The Ethiopian Herald BY KFLEEYESUS ABEBE
Although nearly 5,500 kilometers apart, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan have common features, both of them are multicultural, religiously diversified, landlocked, vast, and geopolitically significant in their respective regions. Both countries have also similar challenges and opportunities as they pursue development and peace. Taking the similarities into consideration, both nations seek to further strengthen cooperation, exchange experiences, or support each other in the international arena.
Though there are more than 100 ethnicities and ideological differences are common, it has not stopped Kazakhstan from building a united and developed nation. For the past three decades, Kazakhstan has been able in achieving fast growth. Kazakhstan Ambassador to Ethiopia Barlybay Sadykov attributes this success to the nation’s commitment and effort in enforcing rule of law.
“In a democratic society to each and every strives to be, in order to respond all the demands and visions different strata of the society, it is important to keep rule of law. Kazakhstan will always be committed to implementing its constitution, human rights, and internal and international obligations. This is the basic principle. If these rules are implemented equally to all people in the society, there should be any reason to try to change the order.”
Ambassador Barlybay also highlighted constant attempts of the country to ensure economic equality. Economic equality is another way of maintaining the unity and stability of the country.
“From an economic point of view, since many countries are governed by principles of market economy, it is important to have policies, which respond to the basic demands of people who aren’t business people, who are servicemen or any other field. These will be properly considered by the government and have enough salaries, services so they can work and live in harmony with other people in the society. In our country, in thirty years we have achieved economically, but it is time for rich people to share their assets with people. Now there will be a more fair distribution of wealth.”
Therefore, since its independence from the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has been effective in realizing its promises of reform and construction. As Chatham House and other researchers indicate the economic achievement helped to build a stable society and the country to be a regional actor. Chatham House writes:
“Its economic achievements and prospects hold major implications for domestic cohesion and stability; they influence foreign policy choices, and they help to define the stakes of the ongoing leadership transition.”
During this period, Kazakhstan witnessed a peaceful and smooth transfer of power from Nazarbayev following the early presidential elections held in June 2019, in which Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won as the new president of the country to pursue the process of building and renaissance.
This journey however is not free of challenges. Kazakhstan has been tested by challenges that are even feared to obstruct its developmental ambition or undermined its existence. In its recent situation, Kazakhstan first experienced a rise in the price of gas but then exploited to become violent from the peaceful demonstration. Now government claimed that the situation has made the nation vulnerable to Islamist terrorist groups. Hence, Kazakhstan is in the meantime informing the world mainly foreign mass media to understand the situation and show solidarity. However, Kazakhstan hasn’t become immune from misinformation from foreign media reports. The statement of the special representative of president Erzhan Kazykhan stipulates the following:
“The story that runs this week in foreign media leaves the readers with falls impressions that Kazakhstan government has been targeting peaceful protesters. Our security forces have been engaging violent mobs who were committing brazen acts of terror.”
Kazakhstan Ambassador to Ethiopia stressed the importance of having open meetings, dialogues, and briefings. “Since some of them sometimes don’t cover situation as it is. It is important for journalists to these agencies. So, we’re ready to meet and talk.”
Kazakhstan as its press release states has pledged economic reforms to respond to the genuine demands of the public. The state emphasized solving the situation through dialogue and compromise.
It also eyes international cooperation, to fight the rise of extremism and Islamist terrorism. Ethiopia in this regard is very successful in combatting terrorism in its region and even had participated in peacekeeping missions in different countries across the globe.
With regard to geopolitical significance and pressure that arises from it, Kazakhstan doesn’t seem to be a victim. With a policy vector, Kazakhstan is balancing superpowers such as China, America, and Russia’s relations and influence with itself. Speaking about the issue, the ambassador said Kazakhstan keeps the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of another country.
“It is our principle position that we don’t comment on the internal affairs of other countries. We only wish other countries peace, stability, and prosperity and to make a decision on their internal affairs by themselves.”
So, it is evident that the two countries have a lot to share and cooperate for mutual benefits. Ethiopia like Kazakhstan can solve issues of tribalism that exist within Ethiopian politics by enforcing rule of law and ensuring economic equality. It should also try to debunk foreign media lies by being open, approaching concerned parties, and keep telling the truth. Like Kazakhstan, it is advisable for Ethiopia to employ dialogue and compromise to solve internal issues and appear united and strong.
Ethiopia should also give prime focus to the welfare of its people. The practice of Kazakhstan is a testimony that economic achievement and fair distribution of wealth could pacify a state and build harmony within people. Accordingly, Ethiopia should sustain its economic progress and cautiously work to ensure economic equality within its people. And, it is doable. Ethiopia with the construction complication of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and other significant projects and economic reforms can make a leap in its economic status.
The economic progress should then be enjoyed by all Ethiopians and every segment of the population. Ethiopia is currently undertaking political and economic reforms and the success of this program will determine the fate of the state. On the other hand, the counterterrorism successes of Ethiopia would be a valuable experience to share with Kazakhstan or other allies. Ethiopia though it is situated in the horn of Africa where Al-Shabab and other terrorist groups are carrying out attacks, it is defending the state and helping Somalia and other nations in defeating terrorists. So, it is a practice worth Kazakhstan which is currently under active threat to copy.
“Kazakhstan remains committed to the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms” Barlybay Sadykov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Ethiopia
BY EWNET LEALEM
In connection with the recent mass protests, a state of emergency has been introduced in Kazakhstan. The CSTO peacekeeping forces have arrived in Kazakhstan and the situation in the country is beginning to stabilize. We decided to look into the situation and get the information “from the first-hand”. The following is an interview with the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Ethiopia.
Ambassador, thank you very much for agreeing to answer our questions. What really happened, what are the reasons for the protests and riots in Kazakhstan?
Ambassador: The protests in Western Kazakhstan were of an economic nature. On January 2, 2022, several demonstrations took place in Western Kazakhstan. The main requirement was to reduce gas prices. In accordance with the concept of the «Hearing State» of President Tokayev, all the demands expressed by citizens during peaceful demonstrations were heard by the state and resolved, decisions were made to reduce gas prices, and a package of social support measures was introduced.
It is important to note that there were no clashes between the police and civilians. The police did not use any force. Unfortunately, peaceful demonstrations in Almaty have been hijacked by terrorist groups trained outside the country seeking to undermine law and order in the country. Their criminal activities led to riots, robberies, rapes, and mass violence.
Due to the sharp aggravation of the situation, President Tokayev assumed the post of Chairman of the Security Council of Kazakhstan. To prevent social unrest, the President dissolved the Government and declared a state of emergency until the situation will be fully stabilized.
We know that the country’s largest city, Almaty, suffered the most. What happened there?
Ambassador: Almaty was attacked by almost 20,000 armed groups and terrorists trained outside the country. They destroyed administrative buildings and military facilities, seized the airport, and took foreign passenger and cargo planes hostage. This indicates a high level of readiness and coordination of the actions of criminals.
According to preliminary data, there are persons among the attackers who have experience of combat participation in «hot spots» on the side of radical Islamist groups. Terrorist groups appeared due to the activation of the so-called «sleeping cells». Unfortunately, the law enforcement agencies of Kazakhstan were not ready for such massive and coordinated attacks in different regions of the country at the same time.
Unfortunately, there are human casualties, both among law enforcement officers and military personnel, and among the civilian population. This is a huge tragedy for us, the relatives of the victims, and the entire Kazakh people. Due to a large number of victims in a number of regions of the country, President Tokayev declared January 10, 2022, a day of national mourning.
On January 6, President Tokayev ordered to launch a counter-terrorism operation to deal with the national security threats, protect the lives and property of citizens. The President ordered law enforcement agencies to act promptly and without hesitation.
Ambassador, what is the task of the peacekeeping mission of the Collective Security Treaty Organization in Kazakhstan?
Ambassador: From the very beginning, Kazakhstan has been a member of the CSTO, a regional security organization. On the basis of articles 2 and 4 of the Collective Security Treaty and the Agreement on Peacekeeping, President Tokayev officially requested assistance from the CSTO member states in conducting a counter-terrorism operation.
On January 6-7, peacekeeping troops (a total number are around 2,500 people), consisting of multinational forces of the CSTO member states, were deployed in Kazakhstan on a temporary basis and will remain until the situation in the country stabilizes.
I would like to emphasize that the CSTO peacekeeping troops do not participate in the elimination of militant and terrorist groups. Their main tasks are the protection of strategic facilities and administrative buildings.
What is the current situation in Kazakhstan?
Ambassador: The anti-terrorist operation continues in the country. Terrorists continue to damage public and private property and use weapons against citizens in Almaty.
However, the introduction of a state of emergency brings its results. Constitutional legality is being restored throughout the country. Currently, the situation in the capital of Kazakhstan, Nursultan, as well as in most of the cities of the country is stable. Banking applications are working. There is no shortage of food. All social and medical services are available to the population.
Kazakhstan provides security and protection of foreign diplomatic missions in the country, as well as personnel and property of foreign companies and investors. The situation will soon stabilize, and there will be no changes in the economic policy and investment climate of the country, all our obligations remain in full.
In order to avoid large casualties, do the authorities in Kazakhstan plan to conduct a dialogue with armed persons?
Ambassador: Very often foreign partners call for negotiations on a peaceful solution to problems. Today, law enforcement agencies and the army of Kazakhstan have to deal with armed and trained terrorists, both local and foreign. Therefore, there will be no negotiations with terrorists.
President Tokayev instructed law enforcement agencies to form an investigative group to conduct a large-scale investigation and bring all those responsible to justice. The results of the investigation will be presented to the international community upon its completion.
I would like to note the unity of the people of Kazakhstan in this difficult time. Our citizens support the measures taken by President Tokayev to restore peaceful life and initiate the creation of people’s squads to protect social facilities.
In addition, the decisions of President Tokayev were supported by the heads of international organizations, including the UN, as well as many leaders of foreign countries, including Russia, China, Turkey, Central Asian countries, etc.
Kazakhstan has recently become a member of the Human Rights Council. As part of the tragic events in Almaty, does Kazakhstan feel some external pressure?
Ambassador: The tragic events in our country highlight the problems of democracy and human rights in a new way. As stated by President Tokayev, only law and order can guarantee the wellbeing of all civilized states, including Kazakhstan.
As the recent tragedy in Almaty demonstrates, violence and anarchy, unlawful actions of criminals and terrorists not only undermine the security of civilians but also lead to violation of fundamental human rights.
Kazakhstan remains committed to the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms. We have come a long way to building our state from scratch. And will do all it takes to protect our democracy and our people from any unlawful interference both at home and abroad.
Thank you Ambassador for your interview. For our part, we wish the people of Kazakhstan a speedy stabilization of the situation and peace, prosperity, and success.