A Summary of the Conference “Kazakhstan and Europe: Charting a Path to Progress”

On December 14, 2015, the Institute for Security and Development Policy organized the conference “Kazakhstan and Europe: Charting a Path to Progress” at the Sheraton Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden.

The conference consisted of two panels examining the multiple vectors of Kazakhstan’s integration into regional and international organizations. As ISDP Director Dr. Svante Cornell stated in his introductory remarks, Kazakhstan’s economic and security prospects are at a crossroads, while the Central Asian region harbors considerable uncertainty and falling commodity prices spurn economic reforms. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan is planning to host the Expo 2017 in its capital Astana, and is promoting a 2017 bid for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

Introductory remarks were made by Dr. Svante Cornell, ISDP Director; H.E. Dr. Dastan Yeleukenov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Sweden; and H.E. Mr. Stefan Gullgren, Head of the Department for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The first panel focused on Kazakhstan and the country’s role in international politics. Dr. Johan Engvall, Research Fellow at ISDP and the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, as well as co-author of the Silk Road Paper “Asserting Statehood: Kazakhstan’s Role in International Organizations,” spoke about Kazakhstan’s bid for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. Dr. Dauren Aben from Nazarbayev University detailed Kazakhstan’s vision for its future and the 2050 strategy, and Dr. Nygmet Ibadildin, Associate Professor at KIMEP University, expanded on the country’s future beyond oil as well as the Astana Expo 2017.

The second panel focused on the growing political, trade, and security relationship between the European Union and Kazakhstan. Dr. Michael Emerson from Centre for European Policy Studies spoke about the finalized EU-Kazakh Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Dr. Askar Nursha, Project Coordinator at the Institute of World Economy and Politics, expanded on the relations with Europe in Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. Mr. Vladimir Socor, Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, detailed Kazakhstan’s security policy in the Central Asian and Eurasian contexts. Finally, Dr. Svante Cornell, ISDP Director and co-author of the Silk Road Paper “The EU, Central Asia, and the Development of Continental Transport and Trade,” discussed the opportunities offered by the development of transportation and trade infrastructure in Kazakhstan for developing Chinese and European commercial links.

ISDP would like to thank the speakers and audience who contributed to the success of the seminar.

Watch some video highlights from the conference here: