Sitting at the very heart of Eurasia, Kazakhstan is one of the most prosperous post-Soviet republicsand, of course, the most affluent in Central Asia. A unique geographical location and vastnatural resources give the Republic an impressive potential for growth. At the same time, wary of the prospect of becoming dependent on one of the world’s biggest powers, the Kazakh elites were quick to embark on a course for a multi-vector foreign policy. This policy has eventually borne fruit. With theonset of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Russian business started actively moving into Kazakhstan, whose economy grew very significantly in 2022. Due to its unique role as a transit power, Kazakhstan has enjoyed substantial infrastructure investments from China. The well-balanced political reforms being implemented in the country allow Kazakhstan to complete the formation of a mature and stable statehood and increase the representativeness of government institutions – something that will attract partners also in the West.
Likewise, Kazakhstan’s huge resources, the potential for creating land corridors with Russia and building gas and oil pipelines make it a very attractive partner for India. Unfortunately, the current instability in the region does not allow India, unlike China, to implement many of these projects. However, Astana is actively fighting regional terrorism and extremism and is interested in supporting the major regional players, above all, India, which is fully in line with Kazakhstan’s multi-vector foreign policy and potentially allows India to create its very own “New Silk Road.”
In January 2022, the Kazakh authorities demonstrated their firm resolve to counter extremism and the so-called”color revolutions” by skillfully suppressing protests inspired by external forces and only then launchinga series of reforms and electoral campaigns with an eye to improving the system of public administration. Over the past 13 months, Kazakhstan’s political system has gone through a referendum, presidential elections and a renewal of the upper house of parliament. The elections to the lower house, scheduled for March 19, will be the final phase in the formation of a new political model of modern Kazakhstan with a more developed political system and pluralism. The Kazakh authorities are working hard to bring in new faces into politics, ensuring maximum representation in parliament by all sectors of society and supporters of different ways of developing the country.
Early elections at all levels reflected the willingness of the Kazakh political elites to steer the country along a democratic path of development, to unite the nation, provide it with maximum opportunities to discuss and implement new ideas. At the same time, the new legal norms and the constitution reform demonstrate the authorities’ readiness to engage in a dialogue with citizens, build a legal society and implementthe principle of “transparency of power.” True, Kazakhstan has previously been the most stable of the countries of Central Asia too, but the changing political landscape and the country’s geopolitical situation demandnew faces, new ideas and opinions, which are realized through a series of elections.
As a result, with a new, more competitive multi-party system in place, Kazakhstan will realize the need to change its political traditions and take an important step towards becoming the leading democratic power in the region, while maintaining good relations with Russia, China, the United States and their allies. This will give the country a new development potential. By allowing politically independent people and representatives of openly pro-liberal parties to take up seats in parliament and creating majoritarian districts, the country’s political elites show that they are not afraid of outside influence and are ready to resist it democratically, by lifting artificial barriers for the opposition.
What makes Kazakhstan so unique are political reforms that are being fairly competently carried out from above, giving the country a new vector of development. Thus, Kazakhstan, unlike its Central Asian neighbors, is turning into a most attractive and open partner for cooperation. At the same time, its influence on its regional neighbors is increasing. Therefore, New Delhi can view Astana as a reliable partner in countering terrorism and a partner in the energy sector, whichcan help implement long-term projects no matter what is happening in Eastern Europe.