Kazakhstan’s Independence Day is celebrated annually on December 16 with millions of Kazakhstanis coming together to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of their state, a milestone to remember how far the nation has come and to contemplate the future direction.
December 16, 1991, was a prominent day in Kazakh history, as the country’s Supreme Council passed the Constitutional Independence Law, which, together with the Declaration of Sovereignty established what is now considered Central Asia’s wealthiest country.
The document ushered in the era of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was elected the first president of Kazakhstan in 1991. The country’s new two-house parliamentary system and national Armed Forces were subsequently established to meet the needs of defense. The capital city, which is now the country’s landmark, was moved from Almaty to Astana (Nur-Sultan) in 1997.
Holder of a “City of Peace” UNESCO award, through all the international events it successfully hosted so far in its young history of 23 years, this vibrant metropolis proves that it fully deserves this brand.
The city has already had a successful track record over the last years of hosting major global gathering events: the Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions or the Astana Economic Forum. The historic OSCE summit was held in Nur-Sultan, the anniversary summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) were also hosted by the capital city. In addition, in the beginning of 2011, the capital of the Republic hosted the participants and guests of the VII Asian Winter Games.
A new era marked significant changes in Kazakhstan’s status as a nuclear power, as the country’s authorities renounced nuclear defense capabilities and closed down the former Soviet Semipalatinsk nuclear test site.
Since 1991, the country has joined the world’s most influential international organizations such as the United Nations (UN), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Kazakhstan has become the first Central Asian country to be elected to a two-year term on the Security Council, the high-profile and permanent UN body that investigates international disputes and situations that often involve global tension. In addition, Kazakhstan has been playing a host to the rounds of high-level talks on the Syrian conflict since 2017.
The country once again came under the spot in 2017 thanks to the International Exposition, EXPO 2017 Astana, which took place from June 10 to September 10, 2017 in Kazakhstan’s capital city. The major event brought together nearly 120 states and 22 international organizations, as well as about 4 million visitors, including half a million foreigners.
A key-ambitious project that aimed to positioning Kazakhstan as world hub for sustainable energy, this event brought to the country significant revenues, but also an increased international prestige and exposure of the local culture, traditions and identity. Such an ample and challenging exhibition, for the first time in Central Asia, not only that strengthened the position of the capital city in this region, but also confirmed the region’s role as a the bridge between East and West, as a cardinal point for starting a new chapter in economic development and innovation.
Today, Kazakhstan is nearing 19 million people and unites different ethnicities, including ethnic Kazakhs, which make up 70 percent of the population. Russians, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Uyghurs, Tatars, Germans, Turks, Azerbaijanis, Koreans are all present in the country, along with other minorities.
A country where 130 nationalities live in harmony, Kazakhstan is a melting pot of cultures and diversity, a model of inter-ethnic tolerance, one from which many countries of the world could take important lessons in what concerns maintaining cultural identity and peace between the different ethnic groups.
In 1995, the former Kazakh president, Nursultan Nazarbayev initiated the creation of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan to ensure socio-political balance in the country. At first, the Assembly was an advisory body under the President, but later it was transformed into a constitutional body with socio-political status.
Over the last two decades, international media has been consumed by conflicts in near-by countries, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Yet Kazakhstan has provided meaningful contributions to stability of an often-divided region, proving to be an anchor of stability and dialogue.
In his speech at the state awards ceremony on the eve of Independence Day, the Head of state K.Tokayev noted that the 29th year of Kazakhstan’s Independence was difficult, dramatic, and unconventional.
“Such fateful trials do not fall to the lot of every generation. I am sure that our descendants will appreciate our efforts in the future. Having passed the severe hardening of the global crisis, we will set ourselves even bolder goals and objectives. The coming year will be a milestone for us. It will be held under the sign of the 30th anniversary of our Motherland’s Independence. This is the time to take stock and reflect on the path we have traveled, ” said President K.Tokayev.
Kazakhstan intends to move away from the format of high-profile actions, all work will be built as pragmatically and economically as possible.
Special attention will be paid to the needs of all segments of the population, especially young people, women, and people with disabilities.
At the beginning of next year, a new package of reforms will be announced, which will give a new impetus to the democratic transformations in Kazakhstan, aimed at building a “listening state”, promoting and approving the principles of justice and equal opportunities.
On the eve of the 30th anniversary of its independence, leveraging its vast natural resources in combination with a strategic vision for the future to modernize and develop rapidly , Kazakhstan targets to keep its rising prominence in Eurasia but also to become a more and more important actor on the world socioeconomic and geopolitical stage.
Speaking at a roundtable on the occasion of the 29th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s Independence Day, organized in video conference format, the Kazakh Ambassador in Romania Nurbakh Rustemov stressed the importance of the National Day, symbolizing the unity and harmony of the Kazakh people. In particular, he emphasized the important role of the First President – Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev in the in the formation, strengthening and development of independent and modern Kazakhstan, a country that has become a reliable state in the world and a respected actor on the international scene.
In addition, the ambassador briefed on the socio-political and economic reforms carried out by Head of State K. Tokayev, aimed at modernizing the society and increasing the well-being of the population, as well as the effective measures taken by the government to combat the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, because 2020 also marks the 28th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, Ambassador Rustemov also made a summary of this year’s achievements as far as the Romanian-Kazakh cooperation is concerned: the inauguration of the Abai bust and the Nur-Sultan Square in the capital city of Romania, the 15th meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission, bilateral meetings with the ministers of economy, culture, education and ecology, the leadership of the Parliament, the Presidential Administration and the Prime Minister’s Office.
Kazakhstan and Romania enjoy regular political dialogue, and friendship groups are active in the parliaments of both countries. There is also a close coordination of efforts in the United Nations and other international fora.
All these 28 years of bilateral partnership show that Kazakhstan has become a key partner of Romania in Central Asia, both countries being engaged in a dynamic and fruitful dialogue both within bilateral as multilateral context.