PARTNER-ATLAS

KAZAKHSTAN

as a partner for the security and stability of Europe, its neighbourhood, and other regions of the world

01 — The key questions for the Partner-Atlas

RELEVANCE: What relevance does Kazakhstan have for Germany with regards to “the security and stability of Europe, its neighbourhood, and other regions of the world?"

Pursuing a multi-vector policy, the country’s leadership has built close economic and political ties to its big neighbours Russia and China, but also to the US and the European Union as well as to the Arab world, Turkey, South Corea, Iran and others. By now, Kazakhstan has also established diplomatic relations to many countries in Africa and South America. For Kazakhstan, there is no alternative to its multi-vector policy, especially in light of the current war in Ukraine. The policy of neutrality has paid off. Now, the country does not only need to come up with a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but must also strive to become an alternative to Russia in security and economic matters for Europe and Germany. Germany and the European Union need to offer a clear strategy of cooperation to those countries that are wooed by China or that are already part of the initiative, in order to curb the growing Chinese and Russian geopolitical influence.

Kazakhstan has signed an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union, which took effect on 1 March, 2020. The new agreement does not only deal with economic questions, but also extends to cooperation in international security aspects. For Germany and the European Union, therefore, Kazakhstan remains the anchor of stability in security policy matters in Central Asia.

Kazakhstan’s engagement in foreign and security policy is reflected in its numerous memberships in international organisations. The country is a member of the United Nations (UN, elected member of the Security Council in 2017/18), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE, which it chaired in 2010), the World Trade Organisation (WTO, since 2015), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation (ECO), the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Programme (CAREC), the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC, chair in 2011) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

WILLINGNESS: To what extent is Kazakhstan willing to work with Germany in realising this interest?

When there was nationwide unrest in January 2022 that involved a change of elites, Kazakhstan still considered Russia to be its first strategic partner in security policy matters. At the request of the Kazakh government, Russia sent peacekeeping troops to Almaty, based on the CSTO agreement, in order to save the second President from losing power. After the invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia that followed, there has been a shift in Kazakhstan‘s policies towards the West, especially towards the EU and Germany, in order to build stronger economic and political ties. The official position of the Akorda (Presidential administration), however, is still characterised by reserve, given the heavy economic and military dependencies of Kazakhstan from the Russian Federation. Nevertheless, the country sees the current geopolitical crisis also as a window of opportunities and is looking for ways of convincing Western businesses leaving Russia to move to and invest in Kazakhstan, e.g. by building gas pipeline networks outside Russian territory. 

Kazakhstan was the only Central Asian country to have been significantly involved in both the development and implementation of the first EU Central Asia strategy (2007). Kazakhstan also played a leading role in developing the new EU Central Asia strategy, which was adopted by the Council of the European Union on 17 June 2019.

STATUS QUO: How close is Germany and Kazakhstan's current cooperation in this area?

On the one hand, Kazakhstan cooperates with Germany through their joint membership in multilateral organizations, such as the UN and OSCE. For decades, however, there has also been bilateral cooperation, based on issues of mutual concern, such as preventing arms proliferation as well as putting an end to the trafficking of people, arms and drugs. In these efforts, Kazakhstan cooperates with German authorities, especially with the Federal Criminal Police Office and the German Foreign Intelligence Service.

As early as in April 1995, Germany and Kazakhstan signed an agreement, in Almaty, on the fight against organised crime. The resolution sets out the terms of cooperation across the entire range of security policy, from the fight against terrorism and organised crime to cyber defense and counterfeiting. It also provides for the exchange of experts and the sharing of personal data.

POTENTIAL: What is the potential for strengthening the partnership between Germany and Kazakhstan in this area?

Germany recognised Kazakhstan’s independence on 31 December 1991. There have been diplomatic relations between the two countries since 11 February 1992. Since then, cooperation has been continuously intensified, including in security matters. Especially at the bilateral level, progress can be achieved in the fight against terrorism and other types of crime. There is an active debate between the Kazakh foreign ministry and the German ministry of the interior on the issue of ethnic Germans living in Kazakhstan. The decades of cooperation based on mutual trust provide the potential for expanding the discussion of security policy issues both in thematic and organisational terms.

In view of the energy shortage in the EU and in Germany that has been evident since the start of the war in Ukraine, Kazakhstan’s potential in the area of energy security should not be underestimated. Austria, for example, has already replaced 7,8% of its oil imports from Russia by Kazakh oil. It is hard to understand why Germany has not shown more commitment on this issue.

Kazakhstan is currently implementing a programme of political and economic reforms that was proposed by President Tokajew on 16 March 2022. Actions designed to democratise governmental processes, to reduce the powers of the President, to improve the system of parliamentary democracy and to strengthen civil society all reflect the desire of the government to turn more towards the West.

POLICY RECOMMENDATION: What in German foreign policy has to change in order to fully exploit this potential?

There is still room for improvement as far as cooperation between Germany and Kazakhstan on economic and political issues is concerned. There has to be a much clearer recognition of Kazakhstan’s role as a strategic partner. The partnership on raw materials and technology that was concluded in 2012, for example, has basically existed only on paper so far. The political dialogue with Germany and the European Union needs to be strengthened, especially between the parliaments – which is one of the major goals the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung pursues in its work in the country.

Johannes D. Rey heads the KAS office in Kazakhstan.

Last update: 25 May 2022

KAZAKHSTAN

  • Population: appr. 19 million
  • Capital: Nur-Sultan
  • Interest: The Security and Stability of Europe, its Neighbourhood, and other Regions of the World
  • Region: Asia and the Pacific
  • Potential partner countries: Australia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Singapore, South Korea, Philippines, Japan, Uzbekistan

04 — The region

Asia and the Pacific

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TAIWAN

Taiwan hat sich zu einer führenden markwirtschaftlichen Kraft für Wohlstand und Innovationen im Indo-Pazifik entwickelt. Taiwans Halbleiterhersteller, angeführt vom Weltmarktführer Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), verfügen über einen globalen Marktanteil im Bereich der Halbleiterfertigung (foundry market) von 67 Prozent (Jahr 2020) und bleiben auch mittelfristig unersetzlich für die Chip-Versorgung der deutschen Industrie.

  • Population: 23.900.000
  • Capital: Taipeh
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CHINA

Today, climate protection is an integral part of German foreign policy. In this context, Germany considers China’s role in international climate policy to be particularly important. China is both the world’s largest emitter of CO2 and largest consumer of coal. On the other hand, China’s expansion of renewable energies is unrivalled anywhere else in the world.

  • Population: 1.450.233.966
  • Capital: Peking
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JAPAN

For Germany, Japan is one of the most important partners in Asia, in terms of economic relations and common values. In addition to the determination to maintain and enhance the multilateral order together, there is also the desire for closer cooperation in future technologies. Japan and Germany face similar challenges, particularly with regard to the future of manufacturing and the demographic development of their societies.

  • Population: 126.476.461
  • Capital: Tokyo
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UZBEKISTAN

Since the end of 2016, Uzbekistan has been pursuing a course of liberalisation and opening. Comprehensive five-year development strategies are being implemented, including reform plans for security policy and foreign policy. Uzbekistan pursues a multilateral and proactive foreign policy. 

  • Population: 34.437.655
  • Capital: Taschkent
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PAKISTAN

Pakistan ist sowohl Herkunfts- als auch Ziel- und Transitland von Flucht und Migration. In der Region ist Pakistan eines der größten Entsendeländer von Arbeitsmigrantinnen und Arbeitsmigranten. Ihre große Mehrheit (96 Prozent) konzentriert sich auf die Länder des Golfkooperationsrats, darunter vor allem Saudi-Arabien und die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate.

  • Population: 229.545.115
  • Capital: Islamabad
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JAPAN

Japan is one of Germany’s most important partners in values in the Asia-Pacific region. The two countries are closely linked, politically, economically and societally. In addition to their desire to work together to maintain and refine the multilateral, rule-based order, they hope to work even more closely together at a security policy level.

  • Population: 126,476,461
  • Capital: Tokyo
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INDIA

Germany has a vital interest in maintaining and consolidating a world order based on the values of liberal democracy and on the centrality of the United Nations (UN). Given the USA’s global withdrawal, which the coronavirus pandemic has made even more evident, Germany needs to pursue this goal together with other international partners. With the Indo-Pacific Guidelines that were released in September 2020, the Federal Government expressly commits itself to this task in the region that is taking centre stage in the 21st century. India’s importance can hardly be overestimated in this respect: India is already the largest democracy in the world, and within the 2020s, it will replace China as the most populous country. Like Germany, the subcontinent at the Indo-Pacific interface is dependent on a solid security structure, an open trading system, and free navigation in international waters. India is especially severely affected by the consequences of global warming due to its vulnerable ecosystems and is reliant on multilateral approaches to solve this global problem.

  • Population: 1,380,004,385
  • Capital: New Delhi
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AFGHANISTAN

When the Partner Atlas was first developed (2019), Afghanistan was chosen as the fifth country of the region Asia and Pacific. The seizure of power by the Taliban in the summer of 2021, however, makes it currently impossible to think about deepening cooperation with the new government in the area of migration.

The Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation will keep working on Afghanistan within the framework of its regional programme on Southwest Asia. Please visit the website of the Department Asia and Pacific (Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung – Europäische und Internationale Zusammenarbeit (kas.de)) as well as our social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for the latest information and analyses.

  • Population: 38,928,346
  • Capital: Kabul
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KAZAKHSTAN

Pursuing a multi-vector policy, the country’s leadership has built close economic and political ties to its big neighbours Russia and China, but also to the US and the European Union as well as to the Arab world, Turkey, South Corea, Iran and others. By now, Kazakhstan has also established diplomatic relations to many countries in Africa and South America. For Kazakhstan, there is no alternative to its multi-vector policy, especially in light of the current war in Ukraine.

  • Population: appr. 19 million
  • Capital: Nur-Sultan
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VIETNAM

Vietnam is one of the few communist countries. A “socialist-oriented market economy” determines the country’s economic status, the communist party vigorously enforces its claim to total power, and the country is subject to fierce criticism in reports on human rights. At the same time, more than three decades of economic growth and political stability have led to Vietnam establishing itself as an influential player in Southeast Asia. 

  • Population: 95,529,003
  • Capital: Hanoi
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