Foreign media on Kazakhstan: new Kazakh government, anniversary with EU, Central Asia’s trade with China

foreign policy
Photo credit: Kazinform/

From the reshuffles in the Kazakh government to the 31st anniversary of diplomatic relations with the European Union (EU) and Central Asia’s trade with China, Kazinform News Agency presents a review of foreign media coverage about Kazakhstan this week.

Bloomberg: Kazakhstan’s President Names Chief of Staff as New Premier

Bloomberg reported on February 6 about the resignation of the government of Kazakhstan and appointment of a new one.

“Kazakhstan’s president appointed his chief of staff Olzhas Bektenov to the post of prime minister following the resignation of the previous cabinet. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed an order filling the position after securing support from parliament. Earlier today, Yerlan Koshanov, the chairman of the ruling Amanat party and leader of the lower house of parliament, nominated Bektenov for the role, according to a statement on the president’s website,” reads the article.

Deutsche Welle: Kazakh government quits amid attempt to pass reforms

Germany’s Deutsche Welle reported on February 5 that President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has accepted the cabinet's resignation.

“He has recently been calling for reforms to attract foreign investment,” writes DW.

The news agency writes that the presidential statement “did not give a reason, but Tokayev has recently been pushing for sweeping reforms to attract foreign capital into the economy.”

“Government reshuffles are not uncommon in the Central Asian country where much of the power is in the hands of the president,” writes DW.

It quotes Spanish news agency EFE, who interviewed Kazakh political scientist Talgat Kaliyev, saying that President Tokayev “had repeatedly expressed his disappointment with the cabinet.”

EU Reporter: Kazakhstan and the European Union Commemorate the 31st Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations

EU Reporter published an article on February 3, covering the 31st anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and the EU.

“In this relatively brief period, by historical standards, the parties have significantly expanded their strategic partnership across political, trade and economic, investment, cultural, and humanitarian spheres. Additionally, they have deepened their interaction within the framework of the interregional dialogue, Central Asia - European Union,” writes the European media outlet.

It mentions increased high-level contacts, including meetings between President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and the President of the European Council Charles Michel. This kind of meetings “significantly strengthened the political dialogue between Astana and Brussels,” writes the agency.

“At the II Central Asia – European Union Economic Forum in Almaty (May 18-19, 2023), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) presented a detailed report supporting infrastructure projects in Central Asia. The report emphasized the competitiveness and operational efficiency of the Central Trans-Caspian Network across South Kazakhstan, identified as the most sustainable transport network,” reads the article.

It also recalls the visit of the Vice President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas to Kazakhstan on January 15, 2024, and the participation of the Kazakh delegation, headed by

Minister of Transport Marat Karabayev in the first Investment Forum on sustainable transport connection between Central Asia and Europe on January 29-30, 2024 in Brussels.

Times of Central Asia: Kazakhstan’s Government Resigns Amidst Sweeping Reforms

Times of Central Asia reported on February 5 that President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has dismissed the country’s government by signing a decree on its resignation.

“According to the Constitution of Kazakhstan, First Deputy Prime Minister Roman Sklyar will temporarily perform the duties of Prime Minister (PM). At the same time, all other ministers will continue to work in the same mode until the head of state approves the composition of the new government,” reads the article.

The resignation of the government “underscores a shift in Kazakhstan’s political scene.”

“Smailov assumed office on January 11th, 2022, following public discontent that erupted into riots. During his tenure, many events transpired, but the most memorable for the population were serious problems with municipal heating in a number of regions; forest fires in the Kostanay and Abay regions; explosions at mines in the Karaganda region, and the earthquake in Almaty. All this evoked plenty of criticism regarding the composition of the government,” reads the article.

Eurasianet: China reports robust trade growth with Central Asian states

Eurasianet reported on February 2 that trade between China and Central Asian states surged in 2023, citing the data from China’s customs agency, GACC.

“Annual trade turnover for the region as reported by the GACC totaled $89.4 billion in 2023, a 27 percent increase over the previous year’s level of $70.2 billion. The balance of trade, however, was lopsided: goods and services exported to Central Asian states amounted to $61.4 billion, while Beijing’s imports from the region were worth $28 billion,” read the article.

It also notes that in 2023, Kazakhstan was China’s largest trade partner. Bilateral trade reached $41 billion, a increase of 32 percent compared to the previous year. Kazakh exports made up $16.3 billion, while imports - $24.7 billion.

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