Recently President Nursultan Nazarbayev replaced the leadership of the Defense Ministry. This change at the helm of Kazakhstan’s armed forces appeared to be somewhat surprising in the light of the current developments. Cabinet reshuffle – even a minor one – was not expected to be undertaken until the fall.
But what happened did happen. This new appointment means a minor cabinet reshuffle.
The presidential press service said on August 7 that Nursultan Nazarbayev appointed Nurlan Ermekbayev to replace Saken Zhasuzaqov, who had served since September 2016. That is the fourth change in leadership of the Defense Ministry in less than four years. So, two former Prime Ministers had held one after the other the office of Minister of the Defense before Saken Zhasuzaqov came over there a little less than two years ago. We mean Serik Akhmetov and Imangali Tasmagambetov. And President Nursultan Nazarbayev has removed the former one after only six months in service at the helm of Kazakhstan’s armed forces. The latter made it farther than fellow ex PM. He held office almost as long as Saken Zhasuzaqov did.
And the Defense Ministry now had a new chief. Nurlan Ermekbayev, 55, served as presidential aide and Security Council secretary since April. Before that he held the position of Minister for religious and civil society issues. In the past, Nurlan Ermekbayev who speaks Kazakh, English, Russian, Chinese, and Portuguese served as Kazakhstan’s ambassador to China and North Korea.
Akorda.kz, in a report titled, “Совещание с руководящим составом министерства обороны Республики Казахстан” – “Meeting with the leadership of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan”, said: “During the meeting, Nursultan Nazarbayev noted that the armed forces of Kazakhstan with substantial military assets, thanks to the efforts of the State and military personnel, have been providing safe and reliable support to enhance the independence of our country for over 25 years.
“Much has been done in recent years to develop the armed forces. A number of important strategic documents were adopted. They include the National Security Strategy, the Military Doctrine of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Concept for the Development of the Armed Forces, as well as regulatory and legal instruments to be applied in the area of defense”, the head of state said.
The President of Kazakhstan pointed out that one of the main tasks of the Defense Ministry is technological upgrading and modernization of weapons given changes in the geopolitical situation and need to counter the new challenges.
“Therefore, I decided to appoint a civilian – Aide to the President–Secretary of the Security Council, Nurlan Baiuzakovich Yermekbayev – as the new Defense Minister. It must also be noted that N. Yermekbayev is a career officer with military experience including missions in several trouble spots. He served as an assistant (to the President) for international affairs, Kazakhstan’s ambassador to the People’s Republic of China and several Southeast Asian countries, minister, was twice reappointed to the job of Secretary of the Security Council”, Nursultan Nazarbayev said.
The head of state stressed the need to improve the training of military personnel taking into account modern requirements.
“I wish to thank Colonel General Saken Adilkhanovich Zhasuzakov for his invaluable service, and I entrust him with the responsibility of heading the National Defense University. The university is faced with the enormous tasks flowing from the need to upgrade the skills of the command staff of the Kazakhstani armed forces and to develop military science. It should develop into the main scientific and educational center that would give training to students not only from our country, but also from neighboring States”, the President of Kazakhstan said.
In conclusion, Nursultan Nazarbayev gave a number of specific instructions on the further development of the country’s armed forces”.