2011 is a landmark year for Kazakhstan. Twenty years ago, December 16, 1991 President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed RK Constitutional Law “On State Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan”.
The journey this country made in two decades is tremendous. It took independent Kazakhstan just 20 years to achieve international success advocating inter-ethnic and inter-faith dialogue, a world without nuclear weapons. The formation of political and economic systems, establishment of a unique institution - Kazakhstan People’s Assembly, chairmanship in many international organizations earned the republic significant political weight and boosted its international image.
Strengthening its national security, in the first place, the country focuses on internal political stability in the society. “Economy first, politics after” is the basic principle of Kazakhstani state model’s development. Its policy centers on mutual understanding, tolerance and national cohesion, maintenance of peace and accord in Kazakhstan, since only this can facilitate the republic in its successful international advancement. “The history of the 20th anniversary of independence is the history of stability of the state, friendship and consent of Kazakhstan’s people”, - said Nursultan Nazarbayev in a speech.
One of the first decisions of Kazakhstan President after the republic gained independence was the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, which was highly appreciated by the entire world community. The former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said that Kazakhstan was a country listening to reason and called it an example of how people should live and look to the future with hope.
Heads of state positively view Kazakhstan’s contribution in the fight for nuclear non-proliferation and against international terrorism, religious extremism. The capital of Kazakhstan - Astana - is the venue for Congresses of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions and other events aimed at addressing present global problems.
“Two decades made of many accomplishments that earlier could not have been achieved during centuries” - this is how Kazakhstan’s leader Nursultan Nazarbayev describes the 20-year period of independence.
> Kazakhstan Map
In his last state-of-the-nation address “Let’s build the future together!” voiced in January 2011, Nazarbayev said: “We are coming into the twentieth year of Independence. In December 1991 we opted for stability and success and went forward, creating new development programs for every new stage. We set ambitious goals and achieved them”. Then he cited an integrated indicator of the country’s progress. “In 1994 per capita GDP was just a little more than seven hundred dollars. By January 1, 2011 it has grown by over 12 times and now exceeds $9 000. We expected to achieve this level only by 2015. World experience shows that no country could boast such a result in the first 20 years of independence. For instance, in the first twenty years of sovereign development per capita GDP in South Korea tripled, in Malaysia doubled, in Singapore and Poland quadrupled, and in Hungary quintupled”, - underscored Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Particular attention in the republic is given to the development of education and science. The head of state set an ambitious goal to develop Kazakhstan into a world-class center of knowledge. “We are well aware that the country’s prospects are not only oil and gas, not only industry giants, but the quality of education that we can give to the younger generation. One can judge about prospects of a country by its education system”, - he said in his speech at a Congress of Kazakhstan’s Youth. That the state spending on education in the past ten years has increased by 7.5 times proves that these are not just words, but a real development strategy. According to UNESCO, Kazakhstan ranks fourth among 129 countries in its Education Development Index; in terms of literacy it is in the 14th out of 177 countries.
At the same time the country has been implementing a large-scale cultural project “Trinity of languages”. Its goal is the knowledge of Kazakh, Russian and English by the majority of Kazakhstanis. The development of the Kazakh language is of paramount importance as it is the state language, which is being used more extensively. The Russian language, which is the language of interethnic communication, is used officially along with Kazakh. English should help Kazakhstanis faster integrate in the international economic and educational environment.
Kazakhstan can be proud of the 20-year-long road of independence. Of the 15 soviet republics that once constituted a great power, the country has grown into a regional leader, consistently defending its own interests, guided by the principles of tolerance and security.
Kazakhstan has gone down in history as the first Asian, Muslim and former soviet country that was elected chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Thanks to efficient government and socio-political structures, the republic became the leader of the Central Asian region and the post-soviet space in promoting reforms. Transition from totalitarianism has never been easy.
The country that broke shackles of communism has retained special Kazakh properties. President Nazarbayev has sought open economy and society, i.e. precisely those things which his neighbors stubbornly refused and which helped him earn sufficient renown for Kazakhstan in international organizations, wrote the “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher in the foreword to Nazarbayev’s book “The Kazakhstan Way”. Today “Kazakhstan’s way” of development is being sized up by many states.