High tribunes of Kazakhstan
Despite the internal life of the country, which is raging with changes, the international agenda remained under the close attention of the president of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. He actively participated in all summits of the largest international organizations, he spoke from the tribunes of the UN, SCO, BRICS, attended the meeting of the leaders of the CSTO, the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, and he flew to Moscow many times during 2022. Multilateral cooperation and bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and Russia, despite international turbulence, have been further developed.
On June 17, 2022, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took part in the plenary session of the anniversary 25th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and made a report entitled "The New World - New Opportunities". He noted that over a quarter of a century, the St. Petersburg Forum has deservedly acquired the status of an authoritative expert platform, taking its rightful place among the world's discussion venues. The President of Kazakhstan stressed that the forum is taking place in a situation of increased political and economic turbulence.
"The global upheavals associated with the pandemic and the increase in geopolitical tensions have led to a new reality. Globalization has been replaced by an era of regionalization, with all its advantages and inherent disadvantages. Be that as it may, the process of reformatting traditional economic models and trade routes is accelerating. The world is changing rapidly. Unfortunately, in most cases, not for the better," Tokayev said.
In his opinion, in the context of the new reality, it is important to take into account the rapidly changing structure of the world order, including the change of stable vectors of interaction along the lines of "East-West", "North-South". "It is important for the countries of our region not only to find the right answers to all these challenges, but also to try to derive maximum benefit from them. Therefore, we have to consistently implement the full potential of cooperation within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union. The urgent task is to pair Eurasian integration with the Chinese concept of "One Belt, One Road," said the President of Kazakhstan.
On June 24, 2022, Tokayev, at the invitation of President of China Xi Jinping, took part in the High-Level Dialogue on Global Development BRICS +, which was held in the online format. The 14th BRICS Summit on the theme "Building High-Level Partnership between the BRICS Countries, Creating a New Era of Global Development" was held under the chairmanship of China. Welcoming the participants of the meeting, the head of Kazakhstan thanked Xi Jinping for the invitation and organization of this important event and said:
"Kazakhstan sees BRICS as an influential organization and one of the main drivers of global economic growth. Our country is extremely interested in developing a dynamic partnership with the BRICS countries. Last year Kazakhstan's trade turnover with BRICS countries exceeded $45 billion. At the same time we have many opportunities to expand this volume in the foreseeable future," the President stressed.
Speaking about the current global development, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev noted that today the world is facing unprecedented geopolitical and economic turbulence. In particular, he pointed to the deteriorating food security situation and said that effectively overcoming the food crisis requires a coordinated international response, both short-term and long-term.
"We are ready to contribute to this effort with our huge agricultural potential. Ensuring food security requires a well-functioning system of food and agricultural trade, based on the principles of justice and non-discrimination. In this regard, our country's chairmanship of the recently concluded 12th WTO Ministerial Conference has given a new political direction to the relevant negotiations," the Kazakh President said.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called the rapid growth of inflation around the world another urgent task that needs to be solved. According to him, worsening financial conditions put serious pressure on highly indebted countries, including businesses and families, as well as leading to disruptions in global supply chains.
A Bridge between East and West
In early September 2022 in the capital of Kazakhstan the VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions was held, the main topic of which was the role of religious leaders in the spiritual and social development of mankind in the post-pandemic period. The Congress was attended by over 100 delegations from around the world, including Pope Francis. The Russian Orthodox Church was represented at the forum by Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Kirill of Kazan and Tatarstan, and Metropolitan Alexander of Astana and Kazakhstan, in a conversation with whom President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev noted that Orthodoxy plays an important role in strengthening the unity and solidarity of the people of Kazakhstan.
Opening the plenary session of the congress, the president of Kazakhstan noted that it was a great honor for his country to bring together the most respected spiritual leaders of the world. "Our congress has become one of the key global formats of inter-civilization dialogue. It is symbolic that the initiative to hold this interreligious forum came precisely from Kazakhstan. Our ancient land throughout millenniums acted as the connecting bridge between the East and the West. Here in the Great Steppe, the heart of the great nomadic empires has been beating, and tolerance has always been part of their cultural code. Now in Kazakhstan representatives of more than 100 ethnoses live in harmony and accord, about 4 thousand religious associations representing 18 confessions freely work. We believe that this is our priceless wealth and our inherent advantage", said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Pope Francis noted such progressive initiatives of Kazakhstan as abolition of the death penalty and renunciation of nuclear weapons. The Pontiff also emphasized that representatives of different nationalities and confessions peacefully coexist in Kazakhstan, and that the principles of "freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and freedom of expression" are respected.
The autumn of 2022 was generally rich in international political events. On September 16, the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, attended a meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and called the SCO the most successful international organization in the world. In his speech, he stressed that the ideological and institutional basis of the organization "is free of confrontation and bloc nature, which contributes to the international prestige and popularity of the SCO. He, together with Vladimir Putin and other SCO leaders, planted trees in Samarkand, where the event took place.
On September 20, 2022, the head of Kazakhstan arrived in New York to participate in a debate at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly. Speaking from the main international podium, the leader of Kazakhstan said that the meeting at the UN headquarters is taking place at a critical time for humanity, when the world has apparently entered a new period of growing geopolitical confrontation.
"The long-established international system based on order and responsibility is giving way to chaos and unpredictability. The global system of checks and balances has failed to maintain peace and stability. The security architecture is failing. Mutual mistrust between world powers is growing at an alarming rate. The world has fallen victim to a new round of military conflicts. For the first time in two generations, we are facing the danger of the use of nuclear weapons, and not as a last resort," said the President of Kazakhstan.
Along with this, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pointed to the problems associated with the creation of artificial barriers and economic isolation. According to him, economic and political sanctions have become a "new normal," disrupting supply chains that ensure food security, thereby endangering millions of people, especially vulnerable communities.
In his speech, the Head of Kazakhstan recalled that 77 years ago, the founding states of the United Nations established the principles and norms of international law in the Charter of the organization, which have successfully regulated our activities throughout that time. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasized the importance of observing the fundamental tenets underlying the UN. In particular, he pointed to the need to rethink the relationship between the three basic principles - sovereign equality of states, respect for territorial integrity and peaceful coexistence of states.
"These three principles are interdependent. Compliance with one of these principles means compliance with the other two. Violation of one of them means violation of the other two. When the global disarmament regime weakens, both conventional and nuclear, these three principles are threatened. Conversely, adherence to all three principles strengthens them. Together, they provide the basis for enhanced inter-state cooperation at every level: sub-regional, regional and global. This is the dividend of global well-being. The system of values strengthened within the United Nations remains a beacon of hope for millions of people all over the world," the President of Kazakhstan is convinced. From the rostrum of the UN Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called for a strong defense of these values.
Mandate of Trust
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev decided to gain the trust of the people and offered to hold early presidential elections in order to carry out large-scale reforms. The presidential election in Kazakhstan was scheduled for November 20, 2022. Tokaev met with representatives of labor collectives, public, students and pensioners in different regions of the country and collected voters' demands.
On October 22, 2022 ,the Republican public headquarters of presidential candidate Kassym-Jomart Tokayev started its work. The HQ included 474 members from among public figures, representatives of all organizations-members of People's Coalition which nominated Tokayev as a presidential candidate, as well as representatives of scientific and expert community, youth, sportsmen and members of Parliament. Erlan Koshanov, chairman of the Amanat Party, said 226 headquarters have been set up in every region of the country, including cities and districts with more than 6,000 members. Ermukhamet Ertysbayev, leader of the People's Party of Kazakhstan, said that the People's Coalition united a huge number of Kazakhstanis who support Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's reforms. "This is a good ground for effective campaign work, which will allow to get our candidate a mandate of trust," he said.
Kasym-Jomart Tokayev presented the program with which he went to elections. The name of the program speaks for itself: "Fair Kazakhstan: For All and for Everyone. Now and Forever. According to Tokayev, each paragraph and each sentence was written by him personally: "You could say this program has gone through my heart".
The current president and candidate for the post of the head of the state stated then, that he considers his main mission to build a Fair Kazakhstan. For this purpose, the necessary resources have been developed and there is "the most important, invaluable capital - responsible citizens of the country.
"The idea of justice in our state policy will be the most important," said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Therefore, we will firmly follow the formula "not a man for the state, but the state for a man. To build a Fair Kazakhstan, we will move to a new state policy."
At that time the head of Kazakhstan singled out the problem of "oligopoly" as one of the most acute - the merging of the state and capital, which generates social inequality and systemic problems in the economy. Demonopolization of the economic sphere should become an antidote. In its turn "the fight against corruption will become uncompromising".
Speaking of the social field, Tokayev emphasized that all 6.5 million Kazakhstani children will have equal access to knowledge and digital technologies. Scholarships for Kazakhstani students will be doubled, and all of them will receive free access to the world's digital libraries.
Kazakh and Russian political scientists have repeatedly noted that, on the one hand, Tokayev deliberately distanced himself from the electoral process, believing that his activity is the best way of campaigning. On the other hand there is no real alternative to Tokayev in Kazakhstan. Neither the small diverse opposition, nor representatives of the so-called clan elite, pushed aside in January, nor foreign owners of big business were able to nominate a figure with similar public authority and alternative agenda to challenge Tokayev's leadership.
Professionalism, Integrity and Modesty
On November 20, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won the election, winning the votes of 81.31% of voters with a turnout of 69.44%. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the re-elected president emphasized that Kazakhstan's foreign policy will remain multi-vector, based on partnership with Russia, China, and Central Asian countries.
Tokayev called the return to Kazakhstan of illegally withdrawn assets an important area of his work as president. "All returned funds should work for the benefit of citizens. They should be invested in the opening of high-tech industries, construction of schools and hospitals, and implementation of social projects," said the head of Kazakhstan.
Tokayev said that the state will rely only on those who work selflessly. "Professionalism, honesty and modesty must become our main principles," said the president. - It is very important to raise the status of teachers, doctors, law enforcement officers, lifeguards, workers and farmers even higher. They should become the most respected citizens of the country. Only when members of these professions are properly respected and honored will we be able to say that our society has truly been renewed.
"Our common goal is to build a fair Kazakhstan, where law and order prevail, where citizens' rights are duly respected," the president said. "We have much work to do to transform society and turn Kazakhstan into a developed country with truly democratic institutions."
It is noteworthy that Tokayev made his first visit after his inauguration to Moscow. The president of Kazakhstan held talks with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Russia and Kazakhstan signed a joint declaration on the inadmissibility of nuclear war. The visit began with a laying of flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Russian president congratulated his Kazakh counterpart on the victory and noted that in the crisis that has engulfed international trade, Russia is refocusing its exports and imports.
"Particular attention is paid to the development of joint transport and logistics infrastructure, the removal of restrictions that hinder trade and investment exchanges. With this in mind, Russia is implementing large-scale measures to reorient its export-import operations to new markets," Putin said.
He stressed that the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan have broad prospects for joint work in various sectors, including high-tech, and Russia remains Kazakhstan's largest investor. "The total amount of Russian capital investment is almost $17 billion."
"More than 30 major investment projects are jointly implemented in all key sectors of the economy without exception," said Vladimir Putin, adding that 76 regions of Russia have established direct trade and economic ties with Kazakh partners, while Moscow and Astana, St. Petersburg and Almaty, Rostov-on-Don and Uralsk, Makhachkala and Aktau, Omsk and Pavlodar are twin cities and successfully cooperate. Investments from Russia have exceeded the pre-pandemic level.
Andrei Serenko, director of the Analytical Center of the Russian Society of Political Scientists, commenting for Nezavisimaya Gazeta on the political results of the year in Kazakhstan, said: "For Kazakh President Tokayev, the year 2022 became the beginning of real great breakthrough. Yes, as a matter of fact, it can be said not only about Tokayev, but about the whole Kazakhstani state. It began with very dramatic and tragic events of January, which nearly collapsed the building of Kazakhstani statehood. But owing to very competent, calculating and pragmatic political maneuvering of the president Tokayev, the most terrible has not happened. President Tokayev, on the one hand, was able to connect the external resources that have helped to stabilize the situation in Kazakhstan. This, first of all, is the resource of Russia and CSTO, the support of allies of this military-political bloc. On the other hand, it is a subtle, I would even say, filigree work to reset the Kazakh elites, administrative and political class with the adoption of sometimes tough decisions, which allowed to solve the problem of complex stabilization of the situation and move last spring and summer to address a more important task - the re-establishment of the Kazakh statehood.
In 2022, Tokayev has offered and started to realize the large-scale plan of state and political reorganization of the republic, which was already finished in this 2023, with early elections in the lower chamber of the Parliament. This "Tokayev's plan" actually included a new political system, a change in the rules of the game of the political process and, finally, a change in the status of the president.
In fact, Tokayev has established normative new political standards for the activity of the main political figure in the Republic. Activity, on which the whole political process depends. The post of president of Kazakhstan is the nail, on which the whole political picture of the republic hangs, and the changes in the status of this figure impose changes on the whole political process".
According to the political scientist, Kazakhstan is changing, it has entered a period of great profound systemic reform, and Tokayev has demonstrated the qualities of a real political not just a designer - a man who can correct individual imperfections of the political system, he has shown himself as an architect of the new political model of Kazakhstan. And, undoubtedly, in this sense he was supported by the absolute majority of the population of the republic.
This was confirmed by the current parliamentary elections. The early presidential election last fall confirmed it. Tokayev secured the support of the overwhelming majority of voters and received an incredible credit of legitimacy that he needed to implement reforms confidently.
The parliamentary elections complete the process of great transformation of Kazakhstani state-political system, and the social effect of this systematic modernization of Kazakhstan political model depends largely on the outcome of those elections.
"I think that Tokayev is right, who demonstrates not only political realism, but also a consistent commitment to the strategy of common sense," continues Andrey Serenko. - He prefers to move along the path of reforms not too quickly, but still preserving the main quality of the political system and one of its important resources - stability. We should hardly reproach Tokayev for lack of radicalism in his actions. He does not want any revolutions either from the bottom or from the top. Tokayev is not just a man who demonstrates political realism. Tokayev is a responsible politician, who will systematically continue the process of modernization of Kazakhstan in accordance with the plan and strategy, which he has chosen under the brand of "a new and fair Kazakhstan. The appeal to the topic of justice is the main demand on the post-Soviet space today. In Kazakhstan it is actively heard and used in political practice".
According to the political scientist, Tokayev is probably the only leader in the post-Soviet area, who has proven his ability to act progressively and effectively in politics, sticking to a strategy of common sense. On the one hand, to maintain the achievement of stability within the country, appeal to a broad popular and national support, on the other hand - to keep partnership relations with strong external actors, primarily with Russia and China, not to fall out of the global context, not to try to play a kind of geopolitical recklessness.
Tokayev is a diplomat, this helps both him and Kazakhstan today to pursue a very balanced, reasonable strategy in the international arena. Not without success, he finds the balance of power in domestic politics, which allows him to maintain Kazakhstan's stability potential and use this potential as a resource for modernization and change. On the other hand, Tokayev's qualities allow him to maintain a successful and beneficial for Kazakhstan balance of forces in foreign policy: both in relations with neighbors, and with major world states, and the world community as a whole.
"The balance of political course, based on the strategy of common sense, is a distinctive feature of Tokayev and his team, which was particularly evident in 2022. The Kazakh leader is sticking to this strategy in 2023 too," summed up Andrey Serenko.