Kazakhstan’s Reforms and Initiatives of Kazain the Focus of Attention of International Community

March 16, 2023

During the working visit, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Kairat Umarov held a number of meetings with heads of international organizations accredited in Vienna.

The Kazakh diplomat thanked the Ghada Waly, Head of the Vienna Office of the United Nations and concurrently the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). They were responsible for the implementation of national and regional projects, especially in the field of police reform and countering cybercrime.

In turn, Ghada Waly positively noted the leading role of Kazakhstan in the region in promoting an extensive agenda of development assistance programs. In particular, she expressed gratitude for the cooperation between UNODC and the Kazakhstan International Development Agency KazAID in the implementation of projects of the Global Resource for Anti-Corruption Education and Youth Empowerment (GRACE) in Kyrgyzstan.

In an interview with Robert Floyd, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the parties noted the high level of cooperation between Kazakhstan and the CTBTO, discussed the possibilities of further development of the Kazakhstan segment of the International Monitoring System and the organization of joint scientific and technical events in Kazakhstan.

At the meeting with OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid, the current state and prospects of Kazakhstan's cooperation within the Organization were discussed. The First Deputy Minister thanked the interlocutor for the active participation of OSCE experts and the Parliamentary Assembly in monitoring the progress of the early elections of deputies of the Majilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In addition, Kairat Umarov conveyed to the Secretary General an invitation on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan to take part in the Astana International Forum, which will be held on June 8-9 this year.

The heads of international organizations, fully supporting the new course of political and socio-economic changes in the country, noted the significant interest of the international community in the democratic reforms carried out by the President of Kazakhstan and wished success in holding parliamentary elections to be held on March 19, 2023.

During his stay in Vienna, Kairat Umarov gave an interview to the leading newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten, the main topics of which were reforms and the upcoming parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, as well as our country's approaches to topical international issues.

Meanwhile, the Council of Europe supports Kazakhstan's human rights policy.

The Consulate General of Kazakhstan in Strasbourg organized negotiations of the Commissioner for Human Rights of Kazakhstan Artur Lastaev with the leadership of the Council of Europe (CE).

The Ombudsman met with Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Bjorn Berge, Director of the Venice Commission Department Sergey Kuznetsov, Director of the Coordination Programs Department Klaus Neukirch, Head of the Cooperation Programs Department Lilia Gretarsdottir, Adviser to the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner and other officials.

Lastaev familiarized the partners in detail with the human rights situation in Kazakhstan, the activities of the National Human rights Institute, its new powers, and also thanked the leadership of the Council of Europe for the systematic assistance to the country. He stressed that he attaches great importance to the process of bringing the national system of human rights protection in line with the best international practices. He informed about the internal political processes taking place in Kazakhstan, including preparations for the March 19 elections to the Mazhilis of the Parliament and maslikhats.

On behalf of the Council of Europe, Bjorn Berge praised the reforms carried out by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and expressed readiness to continue providing the necessary assistance to the Government of Kazakhstan. He stressed that the Council of Europe shows great interest in the republic and positively assesses the modernization process, including the restructuring of the law enforcement and human rights system, efforts to combat domestic violence and corruption.

S. Kuznetsov said that the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe positively assesses the reforms carried out in the country. He noted with satisfaction that Kazakhstan takes into account the recommendations of the Commission to draft laws, including constitutional amendments, as well as the law on the Commissioner for Human Rights.

The heads of structural divisions discussed possible joint projects to strengthen institutional competencies, expert potential, training of qualified specialists, especially in the offices of the Ombudsman in the regions of Kazakhstan. Agreements have been reached on holding joint events in priority areas of human rights activities.

In general, the leadership of the Council of Europe expressed support for the ongoing policy of Kazakhstan in the field of human rights and readiness to provide comprehensive assistance.

In turn, Kazakhstan and Ethiopia have outlined plans for the development of bilateral relations.

Ethiopia is studying the experience of Kazakhstan's development, wants to increase bilateral cooperation and interaction in international organizations. This was discussed at the meeting of the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Ethiopia, Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the African Union Barlybai Sadykov with the State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia Mesganu Arga, who oversees cooperation with all foreign states and international organizations.

The Ambassador congratulated Arga on his appointment and highly appreciated the implementation of the Tigray peace agreement, reached through the mediation of the High Group of the African Union on November 2, 2022. He wished the Government and people of Ethiopia success in the process of national dialogue and transitional justice initiated to achieve sustainable peace and development in the post-conflict reconstruction of the country.

B. Sadykov informed about Kazakhstan's experience of political and economic transformation after the January 2022 events, and also informed about the features of constitutional changes in Kazakhstan that strengthened the democratic legal basis of the upcoming parliamentary elections on March 19 this year.

The Ethiopian party showed great interest in the successful experience of Kazakhstan in carrying out political and economic reforms. In addition, Ethiopian experts pay attention to the effectiveness of interethnic and interreligious dialogue in Kazakhstan.

During the meeting, the sides paid special attention to cooperation in the political field. Mesganu Arga highly appreciated the political cooperation of the two countries. Plans to hold the second round of political consultations in 2023 and the participation of the Ethiopian delegation in the Astana International Forum in June this year were discussed.

The possibilities of increasing bilateral trade between Kazakhstan and Ethiopia were also on the agenda of the meeting. Mesganu Arga stated the interest of the Ethiopian side in organizing meetings with major businessmen of Kazakhstan to discuss the prospects of opening joint ventures in the production and supply of metallurgical industry products, building materials, petrochemicals, fertilizers and food to Ethiopia.
In addition, the parties agreed to strengthen cooperation in the international arena, based on the successful experience of cooperation within international organizations, including the UN, UNESCO, etc.

For reference: There are two positions of Deputy Minister in the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry system, one of which is responsible for political and economic cooperation, the second for financial and protocol issues.
Ethiopia is the largest landlocked country in the world, the second largest country in Africa with a population of 120 million people, the political center of the African Union, which includes 55 member States.

Estonian experts also discussed the electoral process in Kazakhstan.
A round table dedicated to the upcoming early parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan was held at the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Tallinn. The event was attended by representatives of the expert community, as well as diplomatic and business circles of Estonia.

Ambassador of Kazakhstan Nurlan Seytimov informed in detail about the large-scale program of political and economic modernization initiated by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Particular attention was paid to updating the electoral legislation.

In particular, the participants of the round table discussed the expected effect of legislative innovations and the electoral process. According to experts, early parliamentary elections under new conditions can significantly increase the degree of public involvement in the transformation of the country's political system.

As noted by the former Ambassador of Estonia to Kazakhstan Heiti Mäemees, electoral processes are important from the point of view of involving the public in the process of building the state. In his opinion, the early parliamentary elections, in case of successful implementation of the electoral law reform in practice, will significantly strengthen the people's confidence in the system of power.

The participants of the meeting also discussed the socio-economic development of the country and exchanged views on further prospects for the development of bilateral cooperation between Kazakhstan and Estonia.
Meanwhile, the French region of the Big East is interested in increasing cooperation with Kazakhstan.

The Consul General of Kazakhstan in Strasbourg, Anuarbek Akhmetov, was received by the highest representative of the state executive power at the territorial level, the Prefect of the French region of the Big East, Josiane Chevalier.

During the meeting, the diplomat informed the Prefect about the state policy pursued by the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and the main domestic political events in the country, including the upcoming elections to the Mazhilis of Parliament and maslikhats on March 19.

Anuarbek Akhmetov also spoke about the main results of the first official visit of the Head of State to France in November last year and efforts to further content the Kazakh-French strategic partnership. The nascent joint investment and technological projects in the field of industry, mechanical engineering, agriculture, higher education and medicine with companies and organizations of the Big East region are considered in detail.

Prefect Josiane Chevalier expressed great interest in further enhancing cooperation between the French region of the Big East and Kazakhstan, and also wished success to the leadership of our country in implementing the tasks set. She confirmed her readiness to provide comprehensive assistance to joint projects and proposed a number of promising mutually beneficial areas, including the food industry, technical education, medicine, culture, and sports.

In general, the parties agreed to coordinate joint efforts and use the potential of the upcoming visit to Kazakhstan in April by the Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade of France Olivier Becht, whose delegation is expected to include representatives of companies and organizations in the region.

In conclusion, the Prefect of the French region of the Big East, Josiane Chevalier, conveyed the warmest wishes of peace and prosperity to the people and leadership of Kazakhstan.

For reference: French regions are governed by prefects, who are appointed by the President of the country. The prefect is the highest representative of the executive power at the regional level, is responsible for the implementation of state policy on the ground, and also controls the activities of territorial divisions of all ministries and departments of France, including the police and gendarmerie.

The French region of the Big East, which includes the historically developed provinces of Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne and Vosges, has good economic potential. The automotive industry, high-tech engineering, metallurgy, agriculture and a developed "green economy" generate up to 160 billion annually. euro GDP and bring the Big East to a leading position in France. With a population of 5.5 million people, the region retains leading positions and competitive advantages in the European market.

Also, changes in the electoral legislation of Kazakhstan aroused considerable interest from the Moldovan side.

Kazakh Ambassador Almat Aidarbekov met with the Chairman of the Central Election Commission of Moldova Angelica Caraman.

During the conversation, Almat Aidarbekov spoke about democratic transformations, constitutional, political and economic reforms implemented at the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The Kazakh diplomat also informed about the upcoming parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan on March 19, 2023 and noted that a polling station will be opened at the Embassy for the first time.

In turn, A. Karaman said that she was going to Astana on March 16 to participate in the observation of the parliamentary elections. All the innovations of the electoral legislation of Kazakhstan aroused considerable interest from the Moldovan party.

At the end of the conversation, the parties agreed to maintain working contacts for the exchange of experience and mutually beneficial cooperation through the CEC of both countries.

Deputy Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas: "according to some norms of the electoral system, Kazakhstan has overtaken us."

The Lithuanian Seimas hosted a round table dedicated to the upcoming parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, with the participation of Vice Speakers Julius Sabatauskas and Jonas Jarutis, representatives of various factions and committees of the Lithuanian Parliament.

Ambassador of Kazakhstan Timur Urazayev spoke in detail about the practical implementation of the constitutional reform, the ongoing political and economic transformations in our country, the measures taken to ensure free and transparent elections of deputies of the Majilis of the Parliament and maslikhats.

Julius Sabatauskas highly appreciated both the introduced innovations in the electoral system and, in general, the constitutional changes that make it possible to more fully unleash the democratic potential of the state and society. This makes it possible to strengthen political competition and create institutional mechanisms for dialogue in the decision-making process. He emphasized the restoration of the right of Kazakhstani voters to vote "Against Everyone".

A lively discussion of the participants of the event was caused by the discussion of the new norm for the distribution of mandates by party lists, including the established 30% quota for women, youth and persons with special needs.

Chairman of the interparliamentary friendship group Kazakhstan-Lithuania Edmundas Pupinis expressed interest in working together and exchanging experience with deputies of the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the new convocation after the elections. Mutual support of Kazakh and Lithuanian elected officials both in a bilateral format and on international platforms will contribute to the rapprochement of the peoples of the two countries.
During the event, issues of further development of trade, economic and investment cooperation between the two countries, expansion of cooperation in the transport and logistics sphere, primarily related to the transit potential of Lithuania in trade relations between East and West, were also discussed.

Separately, they focused on the issues of increasing the mutual tourist flow, facilitating the visa regime for citizens of Kazakhstan to Lithuania and the Schengen countries, as well as strengthening cultural and humanitarian ties.
The deputies of the Seimas expressed gratitude to the people of Kazakhstan for preserving historical memory and opening a monument to Lithuanian political prisoners in the Spassky Memorial Complex in Karaganda. The Kazakh Ambassador, for his part, thanked the Lithuanian partners for their careful attitude to the military graves of Kazakh soldiers who died on the territory of this country during the war.

The Ministry of Justice of Armenia discussed reforms in Kazakhstan.
Ambassador of Kazakhstan Bolat Imanbayev met with the Minister of Justice of Armenia Grigor Minasyan, during which issues of development of bilateral cooperation in the judicial and legal sphere, as well as in the field of ensuring the protection of the rights and interests of citizens were discussed.
The Armenian side was informed about the development of Kazakh-Armenian cooperation in the political, trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres, as well as about the program of large-scale political and economic reforms initiated by the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Special attention is paid to the issues of constitutional reform and the upcoming parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan on March 19, 2023. In turn, Grigor Minasyan highly appreciated the policy of the leadership of Kazakhstan and stressed the importance of ongoing reforms in the context of modern global challenges.

The sides also discussed issues of deepening mutually beneficial cooperation within the framework of international organizations and the schedule of bilateral events in 2023, and also agreed on further work on the exchange of experience between the Ministries of Justice of Kazakhstan and Armenia.
Cooperation with the EU and European states is one of the most important priorities of Kazakhstan's multi-vector foreign policy.

At a press conference in the Service of Central Communications under the President of Kazakhstan at a press conference, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan Roman Vasilenko spoke about the ongoing work in the European direction and the prospects of Kazakh-European cooperation.

"All the years of Kazakhstan's independence, we consider interaction with Europe as one of the key components of a multi-vector, pragmatic, balanced foreign policy of the country. It is not accidental that further development of cooperation with the European Union and European countries is defined as one of the most important priorities in the Concept of Foreign Policy for 2020-2030, approved by the Decree of the President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in March 2020," - said Roman Vasilenko.

He also reported: "Last year, despite the most serious geopolitical turmoil in our region and the world as a whole, the quality and nature of our relations with Europe changed. Political dialogue at all levels has significantly strengthened, starting with our Head of State maintaining regular mutual interesting contact with the leaders of the European Union and the heads of leading European states. Last year, Astana was visited by ministers of foreign affairs, transport of such European countries as Andorra, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, in turn Deputy Prime Minister - Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Mukhtar Tleuberdi visited Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Austria, Luxemburg, Portugal, Northern Macedonia, held negotiations with colleagues from France, Slovenia, Cyprus, Norway, Sweden and Estonia".

"Kazakhstan is the only country in the region that has signed and ratified a 'second generation' agreement - the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU and its member states. At the same time, we are not limited to the 29 areas of interaction defined by this agreement. For example, last year we launched cooperation in new areas - rare earth metals, "green" hydrogen, batteries, development of transport and logistics potential, as well as diversification of commodity supply chains," he said.

Since the signing of the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation in 1995 until the entry into force of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) in 2020, the Kazakh-European relations have come a long way. The EPSU now covers a wide range of cooperation - from the economy, trade and investment to cooperation in aviation, education and research, civil society and human rights. Kazakhstan and the EU remain firmly committed to further develop and strengthen mutually beneficial bilateral relations in order to fully implement the SRPS.

The high level of relations between Kazakhstan and the EU has created favorable conditions for the realization of potential in the economic sphere. The European Union is the largest and most significant trade partner of Kazakhstan, accounting for about 30% of the country's foreign trade. In 2022 the volume of trade exceeded the indicator of 2021 by 27.6%, reaching $40 billion. In 2022, the volume of trade exceeded the 2021 figure by 27.6%, reaching $40bn (exports - $32.3bn, imports - $7.6bn). Investment cooperation with EU countries is also reaching a new qualitative level. During the 9 months of 2022 the inflow of investment increased by 10% and exceeded $8 billion. In the first 9 months of 2022 the investment inflow exceeded $8 bln. The dynamic growth is expected to continue this year as well. At the same time, there is significant potential for increasing investment cooperation and mutual trade.

"We continue to develop mutually beneficial cooperation not only with the capital of the European Union, but also with its member states," stressed R. Vasilenko, informing about the calendar of events for this year. "Dynamically develop our relations with the fourth economy of the world - Germany, another "locomotive" of the European Union - France (...) In the near future we expect high-level visits to Kazakhstan from Britain, the Czech Republic, Italy, Austria and other countries," he informed.

Speaking separately on cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Roman Vasilenko stressed: "Nearly 400 observers from the OSCE will arrive in Kazakhstan to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections. It will be the largest mission of international observers (...) This is the evidence of, without exaggeration, huge interest and support in the international community to the large-scale reforms in our country initiated and conducted by President Tokayev to build a Just Kazakhstan".

At the end of the press conference, the Deputy Minister stressed the high interest of European partners to promote the whole spectrum of bilateral cooperation. "In June of this year Kazakhstan will host a large-scale event - the Astana International Forum. A number of European countries have already expressed interest in taking an active part in its work at the level of heads of state, governments, large TNCs and academia. We expect a large number of European visitors," - he said.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the RK