By H.E. Ambassador Dauren Karipov, Head of Mission of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Kazakhstan gained its independence from the Soviet Union on 16 December 1991 and received international renown for voluntarily closing the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site and renouncing the world’s fourth-largest nuclear arsenal, which it had inherited from the USSR. In the three decades since, the ninth-largest country in the world has asserted itself as an economic powerhouse, aiming to join the ranks of the world’s most-developed countries by 2050.
Many experts would agree that the country is already well on its way, having seen an impressive post-independence 15-fold increase of GDP per capita, from $700 to $10,500, and being ranked 25th for investment attractiveness in the World Bank’s most recent Doing Business report.
Located in the heart of Eurasia, Kazakhstan maintains a strategic partnership with Russia, including within the Eurasian Economic Union, as well as with the USA and China, and maintains traditionally close relations with all of its neighbors. Relations with the European Union have been traditionally strong, as recently seen with the entry into force of the EU Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Kazakhstan.
Since the establishment of their diplomatic relations in February 1992, Kazakhstan and Germany have engaged in close political dialogue, investment cooperation, and cultural exchanges. These ties are reinforced by the “living bridge” made up by ethnic German immigrants from Kazakhstan living in Germany, as well as ethnic Germans residing in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan currently ranks 51st among Germany’s trading partners, accounting for 80% of all trade conducted with the Central Asian republics. Over the past decade, Kazakhstan has received over $3.8 billion of German direct investments, 90% of which target our country’s manufacturing industry.
The Kazakh government has adopted a new preferential regime tailored for German investors, which includes tax breaks, preferences, and provision of land and infrastructure. A special governmental working group headed by Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister has been tasked with providing prompt, high-level assistance to Kazakh-German investment projects.
Kazakhstan possesses tens of trillions of dollars worth of mineral deposits, including zinc, tungsten, silver, lead, chromite, copper and gold. The country has the world ninth-largest proven oil reserves, as well as abundant reserves of coal and uranium, which it leverages in order to gain access to high-tech technologies for its digitalization efforts.
Kazakhstan has rekindled its historical role as the main connecting link on the modern iteration of the Silk Road, transforming itself into the region’s largest business and transit hub for people and goods traveling between Europe and Asia. By 2025, the amount of cargo traveling through Kazakhstan will grow 1.5 times to 30 million tons per year.
Kazakhstan is well on its path towards democratic transformation. Recently adopted legislation has halved the registration barrier for creating political parties, introduced a 30 percent quota for including women and youth on electoral party lists, created an institution of parliamentary opposition, and established a notification procedure for holding peaceful meetings and demonstrations. A number of new laws related to strengthening the protection of human rights, children’s rights, the election of local governmental administrations, and the lowering of the threshold for parliamentary elections will be introduced into national legislation this year.
Speaking before the newly elected Lower House of Parliament (Mazhilis) on January 15, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced a third package of democratic reforms to further improve the quality of life and provide new opportunities to the populace.
The results of past thirty years of development give us reason enough to be proud of Kazakhstan’s achievements. Ensuring a worthy and prosperous future will require hard work of every Kazakh citizen, and we remain steadfastly confident that our nation’s creativity and unity will transform this goal into reality.