By H.E. Nursultan Nazarbayev

December 02, 2011

20TH ANNIVERSARY OF KAZAKHSTAN’S INDEPENDENCEThe year 2011 is a historic milestone in the development of independent Kazakhstan. 2011 was officially announced the year of the 20th anniversary of the country’s independence. “The motto of our jubilee is ‘20 Years of Peace and Creation’.

Under its President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan has made a remarkable journey going from one of the least known and least developed republics of the former Soviet Union to a dynamic, developing democratic state with a robust market economy. Thanks to wide ranging social, political and economic reforms, today’s Kazakhstan is politically stable and is, in fact, the pillar of stability in Central Asia. A worthy partner of the international community, Kazakhstan has effectively addressed issues from nuclear disarmament and safety to food security, to promoting dialogue and better understanding between cultures, religions and civilizations.

Kazakhstan has renounced the world’s fourth largest nuclear and missile arsenal, has built peace and harmony in a society of more than 130 ethnic groups and 40 religions, has improved the lives of its people and has developed peaceful and mutually beneficial relations with all countries. Kazakhstan has been the chair of several major international organizations, such as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2010 and the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation in 2011-2012. This trust is further evidence of the country’s growing recognition and meaningful international involvement.

Since independence, Kazakhstan has pursued a balanced foreign policy and worked to develop its economy. During 20 years of independence the country’s leaders were guided by the main priority in their decision: social and economic welfare of the population. So the significant increase in per capita GDP – since 1994 it increased 14-fold and reached 11 500 US dollars – is a natural result of the policy.

Kazakhstan‘s economy is the largest and the fastest evolving of the Central Asian region. Since 2001, economic growth rate has been among the highest in the world. Since 1993, Kazakhstan has attracted over US $120 billion of foreign direct investment – the highest foreign direct investment per capita in the CIS.

According to National Bank, Kazakhstan’s National Fund assets in January-October 2011 totaled $42.378 billion, a 36.79% increase from January and a 5.9% rise in October 2011.

Kazakhstan is important to world energy markets because it has significant oil and natural gas reserves. Within the next decade, Kazakhstan is expected to become one of the world’s largest oil producers and exporters. Kazakhstan’s strategic aspiration is to become a modern, diversified economy with a high value-added and high-tech component, well integrated into the global economy. A strong energy sector is viewed as a good start to achieve this goal.

Kazakhstan has done a remarkable job establishing an independent foreign policy in the 20 years since it gained independence from the Soviet Union. Kazakhstan’s foreign policy is based on the understanding that it is a large country with roots in both Europe and Asia; its interests are many. . Kazakhstan‘s location has helped define its foreign policy priorities and diplomatic activity. President Nursultan Nazarbayev believes that by enacting strong political and economic reforms, Kazakhstan will be in a better position to build its relationships with other nations. Kazakhstan is an impartial nation – one that has worked hard to reform its military, political and economic policies as it advances toward a full democracy international and regional events. Its foreign policy underscores the nation‘s commitment to create strong long-lasting alliances and partnerships. One of Kazakhstan most important decisions since gaining independence was to gain the status of a non-nuclear state and to pursue the policy of non-proliferation. Kazakhstan set an example – demonstrating its desire for peace, internal stability and sustainable economic and political development.

Kazakhstan began to reform its political system immediately after becoming independent. At the time there was economic recession, hyperinflation (up to 3000%) and a drastic decline in living standards. The groundwork for a market-based economy, political pluralism, a multi-party system, an independent media, NGOs and a vibrant civil society were non-existent. Kazakhstan chose to build the country based on democratic values by joining the OSCE and signing the Helsinki Final Act and Paris Charter.

The new political system developed in four stages.

In the first stage (1990-1993), Kazakhstan dismantled the previous soviet style political structure and established the basis for the parliament-president political system‘s development.

In the second stage (1993-1995), Kazakhstan selected a new model of political development that reflects political, economic, social, cultural, psychological, geopolitical and ethnic specificities of the country. The first Constitution was adopted, the first elections to the Parliament and newly established local government bodies (Maslikhats) were held. For the first time in the history Kazakhstan, the executive, legislative and judiciary bodies were defined as independent branches of government.

The third stage (1995-1998) brought Kazakhstan to 1995 Referendum of the new Constitution and to the election of a professional bicameral Parliament. During this period, Kazakhstan also shaped its long-term vision of strategic development. In 1997, President Nazarbayev adopted the national strategy Kazakhstan 2030 – a road-map for Kazakhstan‘s future growth, which identified seven national priorities through the year 2030.

The fourth stage of political development (1998-2007) helped Kazakhstan to prioritize the process of democratic development and bring it into compliance with economic development. Through the Democratization Programme, which was presented in 1998, and efforts to expend power of the Parliament Kazakhstan came to the understanding of the importance of strong Parliament, political parties and civil society.

Kazakhstan has achieved substantial success in every arena during the past 20 years, and we celebrate those achievements this year with the understanding that for all of the promises fulfilled, much more work awaits.