Home Cover Story KAZAKHSTAN: 28 years of being Independent

KAZAKHSTAN: 28 years of being Independent

H I S T O R Y

The history of Kazakhstan from the 1700’s till the mid-1800’s had been one of constant loss of territory to Russian invad-ers, until the whole of modern Kazakhstan was conquered. So when Russia was taken over by the Bolsheviks in 1917, Kazakhstan was ultimately brought under their sway, after first being the scene of battles in the civil war between “Red and White Russians”.

The first president of Kazakhstan after independence was a hold-over from Communist days, but later, the country moved in a more democratic direction.

On Independence Day, there are special festive events in the presidential palace of Ak Orda. In other parts of the country, people will don traditional Kazakh garb and pitch a yurt, which is a decorative Kazakh tent. People will then eat meals of horse-meat and other dishes in the yurt. They will also exchanged gifts and visit and converse in the yurt.

Historically the Kazak region had. “The era of independence unveiled boundless perspectives and unique opportunities for development and growth. We have created an effcient system of state administration meeting modern global challenges. We have earned respect and con?dence of the entire international community thanks to our shrewd and open policy,” the Head of State stressed.

Kazakhstan Celebrates 28th Year of Independence

Today, major cities across the country host festive activities like theatrical performances, charity events and concerts. Residents and visitors to the capital will take in a fireworks display on the night of December 16. / Inbusiness

Kazakhstan celebrates its 28th year as an independent and sovereign state today, marking more than a quarter-century since the Caspian and Central Asia regions’ nation became independent from more than 70 years of Soviet rule.

What is now known as Ka-zakhstan’s Independence Day, the country’s most beloved national holiday is celebrated annually on December 16 and 17, with millions of Kazakhstanis coming together to celebrate the anni-versary of the birth of their state.

December 16, 1991, was a prominent day in Kazakh history, as the country’s Supreme Council passed the Constitutional Independence Law, which, together with the Declaration of Sovereignty established what is now considered Central Asia’s wealthiest country.

The document ushered in the era of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was elected the ?rst president of Kazakhstan in 1991. The country’s new two-house parliamentary system and national Armed Forces were subsequently established to meet the needs of defense. The capital city, which is now the country’s landmark, was moved from Almaty to Astana (Nur-Sultan) in 1997.

The radical transformation of the economic system, however, was once of the most signi?cant changes made by the newly-established state in order to meet international standards.

“Our ?rst president Nursultan Nazarbayev once said – it is one thing to declare independence, but entirely different and much more important and dif?cult thing is to defend it,” said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the Kazakh president, in his recent address to the nation on Friday, according to a report by Sputnik.

“For 28 years of President Nazarbayev’s rule, we have managed to come a long way. The industrialization has laid a solid framework for the country’s economic development,” he added.
Kazakhstan was the last to declare its independence despite the swift collapse of the Soviet Union, but now the country ranks ?rst in many ways.
As of today, Kazakhstan is ranked the world’s ninth-largest crude oil exporter and holds the 14th largest amount of proved natural gas reserves. Among the post-Soviet countries, Kazakhstan owns the largest deposits of liquid hydrocarbons behind Russia. The country stepped into the global oil market in 1993 after the country’s government and Chevron agreed to establish a giant oil-production venture, Tengizchevroil, to produce oil in two big ?elds near the Caspi-an Sea. In 1997, Kazakhstan signed the production sharing agreement (PSA) with seven international companies, including Agip, British Gas, British Petroleum, Mobil, Shell, Statoil, and Total.

Over 12 years, from 2005 to 2017, the total gross in?ow of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Kazakhstan amounted to more than $250 billion. Over the ?rst half of 2019, Kazakhstan raked in more than $870 million in direct investment and ranked as the most attractive former Soviet republic for international ?nancial institutions. Doing business in Kazakhstan became easier in 2018, as the country ranked 28th ahead of the regional giants Russia (#31) and China (#46).

Meanwhile, a new era marked signi?cant changes in Kazakh-stan’s status as a nuclear power, as the country’s authorities renounced nuclear defense capabilities and closed down the former Soviet Semipalatinsk nuclear test site.

Since 1991, the country has joined the world’s most in?uential international organizations such as the United Nations (UN), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Kazakhstan has become the ?rst Central Asian country to be elected to a two-year term on the Security Council, the high-pro?le and permanent UN body that investigates internation-al disputes and situations that often involve global tension. In addition, Kazakhstan has been playing a host to the rounds of high-level talks on the Syrian con?ict since 2017.

The country once again came under the spot in 2017 thanks to the International Exposition, EXPO 2017 Astana, which took place from June 10 to September 10, 2017, in Kazakhstan’s capital city. The major event brought together nearly 120 states and 22 international organizations, as well as about 4 million visitors, including half a million foreigners.

Today, the former Soviet republic is nearing 19 million people and unites different ethnicities, including ethnic Kazakhs, which make up 70 percent of the population. Russians, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Uyghurs, Tatars, Germans, Turks, Azerbaijanis, Koreans are all present in the country, along with other minorities. In 1995, the former Kazakh president, Nursultan Nazarbayev initiated the creation of the Assembly of People of Ka-zakhstan to ensure socio-political balance in the country. At ?rst, the Assembly was an advisory body under the President, but later it was transformed into a constitutional body with socio-political status.

Meanwhile, this year’s festivities will be led by the new president, for the first time since the country gained independence. Earlier this year, 79-year-old Nursul-tan Nazarbayev unexpectedly resigned, announcing the establishment of interim leadership by Senate Chairman Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who was later elected the president of Kazakhstan.

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump sent a holiday greeting to his Kazakhstani counterpart, to mark the Independence Day celebrated in the country, and to wish him success in the upcoming year.

“I am pleased to note the impressive progress that has been achieved over the past twelve months thanks to our strong partnership,” Trump wrote according to a report by Ak Orda.

“Our cooperation, ranging from nuclear non-proliferation to the fight against terrorism, makes the world more secure and stable,” he added.
Today, major cities across the country host festive activities like theatrical performances, charity events, and concerts. The president and government, accompanied by politicians and public figures, will head festivities in the presidential palace, Ak Orda, in Nur-Sultan, the capital city of Kazakhstan. Residents and visitors to the capital will take in a ?reworks display on the night of December 16.

Kazakhstan offcially renames capital Astana as Nursultan in honor of Nazarbayev

In a statement from the president’s of?cial website, Kazakhstan’s new president Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev rati?ed the proposal to change the name of the country’s capital from Astana to ‘Nursultan’.

Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev was sworn in as Kazakh-stan’s president on Wednesday a day after Nursultan Naz-arbayev resigned from the post.
Nazarbayev, 78, who has ruled the country since its independence following the collapse of the Sovi-et Union in 1991, is the ?rst Central Asian leader of the post-Soviet era to willingly leave of?ce.

In late February, Nazarbayev dismissed the country’s government, citing a lack of economic growth, and pledging new reforms to improve people’s quality of life.

The name change also prompted protests in Astana and former capital and the country’s largest city Almaty. Doz-ens of anti-government protesters were detained on Friday.

Nazarbayev’s France-based opponent, Mukhtar Ablyazov, had called for protests on March 22, before the long-time president announced he was standing down on Tuesday. Around 30 people were arrested in Almaty, witnesses said.

Those held did not have a chance to protest and appeared to have been identi?ed by police prior to arriving at the spot in the center of the city where a public holiday was being celebrated.

Separately, local media said that “tens of people” including a journalist had been arrested in the capital, the name of which was changed this week to Nursultan, or “Sultan of Light” in Kazakh.

Ablyazov’s Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan movement was ruled extremist by a Kazakh court last year in a move critics say has deepened the crackdown on regime opponents.

On Thursday, police arrested several people in Ka-zakhstan’s capital protesting the decision to rename the city in honour of Nazarbayev.
Kazakhs have also been showing their opposition at the name change online.

One online petition against the name change had gathered close over 36,000 signatures as of Wednesday despite the petition website appearing to be blocked in Kazakhstan.

Career diplomat Tokayev was sworn into of?ce Wednesday after Nazarbayev, the only leader an independent Kazakhstan had ever known, stepped down after three decades in of?ce.

Kazakhstan’s senate appoint-ed Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva as speaker, setting her up as a potential contender to succeed her father.

Tokayev, 65, will serve out the rest of Nazarbayev’s mandate until elections due next year, though the former president retains signi?cant powers.
Public gatherings in authoritarian Kazakhstan are illegal unless they receive permission from local authorities, which is almost never provided in the case of political demonstrations.

Astana was known as Ak-molinsk until 1961, when it was renamed Tselinograd. It became Akmola, which means “white grave”, after Kazakh-stan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

After Nazarbayev moved the capital there from the southeastern city of Almaty, Akmola was once again renamed. Its current name, Astana, means simply “capital”.

Kazakh Independence Day also celebrates three decades of international partnerships

On Dec. 16, Kazakhstan once again celebrates its independence. Twenty-eight years ago, First President Nursultan Nazarbayev brought our nation into a new era. Thanks to the considerable efforts of many, Kazakhstan has developed into the leading economy of the region with a high pro?le on the global stage. Our nation must never lose sight of our foundations, both in what our people have achieved, but also in those international partners who have been so important to our story.

Rather than looking inwards, Kazakhstan’s independence dem-onstrated a distinct approach to global politics, which saw Nursultan Nazarbayev forge lasting relationships with numerous international partners. Looking around the world, multilateralism is under more pressure than ever; con?ict, tension and mistrust can be found on almost every continent. The world is currently facing some of the most uncertain times in its recent history. Now, more than ever, there is a demand for stability and diplomacy.

As we mark another Independence Day, we must take stock and recognise that Kazakhstan is stra-tegically placed to suggests solutions to the world. Our nation sits at a global crossroads in the heart of Eurasia. We are a dynamic hub between Russia, China, the Middle East and Europe, at the centre of historic, current and future trade routes. From this key position, Ka-zakhstan has the potential to be the anchor of stability in a global storm.

Now, in the face of global divisions, we look to the future with the objective of global harmony. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is building on the First President’s legacy. During his inauguration speech in June this year, the new President renewed Kazakhstan’s commitment to a multi-vector foreign policy, with a view to unify not only the Eurasian region, but also global powers.

Nowhere else in the world is surrounded by such talked about neighbours. Over the last two de-cades, international media has been consumed by con?icts in near-by countries, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Yet Kazakhstan has provided meaningful contributions to stability of an often-divided region.

Through the efforts of the First President, we have the advantage of being Central Asia’s most economically developed and prosperous nation. Yet with this privilege comes responsibility. As a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and as a founding member of the Eurasian Economic Union, Kazakhstan has a key role across global forums for dialogue and con?ict resolution. For example, in 2017, Kazakhstan was given the honour of being the ?rst Central Asian nation to be elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. We used this to great effect, such as by hosting a ministerial debate focussing on the region’s security and sustainable development.

Kazakhstan’s expanding dip-lomatic engagement can be seen by looking at our neighbours. We maintain continuously positive relations with China and the other major economies of Southeast Asia. Kazakhstan is often referred to as the “buckle on the belt” of the Belt and Road initiative, and our nation now accounts for 70 percent of land-based transit passing from China to Europe. This economic partnership continues to bolster our economy, creating thousands of jobs and a predicted addition of a percentage point to annual GDP by 2021. There is no clearer indication of the strength of our bilateral relations than President Xi Jinping’s announcement of the Belt and Road initiative in Nur-Sultan in 2013.

Independence Day also offers an opportunity to remember the important relationship with our northern neighbour: Russia. As well as the longest continuous land border in the world, we also share many cultural similarities. Our intertwined histories enable close diplomatic and economic relations. This legacy lives on through our bilateral collaboration within the sphere of the ?ght against global terrorism.

This cooperation is emblematic of our close partnerships around the world. In January 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Nursultan Nazarbayev to the White House. In their joint press conference, Trump underscored the importance of the relationship between our countries. Like him, we are proud to note that the United States was one of the ?rst countries to recognise Ka-zakhstan’s independence in 1991.

As we transition to a new de-cade, it is vital to underscore the importance of our close friendship with the European Union. On June 17, the European Union adopted a new strategy for Central Asia with the priority of strengthening ongoing dialogue and multilateral cooperation. We now look forward to 2020 to realise this vision. This will particularly support closer ties within the sphere of economic cooperation, with the European Union being our largest trade partner.

Every year we mark our independence with a day of celebration, a milestone to remember how far our nation has come and to acknowledge our future direction. In 2019, friendship and trust between countries both near and far are as important as they have ever been. On Dec. 16, we give thanks for 28 years of an independent Kazakh-stan with our friends near and far.


This year marks Kazakhstan’s 28th anniversary of independence. On this special occasion, I would like to convey my heartfelt congratulations and warm greetings to all members of the Kazakh-stani community.

It has been 28 years, yet the message of bravery, equality, cour-age, foresight, and self-governance continues to resonate as strong-ly as it did in December of ‘91. As we reflect on Kazakhstan’s history, let us remember that it plays a critical role

both as an emerging economic center and an international partner for peace and development.

Being a landlocked country did not hinder the then young nation from achieving economic growth. Through the years, it has successfully implemented wide-ranging reforms and optimized its geographic location between Europe and Asia. Since 1991, more

than $300 billion of directinvestments has come to Kazakhstan, accounting for more than 70% of total foreign investments in Central Asia.

Kazakhstan is also home to more than 18 million people, with approximately 130 ethnic groups.

Yet, despite having an ethnically diverse population, it has avoided internal strife, and is even recognized for its substantial contribution in the international community for combating terrorism, providing humanitarian assistance, and promoting peace and unity.

What Kazakhstan has achieved since its independence in 1991 is truly remarkable. Emerging from the ashes of the Soviet Union collapse, it has turned challenges, limitations and stumbling blocks into opportunities, serving as a beacon of hope to nations and individuals alike.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as the Philippines’ honor-ary consul to Kazakhstan. Their resilience and optimism make us confident that they will move forward to a greater level of prosperity.

Again, I would like to send my greetings on the 28th commemoration of Kazakhstan’s independence.

 DENNIS A. UY
 Honorary Consul of Kazakhstan in the Philippines