KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV, President of Kazakhstan, expressed gratitude to those who developed COVID-19 vaccines in a remarkably short space of time, adding however that the pandemic’s social and economic repercussions remain very difficult. “We must build back a more equitable, substantiable and humane world,” he said, starting with universal and fair access to vaccines. Kazakhstan has developed its own QazVac vaccine, with two others in development, and it is ready to share them bilaterally or through the COVAX facility. He called on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to deliver a meaningful response to the pandemic at its twelfth ministerial conference in November and warned of the potential onset of an “economic iron curtain” that would split the global economy.
As a large landlocked country, Kazakhstan’s climate is warming faster than the global average, with serious droughts striking twice every five years, he said. It aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, including through a low-carbon development strategy to be unveiled in October. Energy transition is a significant challenge, as the country depends on coal to generate 70 per cent of its electricity. He looked forward to clear commitments on green financing and green technologies at COP26 in Glasgow and underscored the importance of the fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China, in October.
Kazakhstan envisions an Afghanistan that is a truly independent and sovereign nation, at peace with itself and its neighbours, he said. It must adhere to its international obligations and ensure that its territory is free of terrorists, drugs and human traffickers. “Whatever our political affiliations or personal feelings, we must not abandon the people of Afghanistan now,” he said. The acute humanitarian situation should be the first priority, he said, adding that his country is ready to provide a logistical platform for humanitarian aid, including through a United Nations regional hub in Almaty. Afghanistan is not a threat, but an opportunity, and if unified and stable, it can contribute to Central Asia’s development.
Recalling that Kazakhstan relinquished the world’s fourth-largest nuclear arsenal 30 years ago, he urged the nuclear-weapon States to commit to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, when the United Nations will mark its centennial. Discussions are meanwhile continuing on the establishment of an international agency focused on biological safety, an idea that is bold, ambitious and timely.
Turning to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the pandemic’s impact on landlocked developing countries, he said its goals will not be attained until all countries have the financial capacity to invest in a sustainable and inclusive future. Development partners must address international liquidity and debt vulnerabilities. He went on to discuss domestic developments, including its shift towards bottom-up governance, the launching of essential democratic reforms and a proposal to set aside 30 per cent of parliamentary seats for women and youth. Kazakhstan’s regional policy aims to replace the Great Game with a “Great Gain” approach based on genuine cooperation, which would give the global community more opportunities to engage with Central Asia. The world is both interconnected and fragile, and it desperately needs meaningful multilateralism that delivers results and expresses global solidarity, he stated.