The main purpose of Kazakhstan's foreign policy is to encourage the development of the country as a real player in the geopolitical arena. The country has been approaching to this purpose for several years, weaving between the giants and thus defending its national interests. Considering the features of foreign political activity of Kazakhstan, in the first place, we should note the special role of its chairmanship in the OSCE - a major international organization that required serious efforts of the Foreign Ministry and left its mark on all the actions throughout the year. Especially, taking into account the fact that Kazakhstan set very ambitious goals and so it was an outstanding presidency.
Understanding the importance of a new role in international affairs, Kazakhstan as the OSCE chairman designated serious purposes. The first is to return political weight to the organization and to form an effective platform for the discussion and solution of international problems. The motto of Kazakhstan's chairmanship in the OSCE, according to the President Nursultan Nazarbayev, had to become so-called “four "T"” - trust, tradition, transparency and tolerance. A number of basic global challenges include "the expansion and strengthening of the field of consensus on fundamental issues of the Organization."
The next basic goal is to provide conditions for convergence of the parties of the so-called "frozen conflicts". First, it refers to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as the conflicts in Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Special attention was to be paid to the South-East Europe.
It should be noted that except the stated objectives of the global or regional significance, and the desire to optimize the Organization itself, the political elite perceived Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in the OSCE as an opportunity to strengthen the position of the country on the world arena and to raise its status within the former Soviet Union. Being the first country from the former Soviet Union that occupied the position of the chairman of such a large organization, Kazakhstan planned to strengthen its international authority and to secure a place for itself as an important participant in the dialogue on selected issues of international relations, in particular.
As for the specific issues, which were planned to be discussed and solved under the auspices of the OSCE, it should noted that here Kazakhstan, as the chairman of the Organization, was faced with the greatest difficulties. 2010 was a year of escalating tensions in the South Caucasus and the political turmoil in neighboring Kyrgyzstan negated the intention of Kazakhstan "to keep the focus on the Central Asian region", as in the Programme's chairmanship it was told about the development of cooperation "in combating new challenges and threats".
It seems that the very course of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in the OSCE can hardly be regarded as successful or uniquely effective. Despite the revival of the dialogue on long-term and painful issues, despite the proposal and introduction of new mechanisms of the Organization and its various institutions, the real success is very small, and the examples of candid weakness and clumsiness are obvious. This was demonstrated by the events in Kyrgyzstan, which will be detailed below, and the inability to reach consensus between the parties of 'frozen conflicts' that was clearly manifested at the summit in Astana.
Nevertheless, the Astana summit was undoubtedly a major achievement of the Kazakh diplomacy. Even the fact that after so many years they was able to organize a summit, to ensure the participation of major figures in world politics, to provide conditions for the 73 delegations of member countries and partners of the OSCE, and major international and regional organizations - all this says about the scale and quality of the work undertaken by the government of the country and the Ministry of Foreign.
The tangible results may also include signing of the final declaration of the summit. If it had not been signed by the forum, it would have meant the failure of the summit and therefore the failure of all the efforts expended by Kazakhstan for the past year. The probability of a positive outcome as for the final document was far from obvious. Signing of the Declaration took more than ten hours instead of the hour and a half as it was planned before, and the intensity of the situation pervaded the entire Palace of Independence. The Document was edited many times, the debate between the parties were virtually about every statement, which had at least some relation to the existing conflicts among the members. The most difficult task was to reach consensus on the part of Russia and Georgia over the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as on the part of Armenia and Azerbaijan concerning Nagorno-Karabakh problem. The participants of the debate in an informal atmosphere noted that the most difficult task was to win concessions from the representatives of the Armenian delegation.
Thus, the very signing of the Astana Declaration, of course, is a clear success of Kazakhstan's diplomacy and of Nursultan Nazarbayev. However, representatives of the European Union, Canada, Russia and other important members of the Organization openly declared that the summit and its outcome document did not meet their expectations in solving the most "painful issues" discussed in the OSCE. Apart from achieving a consensus in solving frozen conflicts, a number of foreign diplomats also noted the inconsistency of certain paragraphs of the Declaration adopted within the OSCE norms, principles and commitments. Much of this criticism was anticipated, particularly the Russian delegation negatively perceived results of the summit due to their high expectations. As a result of a consensus it should be stated that Kazakhstan achieved most of all, because it managed to be a player, having played a good game, and not a billiard ball, pushed by the skilled hands.
Actually, we can say that Kazakhstan within its presidency reached the goal of reviving the OSCE, the development of a number of institutions and mechanisms, it could achieve a more consistent distribution of security tasks between the three baskets of the OSCE: the economy, security and humanitarian directions. As it was expected at the beginning of the year, Kazakhstan acted to promote the OSCE as an international organization aimed at solving the problems of interstate and foreign policy issues. In this respect, its efforts did not meet the expectations of some Western democracies, for which the most important goal of the OSCE was to ensure transparency and to ensure democratic rights and freedoms within the member states.
Moreover, it appears that the successful chairmanship of Kazakhstan in the OSCE has shown the West that the involvement of young post-Soviet states to active discussion and moderating in the process of solving the largest political conflicts is possible and even desirable. This can be seen on the example of the fact that in 2013 the OSCE chairmanship will go to Ukraine.
Kazakhstan really cemented its status in the world, showed itself as the most active and well-prepared member of the dialogue on international issues in the region. Against this backdrop, the expectations that the chairmanship in the Organization would inevitably lead to political reforms in Kazakhstan had a secondary role and the accusations that this didn’t happen in real life lose their brightness on the background of dramatic statements at the summit.