Murat Laumulin, D.Sc. (Political Science), Chief Researcher at the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies (Almaty, Kazakhstan)


At the beginning of 2011, Kazakhstans foreign policy entered a new stage. The country passed a serious political testchairing the OSCE and hosting the Organizations summit meeting in Astana. This year, it faces two new tests: chairing the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and hosting the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the SCO summit.

The OSCE summit in December 2010 amply showed that such events are far from formalities requiring no more than paying official tribute to political obligations, this time Astanas. Such functions are often closely related to a specific problem in international relations. In this context, the present turning point in Kazakhstans foreign policy is a clear sign of the demands of the times.

Recent experience is good way to gage the transformation in Kazakhstans foreign policy and its international status. The year 2010 will be remembered in the history of Kazakhstan and its foreign policy for its many important events. The most vibrant of them was without a doubt the OSCE summit in Astana. However, in terms of strategic consequences, establishment of the Customs Union among Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus should be considered the most important.

The Heritage of 2010

It was Kazakhstans chairmanship in the OSCE, however, that set the pace for the countrys foreign policy as a whole in 2010. As one Kazakhstan observer noted, Kazakhstans task was not to meet the OSCE standards, but to create new standards corresponding both to present reality and to the interests of the Organizations participating states, whereby with the help of those countries that view the OSCE as an effective mechanism for maintaining stability and ensuring security.

The Kazakhstan presidents participation in the anti-nuclear summit in Washington in April can be singled out as one of the head of states noteworthy foreign visits. This historical meeting of three presidentsAmericas Barack Obama, Russias Dmitry Medvedev, and Kazakhstans Nursultan Nazarbaevin Washington in April 2010 at the anti-nuclear summit brought attention once again to Kazakhstans enormous contribution to nuclear non-proliferation. This was largely promoted by the initiatives the Kazakhstan president laid on the table before the leaders of the leading, primarily nuclear, nations and the world community as a whole. Nuclear security and non-proliferation is an area in which Kazakhstan recognizes its moral superiority. It is also the source and essence of Kazakhstans foreign policy conception.

Kazakhstan essentially asked the old members of the nuclear club to forego their nuclear sovereignty (which they promised to do during the drawing up of the NPT at the end of the 1960s). The Kazakhstan president also proposed revising international law regarding

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