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2015 December January Issue

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THE RECENT ANNOUNCEMENT that fast-food giant McDonald’s will be opening its first restaurant in the oil-rich Central Asian state of Kazakhstan next year, certainly suggests that the country is becoming part of the global establishment.

Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world; its territory of 2,727,300km2 is larger than Western Europe. Among the Commonwealth of Independent States, Kazakhstan claims to be the first to take a stance against nuclear weapons, the first to pay off its debts to the IMF following the reconstruction of its economy, the first to obtain a favourable credit rating and the first to build financial institutions approaching Western standards of reliability. The British Prime Minister recently described it as “one of the most rapidly emerging countries in the world.”

So Kazakhstan seems to be embracing the challenges of the twenty-first century, and is a fascinating topic for Diplomat’s December 2014/January 2015 issue. Kazakhstan’s new Ambassador writes on a new era for partnership and prosperity for Kazakhstan-UK relations. The country’s President outlines his new political course, ‘Kazakhstan 2050;’ the main goal of which is for the country to join the top 30 most developed countries in the world. Kazakhstan’s Deputy Foreign Minister highlights his country’s position as a strategic player in the region – a good introduction to Kazakhstan’s bid for the UN Security Council in 2017-18.

Diplomat also covers the various events and fora that have been taking place in the country: the Astana Economic Forum, The ATOM Project and Kazakhstan’s new communications website, G-Global Mission.

Ethnic Kazakhs are a mix of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes who migrated to the region by the thirteenth century. This mix is something that the country is capitalising on, with its Congress of World and Traditional Religions and the recent opening of the Kazakhstan Centre of Peace and Accord in London.

Closer to home, things are becoming heated in the run-up to next year’s general election. The morning we go to press, Radio 4 commentators are arguing over which party (Conservative or Labour) had a worse day in politics. They say UKIP stands to gain ground on the insecurities of the other two parties. Regular columnist Bernard Jenkin MP agrees. He continues to debate the UK’s relationship with the EU in his Westminster Reflections column.

He says that the contents of the Prime Minister’s upcoming speech to address UKIP and immigration will be crucial in determining the course of the election campaign.
Diplomat has a lovely contribution from the Ambassador of Bahrain, who writes our National Day Message as her country celebrates its 43rd National Day this December. As always, Diplomat reviews the Credentials of new heads of mission to the Court of St James’s, this month meeting with the High Commissioner for Namibia, along with the Ambassadors of Turkey and South Sudan, and the Chargé d’Affaires for Haiti. For our Portrait page, we photographed the Ambassador of Estonia.

enjoys a magical stay at Raffles Istanbul, and dinner at Hakkasan Mayfair. For the Diplomatic Concierge page, Diplomat experiences the luxury of a private residence at the Apartments by The Sloane Club, just a minute’s walk from Sloane Square. Readers with a taste for culture will find valuable advice in our book and arts reviews, including an exhibition of drone-shot photography at Gazelli Art House and the London Art Fair taking place in January.

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