Europe at Nazarbayev’s service
Due to its strategic location and tremendous potential in terms of natural resources, such as oil, natural gas and uranium, Kazakhstan - despite its exacerbating issues surrounding respect for human rights - remains an important partner for European countries.
Kazakhstan is an active member of the international community and tends to be very sensitive about its image as an ‘oasis of democracy’, stability and as a leader of reform in Central Asia. This great attachment to image creation is corroborated by the involvement of a number of renowned European ex-politicians in advising the ruling elites of Kazakhstan. The OSCE chairmanship in 2012, hosting of the EXPO 2017 in Astana, and access to the UN Human Rights Council in late 2012 - all these developments prove how fruitful the efforts have turned out to be. However, these ‘achievements’ were dictated not so much by recognition for democratization efforts in Kazakhstan as they were a result of diplomatic expedients of its authorities.
The President is supported by the International Advisory Group comprising leading European politicians. This group of lobbyists work to promote Nazarbayev and support his efforts towards obscuring the true nature of the Kazakh ‘’façade' democracy. The government of Kazakhstan also enlists the services of European PR firms, such as Portland PR and Tony Blair Associates.
Nursultan Nazarbayev’s European lobby
Special advisor to Nazarbayev
Tony Blair - for his work which involves convincing the public that Kazakhstan is a beacon of democracy, stability and development in Central Asia he receives 16m GBP a year. Blair is also currently touting Nazarbayev for the Peace Nobel Prize. His brother, William Blair, was the judge in the trial instigated by Kazakh authorities against the opposition’s Mukhtar Ablyazov in the UK.
The government of Kazakhstan is also using the services of Portland Communications – a PR firm founded by Tony Blair’s press spokesman. The agency carries out tasks commissioned by the Kazakh government and conducts communication campaigns against Ablyazov’s family and other critics of Nazarbayev throughout Europe.
Politicians lobbying for Nazarbayev
Gerhard Schröder – former German Chancellor. He actively endorsed the efforts that led to Kazakhstan taking OSCE’s chairmanship. He lobbies for German companies and helps them form business ties with Kazakhstan.
Silvio Berlusconi – former Prime Minister of Italy. He entertained Nazarbayev in his private villa in Sardinia shortly before the controversial deportation of Ablyazov’s wife and daughter from Italy to Kazakhstan.
Prince Andrew – member of the British Royal Family, his country’s former Special Representative for International Trade and Investment. He is a friend of Nazarbayev’s son-in-law, Timur Kulibayev. His sale of a family mansion to Kulibayev for a price exceeding its market value by 3m GBP prompted his visit to Buckingham Palace where he was asked to explain the transaction.
International Advisory Group
Alfred Gusenbauer – former Austrian Chancellor, Chairman of the International Advisory Group. He was charged by the prosecutor with espionage on behalf Kazakhstan, for which he may be sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment.
Aleksander Kwasniewski – former Polish President. He glorifies Nazarbayev’s regime in the European press, claiming to be a supporter of Kazakhstan’s democratisation.
Marcelino Oreja Y Aguirre – former Spanish Minister of Justice. He is involved in building business ties and endorsing contracts between Spain and Nazarbayev’s regime. In 2013 Spain concluded a 482m euro contract for the delivery of Talgo trains to Kazakhstan. Spain is the only EU member state to have an extradition agreement with Kazakhstan.
Romano Prodi – former Prime Minister of Italy and President of the European Commission. He is involved in forming relations within the energy sector. His actions contributed to the partnership between the Italian enterprise ENI and the government of Kazakhstan concerned with oil extraction from Kashagan field.
Mirek Topolanek – former Czech Prime Minister. Whilst in office, he actively supported Kazakhstan’s OSCE chairmanship and its membership of the WTO. After his government collapsed, he went back into the business sector, offering his services as an investment expert in the Caspian Sea region. Currently, Topolanek serves as a supervisory board member for the Samruk-Kazyna sovereign welfare fund. The Samruk-Kazyna holding, managing Kazakhstan’s assets, controls most of the state’s industrial sector and is headed by Nazarbayev’s son-in-law, Timur Kulibayev.