Govt formed working group 11 Jan to consider redistribution of power between president and parliament, widely viewed as step setting the scene for a post-President Nazarbayev era; Nazarbayev 25 Jan said he will serve as “supreme arbiter” between branches of govt. Other indicators include return of ambassador to Russia Marat Tazhin 12 Jan to become deputy head of executive office of president, and arrests of senior officials including former head of working group, detained 2 Jan on charges of disclosing state secrets; and former head of security services (KNB), detained late Dec on charges of disclosing state secrets and abuse of office. Kazakhstan hosted Syrian peace talks in Astana 23-24 Jan; also began two-year term as first ever Central Asian non-permanent member of UNSC 1 Jan.
Kazakhstan’s wish for stability and continuity under long-serving President Nazarbayev trumps the will for political change, especially given turbulence elsewhere on Russia’s borders. But without economic reform, full ethnic equality and a political succession plan, the Central Asian country risks becoming another brittle post-Soviet state vulnerable to external destabilisation.
Resource-led economic growth cannot mask the need for reforms in Kazakhstan as labour unrest, social divisions and a growing Islamist movement threaten the country’s stability.
China’s influence is growing rapidly in Central Asia at a time when the region is looking increasingly unstable.
The economic crisis has caused millions of migrant labourers from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to lose their jobs in the boom economies of Russia and Kazakhstan.
The Annual Meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) commencing on 3 May 2003 is an opportunity to assess frankly and honestly the records of the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Competition for water is increasing in Central Asia at an alarming rate, adding tension to what is already an uneasy region.