Madrid, July 1 (EFE).- The ambassador of Kazakhstan in Spain, Konstantin Zhigalov, explained during a conference in Madrid the sweeping democratic reforms to the former Soviet Union republic’s Constitution that soften its president’s grip on power in favor of a more decentralized government, among dozens of other amendments.
Kazakhs approved overwhelming in a referendum on June 5 reforms proposed by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev that increase the functions of Parliament and promote improvements in the political party, justice, and electoral systems, with greater participation of civil society and more protection of human rights, among other changes.
“For me, it was important to tell the public about the president’s recent reforms. More than 68% of the electorate participated in the referendum and more than 77% voted in favor of the proposed changes in the Constitution,” Zhigalov said late Thursday following the conference attended by ambassadors, diplomats, journalists and historians at Madrid’s Real Sociedad Económica Matritense.
“It was also important to talk about the ties and relations between Kazakhstan and Spain. Relations now are very, very effective,” he said after the conference entitled “A harmonious combination of large-scale political and economic reforms: the basis of the New Kazakhstan.”
In the run-up to the voting, Tokayev said that the referendum would “decide the fate of the country and strengthen our course towards full democratization and the construction of the new Kazakhstan.”
Shortly after the results of the referendum were released, the European Union welcomed the fact that Tokayev had undertaken political reforms to strengthen democracy in the country and had decided to consult the population.
“The EU takes note of the Constitutional Referendum in Kazakhstan, which took place on Sunday, 5 June. With this referendum, the people of Kazakhstan supported important constitutional amendments aimed at strengthening the democracy of the country,” a spokesman for the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said in a statement.
The spokesman assured that the EU welcomes “with satisfaction” the political reforms initiated by Tokayev
Jose Luis Orella, Professor of Contemporary History at CEU San Pablo University and Doctor in Contemporary History from the University of Deusto and Political Law from the UNED, noted that the reforms were in tune with the values of the European Union
“Of course, it means greater parallelism with Europe. There will be a separation of powers from greater ease of plurality. The facilities for founding new political movements will be reduced and there will be greater representation of women and young people,” he said.
Kazakhstan also won favor with the West after Tokayev vowed recently to respect Western sanctions imposed on Russia and told an economic conference in St. Petersburg attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Kazakhstan would not recognize pro-Russian separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.
During the conference, the Kazakh ambassador presented a video of Bulat Sarsenbayev, Chairman of the Board of the N. Nazarbayev Center for Development of Interfaith and Inter-Civilization Dialogue
Afterward, Zhigalov announced that the Vatican had confirmed that Pope Francis would visit the country to participate in the 7th World Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions to be held in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, in September. EFE