By H.E. Mr. Askar Zhumagaliyev, Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
For 30 years of Independence, Kazakhstan has established itself as the leading and stable economic power in Central Asia with a market economy and centuries-old traditions. But, unfortunately, the one-stage and clearly planned attack of terrorist groups against government agencies and civilians to undermine the basic functions of the state was a real shock for the whole country, which was not prepared for such a large-scale aggression. These days for the first time in history of independence, we have faced a very difficult and turbulent period that now is called “Almaty tragedy”.
When protesters took to the streets in western Kazakhstan to voice their demands regarding gas prices, the government immediately engaged in a dialogue with the demonstrators. Following discussions, gas prices were reduced and measures to regulate the gas price were introduced. The demands of the protesters were met.
The problem started with the fact that peaceful protests, unfortunately were hijacked by perpetrators and terrorist groups both domestic and foreign that created a big problem for the country. When the rioters attacked military and administrative facilities and seized the Almaty airport, it became evident that the country was dealing with a well-organized terrorist assault. In fact, a well-organized criminals resorted to militant tactics in 11 regions, they conducted attacks on administrative buildings, TV stations, military bases, police precincts & civil facilities. They killed numerous law enforcement and civilians. The authorities reached the conclusion that Kazakhstan was facing a coup attempt. In this respect, a state of emergency was declared in the country.
Objectively assessing the situation and following the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter, the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev approached the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). A small peacekeeping contingent with participation of all CSTO member-states from Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan has deployed in Almaty to protect strategic infrastructure. That permitted Kazakhstan law enforcement to concentrate on counterterrorism operation and fight against those perpetrators who were attacking. The CSTO peacekeeping contingent completed its mission and withdraw from Kazakhstan on January 19.
Unfortunately, there are human casualties, both among law enforcement officers and military personnel, as well as civilians. This is a huge tragedy for us, the relatives of the victims, and the entire Kazakh people.
At the same time, it should be underlined that Kazakhstan has not, did not and will not use armed force against peaceful protestors. Police and National Guard were protecting civilians and restoring the order confronting armed criminals and terrorists.
It should be noted that protesters in a democratic society do not engage in this level of violence, with this level of massive destruction and killings of law enforcement. As the tragedy of Almaty and other cities in Kazakhstan showed, it is the lack of observance of laws, permissiveness, anarchy that leads to the violation of human rights. For this purpose, it is the right of every government to secure the country and its people, taking all legal and administrative measures in accordance with international standards of democracy and respect for human rights.
Kazakhstan remains committed to its international obligations and universal principles of human rights and the rule of law. We will never deviate from the trajectory of further political modernization and will continue to support the right of citizens to peacefully protest.
It is important to emphasize the unity of the people of Kazakhstan at this difficult time. Citizens support the measures taken by President Tokayev to restore peace and have established communal groups to protect social facilities. Together we were able to overcome such a challenge as a united country.
On 20 January 2022 the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the situation in Kazakhstan. As it was stated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan this resolution is not only biased but also based on prejudiced opinions and assumptions.
There is an ongoing investigation into the tragic events by the Special Governmental Commission and we find it unacceptable that a document of this nature has been adopted before the publication of its findings. Therefore, we urge our esteemed partners to examine the situation objectively and await the results of the official investigation that will be openly shared with the international community in due time.
Moreover, an independent public commission consisting of lawyers specialized in criminal cases was established in Kazakhstan to investigate the January events. At the same time, the Government of Kazakhstan took all measures to ensure the rights of detainees and arrested persons. Close cooperation with human rights organizations has been established to prevent violations of detainees’ constitutional rights.
Without a doubt, this tragedy requires radical steps to change the system of state administration and the social sphere and to narrow the gap between different segments of our society. On January 11, President Tokayev announced plans for the implementation of a set of post-crisis measures for the renewal of society and the economy aimed at forming a fundamentally new paradigm for the development of Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan’s economy is recovering after the pandemic. We are expecting economic growth of 3.7 per cent this year. President Tokayev stressed that all our citizens should reap the benefits of this growth. Kazakhstan will ensure openness of the national economy, sanctity of contracts, respect for intellectual property rights and relentlessly combat corruption.
New reforms aim to become the basis of a new Kazakhstan. Fair competition, transparency and predictability of state policy, taxing honesty and social responsibility are set to become the principal elements of the new economic policy.
At the same time the Government is taking all necessary measures to restore the confidence of domestic and foreign investors and trading partners in the economy of Kazakhstan.
A new Concept of Investment Policy will be developed to increase the attractiveness of the country considering the increased environmental, social, and corporate governance requirements, as well as the global energy and technological transition.
We will continue to develop a close co-operation with all friends and partners, including the Netherlands and the EU. Kazakhstan will maintain favorable conditions for foreign investment.
Kazakhstan will recover and emerge out of this crisis even stronger and more united.