Kazakh-Indian Relations on the Rise

Ambassador of Kazakhstan to India Bulat Sarsembayev.

KazakhA natural continuation of the historical traditions of our relations was the signing of the Declaration on Strategic Partnership in January 2009, which was adopted during the successful visit of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to India, when he took part as the guest of honor in the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Republic Day of India. In accordance with this important document, the two countries came to a new level of cooperation. The invitation to become the chief guest of the national day has a special meaning; it demonstrates the strategic importance of relations between the two countries and shows the deep respect of Indians to the people of Kazakhstan and its recognized leader.

It should be noted that after receiving independence, Nursultan Nazarbayev decided to make the first foreign visit to India, which took place on February 22, 1992. Later, he visited India several times and this year he received the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, which indicates a positive attitude towards India and the desire to have a close partnership with this great country.

In this context, I would like to note that on July 7-8 Modi paid an official visit to Astana, which we see as a significant event in Kazakh-Indian relations. The visit allowed us to bring the strategic partnership on the path of long-term development through the expansion of trade-economic and technological-investment cooperation. In recent years, Kazakh-Indian relations have become increasingly dynamic. Our countries cooperate very effectively in the political field, where they have similar positions on major international issues. We are actively cooperating with India in multilateral fora and international and regional organizations which often share common views on global and regional processes. Kazakhstan supports India’s aspirations to permanent membership in the UN Security Council, while India in turn supports the candidacy of Kazakhstan as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2017-2018 and has confirmed its participation in EXPO 2017.

In addition, India is a consistent supporter of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and actively participates in this process. CICA has now become an influential organization. It conducted the heads of State meet in 2002. When India and Pakistan conflict was at its peak, the Prime Ministers of the two countries came for a meeting to Almaty. This was first summit and first contribution of CICA. The organization has now over 20 members including India. We intend to make CICA an organization to ensure security in Asia like the OSCE. In this regard, we look forward to its constructive position on the issue of transformation of the CICA in the Organisation for Security and Development in Asia.

Well-established political cooperation between our countries is a good basis for the development of mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation. For the development and strengthening of trade and economic relations, we held ministerial and consular consultations, as well as the intergovernmental commission and six joint working groups (JWG) on trade and economic cooperation, military technical cooperation, information technology, development of the textile industry, combating terrorism and tea debt. There are plans to establish JWGs on oil and gas and transport and logistics, as well as on health and pharmacology. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan plays a central role in this system of bilateral relations by coordinating JWG work and if necessary, initiates the governmental decrees and decisions to achieve positive outcomes.

Today the volume of trade between Kazakhstan and India does not reflect the trade-economic potential and opportunities of the two countries, despite the fact that this figure still exceeds the total trade turnover of India with all the Central Asian states combined. The main obstacle for intensification of trade and economic cooperation between our countries was the lack of permanent land transport routes. In this regard, the project of the new Uzen-Bereket-Gorgan railway line, an offshoot of the North-South corridor, plays an important role in the development prospects of bilateral economic and trade cooperation. The project was opened by the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Iran and Turkmenistan on December 3, 2014. It will reduce the freight distance and its cost by two times or more.

In this context, the visit of the president of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy Askar Mamin to India on June 9-10 should be noted, during which talks were held with Indian authorities on the development of logistics for transporting goods to Kazakhstan and via Kazakhstan by visiting the ports of Mundra, Mumbai and Bandar Abbas through Iran and Turkmenistan to Kazakhstan. In addition, the parties are considering the possibility of implementing joint projects for the construction and lease or acquisition of terminal facilities in western Indian ports such as Mundra and Mumbai in order to create the optimal transport schemes between Kazakhstan and India, as well as the promotion of Indian exports.

During the Business Forum, which took place in Astana in the framework of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Kazakhstan, the MOU between National Export and Investment Agency «KAZNEX INVEST» and Invest India which includes “Road Map” unites more than 26 large investment projects was signed. These projects will give a strong impetus to bilateral trade and economic cooperation in nearest future. Work on the implementation of some of them already begins.

In the course of attracting investments and new technologies in the economy of Kazakhstan, Kazakh ministries and departments are primarily based on the “Kazakhstan in a new global reality: Growth. Reforms. Development” state-of-the-nation address from the Kazakh 2President of Kazakhstan (November 30, 2015) and “Five Institutional Reforms” that provide various financial privileges and create an attractive infrastructure and necessary conditions for Indian companies.

Cooperation in the tourism field is growing. There is the flight between Kazakhstan and India carried by Air Astana on the Almaty-Delhi-Almaty route. Currently, the airline company is holding talks to increase the frequency from seven to 21 connections per week. This will help to increase several times the number of both sides tourist traveling.

Cultural and humanitarian ties and scientific and technical cooperation are also developing steadily. Currently, work is being carried out related to the installation of a bust of Kazakh poet and philosopher Abai Kunanbayuly in New Delhi on the same-named street. The Centre of Kazakh language and Kazakh studies, which distributes Kazakh history, language, literature and art and promotes the Kazakh lifestyle, operates at Jamia Millia Islamia University.

The delegation headed by Kazakh National University Rector Galimkair Mutanov visited Delhi where they met with the rectors of Delhi University, Amity Technological University and Amity University. During the negotiations, the parties reached some agreements in which the main emphasis was placed on scientific and technical cooperation. As a result of the meetings, bilateral documents on cooperation were signed and an agreement on publishing the Kazakh-Hindi dictionary was reached. There was also an agreement to open representation of Kazakh National University at Amity University and of representation of Amity University at the Kazakh National University.

Visit of the delegation of Kazakh National University of Arts Headed by Rector, People’s Artist of the Republic of Kazakhstan, professor Aiman Mussakhajayeva which includes the eminent artists of the Republic of Kazakhstan, such as opera singer Azamat Zheltyrguzov, conductor Aidar Torybayev gave three concerts. Concerts organized by the Embassy became a craze among the large audience of the Indian capital. The visit of the delegation of the Kazakh National University of Arts allowed to show the level of cultural and education development in Kazakhstan and opened the new horizons for cooperation between the two countries.

In general, the state and prospects of development of Kazakh-Indian relations show that we have chosen the right vector of development of cooperation. Existing capacity is very large and almost unlimited. Kazakhstan will continue to strive to make the most of every opportunity to raise the strategic partnership to an even higher level and to fill relations between India and Kazakhstan with new meaning and content for the sake of the friendship and prosperity of the people of the two countries.

Summing up the experience in the development of Kazakh-Indian cooperation, we can conclude that the current political realities dictate the urgent need to reassess the role of modern India and the further development of closer relations with the leading South Asian state to be included in the priority list of the Kazakhstan foreign policy in Asia.

Strong arguments in favour of such formulation of the question are as already noted – the high international prestige of the country in the region and the world and the progress in the economy, which make India attractive from the point of view of bilateral relations. At the same time, the development of full-scale relations between Kazakhstan and India fully meets the needs of our countries and should be focused on deepening and expanding mutual political contacts and business cooperation.