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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 29,749 24,205 22,400 60
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,780 1,510 1,350 119
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Kazakstan


Update No: 351- (25/03/10)

The presidency of the OSCE
President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazkhstan is in a bizarre position. He is in the usual dictatorial mould of former Soviet Central Asian despots, keeping thousands in prison for no other reason than their opposition to his harsh regime.

Yet Kazakhstan has been holding the revolving presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the first part of 2010, which is committed to advancing the cause of liberal-democracy in its part of the world.

Kazakhstan is not actually in Europe, but Central Asia. It has no liberal-democracy whatever. It is a police state.

But then it has 60% of the former Soviet Union's mineral resources.

Uzbek options
Nazarbayev is well aware that as far as Europeans are concerned he is more acceptable than any alternative in Former Soviet Central Asia. Indeed treating him with recognition and respect could pay off elsewhere, for instance in bringing Uzbekistan, the real core of Central Asia and neighbour to recalcitrant Afghanistan, back on board.

He got what he wanted out of talks in Tashkent on March 17. Nazarbayev secured Uzbek support for his cherished aim of hosting an OSCE summit later this year. In return, he offered unqualified backing for Uzbekistan’s stance on hydropower development in Central Asia.

Nazarbayev, for the first time, fully endorsed the position of Uzbek leader Islam Karimov’s administration, which maintains that no hydropower facilities should be built in so-called upstream countries until international feasibility studies are completed. "Until the results of [international] expert testing are available, no dam should be built," Nazarbayev said in remarks quoted by the independent Uzbek website Uzmetronom.

A major breakthrough
Securing Tashkent’s support marks an important diplomatic victory for Nazarbayev. "In the first place, it was precisely to persuade Islam Karimov to lift his objections [to an OSCE summit] that the president of Kazakhstan went to Tashkent," Arkady Dubnov, a well-known commentator on Central Asian affairs, wrote in the Russian Vremya newspaper on March 17. Dubnov also cited the warm words spoken by Karimov about Kazakhstan’s successes being tantamount to Uzbekistan’s successes, which Dubnov interpreted as a "gesture of diplomatic reconciliation."

"Relations between the two largest countries, battling for leadership in Central Asia . . . have never been distinguished by particular warmth," Dubnov added.

Karimov and Nazarbayev -- who both became leaders of their Soviet republics in 1989, and have led their respective states since they gained independence in 1991 -- have long been viewed as competitors for a leadership role in Central Asia. But during the visit, Nazarbayev was at pains to deny any rivalry, insisting that any such reports are "invented."

"There are no contradictions between our countries," Nazarbayev said in remarks quoted by the Kazinform state news agency. "There have always been people who wish there not to be friendship. We have the will and political understanding not to allow this."

Nazarbayev rounded off the trip with a call for regional unity. "It is important as never before not to allow fragmentation and diffusion in our region. I am convinced that without serious dynamics in our personal and interstate relations, the region will not be able to join forces for development and prosperity."

However, many observers doubt that the expressions of mutual friendship voiced in Tashkent will have a lasting impact. They likewise do not expect that Central Asian states can resolve divisive issues, such as the hydropower development, any time soon, and do not believe that the Kazakh-Uzbek rivalry is a thing of the past.

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