What changes Nur-Sultan foreign policy may undergo
U.S. President Donald Trump was the last of the world’s leaders and global players to congratulate Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on his victory in Kazakhstan's presidential election, thereby recognizing the elections held as legitimate. The U.S. political establishment is ready to work with the new Kazakh leader and develop relations with the republic. The experts told Vestnik Kavkaza about what changes Nur-Sultan's foreign policy will undergo.
In a congratulatory telegram, Trump noted that he intends to strengthen the "spirit of cooperation" of bilateral relations. "It is gratifying that American business continues to open up new opportunities for expanding economic cooperation with Kazakhstan," the U.S. president wrote to his Kazakh counterpart. The United States is interested in Kazakhstan for many reasons, including as a major oil supplier. Kazakhstan is a transit country with the intersection of the Silk Road routes running from China, South and Central Asia to Europe. In addition, the U.S. is one of the largest investors in Kazakhstan.
Experts believe that Tokayev will continue Nursultan Nazarbayev's multi-vector policy to find a balance and properly adjusted strategic position between Russia, the United States and China. No one doubts that Tokayev will cope with the task.
"Speaking about the continuity of Kazakhstan's foreign policy, one should recall that that its entire foreign policy was created with Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's direct guidance, participation and recommendations. Therefore, the main parameters will remain in their places. It's possible to talk about the further complication of the configuration and improvement of foreign policy institutions, methods of diverse integration, joint international, multilateral, bilateral programs and other initiatives. In view of the fact that Kazakhstan puts international cooperation first, the foreign policy and foreign economic activity will be of top importance. Speaking of Russia, the U.S. and China, a 'golden ratio' will be undoubtedly maintained," Dimash Abdullin told Vestnik Kavkaza. The expert describes Kazakhstan’s foreign policy as a 'golden mean', a 'golden section' or a 'golden ratio'. "I think this should be improved until significant results are achieved, and we are moving towards this. Kazakhstan should reach the level of global influence with its foreign policy and foreign economic activity. Speaking about the personality of the president, one can say that he is a state leader, a high-level foreign policy expert," Abdullin stressed.
The Deputy Director General of the Center for Strategic Estimations and Forecasts (Moscow), Doctor of Political Sciences Igor Pankratenko, believes that Nur-Sultan, in turn, is also set to expand relations with the EU and the United States, both in the economic and in the military-political spheres. "At the same time, the most important thing for the republic's leadership is the recognition by Europe and the U.S. of Kazakhstan’s exclusivity as a partner in dialogue with Central Asia, as well as on a number of other international issues," Pankratenko told Vestnik Kavkaza.
Currently, the country's leadership is expressing the need to intensify Kazakhstan's mediation efforts not only within the Astana format, but also on Afghan, Iranian and some other issues, including the launch of a new mediation format in the Western dialogue (EU-U.S.) with Russia.
In relations with China, according to Igor Pankratenko, the Kazakh leadership has chosen the 'hot economics, cold politics' principle.
Kazakhstan fully agrees to the full integration of its economic projects within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, including both the construction of transport corridors and the development of Chinese investments in the mining industry.
However, the country's leadership intends to change the format used by the Chinese authorities in the implementation of this initiative. The terms of land leases used by China will be limited, creation of enterprises with 100% Chinese capital will be excluded, quotas for Chinese migrant workers and 100% participation of Chinese labor in the implementation of economic projects will be preserved. Moreover, Kazakhstan does not intend to make concessions in this matter. At the same time, the leadership of Kazakhstan made it clear that it does not intend to allow the expansion of the Chinese presence in the country's oil and gas industry and allow Beijing to own more than 29.9% of all shares in the industry.
The relations with Iran will continue to be difficult. "The new leadership of Kazakhstan has made it clear that it does not see Iran as a member of the SCO and as a full member of other integration associations in the medium term. All joint projects with Iran have been curtailed, that is, de facto Kazakhstan has almost completely joined the anti-Iran sanctions. This can hardly be regarded as a surprise, since the republic is actively involved in the replacement of Iranian oil in international markets," the expert stressed.
However, Kazakhstan has a wary attitude towards relations with the Arab world as well, not intending to seriously develop them in the coming years.
"The approach of the new Kazakh leadership towards the Eurasian Economic Union is just as tough and pragmatic: if it benefits the country's economy and national interests, cooperation will continue. But there should be no one-sided concessions that will benefit other countries instead of Kazakhstan," the expert added. It 's Nursultan Nazarbayev who was the leader and ideologist of Eurasian integration.
Naturally, this "road map" of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy has not yet been formed, it has blind spots, while specific positions can be adjusted depending on the current situation. But the main trends arising from the interests of Kazakhstan's development and ambitions of local elites will prove to be exactly as described above," Igor Pankretenko believes.