Kazakhstan Calls for Sustainable Development, Steps Up Inter-Parliamentary Ties and Public DiplomacyPosted on July 5th, 2012 No comments
June has been a busy month for world diplomacy. As an active participant in world affairs, Kazakhstan has participated in conferences and hosted international events.
One such event was the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which was held June 20-22in Rio de Janeiro. As a country that suffered environmental disasters, Kazakhstan was proud to take the lead in promoting sustainable development.
The Kazakh delegation was headed by Environment Protection Minister Nurlan Kapparov and included Members of Parliament, government officials, prominent scientists, entrepreneurs and NGO leaders. They shared experiences and reaffirmed their commitment to finding sustainable solutions to development. The Green Bridge Partnership, a Kazakh initiative to create a vast new market for green goods, services and new technologies, was highlighted as a way to provide economic stimulus to the global economy. This was reflected in the Outcome document.
Proposed by Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the UN General Assembly in September 2011, the Green Bridge Partnership Program for 2011-2020 is supported by the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
The Green Bridge Partnership Program reacts to the urgent need for a radical transformation of the environmentally destructive “brown” economy. Investments in “natural” capital and eco-efficiency provide an opportunity to create a new “green economy,” stimulating long-term growth, employment and socially inclusive development.
As the underpinning to the Green Bridge Partnership, the main provisions of the “Global Energy-Ecological Strategy”, aimed at managing the long-term transition from conventional to sustainable energy, were reflected in the “Framework for action and follow-up” of the Outcome document.
On the sidelines of the Conference, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University organized a discussion about the “Green Bridge Through Generations”. See it here: http://rio20.kaznu.kz .
More information can be found here.
CoDel to Kazakhstan
A U.S. Congressional delegation headed by Chairman of the Subcommittee for Europe and Eurasia of the Committee on Foreign Relations of U.S. Congress Dan Burton visited Astana at the end of the month.
The lawmakers were received by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. He reaffirmed his commitment to our countries’ strategic partnership. “During20 years of independence, we have enjoyed active cooperation with the United States in all areas of bilateral cooperation. In the year following declaration of sovereignty, I visited your country and met with U.S. President George Bush. We discussed various issues related to support of building independent Kazakhstan, including the issues of nuclear disarmament. Many years have passed since then, much has changed in the world, and we have become known and respected state. Today we are a developed country,” PresidentNazarbaev said.
Thanking the President for the warm hospitality, Congressman Burton recognized “the success Kazakhstan has reached during 20 years of independence, especially in Astana.”
US Congressmen also called on Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov, who outlined major priorities of the bilateral cooperation: non-proliferation, regional stability, trade and investments, energy, innovations and new technologies, educational and cultural exchanges.
The delegation met with the chairman of the Kazakh Senate (upper house of the parliament) Kairat Mami, speaker of the Mazhilis (lower house of parliament) Nurlan Nigmatulin, Prime Minister Karim Massimov and other important government officials.
Burton, who earlier issued congratulations to Kazakhstan on the 20th anniversary of its independence, thanked Kazakhstan for its crucial support on Afghanistan and its contribution to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
The congressional delegation’s visit provided a boost to strengthening strategic partnership and paved the way for more robust inter-parliamentary ties between our countries.
Screening of the movie “Gift to Stalin”
For the benefit of the Congressional delegation, we screened the hit movie “Gift to Stalin” at the Embassy. Set in 1949, just before Stalin’s 70th-birthday jubilee, the film centers on Sasha, a 9-year-old Jewish boy who is saved from KGB persecution by a Kazakh war veteran . The movie tells the story of the “melting pot” in Kazakhstan.
At the event, attended mostly by House and Senate staffers, we talked about the need for inter-ethnic and religious tolerance to preserve the world’s fragile peace. I talked about Kazakhstan’s efforts to encourage inter-faith dialogue by hosting the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
Trip to Texas, Arizona and California
To explore the US from within, not only from the capital city, I visited Texas, Arizona and California in mid June.
In San Francisco, I met with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to hand over the medal commemorating 20Years of Kazakhstan’s Independence, which is awarded to Kazakh citizens and international friends who have contributed to friendship of Kazakhstan with the outside world. Dr. Rice thanked Kazakhstan for its leadership and stressed that Kazakhstan is a country with a glorious history and wonderful future.
In Arizona, I visited the University of Arizona, where Kazakhstan is studied and the Kazakh language is taught with the support of the Kazakh Embassy. I met Zura Dotton, an ethnic Chechen born in Kazakhstan, who teaches about Kazakhstan at the University. More than 60 students have taken the course over four years and learned about the history, culture and traditions of the Kazakh people. Some of them visited Kazakhstan through these courses. I believe these courses will be useful to connect our people directly and contribute to better understanding each other.
This year, the University of Arizona launches a joint pilot project with the Ablaikhan Kazakh State University of International Relations and Foreign Languages to encourage the exchange of students and teachers. Professor from the Kazakh University Mizamhan Baghlan is behind the pilot project.
It was pleasing to see more than 10 students from Kazakhstan’s “Bolashak” program who study at the University of Arizona.
In Houston, I attended a charity event organized by a Kazakh Diaspora Association “Shanyrak” to support efforts to open a Kazakh language Sunday school in September. The event was supported by the International Charitable Foundation “Altyn Kyran” headed by Islambek Salzhanov. The event was attended by executives of major oil companies present in Kazakhstan such as ConocoPhillips. Also attending were Chairman Lance Ryan and VicePresident David Paterson.
At the event, I saw optimism from Kazakh Americans who are willing to connect the two countries through cultural, business and educational ties. They are truly American and are at the same time willing to preserve Kazakh culture, traditions and language. That is why they came together to establish Kazakh languages school, which will admit children from 30 Kazakh families as well as American families who have adopted children from Kazakhstan.
At the Embassy, we support initiatives of the Kazakh community in the U.S., which is now 30,000 strong.
National Press Club members event
In an attempt to reach out to journalists, we hosted a reception for the members of the National Press Club of Washington DC.
Chairman of the NPC International Correspondents Committee Myron Belkind spoke about the international leadership of Kazakhstan, including in nuclear non-proliferation. He emphasized the characteristic of openness and hospitality of Kazakhstan, as evidenced by the reception itself, which was also held last year. According to Belkind, the Embassy of Kazakhstan “is an example of the establishment of communication with the press.”
Addressing 70 distinguished media representatives, I spoke about Kazakhstan’s growing role in world affairs. This included hosting the Astana Economic Forum and attending the Rio+20. I enjoyed answering questions about Kazakhstan’s economy, relations with China, Russia, the United States and our cooperation with NATO and engagement within the SCO.
The event turned out to be a success and the screening of the documentary “This is America” on Kazakhstan was received very well. Many guests expressed interest in visiting Kazakhstan soon and we were happy to offer them guidebooks, publications and reference materials about Kazakhstan, which, I hope, will prepare them for their future trips to the heart of Eurasia.
CICA and Istanbul Process CBMs for Regional Peace
To help achieve peace in entire Asia, President Nazarbayev launched the CICA process in 1992 at the UN General Assembly. The CICA — Conference on Interaction and CBMs in Asia — has since evolved significantly and contributes to fostering peace through cooperation in trade, investment, tourism, culture, environment protection, meeting the new challenges, military exercises etc.
On the face of ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, the CBMs are much needed for the regional powers, key stakeholders and Afghanistan’s neighbors. These CBMs could be conducted within the CICA and Istanbul process on Afghanistan. Now, the CICA is being chaired by Turkey, which is also the initiator of the Istanbul process.
To discuss these important issues, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosted a roundtable on June 28 in the format of Chatham House. I had the pleasure of speaking along with my Turkish colleague Ambassador Namik Tan. Experts, officials and many other participants agreed that the CICA and the Istanbul process complement each other. I shared my opinion that Turkey could play a positive role in strengthening cooperation among the participants of the two processes. Ambassador Tan expressed hope that practical steps will be taken during the CICA ministerial meeting in Astana in September, which will also mark the 20th anniversary of the CICA.
The participants praised Kazakhstan and Turkey’s positive role in bringing peace to Afghanistan and in the wider region.
Pursuing openness and transparency for the ongoing trials on Zhanaozen events, we have welcomed the involvement of international observers, including Civic Solidarity. I am pleased to note that Civic Solidarity acknowledged our efforts for transparency in their report and found that the trials were conducted in accordance with Kazakhstani legal procedures.
Kazakhstan’s constructive approach was also recognized by the US representative at the OSCE Permanent Council on June 21: “We recognize that Kazakhstan has faced unprecedented challenges over the past six months, beginning with the violent protests in western Kazakhstan in December 2011. We appreciate the efforts of the Center, the government of Kazakhstan, and civil society to understand the full truth about both the underlying causes of the unrest and the specific actions taken during these events, as well as all parties’ willingness to share their findings with participating States. We are heartened by the transparency of the trials in Aktau, as well as media access. We welcome the government’s attempts to bring to justice, not only private persons who broke the law by engaging in violent acts, but also police and other officials who abused or over-stepped their authority”.
Nevertheless, we appreciate that there are difficult lessons for Government at all levels – local, regional and national – to learn from the tragic events in Zhanaozen. Over the last six months, we have looked closely at how officials responded to the violence, and we have also studied the longer term issues that may have contributed to the outbreak of unrest in the region.A full clarification of the Government’s response to Zhanaozen and the criminal proceedings can be found here.
Embassy Fellowship for Travel to Kazakhstan
To encourage trips of US students to Kazakhstan, we have launched a fellowship in cooperation with Kazakhstan’s National Airline “Air Astana”, Kazakh Travel Agency Sayat (www.sayat-travel.kz/) and the US-based Russian American Travel Agencies Association (RATA, www.russiantravelusa.com/).
The fellowship offers two eligible students from accredited universities in the U.S. a weeklong, free trip to explore the three major cities of Kazakhstan during the period of August 6-12. The fellows will have an opportunity to meet with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies. The fellowship aims to make Americans more familiar with Kazakhstan, its business opportunities and its science and technology development. All expenses will be paid for with the exception of food costs and other incidentals.
Candidates for Kazakhstan Embassy fellowship were required to submit a 500-word abstract on the topic, “Discovering new Kazakhstan: bringing US innovations to Kazakhstan to develop Kazakhstan-US Science and Technology Partnership.”
Out of 15 abstracts, two have been selected and announced. Emin Hasanov from New York University and Charles Santos from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will be traveling to Kazakhstan in August of this year to conduct their proposed research projects. Charles Santos proposed implementing mobile health services in Kazakhstan, and Emin Hasanov wrote about efficiency of wind farms as alternative source of energy. I offer my sincere congratulations to the winners and I hope that their research papers will contribute to the scientific cooperation between our countries and help promote genuine friendship between our countries.
I am a firm believer in public diplomacy. I am pleased to invite US tourists, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians and scientists to Kazakhstan. I believe if there is a wide range of activities linking our two peoples then it will serve as a driving force for the official level contacts and create a solid foundation for the continued strategic partnership. I am also a strong supporter of cultural ties , which might add to the existing instruments that bring together business and civic communities of the two countries. I am happy to note that in 2011, the trade turnover between Kazakhstan and the U.S. totaled $2.74 billion, a 26% increase from 2010. I believe such positive indicators and practical outcomes of cooperation will benefit both nations, building foundations for cooperation and contributing to the development of future projects.
Posted on June 11th, 2012 No comments
As I expected, May was very busy for Kazakh diplomacy here in DC as well as back home in Astana. I thought I’d briefly touch on some of the events designed to promote the Kazakh-US friendship and contribute to international peace.
Kazakhstan-US 20th Anniversary Conference
On May 18, the newly established Nazarbayev Center hosted a major international conference called “Kazakhstan – USA: 20 Years of Partnership for Security and Development,” which summarized the two decades of successful cooperation and was timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the first official visit of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to the U.S. in 1992 at the invitation of then-President George H.W. Bush. The first visit laid a solid ground for the steady growth of bilateral cooperation.
The event was well attended by the political leaders, ministers and CEOs of major national companies. More information on the event could be found here.
The conference covered all important aspects of the bilateral agenda and helped generate constructive ideas to further enhance the strategic partnership. Underlining the importance of the event, a number of important dignitaries spoke and sent their messages to the participants.
Some relevant materials are found here:
- President Nazarbayev’s Message;
- Director Saudabayev’s Remarks;
- Ambassador Fairfax’s Remarks containing the message from President G.W.Bush;
- Ambassador Courtney’s Remarks;
- Secretary Clinton’s Message;
- General Powell’s Video Message;
- Secretary Baker’s Video Message;
- Chronology of Kazakh-US Strategic Partnership.
Kazakhstan took part in the NATO Summit
Another major event which greatly advanced our cooperation was Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov’s trip to Chicago for the NATO Summit on May 21. There, he once again confirmed Kazakhstan’s commitment to support US efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. Most importantly, he was one of the few leaders to announce a decision to make financial contribution to support Afghan National Security Forces.
He highlighted the importance of developing regional trade and economic cooperation with Afghanistan. Kazakhstan will continue its support of Afghanistan’s economic and humanitarian recovery. This support will be done in a variety of ways, for example, through partnering with international organizations such as the FAO and WFP to increase supply of grain to Afghanistan. Kazakhstan also supplies fuel to Afghanistan, helps build social and economic facilities, trains its students at the best Kazakh universities, and promotes the participation of Kabul in regional trade, investment and infrastructure projects.
Kazykhanov called on Summit participants to strengthen efforts to combat drug trafficking from Afghanistan since “successful counter-terrorism is impossible without solving this problem.” In this regard, the Minister highlighted the work of the Central Asian Regional Information Coordination Center (CARICC), which was set up in Almaty with the U.N. assistance.
The situation in Afghanistan and Kazakhstan’s approach to it is elaborated in Foreign Minister Kazykhanov’s article “Stabilizing Afghanistan: the View from Kazakhstan,” (Real Clear World, May 18, 2012).
Many officials, including NATO Secretary General Rasmussen and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who had a separate meeting with Central Asian Foreign Ministers, expressed gratitude to Kazakhstan and other Eurasian countries for the logistical assistance to NATO. This crucial support was also recognized by the leaders of all 28 NATO members and reflected in the Chicago Summit Declaration: “We welcome the progress on transit arrangements with our Central Asian partners and Russia.”
Minister Kazykhanov held a working meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary Robert Blake. They discussed progress toward implementing the agreements reached at the meeting between President Nursultan Nazarbayev and President Barack Obama during the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit in March 2012. They also underlined the importance of the recently established bilateral Strategic Partnership Commission, which covers the vast array of bilateral comprehensive agenda.
5th Astana Economic Forum
Astana is emerging as a dialogue platform not only for political gatherings, but also discussions on economic opportunities. One of such important events which gathered world’s leading financial experts, politicians , Nobel Prize winners was the 5th Astana Economic Forum , which took place on May 22-24 in our brand new capital Astana.
At the Forum, President Nazarbayev proposed a test of a new online dialogue format for the Astana Forum along the lines of the “G-GLOBAL” project which he initiated last year. The idea quickly received broad support from the political, expert and business delegates in attendance.
To ensure that developing countries have a stable and secure foundation for development, President Nazarbayev proposed five fundamental principles of international order:
- Evolution, not revolution
- Justice, equality, and consensus.
- Global tolerance and trust.
- Global transparency
- Constructive multilateralism
A major highlight of the Forum was the “Astana Invest 2012” investment forum, which showcased investment opportunities and future prospects for the Kazakh economy. Business agreements totaling USD $1.5 billion were signed.
Overall, Astana Economic Forum proved to be an important dialogue platform for decision makers, business executives and economic scientists. Their discussions contributed to the global discourse on the economic challenges, while international business leaders focused on vast investment opportunities fast growing Kazakhstan economy offers to not only major corporations, but also small and medium enterprises.
By tradition, the Forum was wrapped up by an Open Letter to the leaders of the G20 member states. Representatives of the Eurasian Economic Club of Scientists, the main organizers of the Astana Economic Forum, visited New York City and Washington D.C. on June 4-6 to deliver the Open Letter’s messages to the UN and G-20. Mr. Murat Karimsakov, Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Club of Scientists, and his First Deputy Mr. Serik Nugerbekov met with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and discussed the main provisions of the Open Letter. The Kazakh economic scientists also met with Lourdes Aranda, G20 Sherpa for Mexico, and Roberto Marino, Special Representative for Mexico’s G20 Presidency, to deliver the Open Letter and discuss the Forum’s recommendations. During the meeting, Aranda expressed his interest in holding a wrap-up conference in Astana to discuss the outcome of the Mexico’s G20 presidency and the upcoming Russian chairmanship of the G20. The Open Letter’s key messages include recommendations on ways to develop the global multi-polar governance system based on the principles of the G-Global; to reform international monetary and financial system; to support sustainable development; and to address energy-ecology and food security issues.
Foreign Investors Council discusses Growing Opportunities
Another major economic event was the the Foreign Investors’ Council meeting on May 22 chaired by President Nazarbayev. The meeting focused on trade, logistics and finances. Nazarbayev highlighted major economic achievements and improvement of the investment climate:
- Over the 14 years since the FIC’s founding, Kazakhstan’s economy has grown by more than 8.2 times to USD $181 billion. In 2011 alone, GDP growth constituted 7.5 percent.
- Over those two decades, 70 percent of the total foreign direct investment in Central Asia – almost USD $150 billion – was made in Kazakhstan.
- In two short years, about 400 new production plants were constructed, producing goods worth more than USD $3 billion.
- Last year, foreign investment in Kazakhstan totaled USD $18 billion.
It is interesting to note how many priorities of our two countries’ foreign and economic policies coincide. One of such convergence is restoring the Silk Way in Eurasia. We are all well aware of the US initiative on New Silk Way, which was supported by Kazakhstan. President Nazarbayev offered his vision for New Silk Road: “Kazakhstan should revive its historic role as the largest business and transit hub in the Central Asian region, serving as a bridge between Europe and Asia. Once implemented, the project will result in nearly a two-fold increase in cargo transit traffic through Kazakhstan by 2020,” he said.
During the meeting, the Kazakh officials and foreign investors discussed ways to better implement development projects to gain from the growth trajectory of the Kazakh economy. The Foreign Investors’ Council is an advisory body established to improve the investment climate of Kazakhstan. Its members include major investors such as GE, Delloitte, HSBC, Shell, Chevron, Total, ExxonMobil, British Gas, Conoco Philips, Credit Suisse Europe, TeliaSonera, Mitsubishi Corporation etc, with an overall membership of 30 global corporations.
In addition to political and economic overtures of our young capital, Astana is the center of global inter-faith dialogue. The 4th meeting of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, which meets once in three years, was hosted on May 30-31. It brought together Muslims and Christians, Jews and Buddhists, as well as representatives of Hinduism, Shintoism, and Zoroastrianism.
87 delegations from 40 countries traveled to Astana to participate. The U.S. religious community was represented by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of Cordoba Initiative, Reverend Robert Chase, founding director of Intersections International, a multi-faith social justice organization in New York; Reverend Leonid Kishkovsky, director of external affairs and interchurch relations, Orthodox Church of America; Rabbi Andrew Baker, special representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office on Combating Anti-Semitism in 2009-2011; Daisy Khan, Muslim women’s rights activist; and William Vendley, general secretary of World Conference for Religions for Peace.
The religious leaders talked about ways to spread the message of love and mutual understanding to overcome the negative emotions and hatred. They denounced the use of religion to gain personal, political benefits. They praised Kazakhstan’s example of building a tolerant society where all religious communities leave in peace and harmony. I would also encourage you to watch a thematic video , which covers the Congress and its significance.
Speaking at the Congress, Imam Feisal highlighted: “our role as religious leaders is to remind our political leaders and captains of industry, that it does not profit a man to gain the whole world in power and riches, if in the process we lose our souls”.
Religious leaders also discussed the role of women and young people in promoting moderate views, in strengthening interreligious tolerance and building bridges of understanding. Again, in women empowerment Kazakhstan can lead the way.
Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Amar said that different people and cultures can achieve peace only through dialogue and mutual respect. “The President and people of Kazakhstan have succeeded in this. Kazakhstan’s success in ensuring inter-confessional accord and tolerance is the example for the whole world,” the Rabbi said. “The Congress in Astana has provided such an opportunity as Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has created a “new UN,” that unites not only nations, but religions, cultures and societies with various ideologies and world-views.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev put forward a number initiative to foster the mutual trust among the religions. One of them is to launch an Internet-resource to enhancing global tolerance, where the religious leaders could interact with each other and place their lectures online. He also asked the spiritual people to mention Kazakhstan and its people’s eternal prosperity in their prayers. The closing day, May 31, coincided with Kazakhstan’s annual Day of Remembrance. In solidarity with their hosts, the participants took part in an opening ceremony for a new monument dedicated to the victims of the political repression and famine of 1932-1933, visited the ALZHIR museum located at the former Stalin’s GULAG camp and held a joint prayer in memory of the victims. The outcome document, the Congress Appeal, was adopted and can be viewed here. The next, 5th meeting of the Congress will be held in 2015.
Kazakhstan is also keeping up with its commitments to human rights, transparency and rule of law.
On May 21, the Court announced guilty verdicts for 11 of the 12 defendants accused of inciting riots in Shetpe. Five of those convicted were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment ranging from as little as a four year suspended sentence to seven years in prison. The Court also pardoned six of the 11 defendants, although initially they were sentenced to two year terms of imprisonment. As a result, they were released from their detention and walked out of court room right after the verdict was announced. One defendant was summarily released from custody for a lack of evidence of guilt.
On June 4, the Aktau City Court announced verdicts in the cases of 37 persons accused of wrongdoing during the unrest in Zhanaozen. The majority of those found guilty were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to seven years. Three defendants’ cases were dismissed and were ordered immediately released due to lack of evidence. Of the remaining 34 cases, 16 had their two-year sentences suspended and received pardons from the Court and were immediately released from custody. However, two of those 16 will not be permitted to travel outside of their towns of residence for that period.
Of those found guilty of more serious offenses, two were conditionally sentenced to 1 year of prison, three were conditionally sentenced to 2 years, six received 3 years terms in a standard regime penal colony. Of the most serious offenders, the sentences the Court handed down were longer: two got four years; one got five years; three were sentenced to 6 years and one received a 7 year term.
In addition to instigators, law enforcement officials were also found guilty of exceeding their authority, and inappropriate use of force and/or special equipment received sentences ranging from five to seven years.
To guarantee the transparency of the legal proceedings and ensure that the verdicts were open to public scrutiny, the court provided special facilities, including an anteroom with a live closed-circuit video feed of the proceedings and allowed for additional space for interested parties, including relatives of the victims and defendants, representatives of human rights organizations and international observers. The court also provides briefings of the proceedings following each day’s event. The briefings can be accessed at www.supcourt.kz/en/. For more information on what happened in Zhanaozen, the Government’s response to the unrest and what both sides can do to avoid unfortunate events like these from occurring again, please click here.
As you can see, May has been very busy. The Embassy has been very active, as it should be, to help promote true friendship between our countries, our political leaders, entrepreneurs and spiritual figures. Through the use of modern technologies including this blog, I am happy to share with you information about immense opportunities for investments, helping foster global peace and tolerance. It is also important to know how Kazakhstan has been a trusted and reliable partner of the US on such crucial issues as stabilization of Afghanistan and advancing women empowerment, modernization.
I will continue to keep you informed about landmark events related to Kazakh-US strategic partnership and important developments in my country.
Posted on May 13th, 2012 No comments
April was full of events and diplomacy, building bridges, helping nourish important ties and reviewing foreign policy strategies. Here are some of the highlights:
Astana meeting of Kazakhstan’s Ambassadors and Envoys. On April 20, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev convened a meeting of Kazakhstan’s ambassadors and envoys from 73 Kazakh embassies, consulates and other posts in more than 60 countries. At the meeting, which coincided with the 20th anniversary of the country’s diplomatic service, President Nazarbayev laid out his vision for a new foreign policy designed to continue the Kazakhstan’s growth in trade and influence.
President Nazarbayev named several factors that he feels will help bring about the transformation, including new technological innovations, the shift of economic growth centers to Asia, expansion of the global information community and formation of a multi-polar world. He highlighted the need to bring economic diplomacy to the forefront of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. To ensure that diplomacy serves to strengthen the Kazakh economy at home while economic statecraft enhances its diplomatic position abroad, the Government will welcome international partners in accelerated industrial and innovative development projects. According to the President, every region of the country should have a deputy governor who is savvy about economics, fluent in English and capable of working toward strengthening the country’s international cooperation. President Nazarbayev also announced plans to send young diplomats to study at top international universities through the Bolashak Scholarship. His hope: Kazakhstan’s next generation of diplomats will be even more prepared to work with the country’s international partners.
I am optimistic that these initiatives will have a positive impact on our strategic partnership with the U.S. The U.S. remains one of the top sources for high technology know-how and investments and high quality universities, which offer tremendous opportunities for dynamic countries such as Kazakhstan.
Visits by economic officials to the US. In line with the President’s vision for economic statecraft, a number of visits were organized to advance the economic ties between our two countries. The meetings focused on environmental and economic issues.
During his visit to the U.S. from April 30 – May 1, Minister of Environment Nurlan Kapparov met with Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman and other senior officials from the State Department, the World Bank, the Environmental Protection Agency and USAID, as well as representatives of think tanks and environmental NGOs such as Brookings Institution, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Solar Energy Industries Association, The Alliance to Save Energy and executives of U.S. corporations. At his meetings, Minister Kapparov discussed Astana’s Green Bridge initiative, which the Kazakh delegation plans to present at the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) in Rio de Janeiro this summer. The Minister was particularly interested in the U.S.’s experiences in waste management and sustainable development programs. He also discussed Kazakhstan’s plans to explore the production of shale gas.
A delegation headed by Chairman of the Civil Service Agency Alikhan Baimenov visited the U.S. from April 23-24 to meet with the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, John Berry, and other top managers of training institutions. They discussed key aspects of potential cooperation, including the Memorandum of Understanding to expand cooperation with Kazakhstan’s Public Administration Academy, as well as Kazakhstan’s potential to turn into a regional hub to promote good governance and best civil service practicies.
Deputy Prime Minister Kairat Kelimbetov and Governor of the National Bank of Kazakhstan, Grigori Marchenko, took part in the annual Spring Session of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on April 19-21. They were joined by Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Gulshara Abdykhalikova, Vice Ministers of Trade and Development, Timur Zhaksylykov and Madina Abykassymova, as well as other senior representatives of the Kazakhstan based economic think tanks.
The Ministers attended brainstorming sessions on the status of the world economy, the financial crisis in Europe, the meeting of Millennium Development Goals, food security, sustainable development and other key topics. During the bilateral meetings with the World Bank leaders and their U.S. counterparts, they discussed developmental projects in Kazakhstan and regional issues such as water management in Central Asia. Kazakhstan’s role in developing regional cooperation was highlighted. Greater business-to-business ties were discussed with senior executives of corporations and financial institutions, such as AGCO, Boeing, GlaxoSmithKline, JP Morgan Chase, Kimberly-Clark, General Electric, BNP Paribas, Textron and Chevron. As graduates of Georgetown University, Governor Marchenko and Deputy Prime Minister Kelimbetov were invited to give lectures there. Their talks were focused on economic trends in Eurasia, including the evolution of the Customs Union and Kazakhstan’s forthcoming accession to the WTO.
Embassy Open House Day. To show our openness and transparency, the Embassy annually participates in the World Embassy Tour, which showcased foreign embassies. This year, our Embassy held its annual Open House Day on May 5 in cooperation with Cultural Tourism DC, an independent nonprofit promotional organization.
Nearly 1,500 Washingtonians visited the Embassy to learn the history, culture and traditions of the Kazakh people, as well as the latest economic, political, and international achievements of Kazakhstan. In addition, guests could see traditional Kazakh jewelry and souvenirs depicting our beautiful landmarks. On displays spotlighted colorful traditional costumes, weapons of warriors and other historic replicas made by Kazakh artisans.
Visitors also enjoyed photos of contemporary Kazakhstan, including picturesque landscapes and unique buildings of Astana and Almaty and an exhibition of paintings by the Kazakh artist, Marina Sharipova, who worked under the pseudonym “Make” and united three countries, Kazakhstan, USA and Russia, through her art.
A documentary film about Kazakhstan’s tourist spots, investment opportunities and social life was screened. Visitors were offered a wide range of informational materials including tourism guides and books about the history and development of the Central Asian nation. Each guest was also given a bar of delicious Kazakh chocolate made by the Bayan Sulu confectioner company.
Armed Forces Day of Kazakhstan. May 7 marked the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which were established by the Decree of the President of Kazakhstan in 1992. In their proud history, Kazakhstan’s Armed Forces have not only served to maintain domestic and regional stability, but they have also served with distinction in the international arena. Divisions of the Kazakh Armed Forces participate on permanent basis in international organizations such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as well as the North American Treaty Organization (NATO). The first Kazakh peacekeeping brigade, the “KAZBRIG,” served proudly alongside coalition forces in Iraq, where its Engineering-Sapper Unit successfully neutralized more than 4.5 million explosive devices. In addition, Kazakh military medical personnel assisted with the treatment of more than 5,000 Iraqi citizens who were injured in the conflict.
In the days leading up to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan, the second international exhibition of arms and military equipment, called “KADEX-2012,” was held in Astana. KADEX-2012 demonstrated the latest capabilities of the Kazakh military and helped establish new business links with international partners.
KADEX-2012 brought together military industrial leaders from countries such as Germany, Russia, the U.S., Italy, Spain, France, Turkey and many others. The exhibition promoted Kazakhstan as a militarily capable country that can produce its defense high quality equipment. I am also happy to highlight the participation of the US Air Force, Europe, military band in the miltary parade of international miltary bands in Astana which was part of celebrations there.
Our Defense Attaché, Major General Bakhtiyar Syzdykov, and I hosted a Reception on the evening of May 10, which was attended by high ranking U.S. officials from White House and the Departments of State and Defense. Speaking at the event, I highlighted Kazakhstan’s overall growth for the last 20 year and raised a toast for further continuation of our long-term strategic partnership with the USA, including in defense. Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Lavoy congratulated Kazakhstan on this auspicious day, appreciated Kazakhstan’s assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan and praised the Kazakh Armed Forces’ professionalism and high capabilities. Till the end of the event, the guests mingled and socialized in an informal and friendly atmosphere.
As you can see, we worked hard in April to continue to strengthen our friendship and advance mutually beneficial cooperation. It is my hope that we will be able to keep this dynamism throughout the year and beyond to build stronger cooperation and people-to-people ties, including direct links between our businesses, students, teachers, scientists and many other stakeholders.
Posted on July 5th, 2012 No commentsUncategorized
Posted on May 2nd, 2012 No comments
Last year’s Nowruz celebration concert in Washington, D.C. went so well that it was truly a tough act to follow. So, this year, the International Organization of Turkic Culture, or “TURKSOY,” organized two concerts on April 23, one at the Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, and a second at the Strathmore Music Center in North Bethesda, Maryland on April 25.
While the last year’s concert showcased the rich culture and traditional heritage of Turkic nations, this year’s events were dedicated to universal humanism and tolerance. The TURKSOY Symphony orchestra chose to perform Ahmed Adnan Saygun’s classical pieces inspired by the philosophy of the thirteenth-century Turkish dervish, Yunus Emre. The symphony’s interpretations of Emre’s poetic works, which feature divine love, commonality of human feelings and international friendship, were particularly appropriate for the event’s themes.
The concert I attended at the Strathmore, entitled Turksoy Presents: Symphony of Voices from Turkic Lands, was widely attended and enjoyed by US government officials, business executives and scholars. The TURKSOY orchestra, which is composed of 80 distinguished musicians from eight Turkic nations, including Kazakhstan, performed brilliantly and was met with multiple standing ovations.
The concert was co-produced by the Karabakh Foundation and Vokaliz Management and was supported by the Embassies of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and other Turkic-speaking nations in Washington, D.C.
Under the dynamic leadership of its General Secretary Duisen Kaseinov, TURKSOY has become more active, organizing cultural events and concerts showcasing Turkic nations’ rich heritage not only in member countries, but also in Europe, the US and other parts of the world.
Ambassador Kaseinov serves as a member of the Advisory Council of the Nowruz Commission, which I helped found in 2010. He has a long and distinguished record as a diplomat and scholar and is also a dear friend of mine. Most recently, he served as Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan – Special Representative of Kazakhstan on cultural and social issues and to UNESCO. Before that, he served as Minister of Culture of Kazakhstan, Chairman of the Committee of Culture, Ministry of Education, Culture and Health and as Rector of Almaty State Conservatory.
Kaseinov has won numerous honors including the Kazakh National “Tarlan” Award, the Astana Medal of 10th Year in 2008, Medal of the 100th Anniversary of Kazan in 2005 and the Medal of Astana in 1998.
But beyond his professional success, Duisen was educated at Kurmangazy State Conservatory, and has studied and worked extensively in the fields of music and Turkic culture.
From beginning to end, the evening was a smashing success marking a joyous occasion. I hope that you will consider joining us at the next cultural event to celebrate our proud cultural heritage.
Erlan A. Idrissov