On December 22, 2023, the Institute for Global Governance Research (GGR) held a talk session entitled “Kazakhstan at the Crossroads: Geopolitical Battles between Great Powers” with Dr. Aida Aidarkulova (Executive Director of Central Asian Policy Studies Unlock, Kazakhstan). The talk session was conducted in English and intriguingly, participants from diverse countries contributed to the event, enriching its international character.
Moderated by Professor Maiko Ichihara, Dr. Aidarkulova opened the talk session by underscoring the captivating geography of Kazakhstan, emphasizing its status as the largest landlocked country in the world. Noting that Kazakhstan occupies an important position in the energy sector and was recognized as the largest producer of coal and natural gas in 2018, she explained how Kazakhstan has effectively attracted considerable foreign direct investment (FDI). Its geopolitical influence stretches regionally and globally, characterized by diplomatic connections with Japan and active involvement in the European Union. Additionally, she pointed out Japan’s influential role through the proposal of the 5+1 format, showcasing diverse international engagements shaping Kazakhstan’s trajectory. Dr. Aidarkulova emphasized the noteworthy role Kazakhstan plays in regional initiatives, citing Xi Jinping’s invitations to Central Asian leaders during the G7 summit in Japan as evidence of its expanding influence on the global stage. She asserted that these diverse factors collectively contribute to Kazakhstan’s multifaceted presence and significance in the international arena.
During the Q&A session, a question addressed Kazakhstan’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, based on geography. The response highlighted strong support from Kazakhstan, pointing to a Ukrainian diaspora, shared history, and the importance of freedom of assembly. Lastly, discussions touched on Uyghur sentiment in Kazakhstan, Turkey’s democratic challenges, and refugee acceptance since Kazakhstan and ethnic Kazakhs have religious ties. Dr. Aidarkulova stressed the ethnic Kazakh issue in Xinjiang, referencing Xi Jinping’s statement that China could ensure Kazakhstan’s territorial integrity by addressing the ethnic Kazakh matter.
【Event report prepared by】
Hnin Htet Htet Aung (Master’s student, School of International and Public Policy, Hitotsubashi University)