The Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC) on 28th of January 2019 hosted the second in a series of round tables on the foreign policy of Central Asian states at its office in Moscow. “Multiple Vectors of Central Asia: the Case of Kazakhstan” brought together Russian and Kazakhstan experts studying Kazakhstan, Central Asian region and Eurasian integration processes to discuss the foreign policy of Central Asia’s largest state and how it may develop in future. The keynote speech was given by Andrei Grozin, Head of Central Asia and Kazakhstan Department at the Institute of CIS Countries.
Andrei Grozin noted that Kazakhstan has the most developed multi-vector foreign policy of all Central Asian states. This is a geopolitical imperative due to Kazakhstan’s position as a landlocked country in the centre of Eurasia (the Caspian Sea cannot be considered a sea in the full sense), which makes maintaining a balance among different centre of powers a necessity.
Other factors include the interests of the political elite, and particularly of the Kazakh leadership. Kazakhstan is also the most integrated of all Central Asian states into the global economic system, which also makes it vulnerable to volatility in commodity markets, Andrei Grozin noted. Another key leitmotif is to maintain independence from external forces, although no external actor is currently seeking hegemony in relations with Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan has been successful in building constructive relationships with a number of leading nations, although the country now has to choose which partners to engage with more closely to avoid become a