Spanish observer speaks about political events in Kazakhstan

Ex-deputy of the Congress of Spain Mr. José María Chiquillo Barber noted Kazakhstan's readiness for big changes
Фото: 28.06.2022 901

President of the International Network for the UNESCO's Silk Roads, ex-deputy of the Congress of Spain Jose Maria Chiquillo published an article on the Spanish website "El periodico de aqui" about the latest political events in Kazakhstan, reports.

Along with familiar geopolitical upheavals on the world stage, observers and experts of Spain, in my opinion, did not pay due attention to the latest events in the key country of Central Asia for Spain – Kazakhstan, which is located in the heart of the Great Silk Road.

I am well acquainted with this state, I visited it in 2015 as a member of the Congress of Deputies of Spain, as part of the observer mission for the presidential elections in Kazakhstan.

Visiting the polling stations in the capital and talking to people, I already then concluded that in this former country of the USSR a society working for great political changes.

I believe that in 2019, when the people elected as President of Kazakhstan a professional diplomat Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who headed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for ten years, held the posts of Prime Minister and Speaker of the Senate, he already had a clear vision of the future path of the country's development.

Having become the Head of State, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev not only announced, but also implemented a number of important political reforms, the importance of which, in my opinion, has not yet been fully appreciated in the European Union.

In particular, the first reforms were presented in December 2019 at a meeting of the Kazakhstan`s National Council of Public Trust, which brought together well-known politicians and representatives of civil society, including opposition NGOs.

In total, by March of this year, four packages of major political transformations had already been organized. Among their main results, I would single out: the reduction of the registration barrier for political parties, the introduction of a 30% quota for women and youth in party electoral lists, the adoption of a new law on rallies, the decriminalization of the article on libel and the humanization of a number of articles of the Criminal Code, as well as the abolition of the death penalty.

However, no one imagined how far the leadership of Kazakhstan is ready to go in the political transformation of the country, whose importance in economic terms goes beyond the regional power.

June 5, 2022 will undoubtedly have a special place in the historical textbooks of Kazakhstan.

On this day, a nationwide referendum was held in the country on Amendments to the Constitution aimed at strengthening the role of the Parliament, expanding opportunities for the development of parties, improving the electoral process, strengthening the system for the protection of human rights and freedoms. The Western world welcomed both the content and outcome of the referendum.

According to official data of the Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan, 77% of citizens who participated in the referendum spoke in favor of Amendments affecting 33 articles of the Main Law of the country.

The main Amendments made to the Constitution provide for the expansion of the powers of the Parliament, the formation of the deputy corps of the Majilis (Lower House) under a mixed electoral system, the reduction of the presidential quota in the Senate, the abolition of the death penalty, the ability of citizens to directly apply to the Constitutional Court, the ban on holding high state posts by relatives of the president, etc.

From now on, the President will not be a member of a political party, and akims (heads of regions and cities) will not be able to simultaneously lead regional party organizations, which significantly increases the degree of critical assessment of their daily activities.

At the same time, as Tokayev said, the ongoing political reforms should go in parallel with comprehensive economic transformations aimed at building a truly market, free and competitive economy.

As Tokayev noted, it is necessary to form transparent and fair rules in business, eradicate all artificial monopolies, put a reliable barrier to corruption. It is necessary to revise the legislation that contributed to the concentration of the country's economic resources in the hands of a narrow circle of people and provided them with excessive preferences.

I am impressed that the President of Kazakhstan speaks about all this directly and openly, without trying to disguise the problems that existed in the past that needed to be effectively addressed. Moreover, in accordance with his Decree, an Interdepartmental Commission has been established for the return of illegally withdrawn funds from the country and the return of illegally privatized assets to State ownership.

I believe that Western business perceives Tokayev's reforms aimed at improving the business and investment climate with great optimism.

At the same time, the verified and balanced foreign policy of the President of Kazakhstan makes it possible to minimize the consequences of anti-Russian sanctions on the country's economy, the growth of which in the first five months of this year amounted to 5.6%.

Kazakhstan has managed to find the right balance of relations with Russia, with which it has the longest border in the world. Without violating the sanitary regime, it continues to maintain the regime of profitable trade. Last year, Kazakhstan's trade turnover with the BRICS countries (China, India, Brazil, Russia, South Africa) amounted to $45 billion.

However, the largest trading partner of Kazakhstan with a total trade turnover of $ 29 billion remains the countries of the European Union. The volume of foreign direct investment from the EU countries in the Kazakh economy in 2021 amounted to $ 10.1 billion, which is 24.3% higher than in the previous year.

On June 20, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Mukhtar Tleuberdi took part in the 19th meeting of the Cooperation Council "Republic of Kazakhstan – European Union". The European side was represented at the talks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, which holds the presidency of the Council of the EU, Catherine Colonna.

During the talks, the parties spoke in favor of deepening mutually beneficial partnership in the field of renewable energy sources, extraction and processing of rare earth metals and "green" hydrogen. Special attention was paid to the importance of the transport and logistics potential of Kazakhstan, in particular the conjugation of the new EU program "Global Gateway" with the "Trans-Caspian International Transport Route".

I believe that Spain, which is linked with Kazakhstan by the Agreement on Strategic Partnership, in the foreseeable future will remain one of its key partners in the EU, which is designed to facilitate the presidency of our country in the European Union in 2023.