• George Baumgarten

Kazakhstan President Tokayev’s First U.N. Appearance: A New President’s View of the World


In his first appearance before the United Nations General Assembly, Kazakhstan’s new President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev presented his assessment of the many problems facing our planet, as well as advocating the nation’s view of the way forward. After a short Kazakh/Russian introduction, the balance of the address was presented in English.

The President described the current “global reality” as influenced by four “major trends:

First: A growing number of “unresolved conflicts”:--some of them old, others new—are creating, extending or exacerbating tensions, which might lead to “full-scale military stand-offs”.


Second: A lack of trust among nations, which is leading to a new arms race, sanctions, trade wars and new rivalries in space, cyber-technology and artificial intelligence.

Third: A new North-South rivalry, which leads to protectionism and nationalism, exacerbates the debt crisis and leads to policies of nationalism and protectionism.

Fourth: Environmental degradation, most particularly from Climate Change. In Kazakhstan’s region of Central Asia, this manifests itself in desertification (No doubt made worse by the after-effects of many years of nuclear testing), glacial melting and the resultant depletion of supplies of drinking water.


Kazakhstan, the President said, has a very clear policy: “inclusive and sustainable development, comprehensive dialogue and peaceful endeavors”.


With great concern and obvious pride, President Tokayev pointed out the importance to Kazakhstan of achieving a nuclear weapon-free World. He was clearly critical of those few countries that still rely on nuclear arsenals in their “strategic defense calculations”. And he proudly also praised his predecessor, First President Nursultan Nazarbayev, for having closed down the test site at Semipalatinsk, which has so contaminated that region of the country, and so horribly hurt and disfigured so many of her citizens.


The President also mentioned the Kazakh-founded Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, as well as other initiatives on which Kazakhstan leads the way, in ridding the entire world of these poisonous weapons. He also cited the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (commonly known as the “Iran Deal”) and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, as policies in need of support.


President Tokayev mentioned Kazakhstan’s recent two-year term on the Security Council, during which she emphasized Security, Non-Proliferation and Regional Cooperation. He also noted that Kazakhstan has recently become a “global center for dialogue of religions and civilizations”. She has also become much involved in Middle-East Peacemaking, hosting the “Astana Process” for negtiations among the Syrian parties.


President Tokayev advocated the creation of a Global Anti-Terrorism Network, with an eye toward achieving a World Free of Terrorism by the U.N.’s Centennial Year of 2045.

The President next turned to the economic development and integration of the Central Asian States, which he said had now entered “a next stage of development”. After recent high-level consultations, he asserted that Central Asia is becoming a “global stakeholder”. And Kazakhstan, as Central Asia’s largest economy, will be its leader.


Turning to a different part of Asia, President Tokayev said that Kazakhstan will continue to support the Afghan people, but there must be an “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led” peace process.


With regard to the United Nations itself, the President said that there must be a “bold and clear vision for U.N. reform, led by the Secretary-General”. Kazakhstan is fully prepared to be involved, and has based much of it future planning on the 2030 Agenda and S.D.G. (Sustainable Development Goals) targets. He noted that offices have been opened in Astana by 16 U.N. agencies, as well as a “U.N. Centre for S.D.G.’s”. And he spoke with pride of the nation’s participation in the Eurasian Economic Union and the “One Belt, One Road” project.


Mr. Tokayev said that Kazakhstan will continue along the road of “Continuity, Justice, Progress”, adding his commitment to the construction of a “modern welfare state”, a process he described as nothing less than a “profound political transformation”. He also described the open society he envisioned for Kazakhstan as one of “different opinions, but one nation”.


Rejecting populism as “mediocre policy”, he assured his listeners that he would be “steadfast in implementing my reform agenda”.


In summary, President Tokayev may be said to have made a most impressive debut before the United Nations, and that the impresion will bode well for his future leadership.


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