On June 9, Kazakhstan will hold a presidential election. This is a most important moment, not least because a head of state can take the country in a particular direction and set tasks and priorities for government that can have an impact on the country and beyond. It is also the first time in almost 30 years that a new President of the Republic of Kazakhstan will be elected.
The upcoming election is promising to be the most competitive and diverse in Kazakhstan’s history as an independent nation. A total of seven candidates have been registered by the Central Election Commission. The list includes the first female candidate to run for President – Daniya Yespayeva from the Ak Zhol party. It would be a fair assessment to say that our wider region is heavily male-dominated when it comes to politics. However, over many years, Kazakhstan has taken concrete steps to improve gender equality and to promote women’s role in business and politics. We are now witnessing the fruits of this labour. In addition to Ms. Yespayeva, the Senate Chairwoman as well as the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Education and Science are also female, as are approximately a quarter of the members of Parliament in Kazakhstan.
Another aspect of the election which experts have focused on is the competitiveness and fairness of the process. This is understandable, as according to some organisations and analysts, our region as a whole is still developing the necessary democratic institutions and mechanisms to ensure completely fair and open elections. Nevertheless, I believe Kazakhstan is once again demonstrating that it is going beyond the general expectations and foregone conclusions. As is well known, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev promised that the election will be transparent and to the highest expected standards. The country can already offer concrete examples of the sincerity of this pledge. For example, presidential candidate Mr. Amirzhan Kossanov has been in opposition to the government for around two decades. He, and all candidates, are now openly campaigning in the hope of securing people’s votes.
Kazakhstan has always welcomed observers and their constructive feedback during previous elections, and this time more than 1,000 international observers from ten international organisations, as well as foreign countries, are expected to be in Kazakhstan for the election. Our government has officially invited the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Commonwealth of Independent States and numerous other organisations. Their missions are now deploying across the country.
The upcoming vote is not just important to Kazakhstan, but to our neighbours and partners all over the world. As is known, Kazakhstan has been actively participating in global affairs, including, most recently, the resolution of the Syrian conflict. From an economic perspective, our government has also been vigorously improving Kazakhstan’s investment climate, making us the number one investment destination in the region.
A bright example is the results achieved within the XII Astana Economic Forum, following which 43 commercial agreements worth $ 8.7 billion concluded. It should be noted that representatives of the National Bank and leadership of the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry took part in the Forum.
In this regard, it is necessary to emphasize that the Kazakh-Romanian trade and economic relations continue their progressive development. Meetings of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation are held annually, bilateral business forums are organized, stirring-up of trade-economic missions of business entities is observed. At present, there is a plenty high level of trade between our countries. Romania is our main trading partner in Southeast Europe. For 2018, bilateral trade amounted to $ 1.642 billion, showing a 65% increase compared with 2017 ($ 992 million).
The interaction between our countries in the political, cultural and humanitarian sphere is constantly being strengthened – contacts between government agencies at various levels are multiplying every year, the number of joint cultural events is growing, and the partnership between educational institutions is becoming stronger. Gradually, citizens of Kazakhstan and Romania open new horizons, which contributes to the development of cooperation in the field of tourism. We look forward to maintaining this positive trend, leading to the fact that more and more Romanian citizens are discovering Kazakhstan – the country of the Great Steppe.
In conclusion, I want to inform you that the election results will be officially announced before June 16. Then, there will be an active work on the further development of close relations between Kazakhstan and Romania. I am fully confident in the oncoming mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries for the benefit and prosperity of our peoples.