A popular theme among developing nations is the modernization of the economic, social, and political forums. Countries are now looking to democracy to put themselves in a competitive position in the world market. Central Asia, which consists of Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikista, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, is continuing to show their strength and growth as they strive to demonstrate their independence and self-reliability separate from Russia. Kazakhstan has adopted democracy and has demonstrated how it has been a symbolism for growth, competitiveness, and success.
In the last decade, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Central Asian countries have established an active presence in the international economy. Kazakhstan has represented a leading figure in Central Asia through modernization, reform, and democracy. As the fight against terrorism, development of democratic nations, and economic stability continues to parallel success and prosperous nations, the United States wants to be an “engine for change” in Central Asia.
Since Kazakhstan gained its independence from Russia in 1991, it has made significant progress to prove its national purpose as a leader and innovator for the Central Asian region. Although President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan is a former Soviet leader who inherited Kazakhstan, he has been successful leading the country by socially, economically, and politically reforming the country. “Kazakhstan’s economy is continuing its robust expansion, over the past six years, the gross domestic product has shown growth of just fewer than 10 percent in the first half of 2006.”( Kazakh 2) Kazakhstan attributes this growth to its energy and large oil sector, gas, and mineral services.
The country has introduced new concepts that other countries are now adopting due to its proven success like privatization reforms in the banking and mortgage industries and education reforms. Kazakhstan has been able sustain itself as a growing nation but it still relies heavily on Russia’s pipeline network for exporting much of its oil and natural gas. If the country is able to produce 3 million barrels per day, Kazakhstan will put itself as one of the worlds top 10 oil producing nations in the world.
Kazakhstan has outlined a strategy for long-term domestic political stability and consolidation of their society. One of the top goals, which is, “to guarantee developing our own uniform civic motivation based on equality of opportunities for all the citizens of our country,” represents Kazakhstan strong belief in change for their country.
The United States has shown its support to Central Asia; to countries like Georgia and Kazakhstan’s in their mutual goals to transform the state into a democratic nation. This transformation will be beneficial to the United States because it will bridge the lines of communication, by allowing for greater flexibility in areas dealing with oil, gas, and energy.
With the help from the United States, President Nazarbayev has shared a vision of expansion and opportunities that extend beyond the boarders of Kazakhstan. Central Asian countries share the same vision of stability, prosperity, and democratic reform. As the people realize the growth potential of their country it has been a relatively easy battle for the government to conform the people to change. The reforms of the pension program, expansion of educational opportunities, reforms in the banking industry, all of these changes have and will continuously improve the livelihood of the citizens of the country.
In a joint statement by the United States and Kazakhstan, “We will expand our joint activities to ensure the development of energy resources, while supporting economic diversification and reform, market principles, and the development of small and medium size enterprises. We recognize that peaceful democratization invests citizens in the future of their nation. Developing democratic institutions is therefore the crucial condition of long-term stability.” (Joint 1).
Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s President has performed exceedingly well as the leader by implementing social, political, and economic reforms. It is completely evident that his goal is to provide economic stability in his country while being an example for Russia and other neighboring countries. GDP has risen, poverty is down, privatization reforms, and democracy on the horizon. Kazakhstan has broaden its export of oil and energy potential to countries like China and the United States, “it also joined the U.S.-sponsored Bu-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline that breaks Russia’s long-standing monopoly on delivering Caspian Sea oil to world markets. (Hill 3) Money is power; Kazakhstan has put itself in a powerful financial position through its energy and oil sector. “The Growth Competitiveness Index Rankings report ranks Kazakhstan as the most competitive of the post-Soviet states.”
The country’s oil wealth has sprung vast investment opportunities across Central Asia. With plans on becoming part of the group of 10 leading exporters within a decade, Kazakhstan will need to expand the development of the country’s energy infrastructure to meet growing oil shipments to world markets. Kazakhstan’s surging economy continues to maintain economic growth and stability. However, while oil continues to be the biggest economic engine for Kazakhstan as it exports 80% of its oil, any drop in oil production will pose the biggest threat to the Kazakhstan economy. Exports could represent slow demand for the international community when there is fluctuating prices, lack of investments, and disagreements among neighboring nations regarding regional affairs.
Although Russia is no longer a leading nation in this region it still has a lot of influence on Kazakhstan due to the pipeline control. Kazakhstan relies on Russia’s pipeline to export its oil. Kazakhstan has a substantial investment in Georgia in its oil and gas sector. Currently Georgia and Russia are experiencing confrontation due to the Russian military occupancy in Georgia, this is putting Kazakhstan in the middle.
This confrontation could hurt Kazakhstan’s oil exports as well as its ties with Georgia and the United States. Kazakhstan’s accession to the Baku-Tbilis-Ceyhan pipline is a bilateral move away from a heavy reliance Russia’s pipeline.
A Colored Revolution in Kazakhstan has been a concern that analyst have identified since its independence in 1991. Kazakhstan has a large Slavic Population in the northern and eastern steppe regions. The Slavic population wants to obtain dual citizenship with Russia and Kazakhstan, as well as an establishment of the Russian language as recognized second state language. It would be to the best interest of the Kazakhstan government to develop a cohesive national identity for both Russians and Kazakh’s alike. Still Nazarbayev “designated Russian the language of inter-ethnic communication, and has ensured non-ethnic Kazakhs still occupy significant posts in the government.” (Hill 5) This is an important step for the country as it represents a social and cultural step toward democracy. “Every day public servants must have the awareness of the strategic goals and priorities, and settle them without wasting their time in meddling with minor, daily chores.” (Prosperity)
Kazakhstan has implemented an excellent idea to improve the education and skill of its young people to secure strength and profitability in the future. They have adopted an education reform that will send the brightest and best students from all over the country to study abroad. The students are then brought back home and placed in the Kazakhstan government, thereby diversifying the production of ideas that will be able to combat world issues. “In addition, Kazakhstan under Nazarbayev has not just sent its young people to study abroad, but has also launched a global quest for ideas on reform and modernization, as well as trying to learn from its own past mistakes.” (Hill 4)
As the relationship between the United States and Kazakhstan grows the ideas and progress that they produce together becomes an example for other Central Asian countries.
Kazakhstan is an active player in the fight against international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It even “rid itself of the weapons in cooperation with the Unites States under the Nunn-Lugar program.” (Central 1). They’ve sealed nuclear testing tunnels, transported enriched uranium to the United States, and have become a proud member in the fight against terrorism. It has even vowed to help Afghanistan in its fight against terrorism and narcotics.
The United States and Kazakhstan share a similar vision to an end to terrorism and corruption. The United States has enumerated its desire to assist financially, and to cooperate in matters regarding enhancement of regional security and economic improvements. The United States and Kazakhstan together plan to strengthen their relationship into a partnership through educate one another concerning national, regional, worldwide matters.
Kazakhstan has shown great interest in the matters evolving around Iraq and Afghanistan. They are committed and determined to partner with the United States in the strengthening these countries. Kazakhstan has already committed over 800 of its military personnel to the cause and is prepared to enter strategic relationships with Middle Eastern countries to obtain peace for the region.
There are many challenges that Kazakhstan faces regarding national security ranging “from terrorism to a significant narcotics problem, which is always accompanied with a lot of criminal activity and other threats to security.”( Abizaid 1) For this reason, Kazakhstan is working extensively with the United States to strengthen is defense capabilities on the Caspian Sea. They have vowed to strengthen and broaden their military capabilities in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal proliferation of weapons, etc. The United States defense officials have been speaking with Kazakhstan officials on ways to strengthen military ties between the U.S. and Kazakhstan. This is an important and strategic move for Kazakhstan leaders, they are a relatively new country and it is important to strengthen their defense capabilities to secure their future endeavors.
They are placing security forces along the Caspian Sea Region as this region poses the biggest threat to the country. Their goal is to provide an organized, professional military force. Kazakhstan is also working very closely with the United States to expand their military presence in neighboring Afghanistan in an effort to strengthen its country.
“That’s why it is utterly indispensable to set up a system in which each and every ministry and department would organize its work in such a way that each day, month and year could bring us ever nearer to the objectives we’ve set.” (Prosperity). Kazakhstan has admitted that they could use advice and analyze the tendencies from other countries in their effort to rebuild and reform Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan has publicly made commitments to provide assistance to Afghanistan in their fight to counter narcotics. The Central Asian country has been building strong strategic relationships with its neighboring countries and other countries in the international community that share the same views. For example they have extended a promise to assist in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq.
“We shall advance to strengthening of our relationships with Russia, China, Central Asian neighbors, Islamic states and Western countries.” (Prosperity) This relationship building efforts made by Kazakhstan represents their commitment to enhance regional security and economic integration by forming strategic partnerships within Central Asia. Kazakhstan has created strategic partnerships with countries like China, Kazakhstan understands that it is important to keep relations with these countries because they all still share common goals of sustainability, economic growth, and international terrorism.
Kazakhstan has identified a system where strategic planning, strategic control, accountability and responsibility are its major objectives. Kazakhstan need for a government who views the world according to 21st century realities and who doesn’t apply 20th century problem-solving methods to 21st century problems will become evident as the country incorporates its long term goals. These goals of National Security, health, education, and welfare of it people, economic growth and political stability, and consolidation of society will all play an integral role Kazakhstan desire to maintain an image in the world as a regional power with economic stability. Kazakhstan has a bright future ahead, with all of the factors of production in place, and the right leadership and cooperation with the international community and particularly its regional neighbors, this country will be representative of a leader in the world economy.
“Abizaid Visits Kazakhstan, Strengthens Military Ties.” Kazakhstan News Bulletin 4 August 2006.
“Central Asia Declares Itself a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.” Kazakhstan News Bulletin
11 September 2006.
Hill, Fiona. “Whither Kazakhstan?” The National Interest Jun. 2005
“Joint Statement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Kazakhstan.” Kazakhstan News Bulletin 29 September 2006.
“Kazakh Economy Shows No Slowdown, Grows 9.3 Percent.” Kazakhstan News Bulletin 18 August 2006.
“Kazakhstan Support Russia-US Initiative Against Nuclear Terrorism.” Kazakhstan News Bulletin 17 July 2006
“Nazarbayev Sworn in as Kazakhstan’s President for New Term, Stresses Democracy, Growth and Security.” Kazakhstan News Bulletin 13 January 2006.
“Prosperity, Security and Ever Growing Welfare of all the Kazakhstanis.” Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in India