Special Issue No 3, February 8, 2008
PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV DELIVERS
ANNUAL STATE-OF-THE-NATION ADDRESS,
ANNOUNCES KAZAKHSTAN’S “ROAD TO EUROPE”
On Wednesday, February 6, President Nursultan Nazarbayev delivered his annual State-of-the-Nation Address announcing a number of important initiatives. The focal points of his speech were economic development, further political modernization and democracy, social security and strengthening of Kazakhstan’s international alliances.
1. Economic development
“Kazakhstan’s further industrialization through making concerted efforts to join the community of the world’s 50 most competitive nations and forming a select group of 30 corporate leaders should remain our primary goal”, the President emphasized.
The “30 Corporate Leaders” initiative is being implemented as a priority project and it is destined to become a valuable contribution in sustaining Kazakhstan’s dynamic growth. President Nazarbayev believes that its “implementation is helping true development of the non-commodity sectors of our economy.
Kazakhstan’s sound financial system, touted as the most robust and advanced in the region, is one of the country’s main “magnets” for foreign capital. “We view the advent of foreign capital to the banking sector as a vote of confidence in Kazakhstan, as a source of much-needed financial support and of best international practices in banking services”.
However, President Nazarbayev warned against resting on laurels, saying that “structural reforms of our financial system must continue”. “These involve further development of the securities market, advanced financial instruments, improved bankruptcy legislation, and a profound reform of the judiciary”.
Recognizing the importance of having efficient infrastructure, particularly in such a vast country as Kazakhstan, the President asked that the efforts are concentrated around “proactive infrastructure support for key sectors of the economy” with a special focus on the transportation system.
Though famous for its abundant energy resources, Kazakhstan is keen on further development of environmentally-friendly and clean energy and supports energy saving and prudent consumption. “The Government ought to focus on introducing power-saving and environmentally clean technologies”, the President said adding that “our companies and citizens are yet to adopt power saving practices on a daily basis. We must say bluntly that cheap energy is running out. If one wants to pay less, one must save. This must be on everyone's mind”.
2. Further political modernization
On the political front, “political parties, NGOs and other civil society institutions” should play a more active role “in developing an up-to-date political system in Kazakhstan”, which should combine “universally recognized principles of democratic development and values of our society”. In other words, Kazakhstan will continue to absorb best foreign political practices and implement them having ensured their compatibility with inherent values and traditions of the Kazakh society.
Last year’s constitutional reform opened a new era in the political development of Kazakhstan and provided for a gradual ceding of powers by the President to the legislature and a thoughtful move towards a parliamentary majority system. Through such bold political steps, the country has reached the level of democratic development which gives the President every right to proudly declare that “there are no obstacles to the emergence of new parties or to the freedom of expression”. However, a lot is still to be accomplished by Kazakhstan, hence “the development of a modern political system should continue”.
According to President Nazarbayev, “for a democratic society, the fight against crime and corruption is assuming great significance”. Therefore, having recently launched the “Ten Smashing Blows Against Corruption” program, he reiterated his determination to uncompromisingly fight corruption and red-tape. “The law-enforcement system and the judiciary must assure fair and effective protection of Kazakhstanians’ rights, while protecting business from unlawful interference”, the President emphasized.
3. Social security
The Government’s social policy plays an important role in raising living standards of Kazakh citizens and President Nazarbayev spoke extensively of the challenges lying ahead in this area.
“Continued improvement of social well-being for all elements and social groups of the Kazakhstanian society has been and will remain at the forefront of government policy”, he promised.
Healthcare and education, new jobs and high-quality housing rank high on the President’s agenda and the newly introduced three-year national budget will provide significant benefits for the population:
•Overall rise of average pensions by the factor of 2.5 between 2007 and 2012, including a 25% rise in 2009, a 25% rise in 2010, and a 30% rise in 2011. Meanwhile, base pension benefits should reach 50% of the subsistence level by 2011; •A 9% annual average increase in government social benefits and specialized government benefits starting in 2009; •A phased increase of the monthly child care benefit once the child reaches one year of age, to exceed the 2007 benefits by an average factor of 2.5 by 2010-2011; •An increase of one-off benefits for the birth of the 4th child and more, in excess of 4 times the 2007 amount, starting as of 2010; •Salary increases for government employees, to gradually double salaries by 2012, including a 25% increase in 2009, a 25% raise in 2010, and a 30% raise in 2011. •In 2009, the annual quota for government supported resettlement of Oralmans (Kazakhs coming back to the country from abroad) to their historic homeland should be raised by 5 thousand families to 20 thousand families a year.
4. Foreign policy
"Our country has achieved a new level of international recognition. OSCE’s unanimous decision on electing Kazakhstan the chair of the organization in 2010 is a paramount evidence” of the country’s growing importance, President Nazarbayev said speaking of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy.
To support Kazakhstan’s new and important role as the chairman of Europe’s largest security organization, President Nazarbayev initiated a new program, “Road to Europe”, which will facilitate “promoting economic cooperation, attracting new technologies and management expertise and also assist in improving our legislation and setting up the agenda for our chairmanship in the OSCE”.
The President promised to continue Kazakhstan’s famous multi-vector foreign policy which allowed the country to have many friends and no foes in the international community.
“We must continue to strengthen our economic and political cooperation with Russia, China, and the Central Asian countries. We must create a firm foundation for stability, an open dialogue and interaction in the region. We are also expanding our constructive exchanges with the USA, EU, and NATO with a view to strengthening security in the Central Asian region”, President Nazarbayev said.
The republic also plans to further strengthen its position as an active participant in the international fight against terrorism and religious extremism and enhance its pro-active strategy in international organizations.
“I would like to stress that over the next few years a number of major international events of global importance will be held. I am referring to the Third Congress of World and Traditional Religions in 2009, the Conference on Confidence and Security Measures in Asia in 2010, work in the OSCE Troika starting in 2009, and chairing the OSCE in 2010”, the President said.
“As you are well aware, the number of our goals increases from one year to the next. We all work for the sake of strengthening of our country’s independence and the nation’s prosperity and for improving the standard of living of our people. I am confident that we shall justify the people’s trust and reach the goals we have set for ourselves”, he concluded.
News Bulletin of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Contact person: Zhanbolat Ussenov
Tel.: 202-232-5488 ext 104; Fax: 202-232-5845