In both Kazakhstan and Britain, autumn is a season of harvest and I hope you will all agree when I say that we have already reaped a bumper harvest in Kazakhstan-UK relations. Let me explain why I believe our relationship is going from strength-to-strength.
First, there is our shared ambition to strengthen and expand relations. In November 2012, the UK included Kazakhstan in its list of 14 priority countries for boosting bilateral trade and investment. Prime Minister David Cameron appointed a special trade envoy, which was followed by a wave of important trade missions. This culminated in David Cameron’s visit to Kazakhstan in June /July 2013 – the first official visit of a UK Prime Minister to our country. The Joint Declaration on a Strategic Partnership, signed by our respective leaders during the trip, was a clear statement of both countries’ readiness and enthusiasm for building a new era of partnership and prosperity.
Secondly, there is a clear desire on both sides to translate this new partnership into real results. More than US$1.2 billion worth of contracts were signed during Prime Minister Cameron’s visit, which aimed to diversify and intensify two-way trade outside of the energy sector. There is great scope for broadening cooperation beyond the traditional sectors of oil and gas, in areas such as transport and construction, vocational education, the space industry and in the development of Kazakhstan’s green economy. And here I would like to highlight the upcoming EXPO-2017 in Astana, devoted to the theme of ‘Future Energy.’ EXPO-2017 offers a great opportunity for British companies to showcase their world-leading expertise and innovation in the energy sector.
Both Kazakhstan and the UK are committed to seeing through and making the most of our declaration of intent. At the end of October 2013, we set up a special task force – an Intergovernmental Commission – to monitor and ensure progress on the agreements that we have reached. The first meeting of the Commission was held in Astana on 5 November, during the official visit of the UK’s Trade and Investment Minister, Lord Ian Livingston.
We launched a strategic political dialogue between Kazakhstan and the UK under the aegis of senior diplomats from both countries. The first meeting was held in October 2014.
Thirdly, in Kazakhstan, we have taken substantive steps to make our market more attractive and easier for British businesses to enter. In November 2013, we included the UK in our list of six priority countries for attracting investment. This move was followed by a Visa Free Regime for UK citizens and new Investment Legislation in June 2014. This legislation offers incentives and greatly simplifies the process for British companies to invest and make the most of the opportunities on offer in Kazakhstan. And I would stress that we are fully committed to further strengthening the investment environment for all foreign business.
Importantly, we have maintained and built on the momentum established by the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership. This year, we have had a series of high-level visits and trade missions, including a visit to Kazakhstan from the Lord Mayor of the City of London. More recently, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Finance Bakhyt Sultanov and the Governor of the National Bank Kairat Kelimbetov came to the UK to meet with prospective investors in the Government’s new eurobonds issue. These visits underline the importance and great potential for cooperation across the financial sector.
I believe there are now more reasons than ever for British businesses to invest in Kazakhstan. Our location at the heart of Eurasia has, in the past, been seen as a challenge. But it now offers a great opportunity. We are well positioned to take advantage of the rising economies of Asia, including the giants of India and China. As a member of the Eurasian Customs Union – soon to be the Eurasian Economic Community – we offer free trade access to a population of 175 million, with a combined GDP of US$2 trillion. Additionally, we have just signed a joint document (on completion of the negotiation process) for an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union. We truly offer an economic bridge between the East and West.
Since our independence in 1991, we have established a nation in which investors can have confidence. Kazakhstan is a stable and tolerant country: we offer political stability – distinctive not just in our region, but also amongst many resource-rich countries. Public trust in our institutions is very high – 34th in the world according to the World Economic Forum. We are a moderate Muslim country with a track record of promoting freedom of religion both nationally and internationally. In June 2015, Astana will host the Fifth Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, held at Kazakhstan’s initiative every two years.
In conclusion, I am pleased to say we are seeing real positive change in Kazakhstan-UK relations. We can, of course, go further and we hope to create many more opportunities to strengthen our partnership. With the support of the Intergovernmental Commission, and bodies like the Kazakh-British Trade and Industry Council, we can promote our business ties and pursue our shared economic ambitions.
KAZAKHSTAN 2050: Kazahkstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev has created a new political course – its main goal is for Kazakhstan to join the top 30 most developed countries in the world
In January 2014, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan announced a new political course for the country; the main goal is for Kazakhstan to join the top 30 most developed countries in the world by 2050. Called ‘Eternal Kazakhstan,’ President Nazarbayev describes the project as “a mature vision of a new era in the history of [the] country.” ‘Kazakhstan 2050’ calls for better governance, improvements in the welfare and tax system, support for small- and medium-sized businesses and increased infrastructure development.
To advance these ambitious goals, in November 2014 President Nazarbayev announced Kazakhstan’s new policy of ‘Nurly Zhol – The Path to the Future,’ designed to give new impetus to industrial modernisation and socio-economic development in modern geopolitical conditions.
According to President Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s foremost objective in the first half of the twenty-first century should be economic development. Over the past 23 years Kazakhstan has made notable progress: “We have created our own successful model of development. 97 per cent of our citizens recognise the stability of their social-economic condition and its continuous improvement year to year.”
The World Bank’s 2013 Doing Business Report and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) ranks Kazakhstan 49 of 185 countries surveyed, with the country attracting over US$160 billion in Foreign Direct Investment since its independence.
‘Kazakhstan 2050’ is a modernisation path for all areas, in order to provide sustainable growth. The President says, “The next 15-17 years will be a window of opportunity for large-scale breakthrough development
of Kazakhstan. During this period, we will have a favourable external environment, rising demand for resources, energy and food, and the growth of the Third Industrial Revolution.”
Member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) represent the basic indicator of developed countries. Member states have undergone a path of deep modernisation, indicators such as high standards of living, high rates of investment, productivity and scientific research “provide a natural benchmark for Kazakhstan on our way to joining the top 30 developed nations of the world.”
The remaining years until 2050 are divided into two stages. The period before 2030 shall focus on modernisation: “it requires Kazakhstan to achieve what the developed countries accomplished during the industrial boom of the last century.” During the period between 2030-2050, “we need to ensure sustainable development of the country on the principles of the knowledge-based economy.”
The strategy involves addressing a number of priorities:
1. Strengthen the trend of innovative industrialisation by increasing the effectiveness of mining sectors, adopting new approaches to management, production and processing of hydrocarbons, developing rare earth metals and establishing the industries of mobile and multimedia technology, nanotechnology and space technology, robotics, genetic engineering and future energy exploration.
2. Ensure that Kazakhstan’s traditional industry of agriculture takes a path of innovation, as global demands for food increase.
3. Develop a knowledge-based economy and increase the scientific capacity of Kazakhstan.
4. Ensure dynamic development in the infrastructure triad: agglomerations, transportation and energy.
5. Develop small- and medium-sized business as the main tool for Kazakhstan’s industrial and social modernisation in the twenty-first century.
6. Create new opportunities to unleash the potential of Kazahstan’s citizens, including improving education, primary care services, advancing the country’s language and cultural development, etc.
7. Improving public institutions to create an atmosphere of creativity, fair competition, rule of law and high standards of legal culture.
The President states that: ‘Kazakhstan 2050’ is “a programme of practical actions… This means that we should improve the life of our nation not in 30 or 50 years time, but do so every year.”
KAZAKHSTAN’S POSITION AS A STRATEGIC PLAYER IN THE REGION
Excerpts from Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Alexei Volkov’s statement at the Afghanistan session of the NATO Summit in Wales, September 2014
Amidst all the challenges we face today, from Iraq to Ukraine, Syria to Libya, it is essential that we do not lose focus on the ongoing challenges in Afghanistan. Working with our partners to stabilise Afghanistan remains a priority for Kazakhstan. A peaceful, stable and democratic Afghanistan is essential to safeguarding both regional security and the security of NATO members. Moreover, Afghans themselves want and deserve a better future. So there are three central areas that the international community must focus on if we are to see the stability we all seek: security, politics and development.
Afghanistan matters first and foremost to our collective security. NATO intervened in Afghanistan after 9/11 to ensure that it never again became a haven for international terrorists. If Afghanistan were to become such a haven again, it would not just be NATO member states that would be threatened. Kazakhstan, along with our regional neighbours, would again be on the front line. To prevent such regional insecurity, it is essential we build on the progress made over the past 12 years.
The determination and dedication of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have allowed Afghanistan’s Government to build the foundations of a stable and democratic country. We are in their debt.
ANSF have also risen to difficult challenges since taking full responsibility for Afghanistan’s security in June 2013. Public offices and government departments are building capacity day by day. Media outlets are opening in Kabul and Jalalabad. Businesses are growing in confidence, and the green shoots of economic recovery are emerging. But Afghanistan’s security situation is slowing the pace of progress. And in turn that insecurity is feeding a myriad of challenges. Terrorism, religious extremism, drug and people trafficking, organised crime and lawlessness are just some of the problems emanating from Afghanistan’s borders and directly affecting its neighbours.
So what can we do? Kazakhstan remains committed to working with both regional parties and NATO to do all we can to change the facts on the ground.
First, we are allocating US$2 million to directly strengthening ANSF. A strong, well-trained Afghan army is essential to confronting extremists and maintain security. Second, Kazakhstan has and will continue to assist NATO and ISAF in transporting personnel to and from Afghanistan, so that stability and the rule of law are maintained. In addition, we will continue to supply ISAF forces with food and materials from Kazakhstan to help them in their mission. Third, Kazakhstan will continue to push for a cessation of hostilities against ANSF and terrorist attacks by rebels, and the dissolution of their ties with international terrorist organisations. All of these measures are essential in the struggle for stability in Afghanistan.
Kazakhstan remains proud to cooperate with international partners on security issues with a range of organisations, such as the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), and the Central Asian Regional Information and Co-ordination Centre (CARICC).
But security measures and a military presence has never been a long-term solution. So the second challenge for the international community is Afghanistan’s political development.
In 2001, Afghanistan had suffered over 30 years of instability with violent coups, tribal infighting and devastating civil war. Despite the weight of history, Afghans took an enormous step on the road towards a stronger government. In April and June millions of people went to the polls to choose the country’s next president. Every vote was a courageous expression of hope for the future.
Kazakhstan is uniquely placed to understand the enormous complexity of establishing a strong government made up of dozens of ethnicities. Patience, dialogue and reconciliation will be essential if the hopes expressed by Afghans are to be realised. Ultimately, it will be Afghans themselves that choose their path. We are determined that powers within the international community do not seek to influence a delicate and complex political process.
To that end, Kazakhstan is engaging in a number of areas. We are fully invested in international dialogue, such as the Bonn Process and the Istanbul Process, which place greater responsibility on regional actors to encourage dialogue and reconciliation. We have called on those rebels who have rejected extremism to enter into discussions with the Afghan High Peace Council towards a political settlement.
Decades of conflict have left Afghanistan one of the poorest countries in the world. Although at an all-time high, average life expectancy is still just 49. A third of the population lives below the poverty line – the equivalent of US$1 per day. Only one in four Afghans can read and write, and one in 10 children die before their fifth birthday. Without supporting Afghans to address the country’s poverty, widespread insecurity, poor infrastructure, weak governance and fragile economy, it will never be possible to stabilise Afghanistan.
Kazakhstan, along with the international community, has supported a wide range of projects to improve education, healthcare, economic growth and local governance across the country. Through the Kabul Process, Kazakhstan participates in international economic assistance to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA). Each year, we send food and other humanitarian assistance. We also provide educational and technical support in order to help with the essential reconstruction of the country.
In 2009, we launched an internationally renowned, fully funded programme to bring over 1,000 young Afghans to top Kazakh universities for courses ranging from Engineering to Medicine and Agriculture. Continued economic aid from the international community will be essential. Such aid must be transparent, and we cannot be complacent around corruption. Without economic assistance, there can be no hope for a stable Afghanistan. It is a message we repeated at the Almaty Declaration of the Ministerial Conference on the Istanbul Process in Kazakhstan, (April 2013.) Nations came together at that conference to reaffirm the importance of regional responsibility in nation building in order to promote stability and prosperity in the ‘Heart of Asia.’
Kazakhstan is proud to play an important role in tackling the humanitarian response to the crises in Afghanistan. But we want to do more. From a geopolitical and geographical point of view, Kazakhstan provides the ideal location to host the coordination of UN activities in Afghanistan. We propose to expand the operations of UN agencies in Almaty by creating a regional UN hub. Central to the hub’s activities would be emergency humanitarian assistance, supplemented by the construction of UN warehouses for humanitarian aid.
In the long-term, we hope to do even more. Our national development agency is going to be launched in 2015, and will coordinate the work of existing state bodies on development assistance. It will focus its efforts on humanitarian assistance in Central Asia and Afghanistan. The agency will promote education, science, healthcare, agriculture and food security, innovation in business and public policy, and much more.
Kazakhstan is determined to do all it can to help. Whether in security, politics or humanitarian assistance, we are working both unilaterally and with our international partners to secure a stable future for Afghanistan. Because Afghanistan is too important to fail.
While working to secure the stability of that country, we stabilise our region. By helping the Afghans take control of their own security, we secure our own future. And as the turmoil engulfing much of the world today shows, we cannot afford for our attention to waver.
KAZAKHSTAN’S BID FOR THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL 2017-18
In June 2010, Kazakhstan announced its bid to secure a seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in the years 2017-18 under the banner ‘United for Global Security.’
At the launch of the official campaign, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov said: “We believe that we are politically ready to undertake the international obligations and responsibilities for global affairs as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.”
Kazakhstan has undergone dramatic change, transforming itself in just two decades from a relatively underdeveloped post-Soviet state into a powerful regional player with the region’s fastest-growing economy, a strong and expanding middle class and an increasingly prominent role on the world stage.
If it succeeds in winning a seat on the Security Council for 2017-18, Kazakhstan will, at the same time, be celebrating its 25th year as a member of the UN.
Kazakhstan is working to become the first Central Asian state to gain a non-permanent seat on the UNSC, and has identified four main areas that are central to its bid, referred to as the ‘four pillars’: water security, food security, energy security and nuclear security.
WATER SECURITY: Kazakhstan supports the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) proposals for ensuring water security at both individual and community levels. The country intends to work with the UNHRC towards a human rights-based approach to water security, and towards the establishment of regulatory functions and mechanisms for efficiency, participation and accountability.
FOOD SECURITY: Kazakhstan is part of a group of proactive nations providing humanitarian aid to support food security and peacekeeping missions. It is in the process of establishing an international development assistance agency to further implement this aim, and plans to expand its work in this area.
ENERGY SECURITY: As a major energy producer, Kazakhstan is exceptionally well placed to understand the needs of producers, intermediary suppliers and consumers. Foreign investors continue to demonstrate their trust in Kazakhstan’s management of their oil and gas reserves. Fossil fuel output is predicted to grow considerably over the next decade, with oil output forecast to reach 118 million tonnes by 2018.
In 2011, Kazakhstan launched the Green Bridge Partnership Programme, a multilateral, cross-sectorial and voluntary programme that will provide a stable and long-term basis for ‘green’ investment. Kazakhstan’s 2014-20 Foreign Policy Concept reinforced the government’s commitment to investing in green energy.
NUCLEAR SECURITY: When Kazakhstan regained its independence in 1991, it possessed the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal. Since that date the country has remained a committed and pioneering champion of nuclear disarmament. Kazakhstan identifies three integral components to nuclear security: to safeguard people from accidental exposure to radiation; to prevent nuclear terrorism; and to ensure the safety of nuclear energy.
Among the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Kazakhstan was the first to repudiate 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, the first to build financial institutions approaching Western standards of efficiency and reliability, and the first to introduce a fully-funded pension scheme for its citizens.
Over the past two decades, Kazakhstan has successfully expanded its regional actions into the international arena. In 2013, Kazakhstan took the lead in facilitating talks between six international actors and Iran in the P5+1 format over the latter’s nuclear programme, including two meetings hosted in Almaty. It has been involved in international peace-building and negotiations in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and has held discussions with both Israel and Iran.
Kazakhstan is a country that is embracing the challenges of the twenty-first century. Its government’s decision-making is based on modern values of internationalism, inclusively secular and democratic principles, and creating a stable and secure international environment in which all parties can prosper.
It is the country recently described by the British Prime Minister as “one of the most rapidly emerging countries in the world.”
The election is to be held in November 2016 at the UN General Assembly in New York.
ASTANA ECONOMIC FORUM:
A global forum attracting over 10,000 participants from 150 countries
Initiated in 2008 by Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Astana Economic Forum is one of the world’s leading platforms to discuss topical issues and find effective solutions to global economic problems. The Forum brings together internationally renowned thinkers from the fields of politics, business and academia to consider new approaches to addressing the economic, social and environmental issues facing governments worldwide.
The VII Astana Economic Forum 2014 was held on May 21-23 at the Palace of Independence and the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation in Astana. Subjects on the Forum agenda included policies on sustainable global growth, innovation, technology and infrastructure and – within the context of these topics – Kazakhstan’s growing global presence and engagement. Over 8,500 delegates attended this year’s Forum, including politicians, financial experts, industrialists, economists and heads of leading international organisations.
Sir Richard Evans said of the 2014 Astana Economic Forum: “Since its beginnings, the Economic Forum has developed steadily, attracting increasing participation from a wide area of interest. It provides an opportunity for participants to engage in a wide variety of topics resulting in energetic and stimulating debate to the benefit of all.”
TALKING BILLIONS: The EBRD shows continued support for Kazakhstan, says Svitlana Pyrkalo, Principal Adviser to the EBRD, as demonstrated at the Astana Economic Forum
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) delegation conducted plenty of business at the Astana Economic Forum in May 2014.
The Bank signed a partnership framework arrangement with Prime Minister Karim Massimov, under which Kazakhstan would provide the EBRD and other international financial institutions (IFIs) with US$ 2.7 billion to co-invest in our projects in the form of grants, loans and technical cooperation. In addition, repurchase agreements and swap facilities were agreed with the National Bank of Kazakhstan for access to local currency worth US$1 billion.
On 23 May, Olivier Descamps, EBRD Managing Director for Countries of Operations and Prime Minister Karim Massimov signed a memorandum of understanding on the ‘Partnership for Re-Energising the Reform Process in Kazakhstan.’ The signing took place on the last day of the Astana Economic Forum, which had drawn an impressive line-up including many former global leaders and several winners of the Nobel Prize for economics.
EBRD Director for Kazakhstan, Janet Heckman, said: “The partnership framework arrangement enables the government of Kazakhstan to leverage its investments with funding from the EBRD and other IFIs. We have agreed on 30 projects in the first phase, with investments by the EBRD of approximately US$2 billion focusing on municipal development, energy efficiency, the investment climate and small- and medium-sized businesses.”
During the two-day forum, Olivier Descamps, Janet Heckman and the Bank’s Lead Economist for Central Asia, Agris Preimanis, spoke on various panels.
Another major deal for the EBRD in Kazakhstan occurred on the eve of the forum. It was the signing of a memorandum of understanding for repurchase agreements and swap facilities which will give the Bank access to US$1 billion worth of Kazakhstan’s currency, the tenge, over the next three years.
With regard to the partnership arrangement, the US$2.7 billion and the EBRD’s own accompanying investment will go towards projects that further the Bank’s strategic priorities, including: regional diversification; balancing the role of the state and the private sector; and sustainable energy and the green economy.
Regarding the latter priority, Aida Sitdikova, EBRD Director for Energy and Natural Resources for Russia and Central Asia, says: “The partnership support under the green economy pillar will help our progress with facilitating modernisation and reform. We hope to increase the Bank’s investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy through projects that will set industry standards and help build investor confidence in Kazakhstan’s power sector.”
Congress of World and Traditional Religions?: “The ancient Kazakh land is honoured to invite leaders and high representatives of world and traditional religions for a dialogue between civilisations and religions.” President Nazarbayev
Since independence, Kazakhstan has been creating its own unique model of a harmonious society of interethnic and inter-confessional accord, globally recognised as ‘Kazakhstan’s way.’ Kazakhstan is home to approximately 130 ethnic groups belonging to more than 40 different religions and denominations, who are peacefully co-existing. There are about 3,200 mosques, churches, houses of prayer and around 4,000 religious organisations in the country.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s initiative to hold the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Kazakhstan has generated great interest among the global community. The First Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions took place in September 2003 in Astana. Representatives of 17 religious organisations belonging to Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Shinto, Taoism and other confessions from 13 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East participated in the Forum. Participants decided to hold regular forums and to establish a working body – the Secretariat of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
The Congress convincingly demonstrated the relevance and necessity of cooperation and unity between representatives of different religions for the sake of peaceful and worthy life across the world. Its outcomes were reflected in the Declaration, which stated that every religion should aspire to spread such great and timeless values as justice, truth, humanity and tolerance.
In September 2006 the Second Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions that took place in Astana, in the newly built Palace of Peace and Reconciliation (designed by Lord Foster) brought together 29 religious delegations from 26 countries. Addressing the Forum, President Nazarbayev underscored the need to strengthen inter-faith partnership, to further develop inter-confessional dialogue and to preserve and strengthen the values of modern civilisation. Since then, the Third and Fourth Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions took place in 2009 and 2012 respectively in Astana.
The Congress has emerged as a major international dialogue platform for representatives of various religions and confessions. Moreover, the Congress also actively interacts with other international organisations including the UN and the UN Alliance of Civilisations. The Congress’s activities are complemented by UNESCO’s decision to announce the ‘International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures from 2013 to 2022, at Kazakhstan’s initiative.
The Fifth Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions will take place in June 2015 in Astana.
A UNIQUE VOICE: Professor Siddarth S. Saxena and Anna Ivanova write on the new Kazakhstan Centre for Peace and Accord in London
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 opened up the world order to 15 newly independent countries that included the region of Central Asia and Kazakhstan. The general perception that arose in that period was that countries like Kazakhstan found themselves in an integrated and increasingly globalised international environment. While the global community wanted to connect with Kazakhstan, their expectations were that it would be on their own terms and often without an understanding of the rich experience that Kazakhstan has brought to the table.
Both historically and in modern times, the importance of Kazakhstan’s location at the crossroads of the old Silk Road highlights its strategic, political and economic significance. Connecting people spread across a vast area through a common vision, shared values and a sense of belonging is something Kazakh people and their leaders know a lot about. Kazakhstan has richly contributed to world civilisation and even some of the most positive aspects of globalisation can be traced back to nomadic polity, which is part of Kazakh heritage. Kazakhstan has been a path to Europe for two millennia for fresh ideas, technology and wealth to travel from the east to the west.
Kazakhstan brings a unique voice and moderating influence
to the overall East-West dialogue and provides an institutional basis for this voice to be present on the world stage. The official opening of the Kazakhstan Centre for Peace and Accord (KCPA) took place in London on 26 August 2014.
The objective of the KCPA is to raise awareness amongst the international community about Kazakhstan’s contribution to peace and stability, whether it is being an active player in the movement towards nuclear-non-proliferation or as an advocate of an inclusive multi-ethnic society. The working programme has been designed to achieve KCPAs core charitable objectives, namely:
a. Highlight and build upon Kazakhstan’s achievements as a welcoming, vibrant and culturally diverse society;
b. Enhance Kazakhstan’s global connectivity and ability to exchange experience through sustainable working partnerships;
c. Promote Kazakhstan’s model of inter-ethnic and inter-cultural accord through unified collaboration and shared responsibility;
d. Sustain Kazakhstan’s continued harmony and stability while preserving its unique identity and way of life.
Activities aimed at achieving these objectives will be carried out in London, Cambridge and Kazakhstan and will include research projects, seminars and workshops, scholarships and bursaries.
Events planned for next year will tackle three themes: the importance of minorities and their languages; policies and practice in the science of sustainability with initial emphasis on earthquake threats; and commerce and inclusive growth.
For example, we will conduct a research programme on the role of inclusive multilingualism in Kazakhstan. The first of these will focus on an ancient Semitic language, Aramaic. The survival of the Aramaic language in Almaty’s Jewish community is a case study of rich multilingualism in Kazakhstan, reflecting a tolerant and diverse society.
The earthquake threat mitigation project has three main goals: ensuring the transformational events with higher levels of knowledge and study of the primary and secondary distribution earthquake hazard in continental interiors; identify ways to increase the sustainability of populations exposed to hazards; ensuring long-term prospects by creating a network and trans-disciplinary partnerships in order to improve resistance to earthquakes.
The programme on commerce and inclusive growth examines the challenges presented by globalisation and the rapidly changing nature of the competitive international business environment. The lessons from this programme penetrate deep into business strategy, job creation and financial policy-making processes.
At the core of the KCPA activity are research projects tailored to address gaps in knowledge about Kazakh history, culture and language, as well as projects aimed at passing on and creating knowledge on specific advanced topics that are of critical importance for Kazakhstan, such as earthquakes and regional economic cooperation.
We are excited about these developments and pleased with the positive attention KCPA has received so far. Going forward, we would like to welcome both Kazakh and British partners and collaborators in helping us become an organic part of the UK’s international community.
THE ATOM PROJECT: TO STOP NUCLEAR WEAPONS TESTING
ABOUT: The ATOM Project is an international campaign designed to create awareness surrounding the human and environmental devastation caused by nuclear weapons testing. It hopes to affect real and lasting change by engaging millions of global citizens to permanently stop nuclear weapons testing by joining together to show the world’s leaders that people deserve and demand a world without nuclear weapons testing. The ATOM Project believes that signing The ATOM Project petition and joining the dialogue can stop nuclear weapons testing forever.
BACKGROUND: In 1949, the Soviet nuclear weapons programme chose a test site right outside the Kazakhstan city of Semipalatinsk. From 1949 until 1989, 456 nuclear weapons tests were conducted at the site. The people of Semey, as the city is now known, did not know and certainly had no idea of what the implications would be in regard to these tests. The ATOM Project seeks to hear their voices by putting a permanent stop to nuclear weapons testing and ensuring all fissile material is secured before it falls into the wrong hands.
The 29 August 2014 marked the fifth International Day Against Nuclear Tests, and on this day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “Together, let us demand an end to all nuclear tests and get on with the unfinished business of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.”
The International Day against Nuclear Tests was first proposed by Kazakhstan and unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2009. The date marks the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in East Kazakhstan in 1991. Over 1.5 million people in Kazakhstan have suffered early death, horrific birth defects and lifelong physical difficulties as a result of those tests. That stark reality led Kazakhstan to unilaterally give up the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world shortly after achieving independence, and they have since been a leader in the movement for a nuclear-weapons-free world.
The ATOM Project is an initiative of Kazakhstan and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev aimed at raising awareness about the negative effects of nuclear weapons testing, to help bring into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and, ultimately, achieve a nuclear-weapons-free world.
Kazakhstan’s G-Global Mission
At the initiative of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Eurasian Economic Club of Scientists Association launched the smart network in the format of the communications website called ‘G-Global’ on 12 January 2012. ‘G-Global’ is a versatile platform that experts from the international community can use for interactive, open and public discussions and debates concerning the global economic issues. The project is focused on discussing and finding solutions to overcome the global financial crisis. Its aim is to radically expand the number of participants in search of anti-crisis solutions.
The G-Global Mission is based upon improving the operating efficiency of the global community through a single and equal dialogue between different nationalities in the world. This is achieved by carrying out research and elaborating upon recommendations and programmes on current issues and trends relating to the development of national economies and the global community, through the involvement of a wide range of representatives of government, the public and information and business structures.
Objectives and Tasks of G-Global
• Creating the conditions for the global expert community for interactive, open and public discussions and debates;
• Bringing together representatives of governments, major international organisations and scientific and business communities to develop the World Anti-Crisis Plan (draft plan of the global reforms);
• Exchange of views between different segments of the population and representatives from different sectors and levels of government, by placing and receiving analytics, forecasts and recommendations all online;
• Using a wide range of experts from around the world for elaboration, improvement and evaluation of measures on the:
– stabilisation of the international monetary system and regulation of financial markets;
– introduction of a fundamentally new supranational payment unit (and then currency);
– creation of a nuclear-free world, and first and foremost, the promotion of global security, in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian space;
– expansion of cultures and civilisations dialogue, implementation of global energy and environmental development concepts, including the Kazakhstan ‘Green Bridge’ initiative.
FACING THE SUN: Traveller and explorer, Jamie Maddison reveals tales of his 10-week journey on horseback across East Kazakhstan
The first I heard of the rider’s approach was a short, sharp shout from behind.
“Somebody’s coming!” my friend Matt yelled, a few metres away. I turned Totoro around quickly; the one-eyed horse responding swiftly to the tug of its reins, surprisingly obedient for once in its oft-misbehaving life. We hadn’t been expecting company on such an empty stretch of dusty trail; it was surrounded by 30 miles of featureless plateau. The unexpected Kazakh – galloping down on us and clad in a long leather jacket – had instantly put us on guard.
The lone horseman drew up alongside us, his grey mare sweating heavily from its exertions in the excess heat of the early afternoon. Stopping, the rider began to reach inside his coat. With nowhere else to go in the expansive steppe, I kept my horse still and waited to see – somewhat apprehensively – what was about to unfold. The unknown man looked up at us from underneath his Stetson, beaming ear-to-ear; in his hand was a bag of biscuits and a loaf of bread. Continuing to smile, he thrust the battered parcel of goodies in our direction; an offering from one complete stranger to another in an otherwise empty land.
Our world was completely flat, with only the faintest nodules of blue hills – spread out across the far horizon – to signal where the hazy plains finished and the expansive sky began. Underneath the monochromatic hues of cyan lay a little mud-brick hut; a tiny window set into its side the only portal revealing what lay hidden within. This was a herder’s hut, used only for a few days of every week, when the owner needed to check on his roaming cattle. The owner was, of course, our mysterious rider, Murat. It became apparent that he’d spotted our three-horse convoy on the long and straight road that ran a mile parallel to his property. Without realising it, we’d already become his guests for the night; Murat simply wouldn’t accept anything less.
Matthew and I had started our journey in Ust-Kamenogorsk in Kazakhstan’s far north, where we’d gone on a tour of several farms. There, we bought three horses, packed our bags and set off – alone and without a guide – under the heat of a full summer sun, heading for Almaty, some 1,100km to the south. Roughly three weeks into our journey, and tired of living in a tent and being bitten by mosquitoes, Murat’s generous offer of a place to stay for the night had taken us by complete surprise. With the horses’ needs soon attended to, Matt and I sat down on the hut’s two bunk beds and began chatting with Murat. Our Russian was limited, and with no knowledge of Kazakh either, it was hard to grasp the nuances of everything being rushed out by the breathless man’s rapidly moving lips, set proudly into a broad and weathered face, topped by tufts of strong black hair sprouting out at every angle.
Yet the more we listened, the more we began to learn of this man. Murat was a poet, and read us his works, with wild, flamboyant gestures of the hand. Murat was a cook, and took great relish in making us a small feast of potatoes, pasta and lots of seasoning, which we duly devoured – the mass intake of calories going someway to alleviating the constant pangs of hunger that had racked our gaunt frames for weeks. But above all else, Murat was a cowboy. He showed us how to lasso, and how to tie the infamous Kazakh knot, which whilst prone to slipping, is used ubiquitously across the steppe. The biggest treat, however, came later, as the sun – tracing its way across the empty sky – began once again to arch towards the ground below. Mounted on horseback, we went to find this man’s cattle, grazing somewhere out in the quiet grasslands.
We set off at a canter. The land was lush and dead yellow grass soon turned to green as we streaked onwards. Thrown into the mix were the reds of small flowers, which transformed into a stream of colour with the acceleration of our horses. I gave Totoro another kick and he spurted even faster than before, my vision narrowing into a blur of colour. I could just vaguely see Murat keeping pace out the corner of one eye, Matt behind him, as together we all hurtled headlong into the fiery embrace of a dying sun. Straight into the warm glow of a golden land that – at least here – has remained unchanged for a millennium or more.
Matthew and I managed to complete our horseback journey from Ust-Kamenogorsk to Almaty in 63 days. Along the way we met countless people like Murat; people whose open curiosity and endless generosity about our horses and our mission really brought our expedition to life, picking us up when we found ourselves at our lowest ebbs. It is clear, to me at least, that Kazakhstan has so much to offer us travellers. From Shymbulak and the mountains of the south (or the new Alps as they are increasingly becoming known), to the wild and limitless plains of the east, onto the scorching deserts of the west, there is so much to slake the wanderlust of even the most inquisitive traveller. Yet I believe that ultimately the biggest draw for visitors will not come from the geography of the land itself (a nation almost as big as western Europe) but from its inhabitants. With each opening of arms, each smile and gesturing in for tea and a chat, the Kazakh people will win over their visitors until – like me – their hearts reside alongside their hosts’, lost in the steppe for good.