.THE GLOBAL EDITION OF THE NEW YORK TIMES SPONSORED SECTION THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2011 | 1 Kazakhstan’s 20th anniversary Looking back, thinking aheadNATIONAL VISION | President Nursultan NazarbayevThe longtime architectof a stable and diverse sovereign stateF rom Kazakhstan’s independence from who has never lost his connection with the the Soviet Union in 1991 to the working class — where, moreover, he has present day, its head of state, Presi- his roots. He began his career working withdent Nursultan Nazarbayev, has played a his hands in the construction of theproactive role in developing the country into Karaganda steel complex, a huge industriala modern-day sovereign nation. In the pro- site that has endured and prospered up tocess, Kazakhstan has transformed from a this day. After its opening, Nazarbayevstagnant Soviet republic into a dynamic in- worked there for nine years.dependent state. Thanks mainly to the pres- ‘‘This was a memorable time,’’ he told theident’s persistence, a number of key ele- French author Pierre-Luc Séguillon in an in-ments have propelled Kazakhstan into the terview in late 2010. ‘‘At that time, with ourranks of fast-emerging economies. own hands we were laying the foundation of Among them is a principle that has en- Kazakhstan’s industry. Those with whom Iabled Kazakhstan to maintain a crucial so- worked side by side at the blast furnace cancial prequisite for development: nondiscrim- rightfully be dubbed the steel generation:ination and recognition of personal and strong-minded, hard-working, noble peoplecommunal achievement rather who proved their professional-than of ethnic, cultural or reli- Today, Kazakhs ism through hard work rathergious background. Throughout constitute than just words. These are theKazakhstan’s 20 years of inde- people we need right now aspendence, all layers of society a national well.’’have included Russian, Ukraini- community Today, Kazakhs constitute aan, Caucasian, German, Korean national community willing toand other ethnicities — men willing to work and study hard, and haveand women who, as a result of work and study grown into a nation within whichtheir personal endeavors, have hard ethnic, religious and culturalearned their rank. communities live side by side, Besides ethnic origin, neither based on a longstanding tradi-gender nor age trumps merit in Kazakh tion of hospitality and openness to the out-people’s careers, as shown in practice. In side world.corporate settings, executives of all ethnic Another element that unites Kazakhs isbackgrounds share boardrooms. Army com- a willingness to secure peace through har- SERGEY BONDARENKOmanders include Russian and other ethnic mony with their neighbors rather thansenior officers, a mix seen in provincial gov- through threats and confrontation. Witnessernors, mayors and people’s representa- Kazakhstan’s firm, early steps to ban nucle-tives at all levels. From corporate board- ar armaments from its territory and sub-rooms to government ministries, women are sequent efforts within the Organization forincreasingly present and play a crucial role Security and Cooperation in Europe, whichin decision- and policy-making. At one point, Kazakhstan chaired through 2010, and in President Nursultan Nazarbayev addresses the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe conference in Astana in November.there were four women in key cabinet posts, the Organization of the Islamic Conference,including that of deputy prime minister. which it chaired this year, as well as other in- system of government by combining the There appears to be substantial positive ‘‘We withstood the challenges of the industrialization. With the present 7 percent The liberal spirit prevalant in public and ternational platforms, to avoid conflict and generally accepted tenets of democratic de- response in Kazakhstan to the president’s global financial and economic downturn be- postcrisis economic growth [achieved inprofessional life in Kazakhstan has re- maintain dialogue between nations and velopment and our society’s traditions,’’ long-term strategy. In his inauguration cause our anticrisis measures were people- 2010 and expected for 2011], we havemoved not only ethnic and social barriers, regions. said President Nazarbayev. ‘‘Over the 16 speech on April 8, following an overwhelm- centered, whereas most states froze or re- turned to social development and the im-but also those of age. Young people from all At home, economic development and years of our independence, we have imple- ing victory in the most recent presidential duced their social obligations,’’ President provement of quality of life in Kazakhstan.’’levels of society have equal access to edu- political liberalization are seen by President mented our own model for securing public elections, President Nazarbayev noted that Nazarbayev said. ‘‘We staked our future on Still, much work remains to be done incation, and thus an opportunity to work their Nazarbayev as an integrated process. Up- stability and interethnic accord, molding the the people had voted for stability and accelerated industrialization and innovative the years to come. ‘‘I am set to take furtherway up to the top of public and private coming Parliamentary elections, scheduled Kazakhstani identity and a shared Kazakh- prosperity. development. Throughout Kazakhstan, new steps to enhance the effectiveness of theinstitutions. for Jan. 15, 2012, should result in a new stani patriotism.’’ ‘‘This is an example to follow in future industries and new jobs were created. We judicial system,’’ President Nazarbayev said The result has been the arrival of young, Lower House with extended legislative For President Nazarbayev, political re- election campaigns,’’ he said. ‘‘Only in this are now ensuring our entry into the ranks of in his postelection address. ‘‘We willdynamic and open-minded people in key powers and increased control over execu- form and socioeconomic progress go hand way will we develop real democracy and an the 50 most competitive nations in the strengthen measures to eradicate corrup-government posts and on the boards of tive authority. New democratic rules also in hand. ‘‘Kazakhstan needs long-term sta- effective multiparty environment. The col- world.’’ tion not only through criminal prosecution,private corporations. This, in addition, has guarantee the presence of at least two polit- bility, peace and accord to further lapse of the Soviet Union triggered growing Acknowledging that since the end of the but also through the removal of legal loop-prevented Kazakhstan from becoming a ical parties in Parliament, with the aim of fur- strengthen the nation and its security, for frustration and apathy. These could be off- Cold War era, globalization has become a holes. We will provide adequate protectionbreeding ground for ethnic and other faction- thering political debate and multiparty rep- sustainable economic development and for set only by increasing welfare, which means fact of life, President Nazarbayev observed: for the rights and property of individuals andal conflict. It has made Kazakhstan living resentation of different political currents. a better standard of living for our citizens,’’ economic growth and the pooling of efforts ‘‘We are developing a policy of an open legal entities. These and other reforms willproof that prosperity and peace — Presi- This overall trend was stressed in early he said. ‘‘The strengthening of party me- to attain this goal. It is the people’s confi- economy to attract new foreign direct and result in sustainable economic developmentdent Nursultan Nazarbayev’s longstanding 2008 in the president’s address to the na- chanisms will promote the establishment of dence, their deep belief in a better future for portfolio investment. We intend to ensure and increasing welfare in Kazakhstan in thevision — are one and the same. tion. ‘‘We shall continue on the path of im- modern civil society and the general public’s our homeland, that has emboldened us to that foreign and local investors have the coming decades.’’ President Nazarbayev is a head of state proving Kazakhstan’s political model and broad involvement in social processes.’’ continue against all odds. same conditions for participating in our C.v.d.L. DEMOCRATIC PROCESS | Parliamentary elections Toward the fruits of democracy O n Nov. 16, President Nursultan Naz- represent another step forward in our young arbayev signed a decree to hold nation’s political development,’’ the official early parliamentary elections in Ka- announcement continues. ‘‘We are a young zakhstan in 2012. As a result, in mid- country, but have made remarkable econom- January, the people of Kazakhstan will vote ic and political progress in the 20 years since in elections for the Lower House of Parlia- the collapse of the Soviet Union. Every elec- ment, known as Majlis. tion has represented a step forward for our ‘‘One hundred and seven deputies of the nation and an improvement in our political Majilis will be elected in two stages,’’ the gov- system. With this election, we will strengthen ernment said in late November. ‘‘On Jan. 15, democratic pluralism. As a result of changes political parties will compete for the 98 seats to our Constitution, we are guaranteed to decided by a general vote. At the time when have a second party in Parliament, whatever elections were called, there were eight regis- their share of the vote. We believe that this tered political parties eligible to participate. will increase debate and the competition of On Jan. 16, nine deputies will be elected by ideas, which will strengthen our Parliament the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, a and our political system as a whole.’’ national body established to rep- The decision to hold elec- VLADIMIR PRONIN resent the diverse ethnic groups On Jan. 16, tions at this particular stage in across the country.’’ Transparency and fairness on nine deputies Kazakhstan’s development to not only politically driven; is all levels is at the top of the gov- will be a large extent, the challenges ernment’s electoral agenda. ‘‘The elected by the of economic development areAstana’s skyline offers such striking edifices as the new blue concert hall designed by Manfredi Nicoletti. Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) imposing themselves as invited observers from interna- Assembly of the well. ‘‘Elections of a new, tional organizations and foreign People of strengthened Parliament willASTANA | Striking showpieces governments through diplomatic leave us well placed to focus on KazakhstanMarvels of modern architecture sprout in the capital channels, and these are accred- ited by the Central Election Com- mittee (CEC),’’ the government states. ‘‘Do- the challenges ahead and con- tinue Kazakhstan’s remarkable development,’’ the government’s documentA stana in north-central Kazakhstan, ing, helping to transform Astana from a diplo- international competition, which opened its Three more attractions in Astana are the mestic organizations can also apply for reads. ‘‘Despite increasing fears of a second the capital since 1997, gives the im- matic rendezvous into a whirling and worldly doors in late 2009. The building’s flower- mausoleum and memorial house of Ka- observer accreditation directly to the CEC, global financial crisis, Kazakhstan is deter- pression of a gleaming, glamorous Broadway-style entertainment center. petal shape protects against the extreme zakhstan’s historic war hero Kabanbay and foreign organizations can apply through mined to press on with its economic andscience-fiction-style construction complex. Foster’s team has designed two master- summer heat and the harsh winter cold of Batyr, the ethnographic and human-science the MFA. The deadline for the accreditation of political development. The elections will intro-The high-towered boomtown on the Ishim pieces in the new heart of the capital. The Astana’s climate. Its main music perfor- center Atameken and the home and mu- observers is five days before the election. duce a more diverse Parliament early in theRiver is located in the middle of the vast first is the Palace of Peace and Reconcili- mance hall has 3,500 seats and superior seum of Kazakhstan’s outstanding writer The recent presidential election was moni- year, creating a healthier and more robuststeppe where, for many centuries, traders ation, a pyramid-shaped compound housing acoustics. Two smaller music auditoriums, Saken Seyfullin (killed by order of Stalin in tored by a total of 30,266 foreign and do- political system ready to face the challengeswith their precious merchandise traveled a major conference center, a 1,500-seat an indoor movie house and a large lobby the purges of the late 1930s). mestic observers, with over 1,000 monitors ahead. Holding the election now will allowthe Silk Road. opera house, a national histor- complete the structure. On the outskirts of the city, the Museum coming from more than 50 countries. Twenty- state agencies, the government and Parlia- Today, the city center could Today, the ic museum and a research Several futuristic-looking sports centers of Modern Art houses various collections five foreign governments sent official observ- ment to focus their efforts in 2012 on an-rightly be called a gallery of con- center. The second is the leis- have recently opened in and around Astana. and temporary exhibitions. The 30-year-old ers. Domestic observers included 9,417 can- ticrisis measures and maintaining Kazakh-temporary architecture. Modern city center ure, business and shopping Among the most striking is the new soccer museum’s contemporary art collection has didates’ representatives, 12,828 observers stan’s remarkable economic success.’’masters like Norman Foster, Ri- could rightly center Khan Shatyr, shaped stadium, whose removable ceiling allows it grown from 500 to 3,000 items. Originally from political parties, 6,290 from public as- For the government, two decades ofcardo Bofill, Manfredi Nicoletti be called a like a giant yurt — the tradition- to accommodate both indoor and outdoor the Museum of Fine Arts, it raised its profile sociations and nongovernmental organiza- post-Soviet independence have alreadyand Bjarke Ingels have designed al tent in which Kazakh matches as well as rock concerts. Another at the end of the last century and undertook tions, and 997 representatives of the nation- proven that Kazakhstan is on the right path.a number of remarkable struc- gallery of nomads lived while roaming new complex opened for the Asian Winter expansion. al media.’’ ‘‘Kazakhstan has a bold vision for economictures, which together make As- contemporary the land with their herds. The Games held in Kazakhstan in early 2011: Each year, the gallery exhibits the latest According to the government, the elec- and political progress and a track record oftana a must for anyone inter- building was developed by the new ice-skating stadium, also built by works by famous artists and paintings tions will represent a watershed in Kazakh- delivering for its people,’’ the election an-ested in advanced construction. architecture the Sembol Construction Sembol Construction, where competitions, donated by Astana collectors. Purchases stan’s development from a post-Soviet nouncement continues. ‘‘When Kazakhstan The city center is dominated Company. ice hockey matches and ice shows are from the ongoing art exhibitions are made state in transition to a full-fledged parlia- gained its independence from the Soviet Un-by the Bayterek tower, Astana’s most strik- The Palace’s pyramid contains sanctuar- held. on a regular basis. Today, the museum mentary democracy. ‘‘In 2007, 337 mem- ion and communism 20 years ago, the ur-ing landmark. Symbolizing the Tree of Life, a ies for Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Among other sights is the Presidential presents unique works by artists from Ar- bers of the Assembly of the People of Ka- gent need was for jobs and economic devel-central element in Kazakh folklore, it is Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and other Center of Culture, with a collection of nearly menia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, zakhstan participated in the elections of opment. We needed to provide a future fortopped with a gold-colored globe, represent- creeds. It also boasts a national museum of 150,000 items illustrating the past and Uzbekistan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia and deputies from the Assembly,’’ the govern- our people. We have done that.ing the egg laid each year by the magic bird culture, a new ‘‘university of civilization,’’ a li- present of the Kazakh people. The museum Kazakhstan. ment’s announcement says. ‘‘The parlia- ‘‘We will celebrate our 20th anniversarySamruk, which each time was devoured by brary, and an ethnographic and geographic of the First President of Kazakhstan con- C.v.d.L. mentary elections are the first to be held on Dec. 16 and will, of course, look back witha giant snake. The ‘‘egg’’ is home to a research center. tains an interesting collection of gifts since a 2009 amendment to the constitu- pride on what we have achieved, but werestaurant. Other buildings worth a visit include the presented to the head of state at various in- tional law on elections, which guarantees must also look to the future. We have stud- 2,000 Along the avenue on which it stands, new Concert Hall, designed by the Italian ternational meetings. seats to the second-place party, even if they ied democracies around the world and wetheaters and nightlife are steadily develop- architect Manfredi Nicoletti, winner of an Another must is the entertainment cen- do not reach the 7 percent threshold set for have seen that they work best in nations ter Duman, on the left bank of the Ishim. Its entrance into the Lower House.’’ that have a strong and thriving middle class most popular attraction is the Oceanarium By choosing the laborious path of political and an educated population. We didn’t have which, while located more than 3,000 kilo- animals of 100 marine evolution over revolutionary shockwaves, Ka- that in 1991, but we do now, and these elec-Kazakhstan’s 20th anniversary: Looking back, thinking ahead was produced by the IHT meters (1,864 miles) from the ocean, is species can be found at zakhstan has opted for progress under the tions represent another step forward in our home to some 2,000 animals, representing law as the safest way to abide by global political development, guaranteeing a moreCreative Solutions department and did not involve the newspaper’s reporting or editorial more than 100 marine species from around Astana’s Oceanarium democratic requirements. ‘‘The elections pluralistic political system.’’departments. Text by CHARLES VAN DER LEEUW and JOSEPH URBANAS. For information onthe IHT Creative Solutions program: www.nytimesglobal.com the world. will usher in a new era for Kazakhstan and C.v.d.L.