The Importance of Kazakhstan in Germany’s Central Asian Initiative

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One of the capitals that has recently increased its interest in Central Asia is Berlin. Germany, one of the largest economies in the world, became the third trading partner of Central Asia after Russia and China in 2010.[1] In this context, Kazakhstan has an important place in the Berlin administration’s policy towards Central Asia. Because Kazakhstan is the country where Germany has the most trade volume among the Central Asian countries.

This situation causes Germany to attach special importance to Kazakhstan. It should also be emphasized the fact that Germany has historically strong ties with Kazakhstan. Because after the Second World War, the administration of Joseph Stalin in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) emigrated Germans from East Germany to Kazakhstan. Therefore, there is still a significant German population in Kazakhstan. This is another reason for the importance that Germany attaches to Kazakhstan.

Currently, Berlin is one of Astana’s important partners and has invested about 5.3 billion dollars in Kazakhstan since 2005. In 2021 alone, the trade volume between Kazakhstan and Germany increased by 6.4% compared to the previous year and reached 2.2 billion dollars. In the first half of 2022, the two countries traded 1.2 billion dollars.[2]

Moreover, Kazakhstan is an important partner for Germany in the energy resources sector as well as in the economic field. In addition to its location and logistical advantages for Berlin, Astana also has a huge resource and human potential.[3] As a matter of fact, Germany’s trade volume with Kazakhstan accounts for 85% of its total trade with Central Asian countries.[4] These data reveal how important Kazakhstan is in Germany’s Central Asian initiative. In this context, it can be said that Kazakhstan is a key country in Germany’s Central Asian initiative.

On October 30, 2022, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock paid an official visit to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. In her statement just before her visit to Kazakhstan, Baerbock stated that the countries of the region had always hoped to be a bridge between Russia, China and Europe, but they were afraid of finding themselves as a pawn completely caught in the middle in the current process. For this reason, Baerbock explained that the main purpose of her visit to Kazakhstan was to listen to the expectations of people in the country about Europe. Moreover, the German Foreign Minister stressed that this visit, which took place on the 30th anniversary of the relations between the two countries, meant that Germany is not turning its back on Central Asia. Therefore, Baerbock expressed the desire of Germany to maintain its economic and cultural ties with Central Asia.[5]

As can be seen from Baerbock’s statements, Germany desires a Central Asia in which the influence of Russia and China in particular is diminished. In this context, it can be argued that the Russia-Ukraine War was seen as an opportunity for Germany. Because it is seen that Moscow’s influence has begun to decline in the region it defines as its “backyard” as well as on a world scale. It can be said that this is seen as an opportunity for the Central Asian countries as well as the Western states. Therefore, it can be argued that the developments in the relations on the Berlin-Astana line may serve Kazakhstan to take more initiative in terms of multifaceted foreign policy.

It can be said that the basic element of the relations between the parties is energy cooperation.In this context, the Russia-Ukraine War was instrumental in further increasing the interest of the Berlin administration in Kazakhstan. Because this war has revealed the importance of the Middle Corridor for Western states. Due to its strategic location, Kazakhstan is of great importance for the development of the Middle Corridor. Because the international transportation links connecting Europe and Asia pass through Kazakhstan. Therefore, Astana is becoming a more important partner for Berlin day by day.

German Foreign Minister Baerbock was received by Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Alikhan Ismailov during his visit to Astana. During the meeting, the parties focused on increasing the volume of mutual trade, developing renewable energy and logistics infrastructure and investment cooperation. The Prime Minister of Kazakhstan emphasized that Kazakhstan’s main trade and investment partner in the European Union (EU) is Germany.[6] Baerbock stated that the two countries have an important potential for economic cooperation, including energy, and expressed their belief that it is essential to establish mutually beneficial economic relations on an equal basis. Germany has also announced that it will open a Hydrogen Diplomacy Office in Astana to institutionalize its energy relations with Kazakhstan. In addition, Baerbock noted Kazakhstan’s successful role in promoting interfaith tolerance.[7]

Consequently, it is seen that the parties desire to develop bilateral cooperation in various sectors, especially in energy and economy. Furthermore, it is important that the German Foreign Minister emphasizes “equality” in relations. In this context, it is possible to say that the relations between the parties will continue to develop within the framework of “mutual respect.” This indicates that the relations on the Astana-Berlin line will develop further in the following period.

[1] Emrah Kaya, “Orta Asya’da Yeni Bir Aktör: Almanya”, ANKASAM,, (Date of Accession:11.11.2022).

[2] “Kazakhstan, Germany Explore Opportunities in Industry, Energy, and Logistics”, Astana Times,, (Date of Accession:11.11.2022).

[3] Ibid.

[4] “Germany Eyes Green Hydrogen Potential in Kazakhstan”, The Diplomat,, (Date of Accession:11.11.2022).

[5] “Statement by Foreign Minister Baerbock Prior to her departure for Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan”, German Federal Foreign Office,, (Date of Accession:11.11.2022).

[6] “Kazakh PM Alikhan Smailov, German FM Annalena Baerbock Hold Meeting”, Kazinform,, (Date of Accession:11.11.2022).

[7] “Germany to Open Hydrogen Diplomacy Office in Kazakhstan, Says Foreign Minister Baerbock During Her Visit to Astana”, Astana Times,, (Date of Accession:11.11.2022).

Cemal Ege ÖZKAN
Cemal Ege ÖZKAN
Cemal Ege Özkan, 2019 yılında Ankara Üniversitesi Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi Tarih Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2022 senesinde aynı üniversitenin Türk İnkılap Tarihi Enstitüsü Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılap Tarihi Anabilim Dalı’nda hazırladığı “Türk Siyasi Hayatında Selim Rauf Sarper ve Faaliyetleri” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Hâlihazırda aynı enstitüde doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. 2020-2021 yılları arasında Türk Tarih Kurumu Yüksek Lisans Bursiyeri olan Özkan, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.