This year, the world has endured many trials. The Ukrainian conflict, has affected the entire planet, including indirectly through economic depression and worrisome geopolitical tensions. Kazakhstan has not been spared from this, as the war consequences affected our economy, and the global recession risks and rising inflation undermine business confidence throughout the region, including Central Asia.
In this complex backdrop, Kazakhstan could look inward, especially in connection with the tragic events that were the case in our country in January, when we faced an attempted coup with the use of armed violence. Many were not sure that Kazakhstan would be able to recover. Despite our assurances and firm commitments to reform, democratize and further protect human rights, some doubted that this would be achieved. As we approach the end of this tumultuous year, we can say fore sure that Kazakhstan has kept its promises. Apart from demonstrating resilience and stability, we have transformed our country through significant political and socio-economic initiatives.
Following the nationwide referendum in June this year, Kazakhstan made constitutional reforms which brought new democratic values to our governance, including limited powers of the president, a more influential parliament, an independent Constitutional Court, new political parties, direct elections of akims and other important steps.
In November, our country hosted presidential elections under the new Constitution, which means that all future heads of our state, including the current President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, will hold office for seven years not subject to renewal. The elections, held fairly and transparently, became an important milestone in the democratic development of our country. Six candidates with different political views competed in the elections, including representatives of the opposition, giving voters a wide choice. In addition, two women had been candidates for the Presidency for the first time in our history This is one more important step in the Kazakhstan's democratic development. The total number of votes cast was 69.44% of the total number of voters. 81.31% voted for Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
In this very critical period for the country, Kazakhstanis voted and made their choice in favor of strategic initiatives and reforms. All our efforts over the past twelve months have contributed to building of a Fair Kazakhstan – a prosperous society, a more dynamic and competitive political system.
While implementing internal transformations, we did not forget our international obligations. In October 2022, our capital hosted the Sixth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, an organization that we founded 30 years ago to consolidate cooperation for peace, security and stability in Asia. In the same month, a meeting of the heads of state of the Commonwealth of Independent States was held in Astana. Symbolically, the Summit was held in the year of the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Republic of Belarus.
A month earlier this year, the VII Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, took place. Pope Francis was among more than 100 delegations from 50 countries, which was the first pontiff's visit to Kazakhstan since Pope John Paul II in 2001. In the same period, we hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose state visit to Kazakhstan was his first overseas trip after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The course of Kazakhstan's domestic and foreign policy has opened the doors for expanding cooperation with the Republic of Belarus.
The emergence and development of relations between Kazakhstan and Belarus was preceded by a common history of the early and mid-twentieth century. During this period, Kazakh-Belarusian friendly ties and personal contacts were growing stronger.
Of particular importance is the historical memory of the two peoples connected with the years of the Great Patriotic War, when Kazakhs and Belarusians, together with other peoples of the USSR, fought for peace for future generations.
Over 30 years, Kazakhstan and Belarus have been constantly searching for new ways of interaction, finding solutions on many issues arising in a bilateral format and within the framework of international regional organizations.
All these years, Kazakhstan and Belarus have interacted in a traditionally friendly atmosphere – based on mutual understanding, constructive dialogue and support both in a bilateral format and within the framework of international and regional integration organizations – CIS, EAEU, CSTO, OSCE and the UN.
Our countries have managed to preserve and enhance all that is in demand and useful, which ensured the development and expansion of Kazakh-Belarusian relations.
The 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties between the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Republic of Belarus is marked by bilateral cooperation between our countries having reached the level of strategic multifaceted partnership with high dynamics of contacts.
One of the main achievements of the Kazakh-Belarusian interaction is the consistently implemented trade and economic bloc of issues, including industrial cooperation with the transfer to the localization of joint production. We have reached $1 billion in mutual trade, established cooperation in transport and logistics sectors.
In these years, Kazakhstan and Belarus have developed a solid contractual basis regulating a wide range of bilateral cooperation. More than 80 effective contacts, agreements and memoranda provide legal support for the implementation of bilateral agreements at the level of heads of state, governments and various ministries.
The inter-parliamentary ties of the two countries serve as an additional factor in expanding and maintaining Kazakh-Belarusian relations. People's representatives facilitate our close cooperation. The parliamentary delegations of Kazakhstan and Belarus have established joint consultations on the sidelines of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly, CSTO PA and other parliamentary structures.
As the world tries to cope with challenges associated with current geopolitical and economic difficulties, closer cooperation between Kazakhstan and Belarus is necessary. At the same time, Kazakhstan remains committed to developing relations with all countries and partners. As President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said at his inauguration after recent presidential elections, "Kazakhstan will pursue a balanced, constructive foreign policy."
We are convinced that our multi-vector foreign policy will contribute to resolving many global crises and expanding international cooperation.
2023 will be another significant year for Kazakhstan. The parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in the first six months. In the run-up to the elections, new political parties are already emerging, which will further strengthen political competition and pluralism. For the first time in 18 years, independent candidates will also be able to run in the elections in single-mandate constituencies.
Looking ahead to next year, we are determined to strengthen our relations with the Republic of Belarus. We have laid a strong foundation for the further development of our cooperation. Given our mutual desire for strong ties, there is every reason to believe that we will achieve our goals together.
Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Republic of Belarus