President Tokayev and Kazakhstan’s path to the future
- Written by Bekbolat Kanaiuly Tileukhan*
ASTANA — The recent events in the world show the importance of keeping peace and stability for preserving Kazakhstan as an independent and sovereign state. The world had just begun returning back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic with its restrictions when it encountered new, dangerous challenges.
The war in Ukraine, armed conflicts between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, hundreds of thousands of refugees in Europe, and a hundred of thousands of Russians fleeing mobilization that have arrived in Kazakhstan. Today, all member countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), except for Kazakhstan, are somehow involved in military conflicts: Russia is at war with Ukraine (using the territory of Belarus); Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are involved in border disputes, with routine shootouts recently escalating to clashes with the use of heavy artillery; Armenia failing to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis and hostilities with Azerbaijan occurring over and over again.
And only Kazakhstan — thanks to the diplomatic talent of its President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev — has so far succeeded in attracting world political and religious leaders (including the pope), urging them to keep peace and stability on the planet and establish dialogue. A dombra (traditional Kazakh musical instrument) given as a present by President Tokayev to Pope Francis last month in Astana has a profound meaning as it symbolizes the voice of our people and the course of our country that has raised its international profile thanks to the wise policies of our president.
A Kazakh saying has it that peace in a neighbor’s home would mean peace in your own home, but today there is no peace in countries neighboring Kazakhstan. Even the strong and stable China has seen serious challenges in recent months — the Taiwan crisis, for instance. The militaries of China and India stand in front of each other in Tibet and other border areas, balancing on the brink of war. Protests have engulfed Iran; while the state systems in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria are still in ruins. There is no unity in the West, too, as two NATO members — Turkey and Greece — may start a military conflict in the Aegean Sea anytime soon.
The world now faces the risk of Russia using weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine, not too far from Kazakhstan’s borders. In this difficult situation, Kazakhstan pursues the policy of neutrality and adheres to peaceful resolution of disagreements in line with the principle of territorial integrity of states openly advocated by President Tokayev at all public gatherings. This stance has helped Kazakhstan to avoid the pressure from both sides in the conflict. The Kazakh president now speaks to partners in Moscow, Washington, Beijing, and Brussels on equal terms, and he is welcome everywhere. We saw who recently came to Astana at his invitation, speaking words that guarantee the protection of Kazakhstan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. At the recent summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization the Kazakh president put himself to the forefront of regional politics without any threats or attempts to impose anything on other countries — he showed his ability to establish a mutually respectful and beneficial dialogue with everyone.
Looking at the military conflicts in today’s world, we do realize that what Kazakhstan had gone through in January this year is no comparison to the tragic developments in many of its neighbor countries. Their economies are ruined by war and sanctions, they see huge numbers of refugees, their militaries have suffered heavy casualties, and many of their cities are in ruins. Pipelines explode, the world trade has suffered multi-billion-dollar losses, some countries are about to face hunger. All that is not too far and does not affect us directly only thanks to the wise policies above all pursuing the task of keeping peace and stability on Kazakh soil.
There is always room for criticism of a country’s leadership or a particular person. But today, when there is so much hatred all around, to the embassy of which country do people bring letters of thanks and flowers? To the embassy of Kazakhstan. Who is, without any jokes, now referred to on the Internet as “the world’s best president”? It is President Tokayev. That was said not by Kazakh but foreign citizens, who are not obliged to esteem him for anything. As to the people in Kazakhstan, we have to value and keep the peace and stability the head of state has ensured.
* Bekbolat Kanaiuly Tileukhan is a Kazakh statesman and public figure, a member of Mazhilis of the Parliament of Kazakhstan (2004-2011, 2016-2021), vice-president of the World Ethnosport Confederation, an Honored Artist of the Republic of Kazakhstan