30 Years of Independence: Kazakhstan’s Past and Future

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30 Years of Independence: Kazakhstan’s Past and Future

7th December 2021 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

December 16th 2021 will mark 30 years since Kazakhstan achieved full independence from the Soviet Union. Over this time the country has navigated a delicate path towards a more market economy, and in recent years greater democratic participation in government following criticism of its human rights record, while developing strong ties with British businesses, and proving a crucial political partner in Central Asia.

As Kazakhstan looks to speed its energy transition and continue political reform in light of human rights critiques, the Henry Jackson Society is delighted to present Chairman of the APPG for Kazakhstan Colonel Bob Stewart, Ambassador of Kazakhstan the United Kingdom H.E. Erlan Idrissov, and Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security of Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan Dr Zulfiya Suleimenova in conversation on the country’s path from independence to the present day, its relationship with the United Kingdom, and future ambitions.



Between 2002 and 2007, Mr Erlan Idrissov served as Kazakhstan’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and as non-resident Ambassador to the Kingdom of Sweden, the Kingdom of Norway and Ireland.

Since July 2007, he has served as Kazakhstan’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America and non-resident Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Brazil.

In 2012-2017, he has served as a Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In February 2017, Mr Erlan Idrissov was appointed Kazakhstan’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In August 2017, he was appointed non-resident Ambassador to Ireland and Iceland.

Ambassador Idrissov graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR respectively. He authored numerous articles on Kazakhstan’s foreign policy and multilateral diplomacy.

He speaks English, French, Urdu and Hindi.



Colonel Bob Stewart DSO was born in 1949. His father, Jock Stewart MC, was an RAF officer and his mother, Joan Stewart, had been a member of the Special Operations Executive in the Second World War, a fact of which Bob is especially proud. He spent most of his early years abroad in the Middle East with his parents but in 1959, together with his younger brother, he was sent to boarding school at Chigwell in Essex.

When he was 17 years old Bob was selected to attend the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and he graduated from there in 1969 as an infantry officer, commissioned into The Cheshire Regiment.

Thereafter Bob was an Army officer for a total of 26 years. From 1974-77 Bob was sent to read for a degree by the Army; being awarded a First in International Politics and Strategy from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.  In all he has completed 7 operational tours of Northern Ireland during the troubles; serving there as a Platoon Commander, Intelligence Officer, Company Commander, and finally Commanding Officer. He was the incident commander at the scene of the Ballykelly bomb in 1982 where 17 people were killed including 6 of his own soldiers from A Company, 1st Battalion The Cheshire Regiment.

In 1992, as a Lieutenant Colonel, Bob took his Battalion to Bosnia as the first United Nations Commander of British Forces there. On return Bob was promoted to Colonel and posted for his final appointment in the Army as Chief of Policy at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium.

Bob left the Army in January 1996 and worked successively as Senior Consultant Public Affairs in Hill & Knowlton Ltd, Chief Executive of WorldSpace UK Ltd and then for himself as a freelance consultant until he was elected to Parliament in 2010 as Conservative MP for Beckenham. He was re-elected in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

In Parliament Bob was a member of the House of Commons Defence Committee from 2010 to 2017. He has also, at various times, been a member of the House of Commons Arms Control Committee. In addition, he has been Vice Chair of the All Party Group for the Armed Forces representing the Army since he was elected. In September 2020, he joined the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee and Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. He has also been a member of National Security Strategy (Joint Committee).

Bob lives in the Constituency with his wife and family. His youngest children have attended or are still attending local schools and he commutes to Westminster daily by train.



Zulfiya Suleimenova is a Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security of Mazhilis of Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Dr Suleimenova completed Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in International Relations at the L. Gumilyov Eurasian National University. She is currently receiving a PhD degree in Security and International Studies Program at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) (Tokyo, Japan).

Dr Suleimenova is a member of the Presidential Youth Personnel Reserve (2019). She is fluent in Kazakh, Russian and English. She worked as deputy director of Climate Policy and Green Technologies Department of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan, consultant of Environment and Development, Energy, Macroeconomic Policy and Financing for Development Divisions of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Bangkok, Thailand), UNDP offices in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and as a research fellow at Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of Kazakhstan (KazISS).



Sam Ashworth-Hayes is the Director of Studies at the Henry Jackson Society. Prior to joining HJS, Sam co-founded a startup using satellite imagery to support the installation of urban green infrastructure, raised funding and built a team to develop prototype products and deliver the first commercial trials. He has also previously worked designing field and lab experiments in behavioural economics, and as a journalist and researcher. Outside of academia Sam writes regularly for outlets including The Spectator, CapX, and National Review on economics and politics, and has made media appearances for the BBC, GB News, and Times Radio. He holds an MPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford, and a Bachelors in the same from the University of York.




On the 7th of December 2021, Sam Ashworth-Hayes, the Director of Studies at the Henry Jackson Society, Dr Zulfiya Suleimenova, a Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense and Security of Mazhilis of Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Colonel Bob Stewart DSO, and Mr Erlan Idrissov, Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to the UK, discussed the history of Kazakhstan and their achievement of full independence from the Soviet Union. The discussion began with the topic of Kazakhstan being the chair of the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Bob Stewart discussed his own personal experiences of Kazakhstan and the history of the country. The panellists moved on to discuss the latest political reforms implemented in Kazakhstan and how successful they were.


7th December 2021
11:00 am - 12:00 pm


United Kingdom


H.E. Erlan Idrissov, Colonel Bob Stewart DSO, Zulfiya Suleimenova


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