Site Information:  Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union



Public Affairs Source: Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of Public Communication Description: Washington, DC Date: Aug 24, 19928/24/92 Category: Fact Sheets Region: Eurasia Country: Kazakhstan, USSR (former) Subject: History, Democratization, Trade/Economics, Cultural Exchange Map: Central, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Republics [TEXT]

US-Kazakhstan Relations

The United States recognized Kazakhstan's independence on December 25, 1991, and was the first country to open an embassy there in January 1992. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev made his first official visit to Washington, DC, May 18-20, 1992. He met with President Bush, Secretary Baker, and a wide array of government and business leaders. During his visit, the United States and Kazakhstan signed a series of agreements to expand economic, technical, and cultural ties between the two countries. These included an agreement to extend reciprocal most-favored-nation tariff treatment to the products of each country, a bilateral investment treaty which provides legal protections for investors of one country in the territory of the other country, and an agreement enabling the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to make available investment insurance for American firms operating in Kazakhstan. The two leaders also agreed to end diplomatic travel restrictions, to conclude a new convention for avoidance of double taxation of income, and to develop further cooperation in the area of scientific research and environmental protection. The Administration has asked Congress to appropriate $620 million for fiscal years 1992 and 1993 for emergency humanitarian relief and technical assistance to support democratic reform and promote economic restructuring in the new independent states (NIS). About 50% of these funds will go to Ukraine, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. The Administration also has supported the establishment of a new private organization, the Eurasia Foundation, which will provide grants to institutions and individuals in the US and the NIS for technical assistance, management training, and democratic institution-building. At the Lisbon Conference on Assistance to the New Independent States, May 23-24, 1992, the United States signed a protocol to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine (those states on whose territory nuclear weapons are located). The protocol makes the four states parties to the START Treaty and commits all the signatories to reductions in strategic nuclear weapons within the 7-year peried provided for in the treaty. On June 5, 1992, Kazakhstan and the other new independent states signed the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, which reduces stockpiles of tanks, artillery, and armored vehicles. On July 2, 1992, the parliament of Kazakhstan ratified the START and CFE agreements.

Building Democracy

The Kazakh parliament declared independence from the former Soviet Union on December 16, 1991. In the December 1991 presidential elections, President Nazarbaev ran unopposed and received 98% of the vote. There are several opposition political parties and numerous smaller interest or social groups. The Nevada-Semipalatinsk anti- nuclear movement played an important role in the recent ban on nuclear tests in the republic. The Kazakh Communist Party has changed its name to the Socialist Party, but it has little influence. Kazakhstan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991. It became a member of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in January 1992, and the United Nations and the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in March 1992.

Economic Conditions

In 1988, Kazakhstan's net output accounted for 4.3% of total output in the former Soviet Union. About 23% of the population is engaged in agriculture. Major products are wool, grain, and meat. The northern area of the country produces up to one-third of all wheat grown in the territory of the NIS. The United States recently launched a farmer-to-farmer assistance program that will provide hands-on training in US-style farm technology and agricultural cooperatives. It is the first phase of a 3-year, $30-million program administered by the US Agency for International Development, under which five teams of volunteers will work in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine with farm groups interested in establishing private agribusiness enterprises. Kazakhstan was a Soviet industrial center during and after World War II, when the USSR moved industry east of the Urals to protect it from Nazi invasion. Mining and quarrying play a major role in Kazakhstan's economy. Abundant mineral resources-which include mineral oil, natural gas, metals, gold, and coal-provide the bulk of the republic's limited hard currency. In 1989, Kazakhstan produced about 19% of total coal and 10% of total iron ore production in the former Soviet Union. The United States seeks to promote self-sustaining economic reforms in Kazakhstan by encouraging trade and investment by US companies. In addition, the Department of Commerce's Special American Business Intern Training Program is bringing managers from privatizing companies in Kazakhstan for training programs in the United States, the Department of Agriculture is sending US agribusiness experts to work in Kazakh enterprises, and, under the Trade and Development Program, the United States is funding a feasibility study for the development of a coal mine in the Kendyrlik region and construction of a highway from Alma-Ata to Krasnovodsk in Turkmenistan.

Kazakhstan at a Glance

The origins of the Kazakh people are uncertain, but traditional similarities indicate that they may have descended from the Mongol Golden Horde. Kazakhs founded a great nomadic empire under Burunduk Khan and his son Kasym Khan, who ruled from 1488 to 1518. Later, the empire broke into smaller groups called khanates. The region was incorporated into the Russian empire by 1848. A Kazakh nationalist movement arose in the early 20th century. The Soviet Army occupied Kazakhstan from 1919 to 1920 before it became a republic in 1921. After 1927, the Soviets forcibly settled the Kazakhs, diluting nationalistic sentiment by resettling large groups of Russians and Ukrainians into the region, especially during the 1950s. Kazakhstan covers about 2.7 million square kilometers (about four times the size of Texas). Ethnic Kazakhs make up 18% of the population of the capital (Alma-Ata) and 50% of the surrounding countryside. In 1990, total population was 16.7 million. Ethnic Kazakhs comprise about 40% of the country's population; Russians, about 38%. Germans, Ukrainians, Koreans, and other groups make up the remainder.

Principal Government Officials

President: Nursultan Nazarbaev Foreign Minister: Tolevtay Suleymenov Capital: Alma-Ata o