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Oct 22, 2021
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Cooperation model. Russia and Kazakhstan set an example of trust diplomacy

October 22, 2021 marks the 29th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan. Over the years, our states have proved that they are reliable allies, strategic partners and just good neighbors. “Arguments and Facts” recalls how it all began.

A ray of light

October 1992 – a little over a year has passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Throughout the post-Soviet space, social and political confusion reigns, accompanied by “price liberalization” (read: multiple rise in the cost of everything and everyone). In his memoirs First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev called the then first steps of the leadership of the newly independent republics “strategy of survival.” And against the background of notes about galloping inflation and interethnic conflicts in the territory of the former Soviet Union, the following message flashed in the newspapers like a ray of light:

“Two-day negotiations between the delegations headed by and about. Prime Minister of Russia Yegor Gaidar and Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Sergei Tereshchenko… The success of the negotiations is evidenced by the agreements signed as a result, which can be divided into two categories: laying the foundations for long-term comprehensive cooperation and those that are designed to work in the near future. The first group includes an agreement on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two states and the corresponding protocol on the exchange of embassies, an agreement on free trade and the establishment of trade missions. The second – the agreement on trade and economic cooperation for 1993 and the minutes of a joint meeting of governments with the participation of heads of central banks. The parties agreed to agree on tax, credit, currency policies, customs and transport tariffs. ” (“Rossiyskaya Gazeta”, October 24, 1992).

These negotiations took place in Moscow on Chistoprudny Boulevard, where the residence of Nursultan Nazarbayev was located. In 2017, when Kazakhstan and Russia celebrated 25 years of establishing diplomatic relations, a museum of the modern history of Kazakhstan was opened here, which conveys the atmosphere of those years as accurately as possible.

Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Photo: Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Russian Federation

“Kazakhstan is truly lucky”

The first Russian ambassador to Kazakhstan (1992-1994) was Boris Krasnikov – a legendary figure in Russian diplomacy. He, originally from the Donbass, at the age of seven became a messenger of the partisan detachment, commanded by his father Anatoly Krasnikov. Little Boria was taken to the Gestapo three times, where he was tortured, but he did not betray his father. Childhood memories of the hard times later formed the basis of the autobiographical book “Partizanskaya Petrovka”.

In 1980, Boris Krasnikov graduated with honors from the Academy of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was awarded the highest diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Krasnikov was a polyglot, spoke Spanish, German, English, French, Kazakh. His first post was the USSR Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, and since 1992 he was appointed Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Kazakhstan.

In the book of a British biographer First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Jonathan Aitken “Nursultan Nazarbayev and the creation of Kazakhstan” is an amusing incident that happened with Boris Krasnikov and the new Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin… At the airport of Alma-Ata, the second person of Russia was met, among other things, by Ambassador Krasnikov, but Viktor Stepanovich for a long time could not understand what other Russian ambassador to Kazakhstan? Say, where did you get the idea that Kazakhstan is a foreign state, for relations with which an intermediary is needed in the form of an “extraordinary and plenipotentiary”.

Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Photo: Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Russian Federation

The skepticism of the Russian political establishment of those years was understandable. The current President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev recalled that time: “Many politicians and experts did not believe that Kazakhstan, due to open borders, specific demography, geopolitical position, was ready for an independent life. We were told: freedom and independence came too unexpectedly, and the country is not only unable to achieve true sovereignty, but also simply to survive as a subject of statehood. We were frightened: there would be enough resources for several months, then collapse, political collapse, social explosion … But Kazakhstan was truly lucky. Our first president from the first days of independence realized that without successful entry into the world political and economic community, it is impossible to achieve true sovereignty and build a full-fledged state. And he made every effort to this ”.

By the way, it is quite symbolic that Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev is a professional diplomat who twice headed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan (in 1994-1999 and in 2002-2007).

Friend is known in trouble

For almost three decades, Russia and Kazakhstan have created a model of equal and mutually beneficial interstate cooperation. Of course, this model is based on trust at the highest level. The leaders of our countries meet regularly, confirming the proverb “A friend is known in need”.

Today, Russia is the leading foreign trade partner of Kazakhstan, ranking 1st in terms of trade and imports to Kazakhstan and 3rd in terms of exports of Kazakhstani products. At the end of 2020, $ 1.2 billion in direct Russian investment came to the largest Central Asian republic. And in the first half of 2021, bilateral trade reached $ 10.7 billion, which is 27% more than in the same period in 2020. And this is in a pandemic!

According to Deputy Dean for International Cooperation of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation Daria Osinina, friendly relations between Russia and Kazakhstan ensure the stability of the entire Central Asian macroregion.

“Central Asia is a strategically important region for the Russian Federation, we consider it not only as part of the post-Soviet space. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, in addition to Russia, several major players appeared on the territory of Central Asia, these are China, the United States, Turkey, and the countries of South Asia. What is characteristic of the relationship between Russia and Kazakhstan is that today, 29 years after the signing of the treaty between our countries, we can say that these relations have been tested for strength. They are built both at the level of formal institutions – and this is the Eurasian Economic Union, the CSTO, and the SCO, and at the personal level of the heads of two states, ”the political scientist commented.

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