21.03.2022, 08:04
A+ Analytics

New list of friends in Kazakhstan's foreign policy

The ongoing events in the world force us to rethink not only domestic but also foreign policy of Kazakhstan. The most difficult task at the present stage is to determine the place and role of the former partners in international relations in the new conditions.
 

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The example of relations with Turkey, which for a long time was presented as the closest ally of our country, shows that Kazakhstan will probably have to make difficult choices and even sometimes sacrifice certain areas and areas of traditional cooperation for the sake of national interests.

Throughout the years of independence, relations between Kazakhstan and Turkey have developed in "hothouse" conditions of mutual consent and unity around numerous political, economic and humanitarian projects. The absence of common enemies and claims to each other made it possible to support various joint projects, including even in the military sphere. The commonality of history and cultural values contributed to the emergence of various projects and programs, such as the "Turkic Council", TURKSOY, TURKPA, the Turkic Academy, the Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation, joint universities and colleges.

The success of relations between countries has also become a reflection of trusting personal relationships between leaders and leaders of countries. Turkey has always been more than just a foreign country in which Kazakh tourists did not feel like outsiders. From the very moment of gaining independence, Turkey has retained many places of honor that the citizens of Kazakhstan can easily remember. This is the first country to recognize independence in 1991, established diplomatic relations with Kazakhstan in 1992, and the Turkish diplomatic mission became the first foreign mission in the history of Kazakhstan.

In the same period, the Agreement on Strategic Partnership between the countries was signed in 2009. An important point was the article stating that "In the event of an external threat to the territorial integrity of the Parties, consultations are held at the request of one of the Parties." The concept of foreign policy of Kazakhstan for 2014-2020 also approved Turkey as an important country after Russia, China, the USA, the EU. Kazakhstan managed to remain neutral in modern conflicts in the region, including those where the interests and military of Turkey were present. This was the case during the armed conflicts in Syria and Karabakh. As a result, relations between Turkey and Kazakhstan until recently had a constant trend of growth and development, until they faced the harsh reality of geopolitics in the former Soviet Union.

Doubts about the limits of the strategic relationship between Astana and Ankara arose long before 2022. The reassessment of the role of Turkey is reflected in the current Foreign Policy Concept of Kazakhstan for 2020-2030. In the current Concept, there was no place for Turkey at all, not as an important partner, or simply as a useful country. Even the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States was mentioned after the countries of Southeast, South Asia, North Africa, CICA, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. A similar example of the presence of tension and understatement in a relationship is the fact of complex personal contacts. It is known that during the period of independence, N. Nazarbayev visited Turkey 24 times, while the presidents of Turkey came to Kazakhstan 15 times, the prime ministers - 6 times, in contrast to the presidency of K. Tokayev.

The only time the current head of state arrived in Turkey on a time-limited working visit was in November 2021. At this meeting, the highly publicized Organization of Turkic States (OTG) was created. The heads of Turkey, Kazakhstan and other countries agreed to continue to coordinate common actions, to organize the next meeting in the city of Turkestan in 2022. However, the promises of mutual cooperation did not go beyond R. Erdogan's thesis about "six states and one nation".

The January events in Kazakhstan were the first blow that shook the old traditions of mutual support and fulfillment of promises between the leaders of the states. Immediately after the start of the armed conflict in the cities of Kazakhstan, on January 6, 2022, Turkish President R. Erdogan called President K. Tokayev and offered his assistance in establishing peace and stability in Kazakhstan.

However, as is known, despite the obligations of cooperation and mutual assistance within the framework of the UTC, the leadership of Kazakhstan turned for military assistance only to the CSTO countries. It is not surprising that the Russian Sputnik news agency was happy to report that Erdogan later canceled an early agreement to make a working trip to Turkestan as part of an informal summit of the Organization of Turkic States, scheduled for March 2022.

The war in Ukraine once again showed the difficulty of maintaining a balance of interests for Kazakhstan in relation to Turkey and members of the UTC. The modern example of Turkey's involvement in the conflict in Ukraine shows Ankara's determination to protect and defend its interests in the CIS region. From this perspective, one can imagine the diplomatic, psychological consequences of Kazakhstan's participation on the side of the CSTO troops in Ukraine, which can fall into the sight of "bayraktars" and "javelins".

It can be summarized that the current situation of instability around Kazakhstan, including due to the war in Ukraine, shows that the country's leadership will have to make difficult decisions regarding former allies and partners. The preservation of territorial integrity, the stability of the political regime should be the main ones in the further process of building relations with neighboring countries. For the first time in history, cooperation between Kazakhstan and Turkey is undergoing a stress test for serious challenges.

The previous 30 years of Kazakhstan's independence have shown that economic relations, trade, and humanitarian relations can develop very well between countries and benefit both countries. However, the situation around Ukraine shows that relations with Ankara for Kazakhstan have their limitations and limits. The further process and direction of relations between countries should be determined by the internal interests of Kazakhstan to prevent and avoid armed conflicts on its territory.

One thing is obvious, that the leadership of Kazakhstan, without falling into emotions, should proceed from the national interests of the country and its population, including in relations with the outside world. This also applies to new, carefully adjusted relations with Ankara, taking into account the current realities around Kazakhstan.

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