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Address by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Leader of the Nation, N.A.Nazarbayev
Today we have gathered on the eve of our Independence Day. It has been more than 20 years since we started to proudly celebrate this great holiday. On December 16, 1991 we, the people of Kazakhstan, chose sovereignty, freedom and openness to the world as our founding principles. Today these values have become a part of our daily life. As we began our journey as a nation things were vastly different. Now thanks to our joint efforts we have transformed our country into a wholly different place. Today we are a successful state with our own characteristics, perspectives and identity. We have paid a great price to achieve these milestones. For over 20 years our country has worked to strengthen its sovereignty and political influence - a goal which we have accomplished. The formation of our nation has been successfully completed.
21st century Kazakhstan is an independent and self-confident state. We are not afraid of the ongoing changes in the world caused by the prolonged global financial crisis. Indeed, we are prepared for them. Our goal is to continue our sustainable development into the 21st century while maintaining and building on our existing achievements.
By 2050 we want to have created a society based on a strong state, a developed economy with universal labor opportunities. A strong state is especially important to ensure accelerated economic growth. This is not about survival, it is about planning, long-term development and economic growth. Today, on the eve of our Independence Day, I present to you my vision of our nation's development prospects. This is a new political course.
I. Established Kazakhstan - trial by crisis of our statehood, national economy, civil society, social harmony, regional leadership and authority in the international community
In 1997 we adopted the Development Strategy of Kazakhstan 2030. That was fifteen years ago when the post-Soviet chaos has not been overcome, there was an economic crisis in South East Asia and Kazakhstan faced a difficult period too. As we faced these challenges and others our strategy served as a beacon to guide our way forward and keep us focused on our target. Remember 1997? After my speech in Parliament in 1997 there was some confusion and bewilderment. As I outlined our ambitious goals many people asked: “Was that propaganda? Or a promise of manna from heaven?" Yet, as the saying goes, “the eyes may be frightened, but the hands are working". We set ourselves an enormous task – to reverse the downward trend Kazakhstan faced and continue on the road to developing a new country.
To reach this aim we had to work to improve three areas: build a modern nation state by making the leap towards a market economy, lay the foundation of a social system and, finally, transform people's thinking and outlook. We had to define our own path. This path was outlined in the “Kazakhstan 2030 Strategy''. This strategy helped define our strategic goals and targets and provided a crucial breakthrough in our world outlook. Only with the objective in mind can we set targets that will lead us to success. Today I'm honored to announce that we made the right decisions all those years ago. Our resilience through the 2008-2009 global financial crisis has proved that. Kazakhstan has withstood. The crisis has not destroyed our achievements, but has made us stronger. The political, socio-economic and foreign policy model of development that we chose proved to be the right one.
1. A Strong and Successful State
Our key achievement is that we have established an independent Kazakhstan. We have legally formalized our borders. We have put together our nation's integrated economic space. We have recreated and reinforced economic ties that bind our country. Our domestic regions are united in their activities. We have implemented historically important constitutional and political reforms that have established a system of public administration based on the division of branches of power. We have built a new capital. It is a modern city that has turned into a symbol of our country that we take pride in. We have unleashed the potential of the capital to showcase our country's capabilities to the entire world. This is exactly why the international community elected Kazakhstan to host the EXPO 2017 international exhibition. Very few cities have received such an honor. It's enough to say that our country turned out to be the first post-soviet nation to chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, host the Summit of the Organization, and the EXPO 2017 – a world-scale event.
2. Sustainable Process of Democratization and Liberalization
We have a clear formula to follow: “Economy first, then politics". Every step of our political reforms is closely tied to our level of economic development. The only way to modernize our country and make it competitive is to progressively follow the path of political liberalization. Step-by-step our society is approaching the highest standards of democratization and human rights. We have secured fundamental rights and liberties in our country's Constitution. Our citizens have equal rights and opportunities.
3. Harmony and Peace among disparate Social, Ethnic, and Religious Groups
We have worked to restore our historic Kazakh culture and language after many years of decline. Besides our ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, we have maintained peace and stability in our country. Kazakhstan is home to over 140 ethnic and 17 religious groups. Civil peace and interethnic harmony remains a key value for us. Peace and accord, intercultural and inter-religious dialogue in our multi-ethnic country has been recognized as a global model. The Kazakhstan's People's Assembly has become a unique Eurasian model of intercultural dialogue. Kazakhstan has turned into a center of global inter-religious dialogue.
4. National Economy. Our Role in International Division of Labor.
We were the first in the Commonwealth of Independent States to develop a modern market economy based on private property, free competition and openness. Our model is based on a proactive role of the government in attracting foreign capital. To date we have attracted over $160 billion of foreign investment. We have established basic conditions for entrepreneurship, as well as a modern taxation system. We have systematically diversified our economy. I set forward a clear task to accelerate the industrialization program – to help transform the shape of our economy, make it immune to global commodity price fluctuation within the decade. Over the 15 years following the adoption of the 2030 Strategy, our state joined the top five dynamically developing countries of the world. There are recognized rankings which countries use to track their development. By the end of 2012, Kazakhstan will enter the top 50 largest global economies and is already ranked 51st in terms of economic competitiveness.
5. Strong Social Policy to Ensure Social Stability and Harmony
A major criterion for me has always been and will be the level of our people's living standards. Over the past 15 years the incomes of our citizens have grown 16 fold. The number of people with an income below subsistence level is seven times as low as it was, the number of unemployed is twice as low as it used to be. We have laid the foundation of a social-oriented society. We have managed to achieve substantial progress in improving our nation's health To improve the efficiency of our healthcare system, we have reformed its organization, management and funding. Over the last five years, maternal mortality rate decreased threefold, while the birthrate is 1.5 times as high. We have created equal opportunities for education. Over the last 15 years our education expenditure has grown 9.5 times. We have implemented an Education Development Government Program designed to radically modernize education at all levels, from pre-school to higher education. Thanks to our long-term human capital investment policy we have brought up a talented generation of today's youth.
6. Globally Recognized Country
In world politics, our country is a responsible and reliable partner with an indisputable weight in the international arena. We play an important role in strengthening global security and supporting the international community in its fight against terrorism, extremism, and illicit drug trafficking. Our initiative to convene a Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) has seen CICA grow into an organization with 24 member countries that have a combined population exceeding 3 billion people. CICA is a critical element of Kazakhstan's security. For the last 2-3 years the Republic of Kazakhstan chaired the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Collective Security Treaty Organization. At the Astana Economic Forum we proposed a new dialogue format – G-Global. The initiative has been designed to combine the efforts of all to establish a fair and secure world order. We have a decent contribution to ensuring global energy and food security.
7. Our Proactive Role in Promoting Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime
Our initiatives to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime are a key contribution to global stability, order and security. Being the first in the world to close nuclear testing site at Semipalatinsk and abandon nuclear weapons, we gained strong international security guarantees from leading nuclear powers – USA, Russia, Great Britain, France and China. We played a key role in establishing a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in Central Asia and actively support creating similar zones in other regions of the planet, specifically, the Middle East. We support the efforts of the international community to counter the nuclear terrorism threat. We firmly believe in the need to take decisive measures to eliminate the nuclear threat. We believe that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has been and remains the cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime. We consider the early entrance into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty as an important driving force to strengthen the nonproliferation regime. Three years ago, the UN General Assembly supported my suggestion to announce August 29 as the International Day against Nuclear Tests. All of this is a testament to the recognition of Kazakhstan's role in global politics. Kazakhstan has been recognized as a leader in nuclear nonproliferation and remains a model for other countries.
8. Strategy Kazakhstan 2030: Key Outcomes
In Strategy Kazakhstan 2030 we planned our country's future success. We have progressively and persistently moved towards our aims. Even at the height of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis our national economy kept growing. So today I'm honored to be able to summarize that we've implemented the outcomes of the 2030 Strategy ahead of schedule in terms of main parameters.
(1) INTERNATIONAL SECURITY. We had an aim to develop our country while maintaining its territorial integrity. We managed to do more than we initially planned. For the first time in its history Kazakhstan gained clear, internationally recognized borders. 14,000 km of our state border has been delimited. Kazakhstan safely controls the situation in its Caspian water area. From now on, there is no threat of any territorial disputes to emerge in the future. We haven't left disputed borders to our descendants. We have created a strong Army capable of defense and an efficient law enforcement system ensuring the security of our individuals, society and state.
(2) We have maintained and strengthened STABILITY AND NATIONAL UNITY in a country where 140 ethnicities and 17 religious groups are represented. We have consistently developed civil institutions based on a democratic development model. We've set up a Human Rights Ombudsman institution. Whereas in the past we've never had a multiparty system, today there are parties representing the entire political spectrum of the country. We have a multiparty Parliament and a majority government. Civil society is being developed. Independent media outlets work in the country. There are over 18,000 non government organizations of various orientations. Nearly 2,500 media outlets function in the country of which approximately, 90% are private. Today Kazakhstan is an important international center of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue. Kazakhstan hosted the first four Congresses of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. As this century progresses, Kazakhstan should become a bridge for dialogue and interaction between East and West.
(3) ECONOMIC GROWTH BASED ON OPEN MARKET ECONOMY WITH A HIGH RATE OF FOREIGN INVESTMENT AND DOMESTIC SAVINGS. We aimed to achieve feasible, sustainable and growing rates of development It was Strategy Kazakhstan 2030 where the focus has been shifted towards economic growth. As a result, within 15 years our national economy grew from 1.7 trillion tenge in 1997 up to 28 trillion tenge in 2011. Kazakhstan's GDP increased 16 fold. Since 1999 the annual GDP growth equaled 7.6% and outgrew the indicator of advanced developing countries. Our GDP per capita grew seven-fold, from 1,500 USD in 1998 to 12,000 USD in 2012. From the very outset, Kazakhstan has become a top CIS country in terms of its per capita FDI. Today that figure amounts to $9,200 USD. We've reached a 12-fold growth of our foreign trade and a 20-fold increase in our industrial output. Over these years our oil output grew three-fold, natural gas output increased five-fold. We've channeled those commodity incomes into our National Fund. National Fund became a reliable shield to protect us from possible economic and financial disturbances. This is a safeguard for current and future generations. Carrying out the accelerated industrialization program since 2010, we've implemented 397 investment projects worth 1,797 billion tenge and created over 44,000 jobs. 225 projects worth 101.2 billion tenge have been approved over the two years of implementing the “2020 Business Roadmap" program. Today we are a middle-income country with a dynamically growing economy.
(4) HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELL-BEING OF KAZAKHSTAN'S CITIZENS. It was vital to radically change the lives of our citizens, improve their living conditions. The results of this work are evident. The average monthly salary grew by 9.3 times. The average pension increased ten-fold. The population saw their nominal return grow 16-fold. We are creating necessary conditions to ensure high-quality healthcare services in all regions of the country. In 1999 Healthcare funding equaled 46 billion tenge, in 2011 the figure amounted to 631 billion tenge. We've set up a medical cluster including five innovative healthcare facilities – Children's Rehabilitation Center, Mother and Childhood Center, Neurosurgery Center, Emergency Aid Center and Cardiology Center. We are developing the services of transportable medicine, which now provides the most remote areas of our country with healthcare services at a rapid pace. National screening system helps detect and prevent diseases at their early stage. We've introduced free and preferential medication supply. Over the last 15 years Kazakhstan's population grew from 14 million to almost 17 million. Life expectancy has increased to 70 years. We progressively implement a policy of affordable and high-quality education. The “Balapan" (“chicken") Program implementation helped us increase the number of children to be covered with early childhood education to 65.4%. We've introduced mandatory preschool training. Today this covers 94.7% preschoolers of our country. Since 1997 we have built 942 schools and 758 hospitals across the country. We are developing a network of intellectual schools and world-class vocational colleges. Over the last 12 years the number of college scholarships has increased by 182%. In 1993 we adopted a unique “Bolashak" program which enabled 8,000 gifted young people to study in the world's top universities. A state-of-the-art, international standard research university has been established.
(5) ENERGY RESOURCES. Kazakhstan's oil and gas complex remains the powerhouse of our economy, which facilitates growth of other sectors. We have successfully created a modern and efficient oil, gas and mining sector. Our success in this area will help us to build a new economy of the future. The share of the oil and gas sector within the country's GDP has been growing at a steady rate, increasing from 3.7% in 1997 to 14.7% in 2006 and up to 25.8% in 2011. We've diversified our export markets and secured our positions, thereby having reduced our dependence on any particular export direction.
(6) INFRASTRUCTURE, ESPECIALLY TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION. Our aim was to develop our infrastructure and we had the strength to do it. Over recent years we have launched a number of major infrastructure projects that includes highways and railroads, pipelines, logistics centers, terminals, airports, train stations and ports. All of these projects have created jobs for many citizens of Kazakhstan and integrated us into the regional and global economic system. Over the last 11 years, the highway development sector received over 1,263 billion tenge and has built and reconstructed over 48,000 km of public highways, as well as 1100 km of railways. We are reviving a New Silk Road by setting up a “Western Europe – Western China" transportation corridor.
We opened access to the Gulf and Middle East countries by having built the “Uzen – Turkmenistan border" railroad. Having put together the “Korgas – Zhetygen" railway, we have opened the “eastern gate" paving the way towards the markets of China and all of Asia. We began building the “Zhezkazgan – Beineu" railway.
(7) PROFESSIONAL STATE. We had to finally get rid of management traditions of the administrative and command system to create a modern and efficient managers corps. We established a system of screening and promoting human resources where all citizens have equal rights and opportunities that ensure a high professional level and transparency of government activities. We have managed significant change in our public administration shifting its focus towards improving the quality of public services. Thus, our main goals set forth by the 2030 Strategy have been achieved, other goals are under implementation.
Today every single one of us can say: “the 2030 Strategy has succeeded, modern Kazakhstan is an established state". This is a result of our unity, steady hard work and the true realization of our hopes and dreams. We should all take pride in our achievements. The global financial crisis proved that we succeeded as a state and society. Our borders, political system and economic model are no longer subject to fundamental differences and discussion, either domestically or internationally. Now we face a new task: we need to strengthen the course of our long-term development.
II. Ten global challenges of the 21 century
Today humankind faces new global challenges. I focus on ten key challenges for our country and region. To continue our path to success we must take into account each of the challenges to ensure our ongoing development.
First challenge is the accelerating course of history
The course of history has rapidly accelerated. The world is changing at a fascinating pace. Over the last 60 years the population of the Earth tripled and will reach nine billion people by 2050. During the same period the world's GDP has increased 11 fold. The accelerating global course of history always opens up new opportunities for any country, and I'm proud that we have taken full advantage of them. Over the last 20 years we have modernized all areas of our society at a very high rate. We've done things that many other countries achieved in 100 or 150 years. However, we still have social groups that have not joined the overall modernization process. There are objective reasons for this: society still contains an imbalance that affects people's moral and social expectations. We have to eliminate this disparity and provide all social groups with an opportunity to join the modernization process, find their adequate place in the society and take full advantage of the opportunities of the New political course.
Second challenge is the global demographic imbalance
The global demographic imbalance increases every day. Globally we are an ageing population. In 40 years the number of people above the age of 60 will exceed the number of children under 15. Low birth rates and aging in many countries inevitably cause problems on the labor market, including workforce shortage. Growing demographic imbalance generates new waves of migration and increases social tensions. In Kazakhstan, we face migration pressure in certain regions of the country where illegal immigrants destabilize local labor markets. We also should realize that we are very likely to deal with a reverse process – outflow of our labor force. We are a young nation. The average age of our country is 35 years. This provides us with a great opportunity to capitalize on our human potential and rightfully position ourselves in the world. So today we possess a substantial base to rely upon and grow further. Anyone searching for a job in our country can get employed. Moreover, everyone in Kazakhstan is able to generate a new job and take care of him or herself. That is our great achievement. I am leading you to a universal labor society where the unemployed will not just receive benefits, but will master new occupations, where disabled will be able to actively engage in creative activities and companies will ensure decent working conditions. Our youth should study, acquire new knowledge, master new skills and efficiently and skillfully deploy new technologies and expertise in their daily life.
Third challenge is the global food security threat
High rates of global population growth are contributing to the global shortage of food. Today millions of people starve; nearly a million people face constant food shortages. Without revolutionary changes in food production, these figures will only keep growing. This shortage in food presents a great opportunity for Kazakhstan. We have great opportunities in terms of that challenge. We are already among the top grain exporters in the world. We possess vast “green" territories that are capable of producing eco-friendly foodstuffs. To make this great leap forward in farm production we will need a new type of thinking in our state.
Fourth challenge is the water shortage
Global water resources are also under great pressure. In the last 60 years global demand for drinking water supplies has increased eight fold. By the middle of this century many countries will have to import water. Water remains a limited resource, so the fight for acquiring water is already becoming a critical geopolitical factor causing tensions and conflict in the world. Kazakhstan also faces an acute water supply issue. We lack high-quality drinking water. A number of regions face drinking water scarcity. There is a geopolitical aspect to this issue. We are already facing a serious issue of trans-boundary river use. Given the complexity of this problem, we should avoid politicizing it.
Fifth challenge is the global energy security
All developed countries are increasingly investing in alternative and green energy technology. Estimates indicate that by 2050 their usage will help generate up to 50% of the entire energy consumed. The era of hydrocarbon economy is coming to its end. We face the beginning of a new era where human activities will be based not so much on oil and gas, but on renewable energy sources. Kazakhstan is one of the key elements of global energy security. Having world-class oil and gas reserves, our country will not depart from its policy of reliable strategic partnerships and mutually beneficial international cooperation in the energy sector.
Sixth challenge is the exhaustion of natural resources
Combined with unprecedented population and consumption growth and the finite level of natural resources this will fuel both positive and negative outcomes. Kazakhstan has a number of advantages in this regard. We have been blessed with abundant natural resources and other countries will need to rely on us for their resource needs. It is critical that we reconsider our attitude to our natural wealth. We need to learn how to properly manage it, saving our export revenues and, most importantly, transforming our natural resources into sustainable economic growth that delivers maximum efficiency.
Seventh challenge is the Third industrial revolution
Mankind is at the threshold of the Third industrial revolution that will change the very notion of production. Technological discoveries are radically changing the structure and needs of international markets. We now live in a completely different technological reality. Digital and nanotechnology, robotics, regenerative medicine and many other kinds of scientific progress will become an ordinary part of life and transform not only the environment, but also human beings. Kazakhstan should actively seek to engage in these processes.
Eighth challenge is the growing social instability
One of the greatest problems in the world today is the increasing social instability. Its root cause is social inequality. Today over 200 million people in the world fail to find jobs. Even the European Union faces unemployment – with the highest rates in decades –provoking massive civil unrests. When we look at global employment conditions, we need to admit that the situation in Kazakhstan is in a pretty good shape. We have the lowest unemployment rate we have ever had in our history. Undoubtedly, it's a great achievement. Yet we cannot rest on our laurels. The global economic crisis is transforming into a socio-political one, which will inevitably affect. Kazakhstan and test our durability. Therefore one of the key issues on our agenda is social security and social stability. It is important that we strengthen our social stability.
Ninth challenge is the crisis of our civilization's values
The world is undergoing an acute crisis of outlook and values. We increasingly hear voices heralding the clash of civilizations, the end of history and the failure of multiculturalism. It is critically important that we stay away from this kind of discourse, preserving our time-tested values. We know exactly how we turned what was called our Achilles heel – multi-ethnicity and multi-religious reality – into an advantage. We must learn to live in co-existence of cultures and religions. We must be committed to dialogue between cultures and civilizations. Only in dialogue with other nations our country will be able to succeed and gain influence in the future. In the 21st century Kazakhstan must strengthen its position of a regional leader and become the bridge for dialogue and interaction between East and West.
Tenth challenge is the threat of a new global destabilization
We are all witnessing what is happening today in the world. This is not a new wave of global destabilization, but the continuation of 2007-2009 financial crisis, from which the world economy has not yet recovered. The Global economic system may fail again as soon as 2013-2014, due to a fall in global commodities prices. Such scenario is highly undesirable for Kazakhstan. A recession in the EU and/or USA might lead to reduced demand for commodities in developed countries. Potential default by even one member of the Euro zone might provoke a “domino effect" and bring the safety of Kazakhstan's international reserves and stability of our export deliveries into question. The reduction of currency reserves exacerbates the pressure on the currency rate and inflation, which again might have a negative impact on social and economic situation. Therefore we must develop a sound and coordinated policy for all power branches, for the state and society, to be fully prepared for any economic downturn in the international arena.