Kazakhstan's new foreign policy strategy eyes global co-operation

By Aydar Ashimov


Kazakh soldiers take part in the Best Warrior 2020 competition in Arizona, the United States, March 7. [Kazakh Defence Ministry]

NUR-SULTAN -- Kazakhstan has adopted a new foreign policy strategy for 2020-2030 that eschews Eurasian integration as a fundamental long-term goal while focusing on global co-operation.

The Kazakh government published its new planning document on the Kazakh president's website on March 9.

The cabinet has three months to lay the groundwork for implementing the 10-year strategy.

The objectives, tasks and priorities outlined in the document stress safeguarding the country's territorial integrity, strengthening global and regional security systems and creating a broad international counter-terrorism coalition.


Donald Tusk, then-president of the European Council, greets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Nur-Sultan, last May 31. [Kazakh presidential press office]

"The modern international relations system is undergoing a complex transformation, the main features of which are ... aggravation of traditional security challenges and threats, such as terrorism, extremism, an arms race ... the emergence of new factors influencing geopolitics and geo-economics, including those related to the development of information and communication technologies, the phenomena of hybrid and cyber warfare," reads the document.

It is essential to join forces with the global community to work together against modern threats, adds the document.

At the same time, Kazakhstan is positioning itself as the leader of the Central Asian states.

The new strategy underlines Kazakhstan's goal of rendering "assistance in strengthening regional and global energy security, achieving a balance of interests of producing countries, transit countries and consumers of energy resources, establishing diversified, stable and safe routes for their export".

The strategy draws on objectives and challenges presented in a number of Kazakh policy documents, such as the country's Strategy for Long-Term and Sustainable Development until 2050, a national plan titled "100 Concrete Steps to Implement Five Institutional Reforms" and others.

A partnership for peace

In many ways, the new policy reiterates the foreign policy drawn up for 2014–2019, according to Yernar Beisaliyev, a political analyst based in Nur-Sultan.

"It includes the same multi-pronged policy, the same understanding of the importance of national security matters, including territorial integrity, the threat of terrorism and the need to engage in joint efforts with other countries to combat terrorism and trans-national crime," he said.

The new strategy differs from the previous one in that the new one does not view Eurasian integration as a fundamental long-term goal, Beisaliyev noted.

"Also, the strategy for the next decade devotes more attention to new threats such as cyber-crime. Kazakhstan is acting as an intermediary on global security issues, it supports the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones, and it is expressing concern about hybrid wars," Beisaliyev said.

The new strategy calls for "expanded strategic partnership with the United States, strategic relations with Central Asian states, expanded partnership and co-operation with the European Union (EU) and EU member states".

In the new document, Kazakhstan advocates transforming the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) "into a regional organisation for security and development".

"CICA is an international forum that was first established in 2002 and unites the Asian countries. The proposed transformation could bear fruit if the CICA member states make a genuine effort to confront security and development challenges," said Beisaliyev.

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