By Natalia Konarzewska
January 12, 2023
During his visit to Kazakhstan on September 14, China’s President Xi Jinping asserted that China supports Kazakhstan’s territorial integrity and independence, and opposes any interference in Kazakhstan’s internal affairs. Xi's remarks sounded like a thinly veiled warning to Russia. Moscow has ramped up its aggressive rhetoric against Astana over its refusal to support Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, which Kazakhstan has interpreted as a possible Russian threat to its territorial integrity. China’s explicit support for Kazakhstan should also be considered against the backdrop of Russia’s recent military defeats in Ukraine, which have exposed multiple military weaknesses.
By Svante E. Cornell and Albert Barro
November 7, 2022
In his September 2022 address to the nation, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev spent an inordinate amount of time on social issues, and in particular on reforms in the education and healthcare sector. This stems directly from the growing inequities in the provision of services in the country, where rural and remote areas in particular do not benefit from the same level of service provision as larger cities. The social reforms introduced by President Tokayev aim at correcting these problems, but their success will be dependent on the broader political reforms that intend to change the relationship between citizen and state in Kazakhstan.
By Nargis Kassenova
September 5, 2022
Russia’s war in Ukraine has pushed Kazakhstan’s foreign policy out of its comfort zone. Geopolitica divisions between Russia and the West are stark, while those between China and the West are growing. The government is working hard to avoid Western secondary sanctions and diversify partnerships and trade routes, while maintaining good relations with Russia. The development of the Trans-Caspian corridor is of particular importance. Central Asian cooperation is also high on the agenda. While addressing immediate challenges, Kazakhstan’s policy makers need to think hard what a new foreign policy equilibrium could look like.
By Mamuka Tsereteli
August 11, 2022
Kazakhstan, and Central Asia in general, needs a long-term energy and commodity export strategy. Economic and energy security for the landlocked countries requires diversification of the transportation options for export and import. Europe will need every extra barrel of oil it can get, and Kazakhstan needs reliable markets, so uninterrupted access to resources and markets through trusted connectivity with the likeminded countries should always be the priority in all times, good and bad.
By Svante E. Cornell and Albert Barro
May 31, 2022
The violence of January 2022 exposed both the demand for greater change in Kazakhstan’s society, as well as elite conflicts involving influential forces seeking to block President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s reform initiatives. As President Tokayev emerged from the crisis with greater authority over the country’s governing institutions, he fast-tracked a political reform package planned for later in the year, and submitted it to a nationwide referendum scheduled for June 5. The changes envisaged accelerate the pace of reform in the country, but remain within the fundamental paradigm of top-led gradual change to the system that has been Tokayev’s intention since his election in 2019. Conditions for their implementation will not be easy, given a difficult economic and geopolitical environment. Still, these reforms represent a shift: while earlier reforms sought to build participatory and competitive politics only very slowly at the local level, the current reform package envisages a gradual liberalization of the political system at all levels in order for the system to maintain its legitimacy
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.