In the 25 years since Kazakhstan declared its independence, the Central Asian nation has transformed itself from a fledgling nation unsure of its place in the world to a modern player on the global stage.
The transformation wasn’t easy and the future is always uncertain, but Kazakhstan’s leaders and outside geopolitical experts are confident that even brighter days await the peaceful nation.
At a recent forum in Washington celebrating the quarter-century milestone of independence, members of Congress and the U.S. foreign policy establishment, Kazakh Foreign Ministry officials and others sat down for a daylong discussion.
The group highlighted the building blocks of Kazakhstan’s success. Among them a robust energy sector, widespread religious tolerance, a central and advantageous geographic location and not least, its critical geopolitical decision at the dawn of its independence to relinquish some 1,400 nuclear strategic and tactical warheads remaining from the Soviet-era.
The speakers also explored the possibilities inherent in Kazakhstan’s future. And all agreed the future looks promising.
Rep. Robert Aderholt, a Republican congressman from Alabama and the co-chairman of the Friends of Kazakhstan caucus, saluted the country for building “a modern republic of peace and prosperity.” He said the U.S. views the Central Asian nation as an important ally in the region.
“The United States values the unique relationship that we have with the Republic of Kazakhstan,” Aderholt said. “The strategic partnership dialogue between our countries is a productive platform for important issues such as countering terrorism and violent extremism, [as well as] trade, energy, innovation, good government, human rights, democracy building and regional stability.”
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President Nursultan Nazarbayev gave his annual address of the Nation on January 31, 2017. In his remarks the President termed the new, third stage of country’s modernization driven by five priorities to ensure economic growth and bring Kazakhstan closer to its goal of being one of the top 30 most-developed countries.
Watch the video by the Embassy of Kazakhstan to learnmore about the 5 prioritires.
Kazakhstan sent about 500 tonnes of humanitarian aid on Jan. 6 to the people of Syria in the form of food, including flour, canned meat, rice, pasta and tea.
Russian Ministry of Defense rendered its assistance in delivering the aid, which was brought by Kuznetsov dry-cargo ship to Tartus Port Jan. 5. The unloading and handover of the cargo to Syrian authorities began Jan. 6. Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Jordan Azamat Berdybai handed the humanitarian aid to the Syrian side in the person of President of the Provincial Council of Tartus Yasser Dibba.
The Higher Relief Commission of the Syrian Arab Republic will oversee the distribution of the Kazakh aid.
“Although the international community takes all required efforts, the humanitarian situation in the country remains catastrophic. In this regard, President Nursultan Nazarbayev made a decision to send humanitarian aid, namely food, to Syria. The 500 tonnes of cargo delivered in 33 containers include primarily food and medications and are meant for the Syrian people suffering the consequences of the six-year-long war. Kazakhstan backs the measures launched by the international community and the actions of the Syrian authorities and the opposition aimed at speedy ceasefire and determining the political future of Syria by means of dialogue and reconciliation,” Berdybai said at a meeting with the Syrian delegation.
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.
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Kazakhstan’s southern Zhambyl region is planning to build a ski base and recreation centre. These projects will attract tourists to the region, said the Director of the Regional Chamber of Entrepreneurs Karlygash Aralbekova at the International Investment Forum “TARAZ INVEST-2016” on 25 November 2016.
Four tourism projects are included in the Regional Map of Business Development: the ‘Kazakh Auli Koksai’ recreational tourist base worth 935 million tenge, the ‘Apple Orchard’ recreational tourist centre worth 85 million tenge, as well as projects for the construction of roadside services in the Zhualynsk and Merke districts of the Zhambyl region, worth 402 and 700 million tenge respectively.
EXPO 2017 Begins Transfer of Pavilions to Participants, Construction on Schedule
Individuals connected with EXPO 2017 unveiled the designs of the Kazakh, German and Chinese pavilions as the buildings were transferred to the participating countries on Oct. 31.
Chairman of Astana EXPO 2017 national company Akhmetzhan Yessimov noted construction of the main pavilion, informally known as the “Ball” or “Sphere,” will be finished by the New Year’s. Work on the interior will then begin. “The ‘ball’ is the main pavilion. It will be completed by the end of this year, but there is a lot of work on the content filling, which will take place until May of next year. There will be eight floors and each will disclose certain themes of the exhibition: space, solar, wind, water and so on. The same can be said of the thematic pavilions; they are completed and now the work on the content will begin. The most important thing is the construction of all the facilities will be completed for the New Year, in addition to the Congress Hall and the hotel. They will be needed only during the exhibition, so all works are on schedule. In addition, public areas will be completed in the spring,” he said as the ceremony.
The details of the German pavilion, called Energy Turnaround, were explained by German Ambassador in Kazakhstan Rolf Mafael. Astana Akim (mayor) Asset Issekeshev was present for the event.
“It means a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and energy-effective management. The national pavilion will be in four stages. First, visitors are offered to feel the new world of the future of energy. In the second, the audience will be presented with a new energy map of the world and the layout of the wind park in Yereimentau. In the next room, visitors can get acquainted with the ‘smart’ city, like in a computer – the prospect of increasing or decreasing from a global to a local perspective. In the last room, we will feel what the energy turnaround is. All visitors at the beginning will get a small drive stick and with it they will be able to activate all the exhibits – to be able to touch and study them. At the end, they will accumulate energy and see what they can do with this energy. This is a great laser show,” he said.
China is second in the world in renewable energy sources (RES), noted Chinese EXPO 2017 Commissioner Wang Tszinchzhen.
“We want to take this opportunity to show our achievements in the field of renewable energy. We are also going to present a number of events on the topic of technology, for example in the field of tourism, as well as take part in the forums on the subject of technology. China’s largest technology company will present their achievements. We will hold a few forums on this subject and we are prepared in this regard to support the Kazakh company. We are ready to assist not only in the energy sector, but also in the agro-industrial complex and other areas. We invite all of the business community to our pavilions to discuss ways of cooperation,” he said.
The completion of five key exhibition objects was also announced – International Pavilion, EXPO Town with 1,374 rooms, EXPO office building, Department of the Interior and Energy Research Centre.
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
After spending the end of September in New York, Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov travelled to Brussels the first week in October to attend conferences with European Union (EU) officials.
Working with Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajč2ák, Idrissov co-chaired the 15th meeting of the EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Council. The Oct. 4 session was the first following the signing and provisional application of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) between the entities.
“The EPCA has a very big chapter dedicated to trade and economic cooperation. Europe is our main trade partner and the source of foreign investments. Therefore, this sphere has been outlined in the new agreement. Overall, the EPCA covers 29 spheres of interaction,” said Idrissov.
As its name implies, the Сooperation Сouncil provided an opportunity to discuss financial collaborations and the role of the newly-formed cooperation committee trade configuration, which will address import/export and economic/investment issues. The talks specifically noted simplifying the visa regime for Kazakh citizens traveling to the EU, identifying Kazakhstan as a market economy and the future subcommittee on customs cooperation.
“The potential of trade, economic and investment cooperation between Kazakhstan and the EU is far from being disclosed. The main objective of the established structures should be further development of this potential and assistance for the implementation of the EPCA,” said Idrissov.
The meetings included representatives of the Kazakh ministries of National Economy, Investments and Development, Energy and Justice, the National Security Committee and National Centre for Human Rights and the discussions touched on each of their areas of concern – environmental and human rights protection, political cooperation, the rule of law and good governance, internal reforms and combating new threats.
Similar topics plus Afghanistan, Iran, Ukraine and regional cooperation in energy, environment, water resources, border security and combating drug trafficking were on the agenda when Idrissov and his counterparts Erlan Abdyldaev (Kyrgyzstan), Sirodjidin Aslov (Tajikistan), Rashid Meredov (Turkmenistan) and Abdulaziz Kamilov (Uzbekistan) met with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini. The sides discussed relations within the EU Strategy for Central Asia, initiated in 2007 and renewed in 2015 through 2020.
“Our cooperation with our partners in Central Asia covers a lot of areas, with an eye also on the security challenges. We share a common neighbourhood, we share deep links and that is why we are engaged more than ever in expanding and enhancing our relations,” said Mogherini, according to eeas.europa.eu.
Idrissov later participated in the 18th Berlin Eurasian Club with the theme “EU – Central Asia Energy Dialogue.” The talks, involving German officials and representatives of leading European companies in conventional and renewable energy, provided a segue for the Foreign Minister to speak about EXPO 2017, the future energy-themed international exposition to be held in Astana. He also spoke about his nation’s socio-economic reforms and priorities with the EU.
The Kazakh delegation participated the following day in the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan. Arranged by the EU and Afghan government and attended by representatives of more than 70 countries and 30 international organisations, the conference reviewed joint international and Afghan efforts to increase sustained global support and funding based on a new national development framework. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah presented their vision of the future and track record on reform.
Idrissov noted that Kazakhstan continues to provide political and practical support to Kabul. KazAID, the nation’s official development assistance agency, focuses on Afghanistan, including a pilot project to improve the economic independence and rights of women launched in August with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Kazakhstan also provides university grants to young Afghans within the educational programme initiated by President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2009.
Following the meeting, Idrissov announced Kazakhstan will allocate $2 million to support the projects of Afghan security forces, adding the country intends to focus on solving the problems of Central Asia, including the stabilisation of Afghanistan, during its 2017-2018 membership on the UN Security Council.
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