The convergence between the actors of different regions in the Asian geography has reached a remarkable level in the last few years. In this case, the changes in the internal dynamics of these countries and the new equations brought by regional and global developments play a role. In this context, one of the mutually beneficial interactions that develops and strengthens is experienced between India and Kazakhstan.
Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, Astana and New Delhi have an ever-expanding dynamic of cooperation. Kazakhstan is India’s largest trading partner in Central Asia. In the last few years, there have been significant developments in the relations between the parties.
As it is known, India was one of the first countries to recognize Kazakhstan’s independence and did not delay in establishing diplomatic relations. The two countries, which have developed their relations and partnerships over the years, attach great importance to each other. Both countries have common views, goals and interests in economic development and regional stability.
In addition, Kazakhstan for India; stands out with its energy and natural resources. Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium producer, is also India’s most important supplier. The country meets about 80% of India’s uranium needs. Astana and New Delhi, which signed an agreement to supply 5,000 metric tons of uranium in 2015, renewed their nuclear agreements for the 2020-2024 period in 2019. Kazakhstan, which is also rich in oil production, is an alternative resource for India.
The second basic element that makes Kazakhstan important is the geostrategic position of the country. Being located between Russia and Asia and bordering with China increases the strategic importance of the country. India also attaches importance to this position of the country. At this point, it can be said that the North-South Corridor also plays an important role in the ties between the two.
As will be remembered, the Strategic Cooperation Agreement signed in 2009 became a milestone in the development of relations. Developing their partnerships in the following years, Astana and New Delhi established cooperation mechanisms in many fields. In addition, the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Kazakhstan for the opening of the SCO Summit and EXPO 2017 in 2017 also accelerated the relations.
In recent years, high-level visits between the two countries have come to the fore. In October 2021, the President of Kazakhstan, Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev hosted the Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who came to Kazakhstan to attend the 6th Foreign Ministers Meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
Economic relations and diplomacy-oriented cooperation between the parties are developing rapidly. The SCO Summit, which will be hosted by India, which holds the SCO Term Presidency, will also contribute to the strengthening of bilateral relations. India will use the opportunity provided by the SCO Presidency to increase interaction and partnerships.
It is seen that commercial relations have also developed. As of 2020, about 700 Indian companies are registered in Kazakhstan. Moreover, the interest of Indian companies towards Kazakhstan continues. A Joint Business Council was established between the two countries in order to strengthen commercial ties and increase investment cooperation. Bilateral trade volume is also increasing. Bilateral trade volume reached 2.5 billion dollars in 2022. In 2021, Kazakhstan exported 473 million dollars to India; India, on the other hand, exported 207 million dollars to Kazakhstan.
Another influential platform in the development of cooperation is the Indo-Kazakh Intergovernmental Commission. At the same time, Honorary Cossack Consulates in India operating in Mumbai, Chennai and Gandhinagar also positively affect relations.
There is a harmonious process between India and Kazakhstan in terms of both investment and political relations. The importance New Delhi attaches to Astana also showed itself in its attitude during the Tragic January Events.
Another indicator of India-Kazakhstan cooperation is defense cooperation. The sixth drills, known as “KazInd Exercises” and lastly held on 14-28 December 2022, advance cooperation in the field of defense. At this point, it can be said that the partnership within the framework of the SCO is also effective and nurtures military relations. It is possible to state that the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) also plays an important role in this regard.
On the other hand, there are approximately 7.800 Indian citizens in Kazakhstan. This contributes to the development of cultural ties between the two countries. Another step that improves cultural relations is the installation of busts of Kazakh poet and thinker Abai Qunanbaiuly in New Delhi in June 2022 and of Mahatma Gandhi, one of the important political figures of India, in Astana in October of the same year. Therefore, not only political or commercial partnerships are established; a multidimensional policy is followed in order to deepen the relations.
Another example of multidimensional cooperation is the agreement signed by the parties on 16 February 2023 on diversifying bilateral cooperation in the fields of medicine, pharmacology, agriculture, information technology, space and energy. The eighth political consultation tour was held in New Delhi on 13-14 February 2023 between Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Kanat Tumysh and Secretary (West) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sanjay Verma, and the aforementioned agreements were signed after the negotiations.
As a result, New Delhi has become one of the most important strategic partners of Astana in Asia, with collaborations developed in every field. Steps are taken to strengthen cooperation between the parties in every field. While there are developments in the existing sectors; new partnerships are also formed. In this context, it is possible for India and Kazakhstan to focus on cyber security, military-technical cooperation and counter-terrorism at the point of cooperation in the future. In this framework, it can be foreseen that new mechanisms will be established to improve relations.
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