Kazakhstan in the Early 2000s

By | June 6, 2022

In the early 2000s, more than a decade after the end of the communist regime, Kazakhstan was still far from having achieved a democratic institutional order and from having overcome the problems linked to the widespread corruption of the state apparatus. President of the Republic N. Nazarbaev, elected in 1991, continued, in fact, to exercise undisputed power, with increasingly authoritarian and personalistic traits, and to favor the interests of his political and family entourage, closely intertwined with those of the powerful economic lobbies linked to the extraction of crude oil, one of the main resources of the Country. The opposition forces, divided and subjected to strong intimidation, were relegated to a purely marginal role, penalized, among other things, by the limited access to information, almost completely controlled by the government in the hands of the president’s collaborators and by the agencies. journalistic.

Above all, starting from 2001, Nazarbaev was also able to count on growing domestic popularity, determined by the improvement in economic conditions following the rise in the price of oil and the increase in exports of raw materials. Despite the adoption of privatization policies (in May 2003 the right to private land ownership was sanctioned) and the containment of the public deficit, the increase in revenues allowed the state to avoid drastic cuts in social spending and to increase investments. in some sectors, first of all education.

This further restricted the margins of maneuver of the opposition, which had also tried to reorganize itself and relaunch its image and role by giving birth to new parties, but reduced the possibility of a massive mobilization of civil society, unwilling to demonstrate against a government that had nevertheless guaranteed a general improvement in living conditions.

According to Homosociety, the new political formations were hindered in all ways, above all through a registration of the rules that governed their existence and were thus excluded from the possibility of participating in the elections for the renewal of the lower house which, held in September-October 2004, again sanctioned with 42 seats out of 77, the victory of the pro-presidential party Otan (Patria), and of the political groups connected to it.

Significantly, the party founded in October 2003 by the president’s daughter, D. Nazarbaeva, Asar (All together), considered by many to be the first step in a long-term strategy aimed at preparing the handover of power within the family group. The consultations held the following year (August 2005) for the renewal of the upper house had a similar result, which sanctioned the consolidation of the existing equilibrium. Furthermore, in December 2005, Nazarbaev was re-elected president.

Foreign policy was aimed at increasing the role of Kazakhstan in the region by exploiting the strategic position of the country and its considerable mineral resources. A policy of equilibrium was therefore promoted which, while maintaining firm traditional alliances, strengthened ties with the West and created the conditions for new economic agreements. Relations with Russia remained close, with which an agreement was reached in May 2002 on the sharing of oil resources in the Caspian Sea and a treaty was signed for mutual military assistance in the event of aggression by third parties. Agreements on the border line were also reached with Turkmenistan (ratified in June 2003), with Kyrgyzstan and with Uzbekistan (July 2003), Countries with which trade was intensified and regional cooperation agreements were made to combat terrorism and drug trafficking.

Relations with Beijing also became particularly intense, with which military and commercial treaties were signed; relations intensified during 2005, in view of the construction of a new railway line to facilitate communications between the two countries and of a gas pipeline that would allow Kazakhstan to start exporting natural gas with China. Dialogue with Western states experienced rapid development, especially after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001in the United States. The firm condemnation expressed against international terrorism and the logistical support offered to the military coalition formed to fight it, made the country a privileged interlocutor of the European Union and, above all, of the United States, which was offered the use of airspace and military bases. Commercial relations were also established with Washington, in particular for the exploitation of oil and mineral fields. The economic agreement was reaffirmed during the talks that took place during Nazarbaev’s visit to the White House (Sept. 2006).

Kazakhstan in the Early 2000s