The 16th of December marks a landmark day in the history of Kazakhstan – the Independence Day. The day saw the adoption of the historic document by the Supreme Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan – the Constitutional Law No. 1008-XII “On State Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan”.
“The Supreme Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan, reiterating the will of the people of Kazakhstan, recognizing the priority of the rights and freedoms of an individual embodied in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, other common norms of international law, affirming the right of the Kazakh people to self-determination, given the commitment to create a civil society and law-based State through its peaceful foreign policy and by stating its commitment to the principle of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament process solemnly proclaims the State independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” reads the Constitutional Law.
Adoption of the 24 April 1990 Law establishing the post of the President of the Kazakh SSR and amendments to the Kazakh SSR Constitution kick started the attainment of state independence by Kazakhstan. Introduction of the institution of presidency became the first serous step of the former union republic towards its sovereignty.
On the same day Nursultan Nazarbayev, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Kazakh SSR Communist Party at the time, was elected to the post of the Kazakh SSR President by the Supreme Council.
In his congratulatory speech to Kazakhstanis on the Independence Day back in 2020 First President of Kazakhstan – Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev said:
“The groundwork of new statehood laid has become a basis for building a strong, independent and prosperous Kazakhstan. I take pride in having a great honor to revive and form the country. Over these years, Kazakhstan has traveled a challenging path that takes centuries for other countries. The support of the country’s people made it possible, without which Kazakhstan could not turn into what it is today. I address the words of sincere gratitude to all of you. We have trod the thorny path thanks to which we live in a prosperous country where peace, stability, and unity are of paramount importance”.
Kazakhstan adopted the Constitutional law “On the State symbols of the Republic of Kazakhstan” on 4 June 1992. Every year on the 4th of June the state symbols are celebrated as the symbols of independence which went down in history as the Day of the State Symbols.
Kazakhstan’s state symbols – the flag, coat of arms and anthem - are the attributes of independence. In 2006, the new state anthem was adopted at the initiative of the First President.
As a young country, Kazakhstan began focusing on establishing sustainable ties with authoritative international organizations as part of its foreign policy. The country’s integration into the international community as a full member started with the accession to the United Nations on 31 December 1991. Kazakhstan became a full member of the UN at its 46th General Assembly on 2 March 1992 which demonstrated global recognition of the country’s independence. A new sovereign state – Kazakhstan – which is the 168th UN member, appeared on the world’s map.
15 April 1992 saw the appointment of Akmaral Arystanbekova as the first Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the UN. The prominent Kazakh diplomat became the first female ambassador in the history of Kazakhstan. According to the decree signed on 5 June 1992 the Permanent Representative Office of Kazakhstan to the UN was established. Nursultan Nazarbayev first addressed the UN on 5 October 1992.
His address highlighted the crucial importance of preventive diplomacy to avoid conflicts, need for the concrete criteria for the right of self-determination without violating the state integrity of a country.
Kazakhstan introduced its national currency in accordance with the decree as of 12 November 1993 No.1399.
Starting at 8:00am on 18 November 1993 the tenge became the only legal means of payment in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
In 1995 the Kazakhstani society didn’t realize the importance of integration processes in the post-Soviet space. In early 1995 the agreement between Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus to form the Customs Union was signed thanks to the persistence and perseverance of Nursultan Nazarbayev.
1995 saw two important steps toward strengthening of Kazakhstan’s statehood: creation of a bicameral Parliament and adoption of a new Constitution.
In line with the presidential decree as of 1 March 1995 the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan under the Head of State was set up as a consultative and advisory body to strengthen public stability and inter-ethnic accord.
On 30 August 1995 the new Constitution of Kazakhstan was adopted by popular referendum. According to article 1 of the Constitution, the Republic of Kazakhstan is a democratic, secular and social state the highest values of which are an individual, his or her life, rights and freedoms.
“Today, the Basic Law – our Constitution is a foundation of a successful journey Kazakhstan has embarked on in the 21st century. The Constitution is a creation of the unified will of the people. Thanks to it we have confidently passed the historic milestones. For the first time a stable, robust, prosperous state has developed on the ancient Kazakh land. The strength of our unity is genuine wealth of all generations of our people,” said Nursultan Nazarbayev during the Military Parade on the Constitution Day on 30 August 2011.
Article 2 of the 1995 Constitution developed based on the Constitution of the French Fifth Republic recognizes the presidential form of government. In 1998 and 2007 the Constitution saw significant amendments redistributing the powers of the President and Parliament, therefore, making Kazakhstan a presidential parliamentary republic.
The presidential decree on parliamentary elections was signed on 3 October 1995. Elections to the Senate of Parliament took place on 5 December and to the Majilis on 9 December. As a result, 67 Majilis deputies and 40 Senate deputies were elected.
Today, the Kazakh Parliament focusing on the fundamental principles of democracy successfully performs its role as the legislative branch of government.
On 10 December 1997 Akmola city was officially proclaimed the capital city of Kazakhstan as decreed by then President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Today’s Kazakh capital – Nur-Sultan city – is a major regional political, economic, cultural and educational center.
In 1999, Astana was globally recognized. The new capital of independent Kazakhstan won “City for Peace” prize awarded by the UNESCO.
Kazakhstan is one of few countries to take measures to repatriate its fellow nationals.
As soon as Kazakhstan gained its independence it called ethnic Kazakhs to return to their historical Motherland. Over a million of compatriots, mainly from China, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan returned home. This initiative of First President of Kazakhstan -Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev became a factor for consolidation of the Kazakh nation. This policy is embodied in a number of legislative acts, in particular, in the 2009-2011 Nurly kosh program, initiated by the Elbasy. There is an Otandastar Foundation in Kazakhstan. Over the years of independence authorities worked on facilitating repatriation and citizenship procedures. Besides, Kazakhstan takes measures for rational resettlement of repatriates countrywide providing them with housing and jobs.
Kazakhstan’s OSCE Chairmanship in 2010 became a milestone in the country’s history.
For the first time ever, the post-Soviet country assumed the OSCE chairmanship. Kazakhstan was the first CIS country and the first Central Asian country, the first among Muslim and Turkic-speaking countries, for the first time ever in the Eurasian space to chair the OSCE.
For the first time in 11 years after the high-level meeting held in 1999 in Istanbul and for the first time in the XXI century the OSCE Summit took place on 1-2 December 2010 in Astana during Kazakhstan’s OSCE chairmanship. It brought together OSCE Heads of State and Government. Political figures from 56 countries, 600 representatives of international organizations took part in the Summit. 1,500 journalists covered the event.
Addressing the Summit on December 1 First President of Kazakhstan -Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev noted that initially the Helsinki process was developed on the basis of a conception of a pan-European home from the Atlantic to the Urals. The third development stage of the Helsinki process started with Kazakhstan’s chairmanship.
Following the summit, the Astana Declaration was adopted reconfirming the Organization's commitments, principles and values embodied in the Helsinki Act and Paris Charter for a New Europe, and other documents of the Organization. Besides, OSCE member states committed to continue work in all three OSCE dimensions, step up efforts to settle conflicts, defend human rights, and introduce new approaches to solve new security challenges.
First President of Kazakhstan – Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev was the initiator of the First Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions held on 23-24 September 2003 in the Kazakh capital. The Congress’s goals are the search for universal guidelines in the world and traditional religions, ensure functioning of a permanent international inter-faith institution to establish a dialogue between the regions and take agreed solutions.
Six Congresses of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions held in Astana in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015, and 2018 saw the participation of heads and representatives of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Shinto, Daoism, and other traditional religions. The Congress’ dialogue platforms saw the informative and constructive talks on a spiritual rapprochement of religious communities following which the joint final documents – declarations and addresses to people, nations, and government were adopted.
Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev first suggested the initiative to set up the Eurasian Economic Union at the Moscow State University in March 1994.
Addressing those gathered Nursultan Nazarbayev stressed the need to embark on a brand-new level of cooperation between the CIS member states. In early 1995 Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus signed an agreement on creating the Customs Union. The Eurasian idea of Nursultan Nazarbayev was given a new powerful impetus in 2007 when Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia signed an agreement on building the common customs territory. Following the talks, the countries approved over 40 international treaties which laid the foundation for the Customs Union.
In 2010 Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia proceeded to creating the Common Economic Space. It was a new and deeper integration stage which led to forming the common market. All this let the three countries to move further to building the Eurasian Economic Union.
On 29 May 2014 in Astana the Presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia signed the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union which entered into force on 1 January 2015.
On 28 June 2016 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly elected Kazakhstan for the first time as the nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018. Kazakhstan was the first among Central Asian nations to be elected as the nonpermanent member and chair of the UN Security Council. The UN Security Council prides itself on its key mission - ensuring peace on the planet.
On 1 January 2017 First President of Kazakhstan -Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev published the Political Address to the UN Security Council “Kazakhstan's Concept Vision on Sustaining Global Partnership for Secure, Just and Prosperous World”.
Besides, in January 2018 Kazakhstan chaired the UN Security Council. The Council chairmanship is of high international status as the UN Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. About 30 meetings, consultations, briefings and debates were held during Kazakhstan’s chairmanship. Resolutions and press statements for the Council chair were adopted following them.
Thanks to Kazakhstan’s chairmanship non-proliferation of nuclear weapons became one of the key themes of the UN Security Council discussions in January 2018.
Addressing the UN Security Council session on 19 January 2018 Nursultan Nazarbayev noted that many conflicts can be prevented and efficiently settled only provided that mutual understanding and mutual trust between the world nuclear powers.
“The world community is a common body strong in its diversity that may survive and develop given balance and harmony between nations and peoples living on the Planet. This is precisely why we should jointly achieve a more secure world and fairer world order based on the supremacy of international law,” he added.
“I am confident that the humanity is able to decently pass the way to a world free of threat of weapons of mass destruction. I believe that trust, will and understanding of the world community multiplied by energy of collective efforts will prevent the Planet from a leap into the global disaster gap,” Elbasy noted.
Astana held the EXPO 2017 between June 10 and September 10, 2017. More than 4 million people visited the international exhibition.
At the closing ceremony Nursultan Nazarbayev highlighted that the exhibition became a phenomenon to define further innovation development of Kazakhstan.
“Successful holding of the EXPO 2017 is the result of synergy of Astana and entire Kazakhstan. It had positive multiplicative effect and had impetus to further economic development of Kazakhstan. Over 1,400 small and medium businesses provided goods and service worth KZT 640 billion. Tens of thousands of people received jobs and decent wages. Tourist centers of Kazakhstan livened up. Demand for the country’s tour operators almost doubled. The number of businesses in Astana grew almost by 200%,” Elbasy said.
As Elbasy noted, thanks to the exhibition Astana won in the City of the Future nomination by the National Geographic and Kazakhstan was included to the list of countries worth visiting by the New York Times.
Nursultan Nazarbayev believes the exhibition gave an impetus to the cultural development of the capital city as well as the whole country. For the first time Astana became a center of attraction not only for official delegations and business.
On 19 March 2019 First President of Kazakhstan – Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev announced his resignation as the President. In line with the Article 27 of the Constitutional Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On presidency of the Republic of Kazakhstan” Senate Speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev succeeded to the presidency to serve the remainder of the term. Next day Tokayev was sworn in at the joint session of the two chambers of the Kazakh Parliament.
On 9 June 2019 Kazakhstan held a snap presidential election with Kassym-Jomart Tokayev scoring 70.96% of the votes and surpassing six other candidates for the presidency.
As part of his first state-of-the-nation address to the people of Kazakhstan titled “Constructive public dialogue - the basis of stability and prosperity of Kazakhstan” delivered on 2 September 2019 Kassym-Jomart Tokayev set the goal to implement the concept of the ‘Hearing State’ to operatively and effectively respond to all constructive requests of the citizens.
6 September 2019 saw the first meeting of the National Council of Public Trust created at the initiative of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, during which he put forward a proposal to work on the initiatives voiced in his address to the people of Kazakhstan within the working groups of the Council. As a result, 67 proposals were made and submitted to the Presidential Administration.