Biography of CICA Secretary General
Ambassador Kairat Sarybay
Ambassador Kairat Sarybay was appointed as the first CICA Secretary General by the Sixth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) on 13 October 2022. Prior to this, he served as the Executive Director of the CICA Secretariat since October 2020.
The CICA Secretariat during Ambassador K. Sarybay's tenure has focused on the strategic initiative of the Kazakh Chairmanship to transform CICA into a full-fledged international organization. These efforts contributed to the launch of the CICA transformation process by the Sixth CICA Summit and to the endorsement of the Road Map for CICA Transformation in September 2023 by the CICA Ministerial Council.
Moreover, the Secretariat effectively supported the Member States in the implementation of confidence building measures (CBMs), updating the CICA Catalogue of CBMs in 2021, including the introduction of new areas for interaction, and developing relevant concept papers on the implementation of CBMs. The Secretariat team also assisted the Member States in further institutionalizing the organization through establishing new bodies – the Council of Eminent Persons, the Think Tank Forum and the CICA Fund.
During the period since 2020, the CICA family has also experienced notable growth, with Kuwait becoming a Member in 2022, Turkmenistan and Saudi Arabia – Observers in 2021 and 2023 respectively, and the Eurasian Economic Union – a partner organization in 2022. CICA has also greatly expanded cooperation with the United Nations.
Embarking on a diplomatic career in August 1991 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Ambassador Sarybay held various roles in central office and diplomatic missions abroad. His career path includes responsible positions in the foreign policy system of the Republic of Kazakhstan, such as the Assistant to the President, Head of the Protocol Service of the President, Press Secretary and Head of the Press Service for the President, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kazakhstan to multiple countries.
As Head of Protocol Service of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 1996-1997, K. Sarybay developed a new edition of the Presidential Decree “On State Protocol”. Later he served as the Press Secretary and Head of the Press Service of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (1997-1998).
K. Sarybay was appointed as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 1998-1999.
From 1999 to 2003, K. Sarybay served as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Republic of Türkiye, becoming the youngest ambassador in the history of Kazakhstan.
Serving as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Federal Republic of Germany in 2003-2007, K. Sarybay initiated the process, which resulted in the adoption of the EU Strategy on Central Asia (2007).
As Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2007-2008, Ambassador K. Sarybay held the simultaneous roles of National Coordinator for Interaction with the European Union and head of the government task force to develop “The Path to Europe” State Programme. This programme was approved by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and played the role of a strategic document for developing priorities of the KazakhChairmanship in the OSCE (2010).
Ambassador Sarybay served as Assistant to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Foreign Policy Issues in 2008-2010.
He was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan for the third time in September 2010 and held this post until February 2014. The main milestones of K.Sarybay’s activities at this post are as follows:
- leading the task force in the development and implementation of the concept paper of the Chairmanship of Kazakhstan in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2011-2012. It was during the 38th meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Astana, Kazakhstan, in June 2011, that the decision to rename the Organization of the Islamic Conference to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was reached;
- active participation in the establishment of the Islamic Organization for Food Security headquartered in Astana, Kazakhstan;
- preparation and convening of the Commemorative Session and Fourth Ministerial Meeting of CICA in Astana, Kazakhstan, in September 2012;
- leading the task force in the preparation of the third meeting of the Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan (Heart of Asia), which was convened in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in April 2013;
- leading the delegation of Kazakhstan’s negotiation process regarding the legal status of the Caspian Sea in 2011-2013, resulting in a breakthrough between the summits of the Caspian Five in Baku (2010) and Astrakhan (2014);
- development of the “African dimension” of Kazakhstan's foreign policy in 2011-2013, resulting in the opening of the Embassies of Kazakhstan in Pretoria and Addis Ababa.
From February 2014 to September 2020, K. Sarybay served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Republic of Austria and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the International Organizations in Vienna. He was also appointed as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Republic of Slovenia concurrently.
In the position as the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Austria, K. Sarybay contributed to the development of effective inter-parliamentary dialogue, strengthening bilateral political and economic cooperation and establishing network diplomacy. He successfully established an extensive network of Honorary Consuls of the Republic of Kazakhstan all over the federal states of Austria, except the capital city of Vienna.
As the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Slovenia, K. Sarybay was one of the most active non-resident Ambassadors. During his tenure, Friendship Groups were established in both Parliaments of Kazakhstan and Slovenia, two Honorary Consulates of Kazakhstan were opened (in Maribor and Nova Gorica), and cooperation with the Kazakh-Slovenian Business Club enhanced opportunities in building trade and economic relations.
K. Sarybay acting as a Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the International Organizations in Vienna was elected as a Co-Coordinator of CTBT Article XIV in 2015-2017 (together with Japan), served as a Chair of the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation in 2016-2017, Chairperson of the OSCE Economic and Environmental Committee in 2017-2019, Chair of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2019-2020. During his tenure, the project on the establishment of the IAEA Low-Enriched Uranium Bank in Kazakhstan was successfully completed.
In addition to his diplomatic achievements, K. Sarybay is a proponent of women's empowerment and has initiated numerous innovative arts and sports projects. Around fifty musical concerts and cultural events were held in all regions of Austria and Slovenia within the framework of “The Pearls of Kazakhstan - Melodies of the Great Steppe” in 2015-2020, a continuation of the same endeavour in Germany from 2003-2007. As part of the Art Circle project, “The Art Embassy of Kazakhstan” was inaugurated in the Goriška Brda region, Slovenia. Furthering cultural exchange, the first Vienna Ball was successfully organized in Astana in 2018. The Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan in Vienna has organized the OSCE Connectivity Bicycle Tour three years in a row (in 2018-2020).
Under the leadership of K. Sarybay, the CICA Secretariat organized football tournaments, bicycle and ski tours, which have already become a good tradition, and a hike up Kanysh Satpayev Peak near Almaty in 2023, where the organization’s flag was planted at an altitude of 4317 meters above sea level.
For his outstanding services, Ambassador Sarybay has been awarded multiple Orders of the Republic of Kazakhstan – “Parasat” (“Nobility”), 2nd-degree “Dostyq” (“Friendship”) and “Qurmet” (“Honour”) and several state medals, as well as the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Karel Kramář Commemorative Medal of the Czech Republic, and numerous awards of international organizations.
Ambassador Sarybay has a scientific and research background in oriental studies and linguistics. He is the author of several books, a number of scientific and popular science articles on ancient Turkic languages and articles on relevant international policy issues, lecturing as the visiting professor of the Diplomatic Institute of the Academy of Public Administration of Kazakhstan.
Kairat Sarybay is a graduate of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Leningrad State University (1988), fluent in Kazakh, Russian, Turkish, English and German. Born on 8 June 1966 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, married to D.A. Leyla Mahat, has four children and two grandchildren.
Ambassador Sarybay's commitment to multilateral diplomacy, cultural exchange and gender equality reflects his dedication to advancing peace, security and prosperity in Asia and globally.