On 1 December, Kazakhstan marked the Day of the First President.
The holiday was established as recognition for the work by the country’s first President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The date was chosen for a reason. It was on this day when in 1991 Kazakhstan held the first national presidential elections.
In many countries of the world, the first leaders and founding fathers play a crucial role in the development of a country, in uniting a nation and positioning it on the international arena as a responsible member of the global community. The United States, for example, has been celebrating George Washington’s birthday – which is now called Presidents’ Day – as an official holiday since 1885.
The Day of the First President was instituted by Kazakh senators through the amendments to the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On holidays in the Republic of Kazakhstan” adopted on December 14, 2011 and has been celebrated ever since.
Election of Nazarbayev to the post of the President of Kazakhstan determined the sustainable development of the country for the period to come. His well-balanced political course consolidated the Kazakh society and turned its focus toward implementation of Kazakhstan’s own model of development.
Under Nursultan Nazarbayev’s leadership, Kazakhstan built a market economy. Government was created, and the then Soviet Supreme Council was transformed into a modern bicameral parliament.
He remains popular among Kazakh citizens. His supporters say he preserved inter-ethnic accord and stability during the reform in the 1990s, and is widely credited for the country’s impressive economic growth.
Kazakhstan has become the first state among the CIS and Central Asian countries to be chosen by the global community to host the international exhibition – EXPO 2017. Earlier, in 2010, Astana led the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the largest regional structure that brings together 56 countries.
Another landmark step taken by the first President of the Republic was the transfer of the capital from Almaty to Astana. In a few years, it has become a financial, business, innovative and cultural centre of the Eurasian region.
The population of the country now exceeds 18 million people, with life expectancy reaching 72.5 years. Over the past 20 years, Kazakhstan has raised $300 billion of direct foreign investment. It now ranks 28th among 190 countries in the World Bank Doing Business index.
Kazakhstan had developed itself not only economically, but also in international arena. Its peacekeeping initiatives, including the Astana Process on Syria settlement, received international recognition.
It bears to remind that before Kazakhstan attained independence, Nursultan Nazarbayev demonstrated to the nation and the entire world his boldness and commitment by shutting down the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site on August 29, 1991.
This approach and the friendships forged at the highest level have helped Kazakhstan, for example, to be elected to the UN Security Council, a major step not just for Astana but also the entire region. It is to Kazakhstan’s huge advantage that the country has such good relations with all the major powers as well as nations of all sizes and every stage of development.
On the basis of wise “multi-vector” foreign policy, Kazakhstan nurtured close ties with Russia, China, United States, European Union countries and the Islamic world. At the same time, it has avoided over-dependence on any one power, and has tried to diversify its relations.
Kazakhstan enjoys close ties with the EU countries, which are based on economic diplomacy. European Union is Kazakhstan’s major trading partner, and is the top destination of its exports.
EU accounted for almost 50% of the Foreign Direct Investment in Kazakhstan. The Netherlands is the biggest investor in Kazakhstan among EU countries, followed by the UK and France.
President Nazarbayev continues to set the direction and to challenge Kazakhstan to build on the progress it has made. He remains determined to achieve the goal of joining the top 30 developed countries.