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Post-Soviet leaders note Nazarbayev’s special role in integration processes

On Tuesday, Nazarbayev said he would step down as the president of Kazakhstan

CHISINAU, March 20. /TASS/. Commenting on Tuesday’s resignation announced by Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, many leaders of ex-Soviet nations noted his special role in the integration process among the former Soviet republics.

On Tuesday, Nazarbayev said he would step down as the head of state. He also signed a decree appointing Senate Speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as Kazakhstan’s Acting President.

However, Nazarbayev said he would remain chairman of the Central Asian state’s Security Council despite his resignation. Nazarbayev, 78, will also remain chairman of the Nur Otan Democratic People’s Party and a member of the Constitutional Council. Nazarbayev has led Kazakhstan since 1989, when it was part of the Soviet Union. In 1990, Nazarbayev was elected as the nation’s first president.

'One of the wisest and most respected politicians'

Commenting on the news, Moldovan President Igor Dodon praised Nazarbayev’s role in the development of integration processes among the former Soviet republics.

"The news came as a great surprise. Nazarbayev’s role in building the independent Kazakhstan, in the development of integration processes in the post-Soviet space can hardly be overestimated. In many aspects, he helped Moldova to become the first nation to get the observer status at the EAEU [Eurasian Economic Union]," Dodon told TASS.

He described Nazarbayev as "one of the wisest and most respected politicians in the post-Soviet space."

"His resignation means an end to a certain historical period," Dodon added.

Architect of integration processes

Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov described Nazarbayev as "the architect of integration processes" in the region, the Kyrgyz leader’s press service said, commenting on a phone conversation between the two leaders that took place on Tuesday.

"During the phone conversation, Jeenbekov noted that Nazarbayev was a prominent figure in present-day politics, a reformist, an architect of integration processes in the region, a historical figure not only on the national level, but on the global scale as well," the statement reads.

The Kyrgyz president also emphasized the first Kazakh president’s special role in leading his country to prosperity and in "deepening the fraternity ties between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan."

Deep regrets

Many leaders of ex-Soviet nations phoned Nazarbayev on Tuesday to express their deep regret over his resignation, according to the Kazakh president’s press service. One of such statements says that Nazarbayev and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev agreed to continue regular contacts in the future.

"Mirziyoyev expressed his deep regret over Nursultan Nazarbayev’s decision to step down as the president of Kazakhstan," the statement reads, adding that the Uzbek leader described Nazarbayev as "an outstanding politician and state leader."

The press service issued a similar statement with regard to a phone conversation between Nazarbayev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

"Pashinyan expressed his regret over Nursultan Nazarbayev’s decision to step down as the president of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The Armenian prime minister stressed Nursultan Nazarbayev’s special role in developing successful cooperation between the two nations," the Kazakh president’s press service said.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko also expressed his regrets over the resignation of Nazarbayev, whom he described as his longtime friend.

"Alexander Lukashenko expressed his sincere regrets in connection with Nursultan Nazarbayev’s decision to step down as the president of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The Belarusian leader noted that he appreciated his longtime friendship with Nursultan Nazarbayev and the good relations between Kazakhstan and Belarus," the Kazakh president’s press service said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Belarusian leader said the two presidents had "long-time close working and friendly relations."

"The heads of the two states jointly took part in making important decisions concerning both bilateral cooperation and multilateral formats. They also participated in large-scale summits and international forums together," the statement reads.

No drastic changes in post-Soviet security, economic bodies

Officials from the leading post-Soviet security and economic integration structures, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), said the work of those organizations will not be affected by Nazarbayev’s resignation.

Assistant Minister in charge of Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), Fedor Chernitsyn, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Washington that he expected no "drastic changes" in the EAEU, which comprises Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

"There will be no drastic changes, because Kazakhstan’s economic policy is clear: they are open for dialogue with Eurasia, Europe, so I expect no changes," he said. "Nazarbayev is the patriarch of the EAEU, he was the person who came up with the project itself and with its name, too."

A spokesman for CSTO, a post-Soviet security bloc comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, said Nazarbayev’s resignation will not affect his country’s commitments under the Collective Security Treaty.

"The organization has its Treaty and the Charter, which specify the member states’ obligations. Kazakhstan has always fulfilled them. The head of state’s resignation will in no way affect the implementation of Kazakhstan’s commitments to CSTO," Vladimir Zainetdinov said.

He added that Nazarbayev, as the state leader, was one of CSTO founders and an author of several important initiatives.

"For example, the creation of the CSTO Collective Rapid Response Forces was initiated by Kazakhstan," the spokesman said.