The World Universiade 2017 torch relay will begin its journey in Kazakhstan by lighting the flame Jan. 25 in Astana. The flame will then continue to Ust-Kamenogorsk, Pavlodar, Kokshetau, Petropavlovsk, Kostanai and Karaganda Jan. 26 and Aktobe, Uralsk, Atyrau and Aktau Jan. 27. The route then continues to Kyzylorda, Shymkent, Taraz and Taldykorgan Jan. 28 before the final lighting of the flame in the host city of Almaty Jan. 29.
The rehearsals of the torch light procession with the participation of top sports people of Kazakhstan was held in Almaty in early January. The ceremony unites the country that conducts the games, and outstanding sportsmen will take part in the torch relay.
According to plans, all the athletes will gather in Almaty, in the heart of the Universiade and participate in the opening ceremony. As a sporting event, Universiade attracts more and more young people, said the organizers.
“It is important that young people will be able to communicate and get to know each other as part of this project. We want to show that our students are talented, creative and strong,” said Winter Universiade Organizing Directorate Head Nail Nurov.
The 2017 World Bank Doing Business report, released Oct. 25, noted Kazakhstan is among the 10 most-improved economies, climbing 16 positions since 2015. The country is ranked 35th among 190 nations in the category “ease of doing business.”
Joining Kazakhstan on the top improvers list, the result of implementing at least three reforms in the past year, are Brunei, Kenya, Belarus, Indonesia, Serbia, Georgia, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.
“This significant improvement has been ensured by four of 10 indicators; namely, by facilitating the procedures for obtaining permits for construction, ease of registering property, improving the protection of the rights of minority investors and contract enforcement. It is a good achievement for Kazakhstan,” Centre for Strategic Initiatives senior partner Olzhas Khudaibergenov told The Astana Times.
Improved performance in the Doing Business ranking typically indicates a lower level of income inequality and reduced poverty.
Read more at Astana Calling
Outside the Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington, D.C. stands a statue of the “Golden Warrior” astride the figure of a winged snow leopard from Kazakh folklore. The “Golden Warrior” is a replica of a gold plated suit that clothed the skeleton of an ancient prince and was discovered as part of the 1969 excavation of a burial mound from nomadic Scythian-Saka civilization (VII BC). The statue is not only an icon of Kazakhstan’s independence but a patriotic reflection of the country’s proud history of defending its lands from invaders, ancient cultural heritage, accomplishments and hopes for a peaceful, secure and prosperous future. This year it also marks an important anniversary, 25 years of Kazakhstan’s independence.
Ambassador Kairat Umarov embodies the legacy of the Golden Warrior tradition pursuing peace and security as he seeks to extend his country’s diplomatic presence in Washington, D.C. He was kind enough to extend “Diplomatic Connections” an in-depth interview.
Diplomatic Connections: How did the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 affect Kazakhstan’s diplomatic efforts? It was suddenly a very different proposition no longer to be a Soviet republic but to be an independent state.
Ambassador Umarov: Exactly. We had to build our foreign ministry from scratch. All the rest of the ministries had more or less existed as part of the regional government dealing with local issues within the framework of the Soviet Union. But, becoming an independent country meant that it was necessary to deal not only with regional issues but with the whole range of global issues. That was a very difficult and challenging time.
Diplomatic Connections: What was it like to join this fledgling Foreign Ministry?
Ambassador Umarov: When Kazakhstan became independent a set of rules and principles was presented to those entering the Foreign Service. One of those rules was that a diplomat must work for the good of the state and its people; but at the same time, a diplomat is expected to facilitate relations between states in order to avoid conflict and ensure peace and stability.
We continue to cherish those goals in our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We hold them in very high esteem. I am very glad that today we have a highly professional foreign service which has more than 70 diplomatic missions all over the world, where 25 years ago there was nothing.
Diplomatic Connections: Kazakhstan occupies a unique geostrategic space, literally between Europe and Asia. How does geography affect Kazakhstan’s diplomacy?
Ambassador Umarov: Geography plays an important role in our foreign policy. Kazakhstan is at the heart of Eurasia. We have the world’s longest border with Russia, longer than the border between the United States and Canada. We have a long border with China. Our neighbors are Central Asian countries, and we are in close proximity to India, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. We are at the crossroads of civilizations serving as a bridge between East and West, North and South.
Our position from the very first days of our independence was to develop friendly relations, cooperative ties with our neighbors and with our major trading and security partners. We stand for mutually beneficial relations that can jointly help to develop our economies. There is a golden rule of diplomacy that in order to succeed it is necessary to be mindful not only of your own country’s interests but of your diplomatic partners’ interests as well.
Diplomatic Connections: Kazakhstan’s foreign policy is often described in official publications as “multi-vectored.” What is meant by that term?
Ambassador Umarov: The world today is not a simple one. Relations between states are made up of complex interdependencies. As my President Nursultan Nazarbayev defines it, multi-vectored diplomacy means a balanced, well-conceived, predictable and responsible foreign policy aimed at avoiding conflicts by building trust and mutual understanding in pursuit of peace.
In April 2016, during a visit to the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., President Nazarbayev unveiled his vision for a secure world in “Manifesto. The World. The 21st Century.” There he actually “declared war on war” appealing for a new mentality that would eliminate war as a way of life and underscoring the responsibility of leading world powers to achieve a nuclear-weapons-free-world in this century.
At the beginning of our independence, of course, people could not understand what this sort of policy would mean. How could a country like Kazakhstan develop strong relations with such different countries as the Russian Federation, China, the United States as well as organizations like the EU, NATO and the OSCE? But, at the end of the day, we can say this policy has proven itself right. The policy has made Kazakhstan more stable and more secure.
Read full article at Diplomatic Connections
Kazakhstan will extend until 2022 a program that provides college education to young Afghans and will continue to give technical and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov announced Wednesday in Brussels.
“Along with the rest of the international community, Kazakhstan is committed to sustainable and secure development in Afghanistan,” Idrissov told the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, at which delegates from around the world gathered to offer their financial and political support to the war-torn Central Asian country.
Idrissov said he was “convinced that the revival of Afghanistan will have a great positive effect on the situation of our region.”
“The international community and the UN must continue providing Kabul with comprehensive support and assistance” throughout the rest of the so-called “decade of transformation” until 2024, he added.
Kazakhstan’s top diplomat recalled that his country provides technical assistance and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in the framework of bilateral agreements and multilateral forums.
He stressed that the implementation of projects in Afghanistan is one of the priorities of KazAID – the Kazakh agency for international aid and development – that has worked with other countries in projects to strengthen economic independence and the rights of Afghan women.
“Every year, Afghanistan receives from Kazakhstan tons of humanitarian cargo, including food products, oil, lubricants, and equipment from Kazakhstan,” he said.
Kazakhstan has so far provided Afghanistan 20,000 tons of food products valued at some $20 million, he said.
Idrissov also noted that Kazakhstan has implemented a “joint action plan” for Afghanistan that has provided more than $2 million for the construction of a school, a hospital and roads, and $1.5 million to build four new bridges.
“Taking into account the importance of investing in human capital” and at the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan (Nursultan Nazarbayev), about 1,000 young Afghans began receiving an education at Kazakh universities in 2010 in areas such as medicine, agriculture and engineering,” he said.
With a total cost of $50 million, Idrissov said his country is now committed to expanding the educational program “until 2022.”
Moreover, in line with the goal of “building a State led by Afghans,” Idrissov said that Afghanistan “must continue reforms to transform the country into a stable and democratic nation.”
“Today and in the future the key to stabilizing Afghanistan is genuine regional cooperation,” he said, and vowed that Kazakhstan would “support initiatives focused on strengthening connectivity in the region.”
He recalled that the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway was launched in 2014 and that the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan section is to be completed this year.
The implementation of this and other similar projects, “demonstrates the potential of Afghanistan as a gateway between Central and South Asia,” Idrissov said.
It has been eight years since the 2008 global financial crisis made the G20 a “summit-level” primary platform for global economic governance. The most urgent task facing the current G20 Summit is to promote the steady recovery and growth of the world economy and guard against new financial risks.
As a major country, China needs to promote the reform and reshaping of the international economic system and the world order, thus joining hands with other countries to shape the prospects for the international economy with stable, strong and sustainable development.
In speaking at the summit, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev noted the G20 meeting is being held in a complicated time.
“The rates of global economic growth, trade and capital flows are decreasing. It affects the welfare of millions of people. The formation of new transcontinental trade and investment associations may lead to a decrease of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) role and fragmentation of the world economy. These processes may become a start for a new stage of a war in the international markets,” he said.
Nazarbayev stressed the way of global development depends largely on the united actions of the entire world community. In his view, the leading role in international economy and finance regulation should be played by a single global organisation.
“Such kind of structure can be created through the transformation of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) into the Global Development Council, which should serve as a global economic regulator,” he said. The head of state presented the proposal at the 70th jubilee session of the UN General Assembly in New York last September.
Nazarbayev noted the current coordination of monetary and fiscal policies, as well as structural reforms are important. It is not sufficient, however, to ensure stability in the long term. He suggested developing more substantive proposals to stabilise exchange rates around the world, including the developing countries.
The President suggested a new industrial revolution, digital economy and innovation.
“I fully support this approach. Implementation of this task is only possible on the principles of inclusiveness. We need to determine the midpoint of the dialogue between the G20 and the developing countries. As an alternative, I suggest considering the Kazakh communication platform G-Global, which is open to all participants. This platform brings together more than 30,000 experts from 140 countries,” he said.
Nazarbayev added Kazakhstan actively supports implementing the UN’s sustainable development goals, the Paris agreements and the principles of green economy. In this regard, he invited the participants to take part in the upcoming international exhibition EXPO 2017 in Astana, which will be held under the slogan Future Energy.
The President concluded by noting Kazakhstan’s vision of the world’s most pressing issues was presented in the Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century.” He expressed hope for support in implementing its ideas and formation of a world free from nuclear weapons.
Nazarbayev held a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit, including with United States President Barack Obama, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Nazarbayev also met with Chinese business magnate and philanthropist Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, a family of successful Internet-based businesses. They discussed cooperation issues with the company and the prospects of expanding its activities in Kazakhstan, including realisation of joint projects in the field of electronic commerce and payment systems integration.
“The interests of our overseas partners are taken fully into account when new policy is being shaped.”
From our earliest days as an independent country, Kazakhstan has consistently pursued a dual track policy: actively seeking international investment and knowledge to help drive economic development, while building political stability, national unity and human capital for social progress. It was a deliberate choice which, over the last 25 years, has helped transform our nation and its prospects for the better.
Good relations were established with countries all around the world, leading to increased trade. Our welcome to overseas companies has seen long and successful partnerships forged to the benefit of them and our country. Similarly, we have been able to establish a strong track record of political stability, ethnic and religious harmony and sustained improvement in human development indicators. Needless to say, the dual policy tracks have not only been complementary but mutually reinforcing.
The result is that Kazakhstan has been the favorite destination for overseas investment in our region. More than $210 billion in foreign direct investment has flowed into our country over the last two decades. The strong growth that this has helped drive has provided the revenue to improve dramatically the living standards and quality of life of our citizens. And Kazakhstan’s citizens and international investors alike have come to expect safety in everyday life and respect for diversity as a matter of fact.
There is no question but that the country cannot stand still or slip backwards, because we are committed to building on the progress we have already achieved and strengthen and diversify our economy and modernize our society. Achieving our ambition of joining the ranks of the top 30 developed countries by 2050 requires us to continue removing any barriers which stand in the way of sustainable development.
This is why, at a time when economic shocks from beyond our borders and control could have caused us to slow the pace of reform, we have responded by accelerating the modernization of our economy and society. We have been implementing wide-ranging reforms to improve the performance of our institutions, opening up state industries through a comprehensive privatization program and taking decisive steps to improve the investment climate.
Equally important, one of the planks of the institutional reforms we launched last year aims to create an open government that is more accountable to our citizens. This means that in the first instance we have to communicate in the clearest, most concise way to explain government’s intent, policy designs, implementation approaches and timelines behind reform packages. The recent public outcry over proposed land use reforms is a case in point – we are learning to listen, and as a result we have set up a land reform commission with participation of a cross-section of citizens. Moving to this more participatory approach may not be all smooth sailing, and there likely will be ups and downs, but the fact is that we are learning.
Read full article at The Diplomat
As a strategically vital trade hub and home to nearly 70m people, Central Asia has for too long lacked representation at the top table of global politics.
To date, no Central Asian country has sat on the UN Security Council. This is despite the increasing prominence of the area, not just as a geopolitical player, but as an emerging power with its own unique identity, relationships and above all experiences. This June will see the decision of the UN General Assembly on five non-permanent members of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018. We hope that Kazakhstan will be given the honour of being one of these new members.
As we approach the 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence this year, we can feel proud of the remarkable progress our country has made. Impressive economic growth since our independence, harmonious culture that includes more than 100 ethnic groups and 17 religions, as well as a welcoming attitude to new friends and opportunities, have led us to the position where we are ready to assume new responsibilities as part of the global community.
Our position, both physical and symbolic, as the bridge between West and East, Europe and Asia, has given us a unique perspective on diffusing tensions and building relations that we feel would greatly benefit all states looking for peace and prosperity.
This perspective has led to the development of our consistent and multi-vector foreign policy, focusing on developing relations with all countries and international organizations. We have demonstrated this by acting as a mediator on complex international issues and facilitating dialogue between opposing states.
In major international crises in Ukraine and Iran we have been proud to contribute towards peaceful conclusions. In 2014 and early 2015, President Nursultan Nazarbayev held a series of talks with the international parties involved in the Ukrainian crisis and assisted significantly with the convening and eventual success of the two Minsk summits in August 2014 and February 2015.
Kazakhstan also played an important role in the success of the Iranian nuclear deal by hosting two rounds of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries in 2013, as well as directly participating in the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
As the conflict in Syria continues to impact the stability of the region, we provided a platform for the two rounds of Syrian opposition talks in May and October 2015 and will continue to support the case for peace.
We have also shown our capability to take a leading role in strengthening international security as evidenced by President Nazarbayev’s continued work in addressing nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. In 2015, the Government of Kazakhstan signed a host country agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency to establish a low-enriched uranium bank in the country to provide the world with a guaranteed supply of the fuel for civic nuclear energy, thus making an important contribution to strengthening the non-proliferation regime.
With over 25 years of commitment to diffusing conflict – from being the first country to unilaterally give up its nuclear stockpile, to the recent launch of the Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century” by President Nazarbayev calling for global action to reduce the threat of war – Kazakhstan’s experience will be invaluable as inter-state tensions rise.
Respect and tolerance between the rich array of religions and cultures in Kazakhstan is an attitude that underpins our whole society as well as our firm belief in religious reconciliation. Through tangible action as part of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, we have worked to prevent divisions and enhance co-operation between different strands of Islam. The development of the Islamic Organization for Food Security in Kazakhstan and commitment to economic cooperation has helped create jobs, stability and prosperity while addressing some of the symptoms of extremism.
We are also a young democracy. It goes without saying that the hard lessons we have learned over the past 25 years as we move to a full democratic system are fresh in our minds. Kazakhstan knows too well the balance that is required to facilitate the wholesale change in society while keeping fundamental values and traditions enshrined. In our short history we have transitioned from a recipient of aid to a donor, providing over $100m in assistance to our neighbours in Central Asia, including Afghanistan, and other UN member states.
We now work on institutionalising efforts in this direction by launching a national official development assistance agency KazAID. Our experience in this endeavour will be invaluable to other countries looking to do the same. We have also worked to assist our friends further away, helping countries in Africa build up their institutional capacities and fight Ebola, assisting countries in the Pacific in developing sustainable energy solutions, and helping nations in the Caribbean better prepare for natural disasters.
Central Asia has faced numerous challenges over the past half century, yet it is the unique experiences and perspectives gained from overcoming these issues that defines the value our inclusion as a non-permanent member would provide. The UN was founded on the principles of inclusion and fairness, on welcoming new voices and encouraging participation. In this respect, as well as the many others that we have laid out before, Kazakhstan is ready to take up its responsibilities. We therefore look forward with hope to an increased cooperation and support from the UN member states.
The Central Asia-South Asia electricity transmission project (CASA-1000) will be inaugurated on 12 May by top officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The project is supported by the World Bank Group, Islamic Development Bank, US Agency for International Development (USAID), UK Department for International Development (DFID), and Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
The inauguration ceremony will be attended by high-level government officials from the four participating countries and representatives of the donor countries and organisations.
CASA-1000 will provide a new electricity transmission system to connect all four countries involved. It will help them to make the most efficient use of Central Asia’s hydropower resources by enabling the countries to transfer and sell their electricity surplus during the summer months to the energy-deficient countries of South Asia.
Kazakhstan’s Secretary of State Gulshara Abdykalikova told the March 14-15 60th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women that her country’s women-oriented and gender-sensitive policies enable women to succeed at the national level.
Abdykalikova said during the session, dedicated to “Women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development,” that President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev pays great attention to the political leadership of women, their contribution to the economic growth and prevention of gender violence.
Kazakhstan, as a member of the UN, advocates for gender equality and empowerment of women throughout almost all of the issues and processes on the agenda of the organisation. Kazakhstan has been a member of the Commission on the Status of Women several times and is a member until 2018.
Abdykalikova addressed the commission in her capacity as Chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Family and Demographic Policy under the President, focusing on the structural causes of gender inequality and discrimination, putting forward gender-responsive state policies and programmes. In light of the newly adopted 2030 development agenda, Abdykalikova shared the goals of the country’s gender-sensitive policies.
The Kazakh delegation also met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Under-Secretary-Generals, Executive Director of the UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Administrator of the UN Development Programme Helen Clark. The delegation also met with Executive Secretary of Inter-American Commission on the Status of Women Ambassador Carmen Moreno, as well as Ban Soon-taek, spouse of Ban Ki-moon, who is an advocate for the protection of women’s rights and their empowerment. The sides expressed a desire to expand cooperation.
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