The President highlighted three milestones as having been of particular significance in determining the future direction of independent Kazakhstan:
Firstly, the signing of the 1991 Decree to close the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site – the first sovereign act of the nascent Republic and the first step on Kazakhstan’s route to becoming a passionate advocate of anti-proliferation and the abandonment of nuclear weapons worldwide.
Secondly, on December 1 1991, the election of the first President of Kazakhstan, by an absolute majority of the population. The President recalled that the election took place at a point in history when the old totalitarian system was receding into the past, but the country was undergoing a difficult transition and there was an urgent need for the normalization of people’s lives, even in such elementary matters as the provision of food and employment and the security of life in towns and villages.
The election of the country’s first President unified the people and ensured a consistent, coherent approach to the development and strengthening of the independence of Kazakhstan. It was the defining moment when the people of Kazakhstan made a definite choice in favour of a Republic with a strong Presidency.
Thirdly, the adoption of the Constitutional Law "On the State Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan." This official declaration of independence followed just six days after the President was sworn into office on December 10, 1991. It established the legal framework for the urgent adoption, in the closing months of 1991, of a series of laws and decrees defining Kazakhstan’s sovereignty in the economy, business, infrastructure, and foreign trade.
The President paid tribute to the citizens of Kazakhstan for the contribution they have made to its dynamic success in the two decades since independence was declared. He said that from a backward outpost of the collapsed Soviet empire, Kazakhstan has evolved into a leader in the CIS, Eurasia and the world.
GDP has grown at an average 6-7% annually for the last ten years and most experts predict continued growth, despite the global economic crisis. Economic growth has enabled the people of Kazakhstan to break out of poverty and today, GDP per capita at USD 13,000 is one of the highest of the former Soviet states, the President said.
He went on to express special gratitude to the international investors who have demonstrated their confidence in Kazakhstan by investing over USD 160 billion since independence.
The President spoke of many other significant moments in the development of Kazakhstan and its relations with its neighbours and the wider global community. Looking to the future, he wished all Kazakhstanis peace, happiness, prosperity and well-being and congratulated them on their new national holiday.