Twenty peaks of Independence. The Declaration of Independence will be a political tuner of a new stage in the country’s long-term development

Dec 12. Kazpravda

By Yuri Solozobov, political analyst

Twenty peaks of Independence. The Declaration of Independence will be a political tuner of a new stage in the country’s long-term developmentIndependence is a special value for all Kazakhstanis. It is the embodiment of a centuries-old dream of the people and beginning of a new era in the history of the nation. On the eve of its anniversary Kazakhstan’s parliament adopted the Declaration of the 20th anniversary of Independence. This political and legal document, addressed to contemporaries and future generations, underscores main achievements of Kazakhstan’s sovereign existence. The Senate’s initiative was approved by the head of state. Its adoption is a right and timely step forward made by Kazakhstan’s political class. Experts say that this initiative has great political and strategic potential. The Declaration recorded major achievements showing the contemporaries and posterity the real scale of reform undertaken by the country during 20 years under the leadership of the First President. In essence, this document will become a political tuning fork for a new stage of development.

Best Kazakhstani experts and leading politicians were working hard on the text of the Declaration. It required much effort to write a strong, concise and substantial text. In my opinion, the Declaration of the 20th anniversary of Independence from now on will be a conceptual core allowing with utter clarity and detail to bring together major milestones in the modern history of independent Kazakhstan.

Clearly, all the exciting events of the past two decades cannot be listed in one, even multiply verified document, which opens creative space for a whole generation of historians, political scientists and specialists in Kazakhstan studies. As an independent researcher for many years studying Kazakhstani developments, I’d like to make a contribution to this important cause and name 20 major achievements of Kazakhstan and substantiate it. They are as follows from the point of view of a Russian observer.

Policy of stability

December 16, 1991 RK Supreme Council adopted the Constitutional Law “On the State Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan”. For the first time in its history Kazakhstan gained legal status of an independent state with borders recognized by the entire international community. Independence is a centuries-old dream of the Kazakh people that came true, it opened up the nation’s creative potential. Over 20 years of independence Kazakhstan has done more than any other country over centuries, becoming a modern state and having successfully implemented systemic reforms in political, economic and social areas.

Kazakhstan owes its success to the policy of stability pursued by the first President, Nursultan Nazarbayev. “Our core values are independence, peace and stability”, – said Nursultan Nazarbayev. Kazakhstanis fully agree with him and say that peace and stability in the country underpin development and prosperity. Opinion polls show that the majority of citizens consider independence and stability greatest achievements in Kazakhstan. After all, the sovereignty of the whole country allowed all people in general and every citizen in particular to freely build their future. International observers note that independent Kazakhstan is an inspiring example of the state of success achieved through joint efforts of the people and government.

Interethnic harmony

Kazakhstan can boast of another unique experience – harmonization of interethnic and interfaith relations. Representatives of 140 ethnic groups and 46 confessions live together peacefully in the heart of Eurasia. All 20 years of Independence Kazakhstan has lived in peace with its neighbors who are far from being calm. The country has turned almost 14 thousand km of its land border into a “border of friendship and good neighborliness”. The republic also avoided civil or armed internal conflicts, whether on ethnic or religious grounds. This is an unprecedented achievement in the post-Soviet history. At the dawn of independence, Kazakhstan declared national unity, which is based on equality, friendship and harmony its base for development. The republic is one of few countries in the world maintaining inter-ethnic stability and social consolidation.

“National unity is our strategic choice”, – firmly says Nursultan Nazarbayev. But it is not enough to simply voice a right political formula of “unity in diversity”. It was necessary to create effective tools making multi-ethnicity and multi-faith the factor of force. Really breakthrough in this respect was the work of Kazakhstan People’s the Assembly established in 1995 by the President. This effective structure embodies the main ideas of ethnic harmony as the foundation of Kazakhstan’s statehood. The second innovation of Kazakhstan’s leader is a unique format of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. Kazakhstan’s successful experience in building conflict-free interethnic and interfaith relations are recognized as a model throughout the world.

Economic growth

Over the past two decades Kazakhstan has been surprising the world with its high performance system of economic transformation. The country has successfully carried out radical economic reforms, curbed inflation, created a modern legal framework and governance structure. “Kazakhstan’s economic achievements over 20 years of Independence are unprecedented”, – said Nursultan Nazarbayev. And he is right. As part of the USSR, Kazakh SSR was at the modest 12th place in the economic development ranking. Now Kazakhstan is one of the fastest growing economies of the world. In the first two decades of independence, per capita GDP of the world famous “Asian Tigers” – Singapore and Malaysia doubled and tripled, that of Kazakhstani Snow Leopard grew by 12 times!

The success of Kazakhstan compared with the performance of its neighbors is largely due to consistent reforming to transit to a market economy.

The basis of “Kazakh economic miracle” was a creative formula “economy first, politics next” put forward by President Nazarbayev. The Kazakh leader understood that until GDP per capita is below 6 000 USD a year, a stable democracy is out of the question. Now this indicator is more than $9 000. Kazakhstan has low state indebtedness and high gold reserves providing for the necessary margin of the economy. The country is confidently looking forward and carrying out a program for accelerated reindustrialization.

The new economy of Kazakhstan is high-production jobs and European quality of life for as many citizens as possible. Russian experts see the republic as a prime example of building the most successful post-Soviet economy.

A strong welfare state

The building of an effective national economy is not an end in itself for Kazakhstan’s leadership. Right after gaining independence the first President, Nursultan Nazarbayev put the task of “building a strong sovereign state with a socially oriented market economy”. Without it, there will be no socially oriented market, effective protection of all forms of ownership, provision of human rights. Today, Kazakhstan is a country with efficient social market economy. During the years of independence, pensions, wages increased by 6-7 times, and the minimum wage grew by 25 times. Another argument is the lowest unemployment rate in the CIS. Comparing Kazakhstan with other former Soviet republics prompts an idea that this country is a happy exception to the general rule, which enables its citizens proudly say that “we are the state!”

This voice of people is clear – in such a big and diverse country like Kazakhstan, only a strong state is able to provide and protect personal and social freedom. The image of such a state is reflected in the State Symbols of the republic. Legendary Tulpar is a winged horse symbolizing the dream of Kazakhstan’s multiethnic people to build a strong and prosperous nation. “A prosperous and strong Kazakhstan is the purpose and meaning of our state”, – says N.Nazarbayev. It is worth emphasizing that the task of building a strong welfare state was formulated and successfully solved by the leadership of Kazakhstan in the post-Soviet chaos and difficult conditions and low raw materials prices. And this historical experience is extremely valuable for many young post-Soviet and European states.

Strategic planning

Economic reforms, social modernization, the policy of accelerated industrialization, relocation of the capital – these and many other strategic decisions were not accidental. They were the fruit of many-year efforts of the head of state to work out a development strategy. From the earliest days of independence, President Nazarbayev insisted that all the activities on state-building were systemic. RK Senate speaker Kairat Mami writes in his article that “Kazakhstan was one of the first post-Soviet states to adopt the model of long-term strategic planning”. This well-conceived strategy for success is described in detail in Nursultan Nazarbayev’s book “Kazakhstan’s way”, which became a real guide to independence for many young states.

Long-term development priorities of Kazakhstan’s government were determined by the Strategy “Kazakhstan-2030” – the country’s action plan for the next three decades. The country also successfully operates industrial program “Kazakhstan-2015”. There is another important program of public-private partnership – “30 Corporate Leaders of Kazakhstan”” embracing various projects, including infrastructure. All this shows a serious and responsible attitude to the historical development of the country by its leaders and personally Nursultan Nazarbayev. Consistently implementing ambitious but feasible goals inherent in these works, Kazakhstan has achieved impressive results during the years of independence. This art setting clear strategic objectives and implementing them must be learnt by many neighboring countries, including Russia.

Regional leadership

For 20 years Kazakhstan has traveled a long way from a Central Asian fragment of the Soviet empire to a major regional power, recognized economic and political leader in Central Asia. Today RK is the only CA country, which is developing steadily and confidently by all macroeconomic indicators. The living standard in Kazakhstan is $12 800 per capita GDP, which is $3 100 in Uzbekistan, $2 200 in Kyrgyzstan, less than $2 000 in Tajikistan.

UN Human Development Index is even more eloquent: experts estimate Kazakhstan as a country quite good for life (66th out of 169 countries). Russia is near at the 65th place whereas Uzbekistan is in the 102nd, Kyrgyzstan – 109th and Tajikistan 112th. President Nursultan Nazarbayev understands that the country’s successful development is impossible in isolation, without concomitant rise of the neighboring countries.

In 2005, the Kazakh leader proposed the creation of a Union of Central Asian states. At the initiative of President Nursultan Nazarbayev established was the Central Asian Economic Community, later transformed into the Central Asian Economic Union.

Only a politician with global thinking like Nursultan Nazarbayev can establish mutually beneficial cooperation in Central Asia and protect their interests for the benefit of the people living there. To promote the leadership status of Kazakhstan and positively impact the region requires the development and implementation of long-term economic tools. This is what Nursultan Nazarbayev’s new initiative aims at: by 2016 Kazakhstan must become the CA trade, logistics and business hub. The implementation of this strategic idea will allow the country to become a kind of “Singapore” of Central Asia.

The driving force of integration

Kazakhstan is ready to share its experience of state building not only with its neighbors in the region, but throughout the former Soviet Union. Modern Kazakhstan is a true locomotive of integration in the CIS. The country is an innovator replete in new unifying initiatives. The President of Kazakhstan has consistently stressed that good-neighborliness, equality, honest cooperation are necessary conditions for economic integration in the CIS. Only on this basis other long-term integration initiatives can be fulfilled – joint transport projects, development of scientific and technical innovation cooperation. “It makes no sense to revel in own identity and close borders: integration is the shortest path to prosperity”, – said Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The politician of a global scale, with his strategic thinking uses the method of institutional building tested in the European Union. Created on his initiative, the Customs Union and Eurasian Economic Community are most advanced and well-functioning integration associations in the former USSR.

I can give an example. Removal of customs barriers between the three states helped boost cross-border trade by 50% in just one year. A trade turnover between Belarus and Kazakhstan, not geographically contiguous to each other, increased even more – by 123.4%.

Political strategist Nazarbayev understands that economic well-being and the very future of our countries – CIS neighbors is in general geo-economic partnership – equal, without the elder and younger brothers. November 18, 2011 the most important declaration of the Eurasian economic integration was signed in the Kremlin, which is a historic event for all former Soviet states, the path to effective and voluntary association of post-Soviet states and eventually to practical implementation of the Eurasian Union project, first proposed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Summing up the 20th anniversary of the CIS, many Russian and foreign politicians concur on that it is Kazakhstan’s leader who has “fathered the post-Soviet integration”.

New Eurasianism

Kazakhstan’s mission of an integrator and leader of the process would not have been so successful without an attractive unifying ideology – the idea of “new Eurasianism” put forward by Nursultan Nazarbayev. Remarkably, it was proposed by the leader of Kazakhstan – a young nation living in the heart of Eurasia. The First President of the country clearly formulated his version of political Eurasianism in 1994 at the Moscow State University – a breakthrough initiative to create a Eurasian Union of equal independent states.

Nazarbayev’s Eurasian concept provides benefits for each subject of the integration processes, the use of total capacity of the union for all its participants. Eurasia, united in accordance with the ideas of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, also promises considerable freedom of national development. Eurasianism in the Nazarbayev model suggests maximum preservation of national cultures and languages. Kazakhstan has already made important steps in this direction having created the most favorable conditions in the CIS for all 140 ethnic groups of Kazakhstan for their development within a single state.

According to Nazarbayev, “one-dimensional world” and “universal civilization” are archaic utopias. World-class politician Nazarbayev understands the need for integration into the global world, but being equal with others. The new Eurasianism of Nursultan Nazarbayev gave Kazakhstan a historic chance to become a full-author of international politics. With every passing year, Kazakhstan’s voice in world politics gains more weight. And the country in the heart of Eurasia has a significant impact on world history.

A bridge between East and West

The political leadership of Kazakhstan, located in both Europe and Asia, has long recognized its primary historic mission of bridging East and West. The young republic is constantly looking for new forms of equitable international dialogue. Widely known is the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), traditional are Congresses of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. The world community is well informed about Astana’s input in regional security and its support to international efforts to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, Iraq and other “hot spots” on the planet.

In the 20 years since the collapse of the USSR, Kazakhstan has grown fro a steppe little-known country into one of the key states of Eurasia, whose opinion has considerable weight in world politics. Over the past two years, the country presided in three influential international organizations – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the OSCE. This is strong evidence of high authority and influence of the Kazakh leader on the world stage.

The chairmanship of the OSCE in 2010 was the “hour of triumph” for Astana. All leading world powers appreciated it. The republic did great work in office having “shaken” the Organization to intensify work on a number of serious problems of Eurasian security.

The choice of RK to lead the OSCE was very successful. Astana as an ideal mediator between the Muslim and European societies can actually help resolve many conflicts in Eurasia.

Nuclear-Free World

The historic decision of Kazakhstan to voluntarily renounce the world’s fourth-largest nuclear arsenal, close the second largest nuclear testing site in the world and join the nonproliferation regime is highly appreciated internationally. The decision on voluntary renunciation of nuclear weapons is evidence to statesmanship, strategic insightfulness and extraordinary political will of Nursultan Nazarbayev. Now the republic has international security guarantees and enormous credibility in such a sensitive area as nuclear technology. For this reason Kazakhstan has become a major candidate to host the International Nuclear Fuel Bank.

The country victimized by atomic experiments has the moral right to demand more vigorous action in disarmament and radical strengthening of the regime of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In particular, Kazakhstan considers important an early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The President of the republic has recently called for development of a new universal treaty on general horizontal and vertical non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Some influential international organizations believe that Nazarbayev has long deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for anti-nuclear initiatives and practical contribution to nuclear disarmament.

The energy giant

The leading countries of the world are aware of and properly evaluate the potential of Kazakhstan as a major energy power. By the volume of proven oil reserves the country is the 12th largest in the world, which is without regard to potential reserves of the Caspian shelf. By reserves of gas and gas condensate it is the 15th, by reserves of coal is in the 8th place in the world, the republic’s depths have 4% of world total “fuel stone”. The country holds the 2nd place in the world by reserves of uranium, and leads in the extraction of this strategic raw material.

These figures show that Kazakhstan is one of a few world states that have a significant impact on the global energy market. But the republic was not born with a “golden spoon in its mouth”. By the time when Kazakhstan became independent, many exploration and mining industries were in full decline, pipelines had to be built from scratch. There was no technology, personnel, equipment, assets, and, most importantly, the knowledge how to profitably sell energy raw materials on world markets. From the first steps of independence, President Nursultan Nazarbayev paid close attention to priority development of the energy industry. Today, the national energy sector is the backbone of its economy. Kazakhstan can fully meet its fuel and energy needs from its own natural resources and export all types of fuel and electricity from the country. Complete energy independence is significant achievement of the young state.

Food safety

During the years of independence, Kazakhstan has managed to solve the problem, which Soviet authorities could not for 70 years – food safety. Today the country is among the six largest grain exporters in the world, and has been leading in flour export for three consecutive years. By the beginning of the next decade, Kazakhstan should enter into the world’s top five exporters of grain. This was the task set by the President. The diet of an average citizen of Kazakhstan over the past 20 years has become richer. Per capita consumption of meat and meat products has increased, consumption of fish and seafood doubled, of fruit – tripled. Kazakhstanis now consume more eggs, fat and confectionary products.

Memories of the deficit of the 1970s, long queues of the 1980s and the hungry 1990s are a bad dream now, but nevertheless it is our recent history! President Nursultan Nazarbayev named food security in Kazakhstan one of the main objectives of independence, which is prompted by aggravating global problem of food shortages. According to the UN Commission, in 2010 over a billion people starved in the world. “Kazakhstan must become even more powerful agricultural power, we have capacity and resources for this”, – said Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Indeed, experts estimate the agricultural potential of Kazakhstan as able to provide 100 million people with food. The country has an opportunity to significantly expand grain crops, increase meat production, has large reserves of raw materials for processing food. The President of Kazakhstan proposes to establish a system of food aid within the framework of the Organization of Islamic cooperation and Kazakhstan is ready to host a perspective regional food bank. This means that independent Kazakhstan has become one of the leading agricultural countries in the world.

Space Power

It is not enough for Man to be fed and warm – he has a dream, an eternal dream of flying to the stars. Kazakhstan accommodates on its territory a unique structure, Baikonur Cosmodrome, whence Yuri Gagarin made the first historic flight, followed by other space launches. During the years of independence, the republic acquired the status of a full-fledged space power, becoming the second country (after Russia) among the CIS nations to launch a satellite into orbit on its own. In the next few years Kazakhstan is launching another 2 satellites. This means that it will join the elite club of 25 countries with two or more satellites in orbit.

The Decree of President Nazarbayev established the National Space Agency of the RK, building the national space branch. Today the “Kazkosmos” cooperates with many countries, including France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Israel, India and China, prioritizing at that the teamwork with the space agencies of the two former Soviet republics – Ukraine and Russia, slating co-operation projects like the Baiterek space complex, Flight Control and information Center in Astana, the Ishim aviation and space-rocket complex to launch nano-satellites. Space exploration is a strategically important area in the development of industrial Kazakhstan and facilitates its ranking among world space powers.

Infrastructure breakthrough

The geopolitical position of Kazakhstan determines its special role in the Eurasian relations. Creating transportation routes and international transit corridors is a major objective of the independence strategy. After the Soviet Union collapse many Western experts predicted to Kazakhstan a backwater future. Skeptics even talked about a Central Asian “geopolitical bag” out of which Kazakhstan will never get out. But a man of outstanding statesmanship N.Nazarbayev found a number of innovative solutions that enabled integration of Kazakhstan into the global system of transit infrastructure to make it a key player in the global geo-economics.

First of all, it was necessary to build own pipelines replacing the Soviet system of transportation that balked access to international markets. The first one of them was the project Atasu – Alashankou implemented by national oil companies of China and Kazakhstan. Then came the oil pipeline Atyrau – Samara, opening the exit to markets in Europe and the Baltic Republics. Now the pros and cons of projects Aktau – Baku – Ceyhan and Kazakhstan – Turkmenistan – Iran oil pipeline are under discussion. Aktau port has undergone extensive modernization and developed into Kazakhstan’s sea gate.

Of particular focus is the XXI century construction site – international transit corridor Western Europe – Western China, the length of 8,5 thousand km. “At present goods to Europe from the Far East, China are carried by the seas, Pacific and Indian oceans, and this new transport corridor reduces the route 3.5times “, – said President N. Nazarbayev. The autobahn Western Europe – Western China will become the main transportation route in the Central Asian region to haul in 10 years 330 million tons of cargo per year. This means that a popular expression “Kazakhstan is a golden bridge between East and West” will be translated into reality.

Knowledge as national idea

From the first days of independence President Nursultan Nazarbayev staked on forming an intellectual nation as a pledge of competitiveness. “The world has entered the era of globalization, rapid development of innovations and technologies. A new stage of human development is knowledge-driven economy, and Kazakhstan must not remain on the fringes of this process, – said Nursultan Nazarbayev. In fact, the knowledge economy has become a national idea of Kazakhstan. On the President’s task the State Program for education development was drawn. The list of achievements in this field over the years of independence is impressive: smart schools, Nazarbayev University in Astana, International University of Information Technologies in Almaty and a lot more.

Of special mention is Bolashak presidential grant for overseas education, on which more than 4500 young Kazakhstanis are adapting the experience learned at world top universities to the national conditions, for the state’s benefit. But the Bolashak is only part of a single educational project. Kazakhstan is now moulding a world-class education system. Huge sums are funneled into pre-school education; hundreds of modern schools are under creation for the country to integrate into common European educational space. In two decades 780 schools opened, and on a special state program by 2020 522 educational institutions will have been built. All this is for the country’s future. “The main wealth of the country is a good-quality education” – Nursultan Nazarbayev believes.

The recently opened in Astana Nazarbayev University offers most advanced fields of study: information and communication technology, space technology, nanotechnology and computer engineering. The University has signed 11 coop contracts with top 30 world universities.

Sports victories

Ambitious and independent nations must win in politics, culture, and sports. Kazakhstan’s first athletic recognition dates to 1994, the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, in which the country won the first “gold”, followed by more “gold” victories.

And it is when at the dawn of independence Kazakhstan was facing a lot of problems, far more pressing than sport. That’s where the First President showed his insight and statesmanship believing it to be a sure indicator of the nation’s health, while many of his CIS colleagues were waving sport aside.

The recent hosting of Asian Games 2011was a good test of maturity to Kazakhstan. In it the country won 70 medals, 32 of which are gold.

Relocation of the capital

The gorgeous buildings of Astana, masterpieces of modern architecture, are the most striking proof of the Kazakh leadership’s ability to carry through bold plans. Astana is Nursultan Nazarbayev’s creation, a strategically verified and time-tested decision.

The RK First President availed of high oil prices to lay the groundwork for a new transport and technological structure of independent Kazakhstan. As an experienced politician he understood that without large-scale construction in the north of the country industrial breakthrough is unthinkable, and without IT parks in Astana a new economy of industrial development will not be built. That was the key to Kazakhstan’s strategy for ranking among 50 world advanced nations. Thus, subsequent to the Strategy “Kazakhstan-2030” the once backwater town, a place of political exile in the Soviet times, became a modern metropolis, a most beautiful capital in the world. Astana is a trademark of the young, ambitious nation, a much admired project in the world. Politicians refer to Astana as an example of pooling rationally the economic and human potential, and as “establishment of a center of geopolitical potential in a bare steppe,” a brilliant city in the heart of Eurasia, a monument of Kazakhstanis’ Independence and embodiment of the First President’s success.

New industrialization

One of the most significant milestones in the recent history of Kazakhstan is the state program for accelerated re-industrialization, to make a long-awaited technological breakthrough, create new jobs and lift the economy perilously dependent on the primary sector.

According to Russian experts, the strategy for industrial upgrading will allow Kazakhstan to solve several important problems – firstly, to overcome the residual effect of “deindustrialization” of 90s, secondly, move to a new high-tech economy, which will enhance competitiveness on world markets, thirdly, the industrial potential upgrade will stimulate development of the regions, fourthly to help address social and economic problems at a qualitatively new level, fifthly to abandon the “raw model” of export and fix thereby Kazakhstan’s status as a leader of the integration process within the former Soviet Union on a new, more qualitative basis.

The new ten-year economic program seeks to form a big stratum of well-to-do citizens. This strategically aligned course leaves no chance to adherents of any political archaism, or radical, “revolutionary upheaval” of various hues. Re-industrialization will boost the republic’s world status and competitiveness. It is assumed that by 2020 Kazakhstan will become a high-tech state ranked among 50 most competitive economies in the world. The ambition is to be an industrial engine of the new post-crisis economy of the XXI century.

Kazakhstan’s path

20th Anniversary of Independence is the time for tallying up the first results of the state project. Today the Republic of Kazakhstan is a recognized template of most effective political transition in the CIS, called “Kazakhstan’s path.”

– The country has closely studied the political transformation experience of East and West to work out own, evolutionary development path, to reject imposition of democracy by force, especially its intrusion from outside. We are not trying to copy anyone’s practice, but do what is good to our country and our people, N.Nazarbayev said.

This evolutionary approach has become a long-term strategic direction for independent Kazakhstan. At the beginning of the path the political leadership came a clear understanding of the need for a gradual package of economic, social and political reforms that were effectively carried out under the personal leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, (banking, pension and other reforms), succeeded by pressing political transformation. Significantly, Kazakhstan society managed to maintain and enhance the positive ideals. As a result, the republic has taken a special place among the independent states that emerged after collapse of the Soviet Union, and in the public opinion polls President Nazarbayev leads among CIS politician.

According to Nursultan Nazarbayev, the welfare of his country rests on “three pillars”: popular credibility, a high level of human development, internal political stability and national unity. It turns out that the secret of “Kazakh Miracle” – is in Kazakhstanis with their faith in a happy future for their country, and, certainly in the first President Nursultan Nazarbayev – a shrewd father of the nation. Together they made Kazakhstan a world recognized symbol of “state of success.”

The Nazarbayev factor

At the turn of the centuries the head of Kazakhstan’s state has rightly become universally accepted model of a modern leader who combines intelligent innovation and traditional authority. Kazakhstan was lucky to be headed by one of the most astute politicians of our time. And there is not an ounce of exaggeration. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Western experts predicted a short life to independent Kazakhstan. A strong ethnic and regional heterogeneity, hectic environment seemed to leave little chance for a peaceful development.

But life has torn gloomy forecasts to shreds and the past two decades went down to world history as “Kazakhstan’s Miracle”. Historians studying the turn of XX and XXI centuries will write volumes about it. But the main secret of success is known – the Nazarbayev factor.

The First President of Kazakhstan keenly sensed the direction of change in the late Soviet Union, needs and aspirations of the people of Kazakhstan, and began to patiently build an independent state. Insightful leadership, exceptional gift of foresight and political strategic thinking enabled Nursultan Nazarbayev to skillfully direct grass-roots processes in the channel of constructive change.

The managing creed of Nazarbayev can be formulated as “Do not make up for the political process, but guide them and manage the future!” This rare skill allowed Kazakhstan to pass a difficult period of inevitable changes without great losses and social unrest which marked the formation of other CIS states.

It is the Nazarbayev factor that determined the country’s leap from a Central Asian Soviet republic to an independent world state.

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These are the developments I would include in the “top 20” major achievements of the country. Figuratively speaking, these are “Twenty peaks of Independence”. Maybe other experts will choose other events or put other accents. But nevertheless all parts of this grand mosaic make up an impressive picture of Kazakhstan’s state success. They do not just fix the scale of grand achievements. They define a sustainable path of development of Kazakhstan for the next 20 years.

A year ago, at a solemn meeting dedicated to the 19th Independence of the republic, Nursultan Nazarbayev rightly pointed out that it requires 40-50 years to build a developed nation. Today’s Kazakhstan has brilliantly passed the first half of its historical path to prosperity. Nazarbayev’s reliable policy moves the country only forward to new heights and striking victories. And there is every reason to expect progressive nation-building under the First President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.