Special approaches to a number of key issues of integration and regional policy, which Astana demonstrates over and over again, cover more and more areas and, ultimately, pose a number of complex and sensitive issues for Moscow.
Difficult - from the fact that Kazakhstan is important for Russia. Without cooperation with it, our "Central Asian Party", key to Eurasian integration, is doomed to failure. Sharp - because Astana, in the struggle for leadership and a “special role”, has long been operating without regard to the interests of Moscow. And if necessary, it is easy enough to make contact with other participants of the “Big Game” for post-Soviet Central Asia.
And it’s not that there was some sort of "Eastern cunning" or a stable anti-Russian position of local elites, although this, of course, is the place to be. “National pragmatism” dictates “foreign policy multi-vector approach”, in other words, nothing personal, only state interests are relatively young still “independence”. But for us, Russia, this is not easier. After all, the notorious “multi-vector” is always a delicate balance between the “national interests” and blackmail of Russia, the “special conditions of partnership” and the demand from the Kremlin for loyalty payments.
Actually, it should not be a shock, like this is called real politics. But then the other side has the same pragmatic assessment of whether the partner is worth the funds and resources that are invested in it?
In fact, in the eyes of Russian society, experts and political elites, Kazakhstan received some kind of indulgence. If “something in some places sometimes” and looks strange, and sounds alarmingly, then this is attributed to the temporary costs of the heavy legacy of the collapse of the USSR. An unpretentious scheme has firmly established in the public consciousness: “Kazakhstan consistently moves along the course of Eurasian integration in partnership with Russia, and Uzbekistan deliberately ceases all relations with Moscow, as evidenced not only by the country's withdrawal from the CSTO, but also story with the “pushing out” of MTS from the Uzbek market ”.
Naturally, Kazakhstani journalists and lobbyists played a significant role in the implementation of this scheme, but the role should not be exaggerated: the ideas of Eurasian integration already so captured the “political masses” that everything that does not fit into the thesis of their successful implementation is simply discarded.
At first glance, Nursultan Nazarbayev seems to be a consistent and committed supporter of integration, especially since it was he who twenty years ago, in October 1994, at the CIS summit made a project to create a Eurasian Union. Relying on the thesis of the unity of the fate of the peoples of Eurasia and the need to preserve this unity within the borders of the former USSR, he then, in fact, put forward the idea of creating a confederative state before the assembled. This step alone was enough to consolidate the idea of it as a champion of integration in the public consciousness. And it was completely unimportant that then the proposals of the Kazakh president were rejected.
It could not be otherwise, and someone who, and such a sophisticated politician as N. Nazarbayev clearly understood this. Only three years, as national elites became sovereign masters in their republics, all lucrative places have not yet been divided, relations between clans and groups have not yet been settled. Why, it was not yet clear whether those who had come to power in the now sovereign republics would be able to preserve this power. And N. Nazarbayev actually offered them, albeit in a mild form, to once again hang around the neck of the yoke of the Center and voluntarily agree to limit the privileges and liberties that had expired from the newly-acquired independence. What was the likelihood of making such a proposal?
Absolutely zero, and Nursultan Abishevich understood this perfectly well, since he had never been noticed in political idealism.
The society shocked by the collapse of the country until the last believed that it was not for long, and N. Nazarbayev with his statements gave him hope. Moreover, these gifts were treated to him completely free of charge, and he received a significant gain in the rating in the post-Soviet space.
And not so much on this very post-Soviet space, as inside their own country. According to the 1989 census of the year, the population of the Kazakh SSR was 17 million, of which Kazakhs were 6,5 million, and, speaking with “unification initiatives”, N. Nazarbayev simply had to take into account the number of “non-title” for which, unlike the Kazakh political elites, the collapse of a great country carried no financial, economic or political benefits.
But when the situation changed, when by the mid-2000s, with the same population, the Kazakhs had already reached about 11 million - although these findings of local statisticians dispute, but the main trend is precisely this: “Nazi Nabarbayev’s“ integration aspirations ” acquire an entirely different character. A vivid example is the story of the notorious Union of Turkic-speaking states.
“We live in the homeland of the entire Turkic people,” he said two years ago during a visit to Ankara. “After the last Kazakh Khan was killed in 1861, we were a colony of the Russian kingdom, then the Soviet Union.” Over 150 years, the Kazakhs almost lost their national traditions, customs, language, religion. With the help of the Almighty, we in 1991 declared our independence. Your ancestors, leaving the historic homeland, from the Turkic Kaganate, took with them the name of the Turkic people. Until now, the Turks called the best horsemen - "Cossack". Here we are these Kazakhs. ” He added: “The time will come when all the Turks will unite. Therefore, I want to greet all Turkic brothers. Between Altai and the Mediterranean Sea live over 200 millions of brothers. If we all unite, we will be a very effective force in the world. ”
The plan of this union of all Turks was widely seen: the creation of a common information space, an increase in the number of transport corridors between countries and the expansion of transport infrastructure. The same N. Nazarbayev proposed to create the executive bodies of the union, in his words, “a real organizational component” that would allow Turkic integration to have “all the necessary signs of a political regional association, legal status and certain organizational structures”. His proposals were heard, the Council of Heads of Turkic-speaking states, the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Council of Elders and the Committee of Senior Officials appeared. The coordination of economic cooperation is managed by the Turkic Business Council, and the cultural one by the Foundation for the Preservation of Turkic Culture in Baku.
And again, initially it was clear that no serious unification of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan would occur.
But N. Nazarbayev again scored points with a single statement, this time among Pan-Turkists who seriously believed that Astana could use Pan-Turkism as an opportunity to claim regional leadership.
However, this time the Kazakh president played “on the verge of a foul”: if the prospects of the union itself were very doubtful, then as a catalyst for the growth of nationalist sentiments directly in Russia, this idea could easily work. Today, in the post-Soviet space, the Pan-Turkic project has remained only in the form of periodically arranged summits of the heads of the Turkic states, where everything, in general, boils down to geopolitical manilovism. But in itself, Pan-Turkism remains an idea uniting a part of anti-Russian forces both inside our country and in the post-Soviet space. It is very early to put a point on this issue, and therefore the threats from the followers of Pan-Turkism are far from exhausted.
This is the flip side of the multi-vector approach that Astana professes. Its peak fell on the same 2012 year, when at an extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Kazakh delegation supported the suspension of Syria’s membership in this organization - which, by the way, was opposed by Iran and Algeria at this conference.
All the “integration initiatives” that N. Nazarbayev has spoken with over the past twenty years or so are turned out to be just declarations. Integration - it after all assumes a choice of the side, but just this the president and political elites of the republic are trying to avoid with all their might.
This is the essence of Astana’s multi-vector approach - to create a system in which a larger player “will not touch” because other, equally serious members of the geopolitical party will not allow it.
The final document, signed at the end of May at a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, means the emergence of the largest economic union in the world after the European Union - the EAEU, spread over a vast territory with a population of 170 million people. Why, then, many have the feeling of a certain understatement and "unfinishedness" from this event?
Several hundred pages of this document were created for almost three years. The same time there was a struggle between the two ideologies of this integration association. Representatives of the same point of view persistently ensured that the new education from the very beginning was of the most profound character, right down to the general guarding of the borders and the unified armed forces. The expression of the second point of view was, first of all, the political elites of Kazakhstan, who insisted that the EAEU is an exclusively economic project.
This second point of view and won before signing the final document 29 May. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Samat Ordabayev noted with some pride: “We left the politicization of the Treaty, and therefore the Union, the whole backbone is purely economic interaction. Due to the consistent position of Kazakhstan, such issues as general citizenship, foreign policy, inter-parliamentary cooperation, the passport and visa sphere, general border security, export controls, and so on were excluded from the Treaty. ”
The main integration negotiator from Russia, Igor Shuvalov, tried with all his might to convince the Kazakh side that "the modern world has already worked out a good scheme of preserving state independence and sovereignty in parallel with participation in economic integration associations." He said that the Russian side had to “spend a lot of time convincing Kazakhstan’s partners that the solutions offered by us do not hide an attempt on their sovereignty”. But it was not possible to change the position of Astana.
The uncompromising principledness of Kazakhstan had a completely understandable explanation - Astana can dictate, since other significant players will not allow it to put pressure on it, this is Washington and Beijing.
With the United States, N. Nazarbayev has built his party much more carefully than integration initiatives.
In August 2005 of the year, as part of his visit to the United States, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, introduced the then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, with a program of full-scale social and political reforms announced by the President of Kazakhstan. And at the same time, Washington made an unprecedented statement: this program, in the opinion of the American side, "represents the optimal development model for other states of the Central Asian region." N. Nazarbayev achieved the main thing: his claims for regional leadership, for a special role in the region, were recognized by the USA itself.
Further, Washington had only to develop success, to consolidate its presence in Kazakhstan, which it does today. In 2012, American companies invested over 37 billion dollars in Kazakhstan, that is, 16,4 percent of the total foreign investment in the country.
Transnational ExxonMobil, the world's largest privately-owned oil company, whose main shareholders are from the US and Qatar, owns in Kazakhstan 7,5 percent of shares of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, 16,81 percent of the Kashagan oil field and a quarter of the Tengiz oil field. American Chevron follows after her: 15 percent of the shares of the same consortium, half of the Tengiz field and 20 percent of the Karachaganak field. And the last in the top three is again the American ConocoPhillips, which has a 8,4 percentage of the Kashagan deposit. Now - for "balance." During his visit to Astana, the head of the PRC, Xi Jinping, in September last year, an agreement was signed, according to which, in exchange for five billion dollars, the state-owned China National Oil and Gas Corporation acquired a substantial share of the same Kashagan, and another thirty billion would be Beijing’s investments in Kazakhstan’s economy.
The picture of Astana’s external debt is no less significant: its largest creditors are the Netherlands - more than 32 billion dollars, the United Kingdom - about 21,1 billion, China - 14,6 billion, USA - 14,3 billion, France - 7,8 billion. Russia has 3,5 billion Kazakhstani debt, less than 5 percent.
After that, it should not be surprising that Astana is very responsive to requests from external partners. For years, the United States has been “friendly” advising Astana, firstly, not to participate in any energy projects involving the laying of pipelines through Iranian territory. And, secondly, it is recommended to limit Iran’s participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to “keep” Tehran on the threshold of this and other regional institutions in an unspecified status of “observer”, along with Afghanistan and Mongolia. What actually Astana does ...
It remains only to admire this art of balancing on the rope between Moscow avenues, Beijing skyscrapers and the labyrinths of Washington.
To admire - and clearly understand that due to a number of reasons of an objective and subjective nature, Astana in the current integration party plays only for itself. Well, and a little - “for that guy,” but not for Russia. Having signed the agreement on the EAEU, N. Nazarbayev, with the full support of local elites, intends to continue to make every effort so that the integration processes do not go too far, do not cross the framework of economic partnership.
Even a seemingly quite obvious thing, the military-technical cooperation of our countries causes fierce resistance. This was vividly demonstrated by the April debate in the Senate of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the adoption of the draft law “On ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Government of the Russian Federation on the development and implementation of joint work programs in the field of military-technical cooperation in the interests of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation”. There is no need for comments, just quotes.
Senator Orynbai Rakhmanberdiev: “The conversation is about exemption from conducting procedures, competitions and so on. How will these contracts be carried out without tenders? Our Armed Forces are equipped not only with Russian equipment, we also have Turkish equipment, and other states supply us. Are we giving a reason for corruption? ”
Senator Gani Kasimov: “What is there in Russia? All 40-year-old, 50-year-old technologies. They are all that they can, this “Lada” gives us in civil proceedings. Now militarily bring the same technology. ”
And finally, the key, Senator Mukhtar Altynbayev: "All the same, Russia must be taken from, therefore they somewhat ease the fate here, so that all this would be cheaper".
The situation is similar with regard to the further integration vector. In terms of its parameters, the EEU does not reach the new world “pole” or “power center”, while remaining a regional association.
It is possible and necessary to overcome this regionality, but for this it is absolutely necessary to determine the foreign policy vector of expanding the influence of the EAEU, the direction of efforts in the search for allies and partners. And here everyone remembers the recent efforts of Kazakhstan to prevent the transformation of the Customs Union into a supranational political association, such as the USSR or the EU, which is why Nursultan Nazarbayev opposed the accession of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the Customs Union, but did not agree with the entry of Armenia there, but advocated Adoption of the NATO member of Turkey to the CU.
The notorious multi-vector approach, which turns into emasculation of the idea of post-Soviet integration in the direction advantageous for external players, is a dangerous virus with which Astana may well infect other EAEU partners. Perhaps, one should not panic about this. But you need to be protected from this virus.
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