On Friday (3 June), Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev gave the shortest speech of his profession – solely three minutes, expressing the ambition “to make New Kazakhstan a actuality” wherein social justice can be the principal worth.
On the identical day in Nur-Sultan, EURACTIV gathered the views of politicians, parliamentarians, diplomats and residents forward of the constitutional referendum.
When Tokayev introduced the nationwide referendum on his proposed amendments to the county’s structure a month in the past, he warned towards what he described as “provocateurs who’re attempting to undermine the unity within the nation”.
Tokayev’s transfer was seen within the context of the reforms he proposed after the January unrest, which revealed that the Central Asian nation was extra fragile, socially and politically, than typically thought.
The 56 amendments embody limiting presidential powers, giving extra energy to the Parliament and making it extra consultant by changing the proportional system of elections with a blended majoritarian-proportional one. It additionally features a vital decentralisation of energy with extra competences given to regional and native authorities.
“The Constitutional referendum shouldn’t be a direct response to the January occasions. Reforms have been ongoing already. However “some folks, sure forces, sure teams didn’t like these reforms”, Secretary of State of Kazakhstan Erlan Karin defined on Friday, chatting with a bunch of visiting international journalists.
Karin, who occupies the fifth most vital publish within the nation, capabilities because the president’s consultant coping with home coverage and interplay with civil society.
He didn’t title the folks and forces who fought towards Tokayev’s reforms however stated they have been those that profited from the monopolistic place in politics and economics which they loved underneath the previous president Nursultan Nazarbayev.
In his phrases, the January occasions have been an try by these forces to finish the reforms “by utilizing the reforms towards us”. He gave the instance of the political conferences which Tokayev authorised however have been utilized by these forces, as he stated, to impress mass disturbances.
One of many narratives of these against reforms, as Karin defined, was that underneath Tokayev, there have been too many political conferences which led to destabilisation.
“For this reason we took, after the January occasions, essentially the most right choice: to not cease the reforms, however to speed up them”, he stated. Nonetheless, he insisted that the referendum was not a direct reply to the January occasions, though he admitted that these occasions enormously influenced Tokayev’s choice to vary the structure.
A take a look at of confidence
Diplomats see the constitutional referendum as a take a look at of the arrogance of Kazakhs of their new president. For the referendum to achieve success, it needs to be handed by a majority of fifty% +1 of all registered voters, and that a minimum of two thirds (12) of nation’s 17 areas would help the constitutional adjustments.
The poll provides the selection to the voter to point in the event that they help or don’t help the constitutional adjustments of their totality. There isn’t any possibility for supporting sure adjustments and rejecting others.
Kazakhs informed EURACTIV that there had been vigorous discussions on social media concerning the referendum, some residents questioning the timing, contemplating that consultations and discussions may have lasted longer.
One of many constitutional adjustments bans the dying penalty. Reportedly, this was one of many matters that prompted many discussions on social media, with some folks sustaining that capital punishment needs to be enforced for sure crimes.
The referendum might be happening within the midst of a difficult geopolitical scenario, one which has developed drastically because the January unrest.
In his speech on Friday, Tokayev stated that “within the face of unprecedented geostrategic uncertainty and the necessity to handle the advanced challenges going through our nation”, Kazakhs should be robust of their unity and solidarity.
Aigul Kuspan, Chairwoman of the Committee on International Affairs, Protection and Safety of Mazhilis of Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, provided feedback on the geopolitical scenario of Kazakhstan and the battle in Ukraine.
Kuspan, beforehand Kazakhstan’s ambassador to the EU, stated that Kazakhs felt the battle between “fraternal Slav peoples” in Ukraine “as their very own tragedy”. She added that Kazakhstan has large Russian and Ukrainian diasporas and that the relations between these international locations and Kazakhstan has historically been excellent.
In her evaluation of the battle, Kuspan appeared to endorse the Russian narrative, saying that “hazard for peace is radical nationalism” and that “nationalism and Nazism can seem in any nation”.
Russia accuses Kyiv of harbouring harmful Nazis and has stated one of many targets of its “navy operation” is to de-Nazify Ukraine.
Kuspan talked about large issues in Kazakhstan that the Western sanctions towards Russia may not directly harm the nation. Some eighty per cent of Kazakhstan’s oil commerce transits by way of Russia, and logistics are sophisticated for the landlocked nation, she stated.
A challenge to export oil West whereas circumventing Russia would take time to construct, and the price can be to the tune of $3-4 billion, she stated. Additionally, she talked about the difficulties of a pipeline challenge underneath the Caspian Sea, primarily attributable to ecological concerns.
Kazakhstan’s crude oil exports have been reported at 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2020. As compared, the EU imported 2.2 million bpd of crude from Russia in 2021.
She insisted that Kazakhstan would keep impartial within the Ukraine battle whereas calling for stopping the violence and for dialogue, together with by inviting Moscow and Kyiv to make use of Kazakhstan as a platform for talks.
Some 100,000 Russians have come to Kazakhstan because the starting of the battle, including that the determine was not official. Reportedly, amongst them are individuals who need to proceed to do enterprise regardless of the sanctions. Kuspan stated that Kazakhstan was very business-friendly to buyers and that opening an organization was easy.
In Nur-Sultan, there are not any seen indicators of supporters of both facet within the battle in Ukraine. Reportedly, there’s a ban on each the show of Ukrainian flags and the pro-Russian “Z” signal.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]