July 20, 2019

Kazakhs have chosen: Tokayev is the new President of Kazakhstan

During the first presidential election without Nursultan Nazarbayev as a candidate, former Foreign Affairs Minister and UN diplomat Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has been elected President of Kazakhstan, winning 77.6% of the votes. The ballot represents the start of new era for Kazakhstan, the largest economy in Central Asia, rich in oil and gas reserves, and situated in a strategic location between China and Russia.

In the wake of the elections, Tokayev has expressed his commitment to an open and transparent government, “a mandate of truth for the next five years”. The day after the elections – just before being officially declared the new President of Kazakhstan – he congratulated the other six candidates, announcing that several projects included in their programs will be added to the government’s plans.

In the conference room of the impressive Akorda National Palace, Tokayev met with 107 journalists and representatives of international media outlets. Thanking the 1,000 international observers who have monitored the electoral process, he opened the floor for questions on national and international issues.

On the domestic front, Tokayev announced certain changes in the cabinet, aimed at addressing specific issues. However, he noted that the cabinet will not resign in full – as it normally happens in many countries when a new mandate starts.

Concerning international affairs, Tokayev clarified that Russia’s place as a key neighboring country would not change. He announced that all the countries in the region had already called to congratulate him – with Russian President Vladimir Putin being over the phone a few minutes before the press conference.  “Nazarbayev worked closely with Yeltsin and with Putin; bilateral relations with Russia are strategic and have a human dimension” – the new President said.

Russian and Kazakh are the two official languages of Kazakhstan, and a quarter of the country’s population is Russian. Tokayev called Russia a strategic partner for the security of Kazakhs, and announced that he will pay special attention to the relations with Kazakhstan’s neighbors, notably with Russia and China.

The President’s first trip abroad will be in Kyrgyzstan on June 14th and in Tajikistan on June 15th, in a sign of the importance that Tokayev gives to regional politics. Kazakhstan’s wish is clearly to take the leadership of the Central Asian region.

Questioned about Kazakhstan’s participation in the China’s One Belt One Road project, Tokayev stressed that without Kazakhstan China could not develop its project, given the importance of the Kazakh territory involved in the Silk Road plans. “We are open and we are promoting foreign investment” – Tokayev said, adding that “actually we have 300 billions of investment from abroad; in July we have an important meeting with investors, also sending a message to all that the business opportunities and the business climate are good”.

In addition to these topics, Tokayev also talked about the country’s policy of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, issue related to technology and internet, and he announced that he will be accessible to all, maintaining open questions and answers sessions with the media as frequently as possible.

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