Kairat ABDRAKHMANOV, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Astana in Global Diplomacy
This issue of the journal is published on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the capital, which in its early days was awarded the title of the City of Peace by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
History is full of enough examples when many majestic and one of the most beautiful cities of the world saw the light or experienced a revival thanks to outstanding historical figures. Peter the Great founded Petersburg, Napoleon Bonaparte breathed new life into Paris, Japanese Emperor and reformer Meiji moved the capital from Kyoto to Tokyo (formerly Edo) in 1868 and Sheikh Maktoum bin Butti Al Maktoum became the founder of modern Dubai. Astana, the brainchild of President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, became a symbol of rising modern Kazakhstan.
Having a population of less than 300,000 in 1997, the modern Astana was included in the list of cities with a population above one million people in 2016. During the last 20 years, the gross regional product of the city has grown 190-fold. Major projects in engineering, construction and agricultural processing are being actively implemented; the service sector, engineering and social infrastructure are expanding.
Astana has fully succeeded as Kazakhstan's administrative, socio-economic, political and cultural centre. At the same time, it was in the new capital that the ardent spirit of Kazakhstan's foreign policy opened up with incredible expression. Astana has gained a special image in the international arena thanks to balanced and peaceful diplomacy, as well as to the ambitious initiatives of the country's leadership.
The President initiated summits of major international organisations, which were successfully held in Astana. The historic summit of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) held in 2010 gave the OSCE concept a new meaning of “the common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok."
June 2011 saw the anniversary summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which signed the Astana Declaration on the 10th anniversary of the SCO, and the Astana summit held on June 9, 2017 enhanced the geopolitical significance of the SCO by welcoming India and Pakistan to the Organisation.
During Kazakhstan's chairpersonship of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference from June 2011 to November 2012, the institution received its current name – the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) focusing on the modernisation of the Islamic world and the importance of inter-civilisational dialogue. Back then, the head of state initiated the idea of establishing the Islamic Organisation for Food Security (IOFS) and on April 28, 2016, the General Assembly of the IOFS held its General Session in Astana and adopted the Statute of the Organisation. Astana also became the venue for the first OIC Summit on Science and Technology held on Sept. 10, 2017.
It was in Astana on May 29, 2014, that the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) was signed.
Nazarbayev's initiative to establish the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) as a platform for deepening the international dialogue on security with the Secretariat in Astana, which unites 26 countries of this vast region, is widely known and recognised.
At the initiative of the President, the summits of the heads of Turkic Speaking States, held since 1992, were institutionalised in 2009 through the establishment of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (CCTS). The fifth CCTS Summit on Cooperation in the Field of Information was held on Sept. 11, 2015 in Astana, during which the presidency of the council was passed from Turkey to Kazakhstan.
Astana also hosts regular meetings of the heads of state of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and other international associations and platforms.
Astana pays special attention to cooperation with the countries of Central Asia. On March 15, 2018, our capital hosted the First Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia, which resulted in an important decision for regional development on the establishment of a five-sided Working Commission at the level of vice prime ministers of the countries of the region to address all existing issues and problems. Such meetings of the heads of state of Central Asia are planned to be regular.
Major annual international events are held in the field of security, politics and economy, such as the Astana Economic Forum and Eurasian Media Forum, as well as conferences on nuclear disarmament: Building a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World (Aug. 29, 2016), 62nd Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs (Aug. 25, 2017), etc.
Nine rounds of peacekeeping talks in the capital within the Astana Process for the peaceful settlement of the situation in Syria in fact solidified the status of an international dialogue platform parallel to the Geneva Process.
Astana has become an important centre for interreligious dialogue. Five Congresses of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions have already taken place – a unique initiative of Leader of the Nation Nursultan Nazarbayev. The city was visited by spiritual leaders from all over the world, including Pope John Paul II and leaders of the centres of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and other religions.
Astana is also an international platform for generating ideas in the fields of economy, finance, tourism and industry. Here, for the first time President of China Xi Jinping presented the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, the International Specialised Exhibition EXPO 2017 themed Future Energy was held and the Astana International Financial Centre was launched having good reason to become a financial hub for the countries of Eurasia.
Astana became a vibrant centre of diplomatic life. The headquarters of such international organisations as the CICA, the Islamic Organisation for Food Security, and the International Turkic Academy have settled here.
We are glad to emphasize the role of the diplomatic corps in building the new capital spirit. Despite the difficult conditions, almost all embassies and a number of offices of international organisations moved here in the first years of Astana's establishment. Today, there are 68 embassies of foreign countries and 18 missions of international organisations in the capital.
Astana also became a hosting place for representative offices of international companies and bureaus of foreign media.
Thus, over a short historical period Astana has turned from a typical provincial centre into one of the most beautiful and dynamic capitals of the world and has become an integral part of global diplomacy, a city of peace and harmony, a symbol of modern Kazakhstan.
Speaking about the content of the second issue of the journal in 2018, it largely reflects the dynamics of Kazakhstan's foreign policy development in recent months. Particular emphasis in the issue is made on a new stage of cooperation in Central Asia and the role of the region in the international arena; economic diplomacy, which is an integral part of Kazakhstan's foreign policy; official events with the participation of the President, in particular, his visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as other interesting international topics.