Economic and political sanctions have become the ‘new normal’ disrupting food security supply chains and endangering millions of people, especially vulnerable communities, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said during the general debate of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly . “These difficulties only exacerbate the current challenges associated with rising inflation, job losses and fear of a recession in the global economy, for developing countries in particular,” Tokayev said.
“My country, being the seventh largest grain producer in the world, is the breadbasket of Central Asia. We are committed to harnessing this agricultural potential to fight global food insecurity. Kazakhstan will continue to act as a reliable supplier of grain and other socially significant food products, primarily to the poorest countries. We also intend to strengthen cooperation with the Islamic Food Security Organization based in Kazakhstan, as well as with UN agencies. In this regard, it is extremely important to remove food and fertilizers from all kinds of sanctions and restrictions,” the President of Kazakhstan said.
The UN is called upon to predict and prevent global challenges
Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev believes that the crises of recent years were the result of gaps in global governance. They demonstrate the need to modernize and reform the UN, which “must be ready for the challenges ahead and the opportunities that arise,” Tokayev said. He recalled that 77 years ago, the founding states of the UN laid down in the Charter of the organization the principles and norms of international law that have not lost their relevance today. The President of Kazakhstan highly appreciated the proposals of the UN Secretary General, presented in the report “Our Common Agenda”. According to Tokayev, these proposals create the basis for reaffirming the provisions of the UN Charter, giving new impetus to multilateral cooperation, developing and agreeing on collective responses to new challenges, and restoring trust between states.
Tokayev announced the need to move from simply responding to global challenges and crises to preventing them and predicting emerging trends.
“It was for this purpose that 30 years ago Kazakhstan proposed to create a Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). In the context of new challenges and threats, we hope for the transformation of the CICA into a full-fledged international organization at the upcoming summit in Astana in October in order to promote mediation and peacemaking,” – noted President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. He called for an honest dialogue between East and West and the development of a new global security paradigm based on the principles of mutual trust. Tokayev assured that his country would continue to fight for a world without nuclear weapons, especially since Kazakhstan had “significantly suffered” from their tests in the past.
“The system of values, strengthened within the framework of the UN, remains a ray of hope for millions of people in various parts of our planet. We must resolutely stand up for these values, putting the United Nations at the forefront, as well as the spirit of cooperation that underlies them. In other words, we cannot shrug our shoulders and accept polarization and disunity. We cannot afford indecisiveness or narrowness of interests that could undermine our common heritage and our common good. Too much is at stake,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is convinced.
“Triple Planetary Crisis”
The President of Kazakhstan considers climate change, loss of biological diversity, environmental pollution (he called these factors the “triple planetary crisis”), as well as hotbeds of conflict, to be the main challenges for modern humanity.
“Our key priority must be to build resilience in the face of possible instability and ensure a balanced, equal and inclusive recovery,” Tokayev said from the UN podium. “The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown the need for urgent action to reduce biological risks and threats. We should all be concerned about the fact that we are still following the provisions of the Biological Weapons Convention, which is now 50 years old, without making any effort to create an institution or body for international cooperation. In this regard, I would like to recall my earlier initiative to establish an International Biosafety Agency.”
Tokayev recalled that his country has committed to a complete transformation of the oil and gas dependent energy sector by 2060. However, “to save our planet, investments are needed in unprecedented volumes.”
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev drew attention to the importance of the global transit and transport infrastructure and noted the growing role of Kazakhstan as a land corridor from Asia to Europe. “The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route or the “Middle Corridor” has been given a new impetus. In the coming years, we expect a significant increase in cargo traffic through Kazakhstan. We need to secure the position of the Caspian Sea as a sea of peace and new opportunities. In the coming months, Kazakhstan will help mitigate the immediate impact of limited access to energy and critical raw materials resulting from disruptions in trade and supply chains,” the President of Kazakhstan said.
He noted that Central Asia is a buffer market between East and West, South and North. “We intend to continue working together with all interested parties to address issues of the current regional agenda, which include the problems of climate change, the Aral Sea, the rational use of water resources, delimitation of borders, the fight against extremism and the expansion of intraregional trade,” the president assured. “Therefore, we consider it important to open the UN Regional Center for Sustainable Development Goals in Central Asia and Afghanistan in the city of Almaty.”
As for Afghanistan itself, Tokayev wants this country to become a truly independent, neutral, united and prosperous state in the future, developing peaceful relations with neighboring countries. Therefore, Kazakhstan supports the process of formation of the Afghan statehood in this country and provides it with “vital humanitarian assistance.”
“Justice must prevail in my country”
Speaking at the debates of the UN General Assembly, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev spoke about political and economic reforms in Kazakhstan. “Justice must prevail in my country,” Tokayev said. “Law and order will be the foundation of our society.”
The head of state announced that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held in Kazakhstan in the coming months, as well as his initiative to limit presidential powers to one seven-year term, which, according to the president, would be “a real breakthrough in the development of democracy in Kazakhstan.” At the same time, the republic will adhere to the formula “a strong president – an influential parliament – an accountable government”, which is in line with the national interests.
Another ambitious goal is the demonopolization of the economy. “We are taking steps to involve the wealthiest part of our society in building a Just Kazakhstan, as well as diversifying the economy and increasing investment in human capital,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said. – I recently initiated the use of funds from the National Fund for Children. From 2024, 50% of the investment income of the National Wealth Fund will be allocated to special savings accounts for children until they reach the age of majority. These funds can be used for educational purposes or for the purchase of housing.
A special private charitable foundation “People of Kazakhstan” also provides assistance to citizens in matters of health, education and social security.
The past three years in Kazakhstan were marked by large-scale political reforms. The procedure for registration of political parties has been simplified, the threshold for their passage to parliament has been reduced from 7% to 5%. In order to increase the participation of citizens in government, a 30 percent quota for women and youth in party electoral lists has been approved. Direct elections of heads of local administrations have been introduced, changes have been made to the law on peaceful assemblies, which now do not require the consent of the authorities. Kazakhstan has abolished the death penalty.
“A fair Kazakhstan is built on our multinational and multi-confessional solidarity. We will strictly follow the principle of “unity in diversity,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev assured.
Returning to the world agenda, the President of Kazakhstan recalled that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of a partnership between his state and the UN, which has made a great contribution to the formation and strengthening of Independent Kazakhstan.
“Never before has there been such a need for responsible leadership for the benefit of future generations. The memory of the past requires us to be responsible for our future. Together with you, we will spare no effort to build a more secure, sustainable and prosperous global society,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev concluded.