International experts are now closely following snap parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, which are to be held on March, 19. Old political elites linked to the authoritarian regime of the First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev have done everything possible to ensure their victory in the elections. However, new democratic political leaders of the country are holding out hope to be represented in the Parliament. This would mean that Kazakhstan is really moving toward democratic development. The 2022 Kazakh unrest (mass protests and riots in January 2022, aka ‘Bloody January’ brutally stifled by Russia and CSTO troops) revealed the will of Kazakhs to secure a transition to democracy.
We met with Zhanar Suleimenova, an influential Kazakh public figure, prominent social activist, and independent candidate running for the Parliament of Kazakhstan at the VII International GR Forum held in Washington, D.C.
Zhanar Suleimenova represented Kazakhstan at the expert panel discussion, which focused on the New Waves of Global Challenges for the GR Industry. The politician is convinced that today, due to global shifts in the international arena, as well as internal changes, Kazakhstan has every chance to become a leading player in the economic development of Central Asia.
“Kazakhstan has a unique opportunity to diversify its economic development, reduce its dependence on Russia and, thus, develop mutually beneficial economic cooperation with other countries in the region. In order to do this, it is of utmost importance to support and develop small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country”, she said.
Zhanar Suleimenova consistently promotes the principles of sustainable development in Kazakhstan.
“Not only will entrepreneurship development in Kazakhstan allow to reduce our dependence on oil revenues, but it will also become the key to solving complex social and environmental problems of our people and cities. It is not a secret that today in Kazakhstan there is no equal access of all citizens to quality education, medicine, clean water, and clean air”, she added.
Under the leadership of Zhanar Suleimenova, the “Asyl Niet” non-governmental organization prepared a Sustainable Development Program for Kazakhstan called “Confidence in Tomorrow”, an in-depth analysis and recommendations for policymakers aimed to support domestic industries and SME achieve sustainable development goals.
“I am quite certain that our advocacy for entrepreneurs is a necessary and important initiative, since it clearly identifies solutions, without which Kazakhstan will never be able to achieve significant changes in the country. These suggestions and recommendations have been developed on the basis of my election program “Confidence in Tomorrow”. I am extremely grateful to the Head of IGAPA Kateryna Odarchenko for her kind contribution to our work and GR Forum experts for their expertise and insightful comments and recommendations”, she continued.
The politician clearly sees the connection between entrepreneurship development in Kazakhstan and reforms in public administration and education.
“I am striving to reform public administration in Kazakhstan and enforce advancement on the basis of merit only. This will ensure that our country will be governed by the best women and men for a job, so to speak. Nepotism, bribery, and corruption have no place in public administration. Without quality education there will be no competent politicians and managers; there will be no strong economy, good experts and effective civil society. Human capital development should be priority number one for Kazakhstan”, – concluded Zhanar.
Every year the International GR Forum organized by IGAPA (International Government Affairs Professionals Association) brings together leading experts in the field of government relations, communications, and advocacy. The VII International GR Forum gathered government affairs professionals from all over the world, including Stephen Blank, Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute; Joe Wertz, leading PR expert; Victoria Spartz, US Congresswoman; Kendall Coffey, former US Attorney and founding member of Coffey Burlington; Mihael Cigler, Head of FIPRA (Finsbury International Policy & Regulatory Advisers) in Slovenia; Ihor Dovban, Ukrainian politician; Jan J. Campbell, Managing Partner at Manchester Global Solutions, Inc.; Natalija Dobrovic, Political Scientist from Montenegro, and others.
Editor’s Note: Right after the Forum, Zhanar Suleimenova’s registration as a candidate has been cancelled by the decision of the Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan based on the alleged bureaucratic inaccuracies – one week before the election.