Perpetuum Mobile of Kazakhstan to Europe

Aleksey Vlasov

In the middle of December Moscow became the stage of another discussions of a topical issue – accomplishment of the program “Kazakhstan way to Europe”.
Comments of Moscow experts on Kazakh program of cooperation with EU can be reviewed in two perspectives: on the one hand it is an attempt to explain why Kazakhstan moves to Europe instead of more conventional way in “Eurasian direction”. The second objective is to illustrate that presidential program has much more deeper and fundamental basis other than simple presidency in OSCE.

But within Moscow-Astana relations, particularly within discussions of this matter, Europe as the third and very important party is still not involved. European direction is a popular subject not only for Kazakh, but also for example for Ukrainian and Moldovan authors. Nevertheless the concept of the XXIst century Europe has not yet become more transparent and obvious. There is a great difference between perception of “New Europe” in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Discussions of “Eurotrend” are ambiguous even within one state.

This brings to the conclusion that contact area of the European Union and post-soviet states is a badly explored territory. It is not that difficult to foresee the main course of the discussion, considering that ground provisions of the Kazakh project were published in mass media long ago. They have even appointed officials in charge of each listed provisions starting from “democratization” of party-political area of the state to cooperation in hi-tech sphere. 

But what should be given a priority? I see two ways to European integration in the present situation in Kazakhstan.

Intensive way that is mainly promoted by the representatives of “European Club of Kazakhstan” – simulation of models of Government-society relations, presented (in perspective) according to the system alterations of the very philosophy of Kazakh reforms: from imaging projects to real interaction with opposition, freedom of press and refusal of artificial creation of party field.

This matter was covered by the “European Club” founders: “Heading to Europe Kazakhstan doesn’t refuse of its own identity. We observe European values as achievements of world civilization, universally important and attractive. Europe did a long way to become a region of piece and prosperity, influencing its neighboring states. European political institutions and ability to achieve consensus inside and between states, respect for the principle of rule of law and human rights, European social model, based on the ideal of social equality, and leadership in the sphere of environmental protection – these all makes EU as a perfect model for our young country”.

But meanwhile we see that most practical initiatives refer to the sphere of imaging projects under the common guide of the Presidential program accomplishment. There is no assurance that the kind of system modernization can be at all performed.  That is why more vital variant, especially within the terms of financial crises, is foremost development of economic and technologic cooperation that can be defined as resource-technologic interaction. This will be followed by transition to “European social model”, and then to a new cycle of transition “from economy to policy”.

Accomplishment of this model won’t demand sacrifice from political elite of Kazakhstan. This would be logic continuation of the 17 years long way of Ak Orda that was started from the moment of independence obtaining. One may find this reasoning a bit cynical, but it is grounded on the logic of the situation development in the region and within world economy. It is not yet time for romanticism.

The crisis has clearly revealed the limits of real diversification of Kazakh economy: petrol-dependence anyway remains a sword of Damocles for strategic plans of the Republic Government.  The perspectives of maintenance of previous extensive modernization variant are blurred. New support points are urgent to make a system breakthrough. Cooperation with EU as one of the major “investors” into Kazakh economic reforms will be the second support point together with Russian direction of interaction in the line of relations – petroleum-gas-new technologies.

Nobody knows if the cooperation with Europe would lead to renovation of political reality of the country. Heated discussion of the prospects of Kazakhstan way from Presidential to Parliamentary Republic is by the way one of the secondary effect of Kazakhstan “Eurochoice”. 

For Russian readers it’s urgent to understand, whether the movement of strategic partners (not only Kazakhstan) to Europe means hidden change of foreign-policy priorities. At the moment the answer is obvious – no.  But I’m afraid that the end point of this way is unknown either to Kazakh Government or to their partners in the Russian Federation and the European Union.


Translated from ia-centr.ru