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caspian policy center holds discussion about the united states-kazakhstan relationship over the last three decades

Caspian Policy Center Holds Discussion About the United States-Kazakhstan Relationship Over the Last Three Decades

Author: Caspian Policy Center

May 17, 2021

Four former United States Ambassadors to Kazakhstan discussed major milestones such as denuclearization, the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, the development of the Tengiz field and the signing of the Tengizchevroil partnership, the United States embassy’s move from Almaty to Nur-Sultan, and more. 

Washington, D.C. — TODAY, the Caspian Policy Center (CPC) hosted a panel of experts to discuss thirty years of the United States-Kazakhstan partnership that have been marked by countless achievements across diplomatic, economic, and cultural areas. 

“In 1991, the United States became the first country to recognize Kazakhstan’s independence,” said Efgan Nifti, Chief Executive Officer of the CPC. “Today, CPC brings a very special lineup of guests to discuss the thirty years of partnership between Kazakhstan and the United States.” 

H.E. Yerzhan Ashikbayev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States, delivered keynote remarks during the discussion highlighting the importance of the U.S. strategic interests in supporting democracy, prosperity, and security of Kazakhtsan. 

“Kazakhstan stands ready and always keeps its channels of communication open. This has been one of the trademarks of Kazakh diplomacy overall,” said Ambassador Ashikbayev

Brianne Todd, Assistant Professor of Central Asian Studies at the National Defense University, moderated an insightful conversation among the webinar participants on the strategic relationship between two countries that can be traced back to the immediate events following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Kazakhstani independence. 

The panelists, Ambassador (ret.) William Courtney, Former U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan (1992-1995) and Adjunct Senior Fellow at RAND Corporation; Ambassador (ret.) John Ordway, Former U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan (2004-2008); Ambassador (ret.) Richard Hoagland, Former U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan (2008-2011) and Security and Politics Program Chair at CPC; and Ambassador (ret.) George Krol, Former U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan (2015-2018) and Adjunct Professor at the U.S. Naval War College, discussed the efforts of the United States foreign policy officials in 1990 who were overseeing denuclearization efforts in Kazakhtsan, expanding the potential for hydrocarbon resource extraction, and evincing the United States’ interest in establishing dependable bilateral relations. 

“Kazakhstan’s strategy for being engaged in multilateral organizations really has been important for its sovereignty and independence. Kazakhstan’s engagement in multilateral organizations has helped it to gain recognition globally,” said Ambassador Courtney. 

“We’ve always welcomed Kazakhstan’s participation in international organizations and non-governmental organizations because we have a great relationship and trust that Kazakhstan is going to have a moderate role and outlook that will be compatible with ours,” said Ambassador Ordway. 

“Kazakhstan’s first president Nursultan Nazarbayev undertook fundamental changes from the beginning of his tenure that actually internationalized his nation like no other country in the region,” said Ambassador Hoagland. “Nearly 20 years after, in 2010, he was eager to showcase that nation and its real achievements to the world.” 

“We established an enhanced, strategic partnership, in which we’ve dealt with many issues, including Kazakhstan’s role in the completion and success of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran,” said Ambassador Krol

At the end of the webinar, the speakers also discussed how the bilateral relationship between the United States and Kazakhstan has matured over the past decades to accommodate both China’s rising ambitions in the region and its traditional partnership with Russia. The speakers highlighted potential areas to enhance the strategic relationship with the Biden administration and the implications of further involving the United States in the region. 

To sign up for updates or to learn more about the CPC’s work on this series, visit https://www.caspianpolicy.org/research/  



The Caspian Policy Center (CPC) is an independent, nonprofit research think tank based in Washington D.C. Economic, political, energy, and security issues of the Caspian region constitute the central research focus of the Center. CPC aims at becoming a primary research and debate platform in the Caspian region with relevant publications, events, projects, and media productions to nurture a comprehensive understanding of the intertwined affairs of the Caspian region.  

With an inclusive, scholarly, and innovative approach, the Caspian Policy Center presents a platform where diverse voices from academia, business, and the policy world from both the region and the nation’s capital interact to produce distinct ideas and insights about the outstanding issues of the Caspian region.  Learn more at caspianpolicy.org


For further information or to arrange an interview with our experts, please contact us at [email protected]

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