By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Kazakhstani Ambassador to Mexico Andrian Yelemessov marked the 26th anniversary of his country’s independence from the Soviet Union with a diplomatic reception at his embassy on Wednesday, Dec. 13.
And after more than a quarter century of economic growth and development in the post-Soviet era, Yelemessov pointed out in his welcome speech, Kazakhstan is now assuming a prominent role in the international arena.
Once home to at least 1,400 nuclear warheads and a primary test site for Russian nuclear explosions, the Central Asian republic is currently serving a two-year term as a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council. and is taking a leadership position in trying to broker regional and global peace.
In its first decade of its independence, Kazakhstan, with financing from the U.S. government, took the daring and unprecedented step of dismantling and destroying all its nuclear-tipped missiles, repatriating its remaining radioactive military materials back to Russia in the mid-1990s.
The country has since signed a series of nonproliferation treaties, becoming a pioneer in the movement to promote a nuclear-free world.
Yelemessov also noted that his government is actively working to broaden its international ties beyond Central Asia, including with Mexico.
Earlier this year, the Kazakhstani capital of Astana hosted a three-month-long international energy expo, as well as summit conferences on cooperation with China, science and technology and Eurasian economic growth.
More recently, Kazakhstan hosted international peace talks aimed at establishing a fourth de-escalation zone in Syria in September, paving the way for a path to less violence in that war-torn country.
“Collectively, in the years since our independence, under the leadership of our first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan has achieved important milestones in its foreign policies,” Yelemessov said.
“Today, Kazakhstan has diplomatic relations with 169 nations around the world, with 94 diplomatic missions and consular offices operating in 64 countries, with some 100 embassies, diplomatic missions and international organizations accredited before the Kazakh government.”
Yelemessov added that his country has maintained formal diplomatic relations with Mexico for over 25 years.
Currently, combined bilateral trade between the countries is amounts to about $80 million annually, making Mexico Kazakhstan’s second-largest trade partner in Latin America, right after Brazil.
Kazakhstan today boasts the largest economy in Central Asia, and with enormous carbon-based energy and mineral reserves, the country has become a magnet for transnational investors who want to exploit its vast oil potential.
Kazakhstan is also now the world’s largest producers of uranium.