Topic of discussion — Kazakhstan and Ukraine at the epicenter of the interest of the superpowers. Today we will try to understand what is happening at the regional level from the point of view of geopolitical interests. And how much is an impact on the policies of our countries from outside, if there is such an influence.
I must say that all of the speakers deeply versed in the subject. Taras was in Kazakhstan, Konstantin was born in Kazakhstan and served in Central Asia. The Sultan, of course, representative of the expert community of Kazakhstan. The first question to him.
We have, unfortunately, views of many experts about Kazakhstan are formed based on the books Brezhnev “Virgin lands”, “Low land,” etc., etc
people don’t realize the importance of Kazakhstan from the point of view of regional aspects of the TSA
And most importantly, do not understand that today Kazakhstan is not the same Republic that was used. We are actually trying to change the mentality of the Ukrainian expert community about Kazakhstan.
And the question itself: if you take the regional geopolitical importance of the country in the context of the realities of the last years, interesting Kazakhstan global superpower or not?
In the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan was important, but rather peripheral country, and a large did not matter. The border with China was closed. That is, a land-low country in the classical format, province of the USSR.
To stay in the fight
After the collapse of the Union of Kazakhstan suddenly found himself in the epicenter of global processes. Appeared subjective factor. It turned out that all the interests of all great powers that remained at that time, the United States, China, Russia — in fact, intersect at a single point in Central Asia.
From the very beginning of Kazakhstan’s independence all the great powers are very active there. Moreover, this process involved more of the regional countries, many of which – India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey. Joined the European Union.
That is to say that
since the beginning of the 90s the geopolitical struggle did not stop
Just smoothly flows into new stages. And we are in the midst of this confrontation.
Even if at the global level, States were allies in Central Asia each played a separate party. The so-called “covert” fight was, and is, and is very heavy.
A classic example of 90s — Afghanistan. Where such occurred, we can say, openly. And we knew that if we become the object of geopolitical struggle, it could end very badly.
Therefore, the main task, which stood in this difficult situation — to take a position in between. Hence the multi-vector policy of Kazakhstan.
The idea is that the three great powers and many regional were fighting not for the presence on our territory, and for the attention of our state
But for this it was necessary to keep the subjectivity. It was a very important point.
The Asian way
And by the way, it’s ironic that one of the reasons is that we have such light-hard mode. If we compare, in our region there are more hard examples. Turkmenistan, which nothing at all was to be changed. Until recently, and Uzbekistan.
But we had a clear concept — to be able to interact with all of our counterparties, we must preserve the Central vertical of power, the concentration of political power and economic development.
The concept of modernization in the Asian way — this was the main priority. Very conditional the same way as Singaporean, South Korean and Malaysian development options.
In fact, it’s a difficult path, because all that room to maneuver is shrinking. And we in Kazakhstan is also a lot of people who are unhappy with this situation. Someone says that it is necessary to take explicitly Pro-American position. Someone in favour of a Pro. The only thing for the Chinese nobody called.
If you read our experts over the past 15 years quite often there is a thesis – it’s time to decide, don’t need a multi-vector.
But the state, often contrary to public opinion, continued to follow the path multidirectional. That is trying to strike a balance between all the interested powers.
Constantine, you as people of the same age with the Sultan, can be traced in retrospect 90 years the situation on the part of the importance of Ukraine to world powers?
Ukraine over the last 30 years are constantly balancing between the global West and the Russian Federation. This was particularly noticeable in the times of Leonid Kuchma.
Kuchma went first to Moscow, it promised the maximum. Then went to Washington, received there awards. Then went to Brussels, promised that we are not today, tomorrow will join the EU. Then again went to Moscow and talked about the common economic space.
That is a kind of multi-vector policy, the policy promises. Policy was determined by the fact that we must all be friends, all promise and do nothing. And it persisted for a very long time until 2014. That is, as long as Ukraine was not exclusively under the control of the United States and relied exclusively on them.
Today, Ukraine is not a subject of the state, unfortunately. And not a regional leader, unfortunately. Moreover, it is now in a state of conflict almost with all countries on the perimeter. And in varying degrees of conflict.
With Russia is clear – it is the acute stage. With many countries, such as Poland, Belarus, Hungary, Romania, etc., there are other conflicts that significantly affect our bilateral relations.
Under foreign influence
Moreover, if for example, Kazakhstan today is really the state that actively influence the policies of their neighbours, on the politics of those States with which it comes in all sorts of alliances and unions, Ukraine today does not play an important role in any of the unions that were initiated back in the 90s and the zero years. And does not initiate new enterprises.
Ukraine, by and large, today turned into a huge Puerto Rico, that is, in a state that in its foreign policy is completely dependent on the United States. And not only in foreign policy. This applies to internal issues, and even personnel changes. The US agreed with every major assignment.
Ukraine is losing the state monopoly in favour of foreigners, who increasingly hold important positions in the system to control monopolies
And to say that the situation may soon change, however.
Taras, if you remember, in 2014, we had active discussion. Some people said, you need to move into the Eurasian economic Union. Called the reasons for and economic justification. I personally, as an expert on international Affairs believe that in 2014 we have no integration in the European Union.
We have convergence in the framework of the Association agreement, this is a completely different legal forms of communication with the European community. We are not even candidate members of the European Union, because a candidate member of the EU officially becomes a candidate. According to the Maastricht Treaty. And criteria of the contract have yet to meet — on matters of language, minorities, etc.
this Association agreement was considered and was used by certain forces as part of the European integration
If we analyze our rapprochement with the European Union over the last six years, Taras, your opinion on this issue?
The groom is not the same
I would gave this analogy. Ukraine and Kazakhstan are very similar, only Kazakhstan is for 5-10 years further in development. We like a bride that really wanted a lot of suitors. But when the choice of groom was done, he by and large simply thrown.
We have the Association agreement that works unilaterally. There is agreement in economic terms, but they are not interesting to us. The same quota trading we choose at the very beginning of the year.
Living example: my father engaged in honey and has already stopped the activity. He had several apiaries, and the quota that was honey, been out for almost a week, right after the new year. Then honey go with the usual fare, and it’s not so economically advantageous.
As for Kazakhstan, he also dances a lot of suitors. China, which is the initiative of “One belt and one road”. I know that just in the framework of this program Kazakhstan has huge infrastructure projects. For its part, Russia, too, makes interesting offers. Kazakhstan receives from participation in such unions practical benefit. I know there are problems, but unlike us can to solve them.
Taras, but if you take the pros of the European Union?
Supporters of integration say that we have a visa-free regime. There is a possibility of travel in the EU. We have unlimited access to the European economic assistance. That is, we now have germinate the sprouts of European values. That’s a plus.
The integration of the European
I can immediately refute. Visa – free regime is not the European integration, we are not members of the Schengen area. From Australia, South American countries have exactly the same visa-free privileges with the European Union. All elements of external relations of the EU with other countries no different. So the European Union works not only with Ukraine, but with the same Tunisia, which has signed an Association agreement, I think, in 1997.
But Tunisia was not going to move in the European Union, they generally are in other civilizational aspects. Is it possible to call the pros in parts of the economy, for example?
As I understand the situation, the Europeans will always keep us in a kind of limbo. That is, our economy can not collapse completely. However, the enormous expectations that were not justified now. In the Ukrainian elite already have enough eurosceptic moods.
A few days ago I was talking with the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada “public Servants”. It is the ruling party, and they openly say that we would do well to establish certain protective duties to protect the Ukrainian national manufacturer. They say, Europeans are doing so and what are we worse?
Kazakhstan and the EAEC
Sultan the issue of the Eurasian Economic Union. Nazarbayev was one of the founding members of the Association. But in Ukraine often say that the presence of Kazakhstan in the Eurasian Economic Union with Belarus and other countries – a Pro-Russian vector. How correct is to call it Pro-Russian vector and what are the pros and cons of the location of Kazakhstan in the Eurasian Economic Union?
You rightly said that we actually were the initiators. This idea of President Nazarbayev expressed more in 1994. Of course, not quite correct to say that the creation of a certain analogue of the European Union in our space.
Initially ideas were very many. In ‘ 94 we talked about how not to allow to decay a single economic bloc have. In 2010 he was already a completely different situation. But the main idea — she was a single large market of almost 200 million people. This is really a very big market. This enables us to place on our premises with an eye to the Russian market. Plus we still have the oil that ensures the economic safety cushion.
We hoped to gain advantage at the expense of lower taxes and a more liberal legislation.
In addition, we generally are interested in all projects of economic contact with neighbors was developing rapidly in any format. This is important, because thus we are vulnerable from the point of view of geopolitics the geographical position of the transform in a economic crossroads, such a transit way, cross-road on the continental Eurasia. In the future it is very profitable.
Therefore, in terms of all aspects, given the variety of circumstances, we initiated and supported the whole concept of the Eurasian Economic Union. Something happened, something not.
But there are two important points. First, we did not take into account the factor that the Russian bureaucracy is stronger than our bureaucracy. And we have a bureaucracy not weak, and she just fits the liberal economic situation of the modernization project, which was 25 years. But when our bureaucracy faced with the Russian, our slightly lost. And so we, say, feel some pressure.
The second point, which we did not realize, is that Russia has the opportunity through many tools, including non-tariff barriers to stop the flow of goods from us. Therefore a paradox, but a consequence of the creation of the customs Union became a sharp increase in Russian imports to Kazakhstan.
Please note that when in Russia they say on the Eurasian economic Union, always talking about the growth of trade. But never talk about the import-export balance, because it’s not in our favor. And this situation worsens.
If you go into any store in Kazakhstan, I see there are mostly Russian products. And plus Russia has a strong lobbying power.
The ice was broken?
Russia is financing the export of dates, lobbying for support of its own production on the territory of Kazakhstan, for example, combines, cars, etc.
We face enormous difficulties in accessing certain categories of goods. And it is a question not of the state format, and an associated regional policies. In Russia at every level, the Minister of trade, any area can enter their non-tariff barriers.
We’re in very serious discussions . Many say — let’s put the hard questions. But I think that based on the chosen geopolitical strategy, we must work consistently with the documents of the Union. Sit down and write all the issues identified. This is the only way, no other.
It is very important to identify red flags that we don’t want to go. It is no secret that Russia is the last few years trying to transform the economic into the political. It is from here that the idea of the common Parliament, common currency and so on.
By the way, recently the President Tokayev made quite unexpectedly. With criticism of the Eurasian economic Commission. So I think it is important to continue the process of economic Union, just formatting it.
Konstantin, if you compare the foreign policy vectors Kazakhstan and Ukraine, what is the similarity and difference from the point of view of the sovereign status of the country? It is clear that it is generally different vectors even in the geographical plan. But if we talk about independence of Kazakhstan and Ukraine in the context of regional associations?
The fact that Kazakhstan may discuss today regarding the tariff policy with its neighbours. Can argue about which direction to develop, whom to be friends, etc.
For Ukraine, so the question today is not worth it. We have the question of influence on Ukrainian politics. Who is more affected by official Washington, this refers to the state Department, or transnational corporations enjoying the protection of Washington?
That is, in this respect, we have ongoing debate and battle, who and whose. So today we compare Kazakhstan and Ukraine in this respect is not necessary.
Kazakhstan still greater room for maneuver and offers some quite interesting configurations. And I think that Kazakhstan will continue to search for new contacts for new initiatives. So by and large in this respect Kazakhstan is in a more advantageous position than Ukraine, unfortunately.
And the General summarizing question to all. Prospects for the near future. In the context of what we now see in the global economic situation, political, geopolitical. I study the statements of President of Kazakhstan Tokayev, and our President.
Everyone is preparing for some new models of economic, political, etc., etc., That he expects Ukraine and Kazakhstan? Especially in light of the emerging cold war between China and Kazakhstan. After all, our country remains the epicenter of the geopolitical interests of the superpowers.
A loss in any case
As Constantine said, Kazakhstan has much more room to maneuver. They actually all directions are open, unlike us. Our position here is quite unique. Moreover, we must not forget that in November in the United States will hold a presidential election, and whoever wins, really depends on the further situation in Ukraine.
We hoped that we will have bipartisan support — no matter who wins, we will win. However, the situation is such that our map will be a bit in any case. Recently, we were involved, I think all of the polling companies of all powerful countries of the world. However, the word “Ukraine” of American politics begin already to tremble nervously, is it good? I don’t think.
In the case of Kazakhstan possibilities quite a lot. Nur Sultan can maneuver, he’s got a rather serious base for cooperation with China and Russia.
Yes, Kazakhstan is in fact a true regional leader, which is tied to certain processes with the neighbors. In addition, an interesting point: Kazakhstan offers mediation assistance in resolving our internal matters and in matters of our relations with the Russian Federation.
Kazakhstan is trying to close on themselves not only regional issues. And it’s interesting. Question in a new post-crisis world and postcolonialism “who is who?” is solved now. Kazakhstan position is much better than ours.
Bad example as a good learning experience
Today coronavirus situation outlined the problems that was in the global economy in the last few years. We have seen that globalization approaching its physical limit, have nowhere to expand, a certain level is reached.
The model, which has existed, probably, is not satisfied, first and foremost the United States. And the US is important because almost all examples of Asian growth is export to American markets.
If the Americans say that they are no longer satisfied, there is a very big question – how will it continue to work? And here the main trend of economic blocs. Before all there is the question of market protection and the ability to save parts of this global system — their first and foremost interest.
For us, in this situation the only possible option is to continue our old policy, not in the geopolitical and geo-economic format. Because in the conditions when global trade will shrink, the concept of the inland trade, which was not 500 years, it becomes a promising direction. But this is hypothetical.
In my opinion, our advantage before Ukraine — the centralization of power that make it impossible to proceed in the format of clarifying the relationship “With whom you, masters of culture?”. This allows us a certain way to maneuver.
I seditious thought will say, liberals do not like it I think that Ukraine today shows us what would have to happen. Oligarchic Republic in petushinskiy period, internal conflicts between different spectrums of public opinion, well, etc., etc. So do not be offended, but for us it is experience of how to do.
It’s only the beginning
Now will be to grapple with the question of search of ways of development after the coronavirus. Search the Foundation upon which to build further development. Work on the same mistakes and search for certain meanings, new meanings. Since it is clear that now every politician says that the world after the coronavirus will never be the same. But nobody says what it will be.
Nobody is talking about some new concepts. As for the other points, yeah, it still needed a note that will escalate the confrontation between the largest States. Especially States that are applying for the role of hegemons in the modern world, USA and China.
And it really will be a serious test for those States which in varying degrees, focused on the policy of a hegemon. This applies not only to Ukraine, not only in Kazakhstan, this applies to a number of countries in the world.
Plus, it is clear that the issue is now the global economic crisis really comes to the fore. And, again, related things – will need to find their place in a new world, a world that will be long enough in a crisis situation.
In this situation, it is obvious that you need to think about horizontal relationships. By the way, now Ukraine start quite carefully and at the government level and at the expert level — to think of the situation, and whether the Ukraine, for example, now have to focus on the West? Already Deputy Prime Minister said that the need to reconsider our relationship with the European Union and the terms on which we signed him to the Association.
And furthermore, they begin to speak, and not whether Ukraine to look for happiness in other configurations? Already begins to sound, for example, the theme of the black sea-Caspian trade and economic cooperation. So it is quite possible that we will have some new ideas, which, incidentally, will only contribute to the rapprochement of Kiev and Nur-Sultan.