Kazakhstan’s President Answers Complicated
Questions on Relations with Russia
NUR SULTAN: President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took part in the plenary session of the 25th edition of the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Along with the leader of Kazakhstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the plenary session, while Egyptian President Abdel Fattah As-Sisi participated via videoconference. In addition, President of China Xi Jinping sent a video message to the participants of the forum.
In his remarks, Tokayev emphasized the forum was taking place in a situation of increased political and economic turbulence. “Global shocks associated with the pandemic and increasing geopolitical tensions have led to a new reality. Globalization has been replaced by an era of regionalization with all its virtues and inherent flaws. Anyway, 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,” said the Kazakh President.
Tokayev spoke about the ongoing large-scale political and economic reforms in the country aimed at reformatting public administration and building a New and Fair Kazakhstan. “Our efforts are focused on ensuring economic growth has a proportional impact on improving the well-being of citizens. We aim at sustainable development of trade and economic relations, opening new production facilities, creating conditions for growth of human capital and innovations,” said the President of Kazakhstan.
Tokayev called the strengthening of the potential of the Eurasian Economic Union an urgent task. “In my opinion, it would be appropriate and useful to work out a new trade strategy within the EAEU taking into account the new reality. Instead of counter-sanctions, which are unlikely to be productive, we should pursue a more active and flexible trade policy with a wide coverage of Asian and Middle Eastern markets,” he said.
Another priority, he said, was further expansion of trade and economic cooperation with third countries… Therefore, Tokayev did not rule out the prospect that in the coming decade traditionally friendly countries such as China, India, the nations of the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, may become major investors in the economies of the region. “China has already become Kazakhstan’s main economic and foreign trade partner. This country has already invested over $22 billion in our economy over the past 15 years. Deepening multilateral cooperation with China is an extremely important task for our country,” the President said.
In his speech, the leader of Kazakhstan also touched on issues related to climate change. In particular, he talked about plans to expand opportunities for growth of green investments and to solve environmental problems. “We are working to reduce the energy intensity of GDP, to expand the renewable energy sector and to reduce transit losses in this sector,” the President said.
Tokayev also named quality human capital and constructive intercultural dialogue as reliable sources of economic growth. In this context, he confirmed the continued commitment to the policy of preserving the cultural diversity of Kazakhstan and the promotion of inter-civilizational dialogue at the international level, reporting on the upcoming Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions this September.
Summing up, Tokayev expressed his firm belief that building a peaceful, stable, and economically strong Eurasia would be a powerful factor for sustainable development and inclusive growth on a global scale.
After the speakers’ presentations, an open discussion in question-and-answer format took place.
In particular, Tokayev answered the question about the attitude in Kazakhstan to Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. “There are different opinions, we have an open society. Modern international law is the UN Charter. Two UN principles, however, have come into contradiction – the territorial integrity of the state and the right of a nation to self-determination. Since these principles contradict each other, there are different interpretations of them,” he stressed. According to him, “if the right of a nation for self-determination is realized, more than 500 states will emerge on the Earth and there will be chaos. For this reason, we recognize neither Taiwan, nor Kosovo, nor South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In all likelihood, this principle will be applied to quasi-state entities, which, in our opinion, are Luhansk and Donetsk,” he said.
“Using this rostrum, … I would like to take an issue with some statements of a few Russian parliamentarians, absolutely incorrect statements about Kazakhstan, inaccurate statements from, so to speak, journalists and even people of the arts,” said Tokayev. “I am grateful to Vladimir Putin, who today has comprehensively set out the position of the top leadership, the Kremlin, in the end, in relation to Kazakhstan, and other countries, and especially to my country. Indeed, we do not have any issues that can be manipulated in one way or another, sowing discord between our nations and thereby causing damage to our people and to the Russian Federation itself. I do not really understand these statements. These individuals in some strange way comment on the decisions made by the Kazakh leadership or the events taking place in our country, whose mill they are watering, so to say?” President Tokayev emphasized.