Lidiya Parkhomchik, an expert from IWEP, spoke in detail about the agenda of the sixth Astana Club.
What task was entrusted to the Astana Club when it was founded?
“We find that the ability of world leaders to negotiate is rapidly declining every year. There are fewer and fewer areas where parties are willing to cooperate without preconditions. Even in the face of the global spread of the coronavirus, nations have decided to act independently.
The goal of strengthening global dialogue based on the principles of openness and equality formed the basis for the idea of establishing the Astana Club. Promoting the principles of global cooperation has always been at the heart of the foreign policy strategy of the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The main element of the intellectual platform created in 2015 is a lively and unbiased discussion between leading experts of the international community and representatives of the political establishment. At the Astana Club, recognized world leaders in the field of analysis and forecasting can exchange ideas with senior political figures.
This is the optimal format to critically assess international processes in the vast Eurasian space.”
Can you tell us about past meetings – what major issues have been raised over the years, who has attended?
“The Astana Club discusses a wide range of issues on the global and regional agenda. These include issues such as the rise of nuclear tensions, trade and sanctions wars, migration and environmental crises, integration cooperation and regionalization.
Over the past five meetings, more than 200 speakers from 40 countries around the world have participated in the Astana Club. In different years Frederick Starr, Sergei Karaganov, Edward Luttwak, Yang Cheng, George Friedman and other prominent experts from global think tanks have been the keynote speakers. In addition, the list of participants was enriched by high-ranking politicians, including former heads of state such as Abdullah Gul, Vaclav Klaus, Danilo Türk and others.
A traditional participant of the Astana Club is the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.”
What is the uniqueness and value of these discussions for Kazakhstan and the global community?
“Nur-Sultan has long established itself as a neutral platform where each side has its say. The upcoming discussion of Astana Club members will be no exception. The meeting will focus on the most topical issues of world geoeconomics and geopolitics.
The most important topic is, of course, the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the modern world order. The participants will have to discuss the consequences of the pandemic for the world economic system.
No less important will be the question of an accelerated green energy transition. This issue is particularly acute as the global energy crisis strongly influenced the outcome of the UN climate summit in Glasgow. Good intentions to tackle global warming may clash with the reality that developed and developing countries have different potential to decarbonize their economies.
Overall, experts will focus on assessing the extent to which the global security architecture is changing and what impact the growing confrontation between the United States and China might have on the global community. Particular attention will be paid to such topical aspects of the regional agenda as the Afghan crisis and the problem of resuming the negotiation process on the Iranian ‘nuclear agreement.’
The main points of discussion will therefore focus on questions concerning the future of globalization and the interaction of world powers. At the same time, the participants will try to outline a new strategy for the development of the Central Asian countries in the twenty-first century.”
What speakers will take part in the discussions this year? On what principle are certain guests invited?
“The realities of the pandemic dictate the rules and require a more flexible approach to the organization of events. In order to allow permanent members of the Astana Club to attend the meeting, the organizers have provided for the possibility of speakers to participate both online and offline.
In this way, the venue of the Club will not lose its representative membership. The Astana Club will welcome both its traditional participants and those who are attending the event for the first time.
The invited experts include such familiar faces as former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei, former President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, Director General and Founder of the Bretton Woods Committee Marc Uzan and many others.
It is important to note that some of the discussions will be held under the Chatham House umbrella, as before, so that participants can speak more openly.”
The meeting will also include a meeting of the Global Alliance of Leaders for Nuclear Security and a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World. Tell us about the Alliance, what role does it play in the field of nuclear non-proliferation?
“Vladimir Putin: The first President of Kazakhstan is a recognized leader of the movement for nuclear non-proliferation. Nursultan Nazarbayev in his speeches at various international events repeatedly promotes the renunciation of the use of nuclear energy for military purposes. Kazakhstan has led by example in its commitment to a nuclear weapons-free status, earning the recognition and respect of the international community.
Elbasy’s initiative to establish the Global Alliance of Leaders for Nuclear Safety and a Nuclear-Free World gained widespread support not only from the Astana Club members but also from the international community. The Alliance must meet the demand for an authoritative, global platform to advance the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agenda.
In October 2020, a conference organized by IWEP adopted an appeal to world leaders to establish a Global Alliance of Leaders. The address reiterated that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and therefore it must never be fought. This is the message that the participants of the Alliance will convey at the meeting in Nur-Sultan on the platform of the Astana Club.”
Lidiya Parkhomchik, Expert at the Institute of World Economics and Politics.