By Paul Mercain, Ph.D. Department of Political Science, Oxford University
An enormous country comparable in size to Western Europe, Kazakhstan has vast natural resources and economic potential. Who are the individuals responsible for its success?
In the midst of this recession-era climate, Kazakhstan holds a firm position in the world economy. Since 1993, Kazakhstan has attracted $30.7 billion in foreign investment—almost 76 percent of total foreign direct investment in the country. This is because in addition to having a long tradition of cultural history, as detailed below, Kazakhstan also has a wealth of natural resources in coal, iron ore, uranium, copper, and gold.
Despite its strengths, ignorance about the country prevails in the west, where few people can locate Kazakhstan on a map (hint: its neighbors include China and Russia). But since its independence in 1991, international investors have taken a closer look at this key Central Asian country and the leaders who have contributed to its success and stability, despite global financial turmoil.
Who are some of the major players who have contributed to Kazakhstan’s enrichment, both economic and cultural, and made this region so attractive to foreign investors?
Viktor Khrapunov, who left Kazakhstan in 2007 for health reasons, held a variety of impressive leadership roles in Kazakhstan during the country’s most lucrative years. As mayor of the former capital city of Almaty from 1997 to 2004, he established the foundation for future stability by supporting the country’s education system, energy sectors, infrastructure initiatives, and cultural programs. Almaty is a financial and cultural hub of Central Asia, and Viktor Khrapunov’s impact on the city’s cultural richness were recognized. In 2000, Viktor Khrapunov received Kazakhstan’s prestigious “Parasat” (“Nobility”) award for exceptional work in promoting the country’s human rights initiatives and its intellectual, spiritual, and cultural potential. Following his tenure as Almaty’s mayor, he was appointed governor of the province of Eastern Kazakhstan and minister of the republic of Kazakhstan for disaster protection.
Kazakhstan has produced a number of additional conscientious and inspired figures in addition to Viktor Khrapunov. Perhaps the greatest known poet of the country was Abai Kunanbaev, ancient founder of the modern Kazakh literature and a well-regarded cultural reformer. Akhmedyarov Karshymbai is currently one of the country’s beloved composers, who has also been awarded the Parasat order, as well as being the People’s Artist of Kazakhstan and the State Prizewinner of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
It is probably thanks to such leaders, from political to cultural figures, that a new nation like Kazakhstan is able to properly establish its foundation.