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Post-election Foreign Policy of Kazakhstan; to Change or Not to Change?

Thursday 23 April 2015
Post-election Foreign Policy of Kazakhstan; to Change or Not to Change?

Alwaght- presidential election of Kazakhstan will be hold prematurely on 26 April, while there are many buts and ifs about the possible changes in foreign policy of Kazakhstan in the years to come.

Making attempts to carry through the economic reforms, and keeping up with sovereignty of secular thoughts based on Western culture and making efforts to maintain balance between regional and trans-regional cooperation make up the priorities of the internal and foreign politics of Kazakhstan.

One of the strategic goals of Kazakhstan asserted in official documents as well as in presidential speeches is to promote the economic status of the country compared to countries of the Central Asia, and rank in the first twenty investee countries of the world and one of the 50 developed and advanced countries of the next decade. For this purpose, in addition to domestic economic reforms, Kazakhstan has gone through coordinated measures in its foreign policy. Making deals and signing strategic contracts and treaties with relatively incongruent international powers such as Russia, the United States, China and some European countries are in line with such long term economic goals and also deriving benefits from economic capacity of those countries which back up the claim that Kazakhstan seeks to create balance and achieve independence from classic domination of Russia on Kazakhstan.

However, the approach does not mean that Kazakhstan seeks to avoid Russia and totally incline towards the West. In the policy of balance of powers in Kazakhstan, simultaneous cooperation with the US and the West in one hand, and Russia and China on the other hand, clearly each side seeks to achieve its specific goals. In a way that West and the US look to extend their penetration up to the Russian and Chinese borders. On the other hand, China and Russia are the strategic partner of the country in both bilateral and multilateral ties in active regional and international organizations such as Shanghai Cooperation Organization that work for common regional goals. Therefore, what can justify the long run foreign policy of Kazakhstan about maintaining balance at relationship with powers and superpowers is the ability to secure national interests, and to obtain the benefits of economic relationships with these countries.

Therefore, it seems that Kazakhstan’s policy of balance of powers is a grand strategy for developing simultaneous relationships with China, Russia, the European Union and the United States. Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, has frequently declared that during its cooperation with the United States, Kazakhstan has never acted against Russia’s interests, and similarly in its cooperation with China and Russia, will not act against the interests of the EU or US.  

It is noteworthy that, Nazarbayev in his policy of balance of powers inclines towards the West; however, is not affected by anti-Iranian propaganda or the West’s Iran-phobia projects. Over the past years, it has established strong economic ties with Iran.

Both countries have stressed on developing bilateral relations, the most important of which were Kazakhstan’s hosting the nuclear talks and its facilitating role at resolution of the Iran’s nuclear issue and also taking many practical steps in this regard.

Considering the high economic potentials in Kazakhstan, the country is of prime importance for Iran and the Iranian companies. As Yerlan Idrisov Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, in his visit with Mohamad Javad Zarif stated that "we hope to develop the business and economic cooperation between Iran and Kazakhstan, as Iran is an important player in economic areas and road construction".

Regarding the persistence of the ruling elites, and the authoritarian system to substitute Nazarbayev and also sustained efforts to continue rebuilding available institutions based on Western model in a secular fashion, we may conclude that it is unlikely that immature presidential elections lead to serious reconsideration of multidimensional foreign policy of Kazakhstan.

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