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President Tokayev: We will carry out political reforms without skipping ahead

On 2 September, that what had been announced in advance took place. Almost three months after being elected in a poll deemed fair and democratic by the international community, Kazakhstan’s president Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev delivered the State-of-the-nation address at the joint meeting of the Kazakhstani Parliament‘s two chambers.

In essence, what is proposed by him is a wide-scale program that can bring about positive changes for the people of our country.
The head of State made a number of initiatives aimed at improving the efficiency of public administration, ensuring the rights, freedoms and security of citizens, creating a developed and inclusive economy, modernizing social security of the population, as well as strengthening the regions.
In introducing his first State-of-the-nation address which consists of five sections, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev paid homage to his predecessor. The head of State pointed out that “our way of development is recognized worldwide as the Kazakhstani Model or the Nazarbayev Model”.
“Now we have an opportunity to consolidate the gains achieved during the previous years of Independence and to reach a qualitatively new level of development while preserving the continuity of the courses of the Nazarbayev Model”, the president said. What he means is a reference to the series of economic plans that were put in place in Kazakhstan following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev then stressed the importance of innovative reforms. He pointed out that “success in economic reforms is no longer possible without modernizing the country’s socio-political life” and that as head of state, he “sees his role in promoting the development of a multi-party system, political competition and pluralism of opinions in the country”. At the same time, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev is strongly committed to opposing “unsystematic political liberalization” and carrying reforms “without skipping ahead”. Based on that position, he noted that the political transformational change he promised would be gradual.
“World experience shows that explosive, unsystematic political liberalization leads to the destabilization of the internal political situation and even to the loss of statehood”, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev said. “Therefore, we will carry out political reforms “without skipping ahead”, but consistently, persistently and thoughtfully. Our fundamental principle: successful economic reforms are no longer possible without the modernization of the country’s socio-political life”.
According to him, the formula for the stability of the state relies on the unity of the three basic elements: “a strong president – an influential parliament – a responsible and accountable government”.
He added that this was not yet a fait accompli, but a common objective towards which the legislative and executive powers have to work together side by side.
In his view, “our common purpose” must be to put into practice the concept of a state “capable of hearing” its citizens. In other words, it means forming an efficient and effective public administration system for the success of Kazakhstan’s socio-economic development.
“Our common task is to implement the concept of a state capable of hearing, which quickly and efficiently responds to all constructive requests of citizens. Only through a constant dialogue of power and society can a harmonious state be built in the context of modern geopolitics”, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev told Parliament.
According to him, it is thus necessary to support and strengthen civil society, to involve it in the discussion of the most urgent national tasks in the context of addressing them.
Turning to the question on political parties, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev pointed out that the ruling Nur Otan party had to cooperate with other political forces pursuing a balanced and constructive policy for the public good. He insisted that problems of society should not be decided “in the streets”.
“The major problems of concern to society should be discussed and find their solution in the Parliament and in the framework of civil dialogue, but not in the streets”, he stated.
Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev pointed out that Kazakhstan’s parliamentarians can and should exercise their legal rights, including through conveying the queries on topical issues to the Government and requiring its officials to take steps to address them.
He felt a need to remind that according to the constitution, Kazakhstan’s citizens have the right to freedom of expression.
“If the goals of peaceful actions are not to violate the law and disturb other citizens, then such actions must be allowed to be organized and special places must be defined for such events, which must not be in city suburbs”, the head of State said.
In the address, he also pledged to support political competition and pluralism in the country, known as the most impressive reformer in the Central Asian region.
In addition to above said, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev also drew attention to the importance of promoting social (communal) harmony.
Harmonious relationship among our various social and ethnic groups is the result of the efforts and goodwill of all people in the country, the head of State noted. And we should consider it as our greatest asset, he added.
“In this regard, it is necessary to assess political developments, and take concrete actions to consolidate our solidarity and unity. Given the role of the Kazakh people as a state-forming nation, we need to continue fostering interethnic harmony and inter-religious accord. Our position is, “The unity of the nation is in its diversity”, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev said.
He also reaffirmed the commitment to strengthening the role of the Kazakh language which is the State language of Kazakhstan.
“Role of the Kazakh language as the State language will be strengthened and the time will come when it will become a language of interethnic communication. For that, however, we all need to work together”, the president said.
In addition, it is important to keep in mind that language is an instrument of big politics, he added.
In the address, the president also highlighted the tasks of ensuring the rights and security of citizens.
“We have gotten carried away with the humanization of legislation, having lost sight of the fundamental rights of citizens. We should, therefore, take urgent measures to toughen penalties for sexual violence, paedophilia, drug trafficking, human trafficking and other grave crimes. Especially for crimes against children”, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev noted.
“One of most pressing tasks is full-fledged reform of the law enforcement system. The image of police as an instrument of power of the State will gradually recede into the past. It will become an agency to provide services to the citizens to ensure their security. At the first stage, we need to reform, before end of 2020, the work of the Committee of Administrative Police. We need to do it in a quality way and without gung-ho approaches”, he said.
Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, who served as the chairman of the upper house of the Kazakh parliament, took the oath of office on March 20 after the early resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been leading the country since 1990.
From 1994 to 1999 he served as minister for foreign affairs of Kazakhstan. He was then promoted to deputy prime minister and later the same year prime minister of Kazakhstan. He was prime minister from 1999 until 2002, when he was appointed State secretary – minister of foreign affairs before becoming minister for foreign affairs in 2003.
He remained in the position until January 2007 when he was firstly elected chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In 2011, he became director-general of the U.N. Office in Geneva. Then two years later, Kazakhstan’s Senate elected him as its chairman.
On 19 March 2019, then-President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced his resignation. According to the Constitution of Kazakhstan, in case of early termination of powers, the Speaker of the Senate becomes President until the next election. On 9 April 2019, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev announced early elections in June 2019. He was elected president of Kazakhstan on 9 June with 71% of the popular vote.

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