Tag Archives: Organization of the Islamic Conference

Kazakhstan: A Young Country on the Threshold of Maturity

29 Apr

Thanks are due once again to Lord Venal who has contributed this opinionated piece to Kazaxia.

This December will see the twentieth anniversary of the epic struggle of Kazakhstan to gain its independence from the Soviet Union. In just 20 short years the country has managed a truly amazing turnaround to become the economic powerhouse of Central Asia and the undisputed champion of democracy in the region.

I feel that it is high time that the world stood up and took notice of these achievements. Kazakhstan, which likes to describe itself as a ‘young country’, should be recognised as the mature country it has bloomed into and inducted into the ranks of GoGUN (The Group of Grown-Up Nations) without any further ado. Then Kazakhstan’s politicians can stop banging on about it being a ‘young country’ and start taking some responsibility for their own actions.

Like any adolescent, Kazakhstan has spent hours in front of the mirror agonising over its image. It has lavished considerable sums on brushing up this image with glossy spreads appearing in international media outlets and is now seen around the world as a maturing, go-ahead nation with a very bright future.

Kazakhstan’s politicians often talk about it being a ‘young country’ but this should not mask the remarkable steps that have taken place in its short lifetime. From inauspicious beginnings, the economic miracle led by President Nursultan Nazarbayev has helped ensure the country’s smooth transition to a market economy.

On the political front there has been unprecedented stability with one leader occupying the highest office in the land for all those 20 years and as the recent elections showed his popularity is in no way diminished after he received an amazing 95.55% of the popular vote in April 2011.

Let’s compare this with other ‘young countries’ that emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union. If we look at Lithuania we will see it has had a chaotic transition with no less than seven presidents since 1990. One of those, Rolandas Paksas, was impeached and removed from office in 2004. Estonia has fared little better with three presidents thus far.

Kazakhstan is a founder member of the up-and-coming Customs Union with Russia and Belarus, in stark contrast all that Lithuania and Estonia could come up with is membership of the debt-ridden European Union.

Kazakhstan is increasingly being seen as a leader on the world stage. It is lucky for the Organization of the Islamic Conference that Astana will chair this august body from late June. With the Arab world torn asunder by rebellions, Kazakhstan’s valuable experience as head of the OSCE in 2010 will hold it in fine stead here. After successfully dealing with the crisis on its doorstep in Kyrgyzstan last year, there is no better choice to lead the Islamic world on the path to reconciliation and stability.