pursuit of arms control
agreements calling for both dismantlement and irreversibility. My
country also agrees that nuclear weapon states should also reaffirm
their commitment to negative security assurances under the NPT.
We appreciate the
consistent dialogue with the U.S. government and civil institutions
on democracy building in our country. We reaffirm our strong
commitment to democratic values and fully acknowledge our
international obligations with regard to human rights, democracy,
and civil society. We need good advice and guidance; we need
support and understanding.
Kazakhstan took an
irreversible path of building up a nation committed to fundamental
principles of political pluralism and the rule of law. Bold social
and economic reforms created a solid foundation for a thriving
civil society. We have held regular democratic elections,
established an independent judiciary, and ensured freedom of
speech. We provide for political pluralism, with twelve registered
political parties and movements and 2,000 independent news media
outlets. Five thousand nongovernmental organizations tackle a broad
spectrum of issues, ranging from human rights to environmental
accomplishment is that democracy has already become an irreversible
process, taken deep root in Kazakhstan, and cannot be uprooted by
In his landmark
state of the nation address in February of this year, President
Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed a National Program of Political
Reforms, a radically new stage of political and economic
modernization. He further elaborated on this initiative when
addressing Members of Parliament on September 1, when concrete
measures were put forward to carry out the National Program.
Nursultan Nazarbayev intends to set up and lead the State
Commission on the elaboration and implementation of further
democratic reforms. The Program will cover a six year period and is
to be implemented in two phases: 2006-2008 and 2009-2011. It
envisions, in particular, active development of local
self-governance, extending considerably the responsibilities of
local elected authorities, and strengthening the rights and
supervisory functions of Parliament including its participation in
formation of the government. Particular emphasis is given to the
increased role of political parties, NGOs, and trade unions. In the
coming three years, comprehensive efforts will be undertaken to
consolidate guarantees of rights and freedoms for citizens. The
Program also includes measures to promote independence of the
judiciary, increased transparency, and the effectiveness of
justice. Special importance in the democratization of Kazakh
society is attached to the development and support of the news
media and the fight against corruption.
on the eve of crucial events that could determine our destiny for
many years ahead. The upcoming presidential election, due to take
place this December, is a great challenge and test for us. We are
fully determined to ensure fairness, transparency, and compliance
with international standards. We want our upcoming election to be
an example for the region.
believe that the cooperation of free societies is paramount for
ensuring prosperity. We, therefore, invite international experts to
monitor our electoral process, as their objective and balanced
assessments will be very important to us.
The free and fair
election will be a demonstration of our strengthening democracy and
a strong argument in favor of Kazakhstan's bid to chair the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2009.
We hope to receive the support of the United States on this
perspective, these achievements show Kazakhstan's readiness for the
OSCE Chairmanship. Our nation has a clear vision of
responsibilities to be assumed, as well as theability to carry them
off. We are ready to contribute to further progress of the OSCE. We
believe that if consensus is reached in favor of Kazakhstan, it
will be a proof of the principles of justice and equality. This
decision would give a new impetus to the more rapid evolution of
We further believe
the success of Kazakhstan, a predominantly Muslim nation which has
only recently left a totalitarian system, in pursuing market
reforms and building democracy in a very complicated region, should
be welcomed by the United States as a convincing example useful in
promoting economic and political freedoms around the world.
On our side, we
stand ready to legally and politically protect interests of the
United States in Kazakhstan and the entire region. I believe this
is in the best interests of the peoples of both our nations.
My recent visit to
the U.S. and meetings with top officials of the Bush Administration
confirmed that we speak the same language on almost each and every
issue in our bilateral agenda. This is why there is every reason to
believe bilateral cooperation will not weaken but will gain new
strengths and instill greater optimism.
Today, the world
faces new security threats and challenges. Even the greatest powers
cannot tackle them alone and need assistance. This is especially
true for international terrorism and regional conflicts that
influence global affairs.
Kazakhstan has a
clear vision of the U.S.'s special responsibilities for maintaining
global security and stability and its role in international
relations for years to come. In this regard, we are one with the
United States. We provide critical assistance in both Afghanistan
and Iraq within the framework of the growing strategic
We are grateful to
American for liberating Afghanistan from the Taliban because the
Taliban regime represented a serious threat to all the neighboring
countries of Central Asia, including Kazakhstan. For that reason we
joined the antiterrorist coalition and provided free overflight
rights to coalition aircraft. Almaty airport is available to the
U.S. Air Force for emergency landing and refueling as part of
operations in Afghanistan.
The situation in
Afghanistan is still very unstable, but the position of Kazakhstan
is clear and unequivocal: we stand for the continuation of
operations by the antiterrorist coalition in Afghanistan.
reservations regarding the production of weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq, we, nevertheless, made a difficult decision
and sent our troops to Iraq to express solidarity and support of
the U.S. efforts to build democracy and civil society there.
Kazakhstan turned out to be the only country in Central Asia and
one of the very few Muslim countries to deploy a military
contingent to Iraq. Thirty Kazakh army engineers in Iraq have
already destroyed more than three-and-a-half million pieces of
deadly ordnance in two years of operations.
We lost one
officer and four of our soldiers have been injured, but we are
determined to continue this assistance as long as it is needed to
defeat the dark ideology of terror. In this respect, our commitment
is very strong and solid.
believes that this is not the proper time for debate over the
legitimacy of the military operation of the U.S. led coalition in
Iraq. It is time to demonstrate the solidarity of the international
community to help the Iraqi people rebuild the country, making it a
success story in creating democracy in the Middle East.
We also believe
the United Nations must show greater involvement in conflicts like
Iraq. There is no alternative to the UN as a universal
organization. We support the United Nations and feel the UN has to
be more active in providing an international umbrella for
deployment of troops in Iraq.
Kazakhstan is the
most powerful state in Central Asia by virtue of its size, ample
natural resources, strategic location, economic achievements, and
political stability. When we look across the region, we cannot but
see problems that hinder our development and that of our neighbors.
These problems include corruption, economic underdevelopment, drug
trafficking, illicit arms trade, illegal migration, and trafficking
in persons. It is against this background that we can see why
Kazakhstan believes the only way to ensure success of the region
lies in greater commitment to a market economy and liberal
political reforms and through greater regional integration.
Kazakhstan is the
only success story in the region in terms of political, social, and
economic development. At the same time, we are certain our future
prosperity will be directly influenced by a broader regional
setting. It can hardly be a success if carried out in isolation
from neighboring Central Asian states.
However, the same
is true for our neighbors. Kazakhstan's development remains crucial
for the prosperity and stability of the entire region. Kazakhstan
is literally the heart of a Greater Central Asia and in many ways
the key for future development of Eurasia. It is destined to lead
sustainable development in Central Asia.
We are pragmatic,
as we cannot afford to have "failed states" across the border. We
fully understand the burden of this responsibility and are ready to
help our neighbors. President Nursultan Nazarbayev's initiative on
the establishment of the Union of Central Asian States, announced
this February, serves these purposes and aims to enhance economic
integration and coordinate policymaking and implementation against
threats to security and stability of the region.
The need for wider
economic integration has been obvious, from both an economic and a
historical perspective. All Central Asian states recall with pride
the era when their lands played a crucial role in world trade,
linking Europe with China along the Great Silk Road.
reintegrating the economies of Central Asia will we be able to
avoid future crises caused by overpopulation, lack of investment in
resource development, and the absence of adequate markets.
I think Kazakhstan
and the United States can and should work together to promote such
integration. The initiatives of Kazakhstan and the United States on
the Central Asian Union and the Trade and Investment Framework
Agreement known as TIFA are real mechanisms thathave the potential
to breathe a new life into regional trade and strengthen stability.
Kazakhstan, the most developed country in a region with huge
potential, is ready to be a driving force behind these processes,
which in our view should also be extended to Afghanistan.
of Independent States (CIS) has fulfilled its historic charge-and
it is a matter of discussion whether successfully or not-by not
allowing the newly independent states to sink into chaos.
From our point of
view, the CIS should be preserved as an integration platform
because it has not exhausted its political and economic potential.
However, drastic measures should be taken to make the CIS better
able to respond adequately to new threats and challenges. This
organization needs to be reformed. If not, it will fail to meet the
expectations of the people who live together in the same state for
The last CIS
Summit in Kazan, Russia, confirmed a political will to keep the
organization alive when the heads of member states symbolically
declared the year 2006 as the Year of the Commonwealth.
CIS leaders agreed
to renewed efforts to make the organization more results-oriented,
especially in economic matters, as we need to open borders and
introduce free trade, and in the fields of security and
humanitarian work. Decisions made in Kazan on military cooperation
and common border policy, and fighting terrorism, militant
extremism, and illegal migration are vivid examples of such
reflect the scope and content of a reform package proposed by
President Nazarbayev a year ago at the CIS Astana summit.
Various groups and
organizations in Eurasia might and should closely cooperate and
interact to address common problems and pursue common objectives.
We value the major principles and goals of GUAM, an organization
that includes Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova.
influential Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is one such
regional organization. It includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia, and China.
Today, the SCO is
registered with UN General Assembly as an observer. It concluded
cooperation memoranda with ASEAN and the CIS Executive Committee
and plans to develop cooperation with NATO, OSCE, and other
international organizations. A SCO-Afghanistan contact group will
begin working soon.
established first and foremost to develop confidence building
measures in border regions of the former USSR and China, has
quickly expanded the scope of interaction among its member states
to include further security arrangements, international
counterterrorism, and economic cooperation.
The SCO serves as
an example of successful rapprochement between former military and
ideological enemies. Membership in the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization in Kazakhstan's strategic interests, and we will
continue to support it. The organization's appeal was evident when
India, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan joined the group as observers
at the SCO summit last July in Astana.
So far as the
United States presence in Central Asia is concerned, we view it as
one of the important factors of regional stability, strengthening
the independence and sovereignty of Kazakhstan as well as that of
other countries in the region. It is a natural complement to U.S.
political and economic engagement in this region of strategic
Reform of the
United Nations is one of the most pressing issues the world faces
today as the organization is in danger of becoming outdated and
The credibility of
the United Nations has been shattered by an immense array of global
problems that it has not yet proved capable of handling
effectively. This is evident in the case of the rising global
threat posed by rogue states and international terrorism.
the UN as a key element of an emerging international order. This
year's Sixtieth Anniversary of the United Nations should be an
occasion for momentous decisions regarding the most far-reaching
reform in the entire history of the UN, with due regard to its high
prestige and effectiveness of its bodies.
believes the UN must undergo radical restructuring, including
reform of its Charter, reform of its major institutions, and
streamlining of its bloated bureaucracy. However, modernization
should be carried out carefully, as the process is fraught with
serious consequences posing greater danger of dividing nations than
The reform process
should focus on the transformation and modernization of the UN
system as a whole, providing equitable geographical representation
and respect for sovereign equality of states. Kazakhstan is
strongly convinced that solutions to the most principal issues,
such as Security Council expansion, will be found in a greater
reform context. Reform must primarily be about enhancing
accountability, transparency, and effectiveness of all main organs
of the United Nations, particularly the General Assembly and the
Economic and Social Council.
attention should be given to developing an effective
counterterrorism strategy that not only focuses on coordinated
measures to fight this global menace, but also provides for the
elimination of causes of terrorism.
Kazakhstan has yet to join the WTO, we are convinced the existing
multilateral trading system is balanced against the interests of
developing countries and countries in transition. We hope the
international community can finalize the Doha Round of trade talks
with due respect to these concerns.
As a landlocked
country, Kazakhstan encourages full consideration of interests of
that category of countries. We call for an unconditional
implementation of the 2003 Almaty Action Program, as it relates to
decision making in the areas of economic development, international
trade, and interregional cooperation.
development and environmental protection are definitely a priority
for Kazakhstan, which has been affected by such man-made and
natural disasters as the dying Aral Sea and the Semipalatinsk
nuclear test site. The humanitarian, social, and economic
implications of these and other disasters continue to have a
negative effect on the sustainable development of not only
Kazakhstan but the whole of Central Asia. Kazakhstan calls for
closer and more comprehensive international cooperation on these
strongly believes that it is necessary to fully tap the potential
of regional organizations. Regional organizations play an
increasingly active role in strengthening security, developing
economic cooperation, and creatingthe conditions for nation's
prosperity. Kazakhstan calls for the establishment of a Council of
Regional Organizations at the United Nations, under the
Secretary-General, which would assume the coordination of these
It would be a
mistake to treat human rights as though there was a trade off to be
made between human rights and such goals as security and
development. Comprehensive compliance by all countries with
multilateral human rights treaties and adaptation of domestic
legislation to existing international standards in this area
constitute one of the main factors of international peace and
security. We also welcome the establishment of a Democracy Fund at
the United Nations.
believes each country's positive experience in conducting
interfaith dialogue is extremely important and must be shared to
promote more harmonious relations in societies and stronger
interfaith and intercultural ties.
The initiative of
President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan to convene the
Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in September
2003 in Astana has become Kazakhstan's tangible contribution to
interfaith and intercultural understanding, harmony, and
that the latest report of the UN Secretary-General and the report
of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change both
fail to mention the importance of interfaith dialogue. This
omission should be corrected with the inclusion of specific
provisions on this subject into the final document of the
Kazakhstan sees a lot of challenges facing the world today. Yet,
they can and should be tackled with the international community
working as one. Together, we can build a safer and more prosperous
world for our children.
Kassymzhomart Tokaev is Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic
of Kazakhstan. Mr. Tokaev delivered these remarks to The
Heritage Foundation on August 23, 2005.