Green Roadmap; Not Silk Highway: Kazakhstan’s (renewed) Position In World Affairs

Kazakhstan can supply a way more visible contribution to international peace and prosperity. This nation needs to be referred to as upon to play a stronger and more energetic position within the mediation of pursuits between the United States (U.S.) and the European Union (E.U.), on one facet, and Russia and the Center East, on the opposite. Kazakhstan’s recent mediation within the Ukraine disaster and Iranian nuclear talks should not be seen as an exception, but rather as indicators of the more important position this country can play on the planet arena.

It’s in Kazakhstan’s interest to cut back safety threats in the region, advance economic pursuits and elevate its worldwide profile in world affairs. It’s striking that every time the U.S. and/or the E.U. search for a “compatible” interlocutor to mediate international affairs with the Middle East, Turkey remains to be invariably considered as the only viable possibility. This, even after nearly a quarter of a century since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the formation of 5 new independent states so strategically situated in Central Asia (see map). And to mediate international affairs with Russia?! There are absolutely no choices! From a geo-strategic standpoint this poorly diversified portfolio of strategic relationships poses a number of limitations to “the west” and to the world normally. Have not we discovered from probably the most fundamental monetary administration ideas that a diversified portfolio of investments is very beneficial?

Basic ideas of financial geography ought to have sparked the imagination of western leaders in 1991 in regards to the function a country located between Russia, the Middle East and China might play in world affairs. But because of the narrow-minded mainstream method of taking a look at international relations from a predominantly competitive perspective, international locations or regions that stop to be seen as threats turn out to be less relevant; this was the case with the previous-soviet international locations after the fall of the Berlin Petroleum Refining Wall. In consequence, opportunities for worldwide cooperation and reciprocity get lost! This occurs as a result of international relations have, tragically, been pushed by concern and mitigation of threats and never by trust-building aspirations.

Kazakhstan is one of these 5 new countries formed in 1991. And as Frederick Starr from Johns Hopkins University points out, “somewhere within the DNA of the peoples of Central Asia is the capacity to change into a hyperlink and bridge between civilizations.” Once the region of philosophers, scientists, poets, travellers, polyglots and entrepreneurs, Central Asia and its potential role in world affairs, because it played till the Mongol invasion in the 13th century, have been largely uncared for by western political leaders. However even if political leaders have no idea or worth history much, a easy have a look at a map should have conjured up the genetic vocation Starr mentions: location-location-location.

This generalized myopia in worldwide relations and geo-politics results in a mainstream perception about Kazakhstan that is for the most part misconstrued or improper. Perceptions of inaccessibility, periphery, desertification and suspicious soviet heritage, amongst others, have been conserving this nation within the background of the international arena.

For starters, the shut relationship with Russia must be considered as completely pure, and obvious, regardless of pre-1991 ties. They’re neighbors! However the truth is, from a bilateral commerce stand point Russia shouldn’t be even Kazakhstan’s most essential partner. Kazakhstan’s complete commerce quantity (gross imports + exports) with China in 2012 was $24.01B towards the $23.56B with Russia. In terms of Kazakh exports, Russia (9.02%) is as related as Italy (eight.Sixty nine%) and the Netherlands (7.39%). The U.S. only accounted for 1.07% of Kazakh exports.

With a market share of 36%, Russia is the most important exporter to Kazakhstan (twice the scale of Chinese exports). However, (i) this Russian benefit relies on a really narrow set of mineral merchandise associated to the energy sector – crude, refined petroleum and Ore alone accounted in 2013 for one quarter of Russian exports to Kazakhstan; (ii) and the load of complete imports from Russia have been lowering (forty three% in 2011, 38% in 2012 and 36% in 2013). Moreover, a number of power corridors being developed, such as the Southern Gas Corridor – a European Fee initiative for the gas provide from the Caspian and Center Japanese areas – might scale back Kazakhstan’s vitality dependence on Russia. I do not intend to downgrade the ability of Russia within the area however instead to reject the argument that Kazakhstan is too intimate with Russia to play a impartial role in mediations. To the purpose, the Russian ethnical group in Kazakhstan decreased from 37.4% in 1989 to 23.7% in 2009. In the same period the Kazakh ethnical group grew from 39.7% to 63.1%.

Considerations about potential for neutrality, specifically for mediation between the west and the Middle East, needs to be more acute regarding Turkey. While in Kazakhstan Islam is the religion of about 70% of the population, in Turkey the Islamic population is about 96%-99%. It seems pretty intuitive that this Central Asian nation should have been seen way back as a fantastic alternative to Turkey – not a substitute – by way of international mediation, specifically between the west and the Middle East.

If the international community is also involved with de facto ranges of corruption in Kazakhstan, and if that is considered as a major barrier for cooperation, it must also realize that the higher the worldwide integration of a country the lower its degree of corruption is likely to be. As in any relationship, trust-constructing requires time, info networks and effective communication channels. Last month, as a really robust signal of his anti-corruption commitment, President Nursultan Nazarbayev laid out his new Anti-Corruption Strategy. And the worldwide neighborhood is giving indicators of some reciprocation actually. Kazakhstan is about to turn into a member of the World Trade Group and Brussels created the Eurasian Council on Foreign Affairs (ECFA) “to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and finest practices, as well as strengthen the links between Central Asia and the European Union”.

Conveniently, “International Integration” is in truth certainly one of seven strategic improvement areas contemplated in “Kazakhstan 2050 Technique”. Dialogue round inexperienced know-how transfers might very properly become a regular theme of communication with the west. In actual fact, President Nazarbayev, has repeatedly known as for a worldwide mechanism for technology switch to improve energy effectivity and conservation. In a time when local weather change is extra doubtless than not the largest challenge humankind will have to face within the following fifty years, the U.S. and E.U. should look at Kazakhstan’s 2050 Inexperienced Financial system framework as a very timely entry point to engage in a way more comprehensive and strategic approach, and produce Kazakhstan to the center of world affairs. The Inexperienced Bridge Partnership proposed by Kazakhstan in 2012 presents a really specific institutional framework to enhance the international potential and reliable aspirations of Kazakhstan. For that to occur, and in its own interest, the west wants to achieve out to Kazakhstan rather more convincingly. The current 30-second CNN ad inviting us to “Invest in Kazakhstan”, though illustrative of Kazakhstan’s commitment to engage, is not going to be enough if the west doesn’t reciprocate further. Ernst and Young’s Kazakhstan Attractiveness Survey launched in Could supports my argument. First, Kazakhstan is seen as a stable destination for buyers. Second, in this survey two hundred global business leaders included sustainable improvement and life sciences in the excessive-progress fields of the long run.

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As said in “Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy”, this country’s most critical improvement challenges, akin to air pollution, renewable vitality sources, vitality effectivity, sustainable water management, waste management and extractive industries provide more particular entry factors for establishing multilateral investment mechanisms and further partaking western governments, enterprise and industries. Not surprisingly, these nationwide priorities relate to a number of of the world’s submit-2015 Sustainable Improvement Targets, which further reinforces how timely the decision is for a stronger alliance round a “inexperienced roadmap”. Moreover, domestically, Kazakh leaders have to take into consideration that in spite of having the 45th world largest GDP, and being expected to develop above 7% in 2014 and 2015, there are other wellbeing-associated factors that should be addressed urgently: the nation ranks 119th within the Glad Planet Index. The lengthy-term focus needs to be on developing mutual trust between the west and Kazakhstan and to foster this country’s position as a viable ongoing companion and mediator, thus providing a way more seen contribution to worldwide peace and prosperity.


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