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. The country needs to come up with a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. 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 geopolitical influence. Other important geopolitical issues are the competition for power between China, Russia and the US, with particular emphasis on the Russian influence on the region, as well as islamism and terrorism.

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?

Even today, Kazakhstan sees Russia as its primary strategic partner in matters of security policy. However, there is a clear willingness to cooperate with the European Union and Germany, in keeping with the concept of the multi-vector policy. 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.

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-Foundation pursues in its work in the country.

Johannes D. Rey heads the KAS office in Kazakhstan.

Last update: September 14th, 2021

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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JAPAN

For Germany, Japan is one of the most important economic and value partners in Asia. In addition to the wish for jointly maintaining and further developing the multilateral order, there is also the desire for closer cooperation in future technologies. Japan and Germany face similar challenges, particularly in regard to the future of industrial production and the demographic development of their societies.

  • 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 next decade 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 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

For decades, Afghanistan was the country with the largest diaspora in the world. In 2015, this position was taken by Syria. Afghanistan looks back on 40 years of fleeing refugees, emigration and expulsion due to civil war, violence and destroyed livelihoods. Since 2001, the country has been one of Germany’s most important security partners in the Middle East. Afghanistan is also a reliable partner in migration policy and has never used migration flows as political leverage.

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

The Expo 2017 world exhibition, a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (2018), the peace talks on Syria: no country in Central Asia is as oriented towards Europe and Germany as Kazakhstan. Nevertheless, much of what has happened recently in Kazakhstan and Central Asia has remained below Germany’s threshold of perception.

  • 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. An early and vigorous response to the coronavirus crisis has so far managed to limit the dangers to health and the economy.

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