This year marks the 30th anniversary of independence of Kazakhstan. The First President’s Day celebrates annually on Dec.1 since 2012. On this day in 1991, Nursultan Nazarbayev was elected as the President of the Kazakh SSR. In 2011, the Kazakh Senate adopted a law introducing a new holiday to honor Nazarbayev’s contribution to the development of Kazakhstan.
Nursultan Nazarbayev is an outstanding figure not only in modern history of Kazakhstan and in the global history as well. Elbasy managed to propel Kazakhstan to an unprecedented international level. It was him who declared about the peaceful and nuclear-free policy of Kazakhstan. His contribution to the development of modern Kazakhstani nation and the country is indeed unique.
During the years of his presidency, Nazarbayev has achieved a historic result in its significance and scale, once and for all solving the issue of the state borders of Kazakhstan along its entire perimeter. It should be recalled that this is a line of more than 13,000 kilometres.
He clearly understood that the border issues needed to be resolved as soon as possible: the young state had no time to “sway”. Kazakhstan was in a difficult economic situation and needed to attract investments, which were known to require guarantees of stability. Especially with its two giants neighbours, territorial disputes could discourage any serious investor from investing their capital in our country.
In addition, Nazarbayev realized that if he did not solve the border issue inherited from the Tsarist Empire and the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan would leave itself a huge problem for the future. It is obvious that in today’s geopolitical conditions when China has already become the first economy in the world with enormous military and political potential, it would be much more difficult to solve such issues.
As a result, having promptly removed all border issues with all its neighbours, Nazarbayev laid a solid foundation for the further development of Kazakhstan.
From the first days of independence, he considered active participation in international affairs as a key to ensuring Kazakhstan’s sovereignty on the world stage.
Kazakhstan was able to build balanced and mutually beneficial relations with all key geopolitical players. This strategy has already acquired doctrinal importance for the country.
Another important area of strengthening national sovereignty is the systemic advancement of economic integration in Eurasia.
Nazarbayev has always had a clear vision on this issue: integration is not a concession in national sovereignty, but a tool for expanding its potential by creating a system where all participants are bound by interdependent relationships.
In effective macro-regional integration, Nazarbayev saw many strategic opportunities for the ninth largest state in the world, which has no direct access to the world ocean and has a limited domestic market.
As history and modern practice of international relations show, the threat of loss of economic sovereignty often precedes the loss of political sovereignty of the state.
Nazarbayev, who managed to successfully lift the country out of the economic crisis of the 1990s, has always been clearly aware of this issue. That is why the principle put forward by him “first – economy, then – politics” has become decisive for the development of Kazakhstan.
At the same time, strategic, long-term issues of economic stability have always prevailed over short-term interests. A striking example is the decision of Elbasy on the establishment of the National Fund in 2000.
Time and the crises that have repeatedly arisen over the past decades have fully proved the far-sightedness of the approaches of the First President. Maintaining economic sovereignty requires systematic and long-term planning, including the creation of solid financial reserves, which act as a safety cushion for the country in times of crisis.
For Nazarbayev, the effectiveness of the political system was determined not by its compliance with some abstract “standards of democracy”, but by its ability to ensure stability, which creates conditions for progressive development.
At the same time, the leader of Kazakhstan was able to harmoniously combine two parallel processes: maintaining reasonable conservatism in the field of political reforms while maintaining liberalism in the economy. It was this combination that at one time became one of the key factors for the success of the so-called “Asian tigers” represented by South Korea and Singapore.
An illustrative indicator of the effectiveness of the established political system of the country was the successful transit of power, carried out on the initiative of Elbasy in March 2019.
The election of the new President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has not only become an indicator of the maturity of the Kazakh political system, but also an important condition for the confident and consistent continuation of the state development course laid down by the First President.