Kazakhstan Chamber of Commerce in the USA


How Kazakhstan is Charting its Own Course in the World

Posted on November 29, 2015 by KazCham


The Great Gain Not the Great Game: How Kazakhstan is Charting its Own Course in the World, by Erlan Idrissov,The Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan

Diplomatic Courier

It is a sign of Central Asia’s and Kazakhstan’s increasing role and importance in the world that more and more is written about our region. But what is striking – and at times frustrating – is how reporting and analysis can be distorted to fit narratives which have little relationship to what’s actually happening.

It has, for example, become increasingly popular for journalists to see events in our region through the prism of a revival of the Great Game in Central Asia. It is through this narrative of major powers fighting for influence that recent visits by the leaders of China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Japan, as well as the U.S. Secretary of State are seen.

I can see why this makes a neat headline but that does not make it true. Kazakhstan is not a silent by-stander in anyone else’s strategy. We are a country successfully making its own independent way in the world.

We have purposely built good relations and strong economic ties with countries, big and small, to the east and west, south and north. We have close links with both Russia and China. Europe is our biggest trading partner and the US our second biggest foreign investor after Europe.

This is not an accident but the result of our multi-vector foreign policy. Our economic progress – which has seen our GDP rise 19-fold since independence – is also based on being open to trade, investment and ideas. This commitment continues which is why, in the last year, we have helped found the Eurasian Economic Union and become full members of the WTO.

Far from being at the centre of a re-run of the Great Game, Kazakhstan is, if you like, at the heart of what could be a Great Gain for all in terms of regional and global stability and prosperity, and is adamantly promoting this vision for all to embrace. This is why, in the last couple of months alone, President Nazarbayev has held extremely productive meetings with President Xi Jinping, President Vladimir Putin, President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – and has had very successful back-to-back visits to London and Paris as well, for example, to Qatar.

These countries and their leaders all want to strengthen their relationships with Kazakhstan – as we do with them – as a partner and friend. As Secretary Kerry explained, for example, the U.S. is not pursuing a “zero-sum game” in central Eurasia but believes greater engagement by all will benefit all. This is a message which we wholeheartedly welcome and which I hope all those watching and commenting on Kazakhstan will hear.

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