Kazakhstan’s Global Stance: Bridging East and West in International Affairs

Kazakhstan, a landlocked nation situated at the heart of Eurasia, has continuously sought to establish itself as a bridge between the East and the West, while concurrently pursuing a foreign policy emphasizing peace, cooperation, and development. The recent participation of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Council of Heads of State held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on October 13 provided him with a platform to reiterate and expound upon Kazakhstan’s stance on several global agenda topics.

The main topic dominating the international agenda currently is the conflict in Palestine and Israel. This pressing issue has taken over news headlines, with nations urgently seeking to prevent its escalation beyond Gaza’s borders. Kazakhstan has articulated a distinct stance on this matter. President Tokayev has expressed the country’s firm condemnation of any terrorist attacks in the region, stressing that targeting innocent civilians can never be justified, regardless of the circumstances. As he emphasized at the CIS meeting, “Challenges that have not been finding their solution for decades cannot be resolved by terrorist actions. There is no justification.”

This stance aligns closely with the positions of the European Union and the United States, which have condemned Hamas’s deplorable terrorist activities and concurrently called on Israel to protect the civilian population in Gaza during its military engagements with Hamas. Notably, even as a majority-Muslim country, Kazakhstan has built a constructive and practical relationship with Israel, centering on shared interests in technology, agriculture, and commerce. The two countries have engaged in numerous high-level exchanges, strengthening their bilateral ties. At the same time, while acknowledging Israel’s pivotal role in regional dynamics, Kazakhstan consistently upholds a principled view on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The country staunchly supports the two-state solution, asserting that both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to reside within safe and acknowledged boundaries, coexisting peacefully. Kazakhstan’s nuanced perspective highlights its commitment to fostering global dialogue, championing harmonious coexistence, and mutual respect among nations.

President Tokayev also outlined Kazakhstan’s stance on the wider international system. The country is firmly rooted in the belief that for global peace and cooperation to be sustainable, the international system must be just and democratic. Highlighting the frequent gridlocks within the UN Security Council, President Tokayev has called for a more democratic and impartial approach to global issues, emphasizing the need for strengthening the role of the UN General Assembly. Furthermore, Kazakhstan has been pushing the idea to redesign the UN Security Council, in order to integrate the voices of regions often overlooked, such as the Global South. This idea was also voiced by Tokayev during his speech at the UN General Assembly in September. As Tokayev emphasized, Kazakhstan has been a strong advocate for nuclear disarmament and has continuously shown its commitment to multilateralism. It initiated the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia in 1992, a multilateral forum aimed at promoting peace, stability, and cooperation in the Asian region. Additionally, Kazakhstan pursues a multi-vector foreign policy, maintaining amicable relations with a broad range of countries, including China, Russia, the EU, and the US. During his UNGA address, Tokayev reaffirmed that his country will continue cooperation with its major allies on all strategic issues. This diplomatic balancing and nuanced approach to international relations would be valuable in the UNSC, as it would offer a more holistic view on issues that are often polarized among the current permanent members.

Another area of particular interest is transport corridors. Kazakhstan’s geostrategic position has placed it at the forefront of international trade routes, particularly between Europe and Asia. With around 80% of road traffic between these two continents passing through its territory, Kazakhstan plays an indispensable role in facilitating international trade. The nation’s emphasis on bolstering key transport routes like the Trans-Caspian route, the North-South corridor, and the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway indicates its vision of transforming Eurasia into a pivotal logistics hub. The focus on specific railroads such as Dostyk-Moyynty, Bakhty-Ayagoz, and Darbaza-Maktaaral underscores Kazakhstan’s detailed roadmap towards achieving this vision.

Furthermore, food security, especially in the face of climate change, remains a critical concern for Kazakhstan. As the UN predicts daunting water shortages potentially affecting over five billion people by 2050, the challenges for Central Asia, including Kazakhstan, are particularly pressing. Recognizing the looming threat of environmental degradation and water scarcity, Kazakhstan has been promoting a collaborative approach within Eurasia. The nation advocates for the implementation of sustainable agricultural methods, the adoption of water-saving technologies, and the harnessing of green energy sources, including its capability to produce green hydrogen. This commitment not only underlines its push towards cleaner energy alternatives but also emphasizes the fortification of established supply chains to ensure food security for its citizens and the broader region.

In conclusion, the positions put forward by Kazakhstan are not merely reflective of its national interest but are also significant for the broader international community. By championing a democratic global order, advocating for sustainable development, and stressing the importance of peaceful coexistence, Kazakhstan provides a roadmap that many nations can align with. Its unique geopolitical position and balanced diplomatic approach offer a fresh perspective in international dialogues, making it an essential voice in global affairs.

[Image by jorono from Pixabay]

Ernest Gallo is an academic and a visiting professor on international studies. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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