The Astana Times Wednesday, 6 february 2013
Country Rises in WB Business Conditions Rankings
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President Gives Cabinet New Tasks to Fulfil Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy
Foreign Minister’s EU Visit Strengthens Cooperation
By Mariam Turezhanova ASTANA – Kazakhstan has been praised for its improved business climate in a World Bank report released last year. The Kazakhstan government discussed the report in its January 22 meeting and explored ways to maintain the progress. The report, called Doing Business in 2012, rated Kazakhstan No. 49 among the 185 nations assessed in it, putting ahead of China at No. 91, Turkey at No. 71, Poland at No. 55, Russia at No. 112, Belarus at No. 58 and Kyrgyzstan at No. 70. The report also praised the government of Kazakhstan for taking steps that significantly improved the business climate in 2012. This progress “is the result major efforts the government has made to improve the business climate,” Economy and Budget Planning Minister Yerbolat Dossayev told the government. “Kazakhstan has climbed 30 places on the World Bank’s Enterprises’ Register from No. 55 to No. 25 due to the simplified procedure we have introduced for setting up new businesses and ending the requirement that a fixed capital sum must be guaranteed for three months after the registration,” he said. Kazakhstan now ranks No. 55 on the World Bank’s “resolution of insolvency issues” listing thanks to recent reforms. These include accelerated rehabilitation proceedings, expanding the powers of the liquidator and requiring improved qualifications for this role. “The requirements on provision of information on bankruptcy have also been changed, as have the requirements on the expansion of creditors’ rights,” Dossayev said.
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By Assem Kazybay
President Nursultan Nazarbayev (center) chairs the expanded meeting of the Goverment giving tough messages to ministers on imple,emting his new strategy, Kazakhstan 2050.
By Adiya Kenzhegulova ASTANA – On Jan. 23, 2013, President Nursultan Nazarbayev chaired a special Cabinet meeting at the Akorda presidential palace in Astana to review the work done in 2012 and deﬁne the measures needed to implement the new Kazakhstan 2050 national strategy to advance the nation to among the 30 most developed countries in the world by 2050. President Nazarbayev said the goal of the programme was not to produce impressive abstract economic statistics but to improve the standards of life in every town, district and village in the country. He blamed officials for their failure to competently implement the development goals set for 2012. The 2012 national budget allocated more than 17 billion tenge to build new homes for rent but the programme failed, the president said. Some 2.5 billion tenge, or 21 percent of allocated resources were never used and only 70 percent of the planned number of apartments were built. The president criticized what he called the inertia and irresponsibility of underperforming regional governors and the disbanded Agency for Construction and Housing for the shortfall.
President Nazarbayev also criticized the government’s planning policy in constructing new social facilities. Some of the new hospitals and kindergartens looked more like palaces, he said. Planners should follow widely-accepted international procedures where preschools were located in small buildings suited to children’s training and educational needs. The paradox of current policy was that, despite all the costly construction, nearly 100 billion tenge on allocated budget funds had still not been spent, he said. “Some 189 schools and 68 healthcare facilities are still in emergency condition. In 91 schools, 33,000 children are taught in three shifts,” the president said. Social projects built within state plans often miss their deadlines, such as the construction of the new perinatal center in Kyzylorda and of new clinics in the Zhambyl and Akmola regions, President Nazarbayev said. “In this connection, my instruction is not to start the construction of more new facilities, but to redirect state funds to overhaul and repair existing public facilities and to address the issue of the three-shift schools’ problem,” he said.
Nation Promotes, Protects Women’s and Children’s Rights
By Maral Zhantaykyzy
Efforts to protect women’s and children’s rights have really taken on new priority in recent years, yielding tangible results in appropriate medical rates for fertility, birth and longevity.
ASTANA – On January 24, a panel discussion on the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan of the Republic of Kazakhstan 2009-2012 took place in Astana. The idea of developing national plans of action for human rights was articulated during the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (for the development of specific measures for effective universal and lasting improvement in human rights), which was adopted during this conference and approved by the UN General Assembly, recommended that each country consider developing a national plan of action on human rights. In 2009, the Human Rights Commission under the President of Kazakhstan developed and approved the National Human Rights Action Plan of the Republic of Kazakhstan 2009-2012. The plan contains specific measures and recommendations for further improvements to legal policy, national legislation and law enforcement functions in line with the norms of international covenants and conventions on human rights ratified by Kazakhstan. From March 2011, Kazakhstan’s International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, in partnership with the International Centre for Journalism MediaNet and Legal Policy Research Centre have worked together on a project titled Monitoring of the Performance of the National Action Plan for Hu-
A New Anti-Crisis Road Map to Be Drawn The President instructed Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov to draw up a new anti-crisis economic roadmap patterned on the highly successful one that stabilised the national economy four years ago. “We must be prepared to overcome a possible global crisis and recession, as we did in 2008-2009,” President Nazarbayev said. He instructed the government and regional governors to pursue his primary goals of providing employment and stable economic growth even under possible crisis conditions. “Industrialisation alone will lead us into the rank of the 30 most developed nations,” he said. President Nazarbayev noted that international studies have projected a global shortage of 40 million specialists by 2020. He said this underscored the need to attract efficient managers as well as foreign direct investment (FDI) to Kazakhstan. The successful operations of such companies and institutions as Air Astana and Nazarbayev University were good examples of hiring the best experts from around the world. The standards of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) must be imple-
man Rights 2009-2012, funded by the European Union. To this end, a round-table presentation of reviews regarding the implementation of the plan and its effect on women’s and children’s rights brought together leading experts from civil society, national human rights institutions, government agencies, international organizations, diplomatic missions and nongovernmental organizations. As President Nazarbayev noted in his annual state-of-the-nation address in December 2012, children are the most vulnerable and indefensible part of the society, and they should not be left without rights. “Any child who has been born on this land is Kazakhstani. And the state should take care of him or her,” the president said. “Investing in children today is an investment in the future. The European Union is strongly committed to promoting the rights of children and to meeting their basic needs, which is an integral part of its domestic and foreign policy. As part of the implementation of this commitment, in 2006 the EU adopted a communiqué, ‘Toward an EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child.’ The document imposes on the EU a commitment to promote and strengthen cooperative efforts and the representation of the interests of children within the borders of the EU and globally,” Ambassador, Head of the European Union delegation to Kazakhstan Aurelia Bouchez said. The participants noted positive changes in Kazakhstan’s legislation.
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mented in the shortest possible time to improve the business climate that Kazakhstan needed, the president told the Cabinet. New industrialisation plans should also focus on creating and expanding regional clusters of new factories and companies, he added. The president said major stateowned development corporations, especially the Samruk-Kazyna National Sovereign Fund, were investing too narrowly in high-profile development companies and projects. He instructed the government to establish a new National Agency for Development to run and coordinate all current development and financial institutions. “We have established the Development Bank of Kazakhstan to offer accredited long-term loans. Commercial banks cannot do it, they are meant for giving short-term loans,” he said. The president said he had lifted the moratorium on investing new resources in geological surveys to find new mineral resources. “Kazakhstan is now nearly on the last place in this area (in the ranks of resource-extracting nations),” he said. The president said Kazakhstan only spent “$20 per square kilometre (on geological surveys) whereas China spends $45 per sq. km, Australia – $167 per sq. km and Canada $203 per sq. km.”
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ASTANA – On Feb. 3, 2013, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov finished his official visit to the European Union, which included stops in Brussels, Berlin and Munich. On Jan. 29-30, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and the European Union, Idrissov visited Brussels and met with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Parliament Vice President Othmar Karas, the European Parliament’s head of the Delegation for Central Asia Paolo Bartolozzi, EU Special Representative for Central Asia Patricia Flor. He also held talks with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland and the Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen. During the meetings with representatives of the European Union, Idrissov discussed current and future cooperation between Kazakhstan and the European Union. The parties underlined their high level of trade and economic cooperation: taken as a whole, the European Union is the largest investor in Kazakhstan’s economy and takes first place among Kazakhstan’s trading partners. Kazakhstan’s winning the right to host EXPO 2017 under the topic “Future Energy,” Kazakhstan’s prospects for joining the World Trade Organization, development of regional integration processes, including within the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space and mutually beneficial cooperation were among the topics of the talks.
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Government Streamlines Comms, Seeks More Openness By Murager Sauranbayev ASTANA, January 28 – It’s Monday and journalists from Kazakhstan’s TV stations and major newspapers arrive at Astana’s smart new state-of-the-art Media Centre. They are joined, through live video link, by reporters from across the country. They come every week to hear Altay Abibullayev, the Official Spokesman of the new Central Communication Service. It is a new style of briefing which is helping improve the flow of up-to-date information to the media and the country’s citizens. More than 50 journalists pack into the room. TV camera crews move around filming from different angles. The CCS spokesman starts by setting out the main activities for the next seven days from across the government. This can include presidential trips abroad, the visits of foreign leaders to Kazakhstan, major announcements from Parliament, ministries and agencies as well as international events in which Kazakhstan is involved. He then answers questions on a wide range of topics. Each week the briefing also provides an opportunity for senior representatives from a different Government ministry or department to talk in detail with the media – and through them the public – about their work. Today the Official Spokesman
hands over to Bakytzhan Zhumagulov, the Minister of Education and Science. Speaking fluently without notes, Zhumagulov openly discusses Kazakhstan’s education challenges and makes announcements around education reforms including standardised testing to recognised national levels for Kazakhstan. He, too, takes questions from journalists. Previous briefings have provided a chance for the vice-minister of healthcare, Eric Baizhunusov, to use compelling statistics to show how care and treatment is improving in Kazakhstan and for the Agency for the Regulation of Natural Monopolies to explain recent price rises for energy and rail fares. The journalists learnt that the extra revenue raised would be used, for example, to buy new rail carriages to improve comfort for passengers. Altay Abibullayev asks if there are any more questions and closes the briefing. It has lasted an hour and has been broadcast live on the web. The camera crews quickly pack up while reporters use their laptops to write up their stories. These briefings have only been taking place since November. But they are already figuring prominently on the main TV news bulletins each Monday and helping set the news agenda for the week. Foreign journalists based in Astana are also beginning to attend.
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Inside Eurasia and world Kazakhstan, France Build Wide Ranging Partnership Page A3
ECONOMY & BUSINESS Future of Nuclear Power Moves into Focus of Considerations Shymkent Poultry Farms Increase Locally Produced Turkey Meat Supply Pages A5
Sky’s the Limit as Kazakhstan Seeks Wider International Cooperation in Space Page A6
Idrissov: EU-Kazakhstan Relations Must Evolve. Oil Is Not the Future Witt: G-Global: A new forum to replace G-20 and G-8 Page A7
NATION & CAPITAL Film by Kazakh Director to Compete at Berlinale Single Industry Towns Fight for Better Future Pages B1-B8
US$1 = 150.77 KZT 1 Euro = 205.06 KZT 1 Rouble = 5.03 KZT
The Astana Times
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
President Gives Cabinet New Tasks to Fulfil Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy From Page A1 “The Rio Tinto world-class company was willing to invest tens of millions of dollars in exploration from scratch in our country. But it had to go from one office to another for two years, going through endless redtape to obtain the permit. But it achieved nothing in the long run,” President Nazarbayev said. “In the Ministry of Industry and Innovative Technology (MINT), the contract-making process takes another two to three years. The Tau-Ken Samruk National Company, which was created by my decree in 2009, is still not operating. Think of it, only four contracts have been concluded in three years. Where will we be if we go on like that?” Minister of Industry and Trade Asset Isekeshev was ordered to work out the solutions to this problem within a three month timetable. He was instructed to simplify existing bureaucratic and legal procedures for the registration of mineral rights and to bring the regulations into line with international standards. In railway transportation, the president ordered a new high-speed line to be built from Almaty to Astana, possibly including a bridge over Lake Balkhash to reduce travel times and boost tourism in the Balkhash region. He also approved projects to build new pipelines and gas distribution networks to help develop the Karachaganak and Kashagan giant fields. President Nazarbayev also asked the government to choose a new site to build the country’s first domestic nuclear power plant and start negotiations with potential contractors to build it. “Kazakhstan needs its own nuclear power plant,” he said. The president and the Cabinet also discussed integration proposals for Central and West Kazakhstan power grid. He instructed the government to draw up and implement new special programmes on balanced energy production and consumption in accordance with the “Energy Saving - 2020” programme by July 1.
EXPO 2017 Seen as Catalyst for Innovative Development The president called the upcoming international specialized exhibition EXPO 2017 a catalyst for innovative economic development. He said it would probably be fully provided with electricity generated from alternative energy sources. By July 1, the SamrukKazyna National Sovereign Fund and the Astana city government were tasked with drawing up and submitting a pilot project for the Green Block area of the city where the EXPO site will be constructed. The Astana EXPO 2017 National Company and the Astana
city government were instructed to hold an international competition in February 2013 to select companies to draw up a master plan and architectural design for the exhibition, to present a new promotional programme to rebrand the city and to organise a professional and integrated marketing campaign. “No later than by the second quarter of this year, the Ministry of Environment is to develop and submit the draft concept of the EXPO 2017 to the State Commission,” the president said. The State Commission would coordinate and oversee all EXPO-related initiatives and all regional and municipal governors must join the work by drawing up new regional innovation systems, he said.
Agriculture Management to Be Cleaned Up, Supported President Nazarbayev also instructed the government to investigate and end the widespread embezzlement of 500 million tenge in budget funds uncovered by the Prosecutor General’s Office in agricultural programmes. These included the issuing of loans without guarantees or collateral, and a grain shortage in the Food Corporation. Prime Minister Akhmetov and the Prosecutor General’s Office had been instructed to conduct a thorough investigation to restore the state’s interests, penalize responsible officials and take systematic measures to prevent them from happening again. The president said the government also needed to do far more to ensure sufficient low-interest loans were available for farmers around the country and to create an effective and accessible agriculture credit system. “Only 10 percent of farmers are provided with soft loans from KazAgro,” he said. “A drastic breakthrough must be made in the loan services area. It is also necessary to ensure the refund of loans. Everywhere in the world, anyone who does not return their business loan goes into bankruptcy, but in our country the payments are postponed every year. It has to be stopped. That is a priority for the Ministry of Agriculture, regional governors, KazAgro and the Atameken National Chamber of Commerce.” In the bumper harvest year of 2011 wheat yields averaged more than twice what they were in the drought year of 2012. Regional Development Minister Bakhytzhan Sagintayev was, therefore, instructed to provide increased supplies of moisture-saving technologies, fertilisers and pesticides. Agriculture Minister Asylzhan Mamytbekov was told to present a report on livestock breeding within the next month and the government is to submit specific recommendations for regional development.
Business Inspections, Audits to Be Curtailed, Pension Fund System to Be Reformed President Nazarbayev called on the government to reduce inspections of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). “We are witnessing positive results in this area,” he said. “The number of tax audits over the last three years has decreased four times while the efficiency of their assessments has risen to 98 percent.” In 2012, 260,000 tax audits were conducted around the country. The government and the Prosecutor General’s Office were instructed to conduct an inspection on this field within the next month. The Finance Ministry currently leases 243,000 square metres of premises to private businesses. But at the same time there is a shortage of kindergartens and schools in the country and it costs billions of tenge to build new ones. The government was told that thousands of square metres of building space that could be used for kindergartens and schools are currently lying idle under the control of state-owned businesses or republican state enterprises (RSEs) and private companies. Finance Minister Bulat Zhamishev was instructed to study and report what state-controlled premises could be given to kindergartens and schools, and transferred to the private sector. As part of the second wave of its privatization programme the government plans to start privatization of non-strategic businesses this year. “This programme should be carried out in cooperation the Atameken Union National Chamber of Commerce,” President Nazarbayev said. He said Prime Minister Akhmetov would be in charge of it. “To improve the pension system, it is necessary to create a single pension fund and transfer the accounts of all private pension funds to it,” the president said. The consolidation and management of the nation’s pension funds under the control of the National Bank will help manage the people’s savings more effectively and safely, the president said. He said some of these resources should be allocated to expand credit in the economy to boost industrialization and entrepreneurship. New initiatives are also planned to raise new financial resources for the insurance market through the issuing of new securities. The government and the National Bank will present the new proposals within the next month.
New National Social Insurance System Against Natural Disasters President Nazarbayev said the recent hurricane disaster in Zhambyl region had underlined the importance of making national social insurance coverage more efficient and comprehensive.
“As we know, the recent devastating hurricane in the Zhambyl region caused huge damage to hundreds of private houses,” he said. “I express my deep sympathy to all citizens affected by the calamity. The state will organize extensive aid in the reconstruction efforts.” The president said all developed countries have an effective system of insurance against natural disasters. President Nazarbayev tasked the government with accelerating its efforts to expand and streamline the national social insurance system take the necessary decisions this year. Responsibility for implementing these measures was given to Vice Premier Yerlan Orynbayev.
Regional Government to Become More Effective, Local Akim Elections to Be Introduced The president said the areas of education, health, employment and social protection would be covered by the new programme. He also instructed government ministers to withdraw from their “Soviet-style” of working and not to complicate the lives of citizens. “I have issued instructions to clearly divide powers between the central government and the regions, and to strengthen local administrations before the elections of mayors in rural areas,” the president said. “However, as I was told, this work is hampered by our central government. Ministries and departments are happy to pass part of the responsibility to the regions, but at the same time they do not want to transfer authority personnel and funds.” “Over the past six years, the number of akimats, or municipal administrations was reduced by 30 percent from 47 000 to 37,000, but the staff of civilian central government ministries and departments and national agencies has not decreased,” he continued. “Instead of transferring functions to the regions, the ministries and agencies are concentrating powers in their own hands.” President Nazarbayev said the underlying cause of the problem was the “Soviet-style” outlook of too many senior officials and their desire to keep control. There are other problems which need to be addressed in the context of local self-government, the president said. Some 90 rural districts around the country were located far from any major cities and government centres and this complicated the solution of many problems, he said. Regional Development Minister Sagintayev was instructed to analyze this problem over the next month and draw up appropriate proposals for the Interagency Commission for Administrative Reform.
New Agency for Strategic Planning to Be Established? President Nazarbayev then noted the need to strengthen the
effectiveness of the central government. “It is important to strengthen work on strategic planning. And it is necessary to consider setting up a new Agency for Strategic Planning,” he said.
PM Says PAIID Programme Working Prime Minister Akhmetov said the manufacturing sector of the economy was continuing to experience steady growth under the state Programme for Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development (PAIID). “For the first time, the production of photovoltaic modules has begun in Kazakhstan,” he said. “A new industry of transport engineering has been established. Since 2008, the production of oil and gas processing equipment has increased by 510 percent; of oil processing equipment by 320 percent and of farm equipment by 200 percent. Over the past four years, labour productivity in the manufacturing industry has increased by 140 percent from $38,000 to $52,000 per employee. Over the past three years, 537 projects costing 2.1 trillion tenge have been launched under the Industrialization Map, of which 162 were commissioned within the past year.” The prime minister said 2,733 projects were approved for subsidy during the three years that the 2020 Business Road Map programme had been operating. In 2012, 6.7 million square metres of housing were commissioned within the new 2020 Affordable Housing programme, and this figure is planned to rise to 10 million square metres per year by 2020. “We are constantly working on the improvement of the business climate,” Akhmetov said. “In 2012, the number of permits required to open new businesses was reduced by 30 percent.” “In 2012, we developed and approved by presidential decree the Concept of local self-government in Kazakhstan and adopted an action plan for it,” the prime minister said. “This year we will draft a new law on the development of local government and the first elections of rural akims will be held.” The new Kazakhstan – 2050 national strategy announced by President Nazarbayev in December 2012 will provide the main direction of the government’s future activities and the Cabinet approved a detailed plan for its implementation. This year, the government will draw up and submit two new plans for national infrastructure and industrial development to 2020, the Cabinet was told. The newly organized Ministry of Regional Development was confirmed as the main centre for coordination and resolution of territorial issues.
Government Streamlines Comms, Seeks More Openness
Journalists listen to Altai Abibullayev at weekly Monday news briefings at the Central Communications Service.
From Page A1 Abibullayev, who brings extensive experience of media relations to his role as Official Spokesman, is a former Official Spokesman for Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said: “The briefings are new but they have quickly become a major event. Journalists now understand that they can learn what is happening right across Government from them. Ministries and
other agencies recognise that it is an easy way of alerting the media to their activities. It is helping everyone and means that people across the country have a better idea of what the Government is doing and why.” The weekly briefings are the most visible sign of the new approach of the Central Communication Service which was set up in October 2012 to help improve dialogue with the media. It draws
on best practice from government communication operations across the world, carefully adapted for Kazakhstan. At its heart is the recognition that citizens of all countries want more information about what is happening in their country and it is the task of governments, through their media, to provide it. The creation of the CCS is Kazakhstan’s answer to this challenge. But while the briefing is the public high-point of the week and requires hours of hard work and careful planning, it is by no means all the CCS does. The new body is working behind the scenes every day to improve the quality and flow of information to the media and ultimately, of course, the public. The CCS is a mixture of young highly professional staff. For many of them, it is their first job since leaving university and they bring a real energy to their work. Aliya Abulkhairova, who works in the Front Office dealing with journalists, is one of the new generation helping make the CCS a success. She says: “It is exciting because I am learning a great deal. No day is the same. It is hard work but rewarding and we all feel we are doing something very worthwhile.” The CCS is made up of different units which help co-ordinate communication planning between cen-
Altai Abibullayev tral Government, individual ministries and regional authorities, and prepare and distribute information for the media and through its own website. Each has its own tasks but must work very closely together. Information planning is key to foundation of the whole operation. It is their task to draw up a grid of the announcements and activities across Government by liaising with ministries, agencies, and regional bodies who supply the information. Major international events such as conferences which may attract media and public attention in Kazakhstan are also included. The aim is to produce as complete a picture for the weeks ahead of upcoming activities as possible so the Government has time to prepare and provide the material that the media may need.
It is the Front Office who deals directly with journalists and can provide them with information when they call. They help distribute press releases for ministries. It is also their job to organise the weekly briefing, which is not an easy task when as many as 130 journalists want to take part in person or through live video link. The front office also oversees the new CCS website, www.ortcom. kz, launched earlier this year. Some of Kazakhstan’s leading specialists on the internet and social media have been recruited to increase the effectiveness and reach of Government communications through digital channels. They are developing a state-ofthe-art website with the goal of getting information out quickly to the media and wider public in a bright and accessible way. This transparency and speed is what is expected today of governments in every country. It is still early days but the CCS believes it is already making a difference. Government ministries and the media are recognizing how it makes their job easier. Abibullayev added: “We know we have a lot more to do. With the help of our colleagues in many different ministries, agencies and ministries, we are helping explain better what the Government is doing. And that’s important.”
Domestic News in Brief ● President Nursultan Nazarbayev has received Agriculture Minister Assylzhan Mamytbekov who reported on the agricultural sector results for 2012 and main approaches to its further development until 2020. “The state provides comprehensive support to agriculture. Every year, the funding is growing. The main goal of the country’s agro-industrial complex is to provide up to 80 percent of the domestic market with domestic food products. We have a lot to do under the programme of agro-industrial sector development,” the President said. Nursultan Nazarbayev stressed the importance of the effective use of 7.8 million acres of agricultural land returned as a result of the inventory, as well as the development of processing industries and the increase in domestic meat production in order to increase exports. ● On January 29, a Challenger200 passenger jet crashed just a few kilometres outside of Kazakhstan’s largest city. The plane, belonging to SCAT Airlines, was performing a regular flight on route DV 760 Kokshetau–Almaty when it went down. According to airline officials, 21 people were on board. The pilots were trying to land but while making their second circle around the area the plane hit the ground and went to pieces. President Nursultan Nazarbayev expressed his condolences for the victims and their families.“On behalf of the people of Kazakhstan and myself, I express deep condolences to the bereaved families. I have given instructions to relevant government authorities to investigate the causes of the crash, as well as to assist the families of the victims,” the statement said. Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov signed a resolution “On the establishment of a government commission to investigate the cause of the CRJ 200 LR crash near Almaty airport.” The commission is headed by the First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Regional Development Bakhytzhan Sagintayev. The prosecutor general’s office has opened a criminal investigation into the airline. ● Kazakhstan will launch a special state-run company to manage the EXPO 2017. According to the country’s Minister for Economy and Budget Planning Erbolat Dossayev, the major goal of the new company among other things would be the regulation of the actual design and construction processes. According to a Foreign Ministry official Gaukhar Beisseyeva, Kazakhstan plans to earmark $1.5 billion to construct facilities accommodating the EXPO 2017. ● Science financing has increased 2.5 times over the past two years in Kazakhstan, Tengrinews.kz reports citing Kazakhstan government’s press-service. The figures were given by Minister of Education and Science Bakytzhan Zhumagulov at the meeting of the Supreme Scientific and Technical Commission attended by Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov. “The total financing of science grew almost 2.5 times over the last two years: from 20 billion tenge ($133 million) in 2010 to 48 billion tenge ($320 million) in 2012. We have never had such a growth,” Zhumagulov said. ● KZT 200 million a year are needed to provide Internet access in all libraries of Kazakhstan, executive secretary of the country’s Culture and Information Ministry Zhanna Kurmangaliyeva said January 31. According to Kurmangaliyeva, only 27 percent of libraries offer access to the Internet. Addressing Dariga Nazarbayeva, Chair of the Mazhilis Social and Cultural Development Committee, she suggested setting the task to the local executive bodies to allocate funds to provide public access to the Internet in local libraries. At present, 4,136 public libraries work in Kazakhstan. ● Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov chaired the meeting of the National Trilateral Commission for the Regulation of Social and Labour Relations. “The main reason for almost all conflicts is the absence of a dialogue of employers with representatives of employees on the issues of forming of a salary. There has not been planned systematic work on the cooperation with trade unions in issues of prospects of socio-economic development of enterprises and improvement of labour conditions,” Minister of Labour and Social Protection Serik Abdenov said.
The Astana Times
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Eurasia and world
External News in Brief ● World powers have proposed holding a new round of talks with Iran over Tehran’s nuclear programme in the week of February 25 in Kazakhstan, a spokesman for EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said. However, Ashton’s team, which co-ordinates diplomatic contacts with Iran on its nuclear programme on behalf of the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain, is still hoping for confirmation of the date and venue from Iran’s negotiating team, the spokesman said. Earlier on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi confirmed the proposal for a new round of talks in Kazakhstan on February 25, but stopped short of pledging Iran;s attendance. “I have good news, I heard yesterday that 5+1 or EU3+3 will be meeting in Kazakhstan on Feb. 25,” Salehi said during a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference. ● Moscow and Astana have signed a deal to establish a regional air defence system. The document was signed on January 30 during a meeting between Kazakh Defence Minister Adilbek Dzhaksybekov and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, who paid an official visit to Astana. The agreement between Kazakhstan and Russia will provide a foundation for the security of Kazakhstan’s airspace, as well as the airspace of Russian territory adjacent to its border with its southern neighbour, the Kazakh Defence Ministry said in a statement. ● On May 22-24, Kazakhstan will host the 6th Astana Economic Forum (AEF). Nearly 8,500 delegates from 100 countries are expected to attend the forum. The event will cover the most relevant issues of reforming the world monetary system, food safety, tourism development, alternative energy, attraction of investment and etc. The forum will bring together CEOs, leading politicians, journalists, representatives of business elite, famous scientists and Nobel Prize laureates. ● Austrian Vice Minister of Economy Christian Schonbauer believes the Kazakhstan 2050 strategy is very important for a systematic preparation for the introduction of new green technologies. At the end of 2012, Vienna hosted the Global South-South Development international conference designed to unite the innovative solutions of developing countries. The Minister of Environmental Protection of Kazakhstan Nurlan Kapparov was one of the participants in the forum, organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. In his speech, he noted the relevance of green development for Kazakhstan as the only alternative to the depletion of ecological systems and mitigation of climate change. The green bridge initiative is aimed at uniting the efforts of different states, international organizations and businesses. European politicians and the heads of international organizations, including UNIDO General Director Kandeh Yumkella, supported the forward-looking solution of Kazakhstan proposing switching to a green economy. He also confirmed their readiness to be partners in the Green Bridge programme. ● Prime Minister of Jordan Abdullah Ensour said the new Strategy “Kazakhstan 2050” “in , detail and openly deals with domestic, regional and international issues.” The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan shares the position of Kazakhstan on the issue of nuclear nonproliferation. Jordan appreciates the efforts and initiatives of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to disarm its nuclear arsenal and close the nuclear weapons test site, as well as the initiative to establish a zone free of nuclear weapons under the UN, Prime Minister Ensour said. ● Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has approved a draft agreement with Kazakhstan on the use of the so called “northern route” for Soyuz launches from the Kazakhstan-based Baikonur cosmodrome leased out to Russia. The agreement defines rocket drop off zones in the Aktyubinsk and Kostanai oblasts. The Russian side will pay $460,000 a year for the use of the rocket drop zone regardless of the number of Soyuz launches. In 2012, the sides agreed on the use of rocket drop zones along the northern route for three launches. Only two were performed. Three launches have been scheduled for 2013.
Foreign Minister’s EU Visit Strengthens Cooperation From Page A1 The parties confirmed their interest in strengthening the constructive dialogue in inter-parliamentary relations, global and regional security, rehabilitation and development of Afghanistan, energy, civil aviation, education, science and technology, democracy and human rights among other issues. The foreign minister conveyed a message from President Nazarbayev to the president of the European Commission, who confirmed his intention to visit Kazakhstan in 2013, emphasizing the symbolism of such a visit coinciding with the 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. Head of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Central Asia Paolo Bartolozzi, answering a question from Kazakh journalists about the prospects of easing visa restrictions between the European Union and Kazakhstan after his meeting with Idrissov said, “We can find ways to ease the visa regime between the European Union and Kazakhstan.” Bartolozzi noted that the simplification of a visa regime is a very complex and multifaceted issue that requires coordination among the 27 EU member states and the Schengen area member states. “I think we can find a solution that will be very beneficial for both parties because the European side is aware that the European Union is the largest trading partner of Kazakhstan... In order to develop trade and economic relations and ensure the development of Central Asia, we can find ways to ease the visa regime,” he said. At a meeting with Jagland, the parties discussed the current state and details of bilateral cooperation. The effectiveness of joint work in various formats was also noted including through the agreement of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan and
Foreign Ministers Idrissov and Westerwelle sign a joint declaration on the future work of their minissties during their meeting in Berlin on Feb. 1. the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in the frames of the European Cultural Convention, the Venice Commission, the World Forum for Democracy. Idrissov noted the importance of Kazakhstan’s joining the Medicrime Convention (which deals with criminal responsibility for the counterfeiting of medical products) and the Conventions of the European Council for criminal proceedings and anti-corruption work. At the meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the parties shared views on political and military cooperation, development of inter-parliamentary relations, the interaction of the Alliance with security structures in the Eurasian space and cooperation in the frames of the Individual Partnership Action Plan. Another important topic was the situation in Afghanistan and that country’s security and socioeconomic rehabilitation after
2014. The NATO secretary general thanked Kazakhstan for its support of the international coalition in Afghanistan, especially in transit issues and assistance in training Afghan students in Kazakhstan universities. During his visit, Idrissov delivered a speech in the Brussels Press Club and answered questions on the current domestic and foreign policy of our country. From Jan. 30 to Feb. 3, 2013, Idrissov paid an official visit to Germany on invitation of Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and held a number of bilateral meetings with German political and business officials. On the last leg of his trip, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister participated in the 49th International Conference on Security Policy in Munich. “Eurasian security is an integral part of the new common global security,” Idrissov underlined in
his address at the session devoted to issues of security and stability in South-Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Idrissov noted that “three years ago, the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Summit in Astana adopted a declaration, which first introduced the concept of Eurasian security, as well as close relationship between the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security dimensions.” As an OSCE chairman in 2010, Kazakhstan determined that one of the priorities in the field of security was the active assistance in resolving “frozen conflicts” in the area from Vancouver to Vladivostok, and contributed to this difficult process. “Kazakhstan, being at the centre of Eurasia, is a very important connection between Europe and Asia, and we are pleased that our role in this regard is on the rise,” Idrissov said. Speaking about today’s topical
tasks for security in Kazakhstan and in the region, the foreign minister called the Afghan problem a priority. “When we talk about the problems of peace and security in our part of the world, Afghanistan comes first,” Idrissov said, noting that Kazakhstan is fully committed to bringing peace and stability to that country in conjunction with coalition partners. In this context, Idrissov informed participants of the Munich conference on the convening of the Third Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan in April in Almaty. Concerning the interdependence of security issues in South-Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Eurasia, the foreign minister noted that these regions, located between the Caspian, Black and Mediterranean seas, are the natural areas of resource and transit cooperation for each other, which determines their common interest in resolving existing crises and ensuring long-term regional stability. In this case, economic growth must be the driving force to strengthen stability. “Stability will stimulate economic growth, and economic growth in its turn will strengthen stability,” Idrissov said noting that Kazakhstan is interested in the expansion of these markets for its own interests and the interests of the region. He mentioned the steps taken by Kazakhstan in this direction, including the acquisition of assets of the Romanian company Rompetrol, participation in the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the acquisition of marine terminals on the Black Sea. During the conference, Idrissov held several bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Spain, Poland, Turkey, Israel, Italy, as well as Chairman of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremic and others.
Kazakhstan, France Build Wide Ranging Partnership By Galiya Nurzhan ASTANA – France has become one of Kazakhstan’s main trading partners and closest partners in Europe over the past two decades. Diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and France were established on Jan. 25, 1992, only three weeks after Kazakhstan declared its independence on Dec. 16, 1991. The French Embassy in Kazakhstan was opened in March 1992, and the Embassy of Kazakhstan in France opened in July 1993. Five times larger than the territory of France, with a population of 17 million people, Kazakhstan is the main trading partner of France and the European Union in the region. More than 100 French–owned companies are currently registered in Kazakhstan. Business ties are fostered by the Kazakh-French Business Council and the Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation. A French delegation of 70 senior executives from 50 companies, government agencies and professional associations, including 20 companies that were starting to operate in Kazakhstan, visited Astana to participate in a Business Council in February 2012. The Kazakh-French political dialogue has been ongoing. Kazakhstan and France have reached a high level of understanding and share common views on key international problems. In October 2009, then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid an official visit to Kazakhstan. It was the second time a French head of state had visited the country. French President Francois Mitterrand paid an official visit in 1993. Sarkozy signed a package of major intergovernmental agreements and business contracts worth more than 4 billion euros ($5.43 billion). Current French President Francois Hollande has received a personal invitation from President Nursultan Nazarbayev to visit Kazakhstan this year. “We are waiting for the exact dates of the visit. It will be a major event of the year, and will give a decisive impetus to bilateral projects,” France’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Jean-Charles Berthonnet, told The Astana Times. President Nazarbayev has paid official visits to France 10 times
since taking office: in 1992, 1994, twice in 1995, 1997, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012. He successfully established and maintained close ties with a succession of French leaders and concluded many agreements with them. In 2011, President Nazarbayev and then-French President Sarkozy signed a joint declaration to boost bilateral cooperation in areas of advanced technology, especially high-tech products made of titanium for use in the European Airbus models. On Nov. 21, 2012, during President Nazarbayev’s most recent visit to France, Astana won the right to host EXPO 2017 under the theme of future energy after a vote by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) in Paris. The choice of Astana to host EXPO “is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the expertise of our large and smaller companies,” Ambassador Berthonnet said. He said French companies were already involved in constructing the new LRT urban mass transit tram system to serve the estimated five million visitors expected to attend the exhibition. The prime ministers of both countries also hold regular meetings. President Nazarbayev’s chief of staff, Karim Massimov, was one of the first high-ranking representatives of other nations to officially meet with current French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault after he took office on May 15, 2012. The foreign ministers of both countries also cooperate closely to improve relations. Under the Strategic Partnership Agreement, the deputy foreign ministers of both countries held consultations in Paris in June 2011 and in September 2012 and ending the following day in Astana. Current French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is expected to visit Astana on March 1, 2013. The Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation will hold its next meeting in Paris on March 7, 2013. French Foreign Trade Minister Nicole Brick and Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev are expected to lead the delegations. Kazakhstan and France signed their Strategic Partnership Agreement in June 2008 and set up the Franco-Kazakh Presidential Commission in 2010. The two
governments are working actively to increase industrial cooperation in the key sectors of aviation, aerospace, railway industry, energy sector, nuclear energy, oil and gas, mining, banking and agriculture. “We are implementing 27 major joint projects. Trade between the two countries has reached an annual volume of $6 billion. I believe that our cooperation in the economic, political, humanitarian and educational fields will continue for the benefit of both countries,” President Nazarbayev said during his visit to France in November 2012. Major French energy companies including Total, Areva and GDFSUEZ operate in Kazakhstan, mining oil, gas, uranium, rare ores and rare earth metals. France provides advanced technological tools and know-how to Kazakhstan’s industrialization programme. A new Franco-Kazakh technology transfer centre has been created. Other major French industrial corporations such as Alstom, Eurocopter and EADS Astrium have signed contracts to provide technology and equipment. They also train Kazakh workers and provide advanced technology to the Central Asian nation. By the end of 2011, France and Kazakhstan had restored their annual trade to its level before the 2008-9 global financial and economic crises. Bilateral trade reached $6.1 billion in 2011, including $5.41 billion in exports from Kazakhstan and $687 million in imports into the country. This marked a 20 percent increase in trade compared to 2010. In the first eight months of 2012, bilateral trade amounted to $4.9 billion, a 32.4 percent increase on the same period in 2011. Kazakhstan’s main exports to France are oil, metals and chemicals. The country imports industrial equipment, medicines, cosmetics, cars, food, aircraft and space vehicles. Since 1994, France’s foreign direct investment (FDI) in Kazakhstan has exceeded $9 billion. Total is involved in developing the Kashagan super oil field in the North Caspian Sea which it has coordinated since 2008. French investors are interested in the Eskene-Kuryk pipeline project. On Oct. 6, 2009, the KazMunayGas (KMG) National Oil Company, To-
tal and Gaz de France-Suez signed an agreement to develop the Khvalynskoye gas field. The Kazatomprom National Atomic Company and the French Areva group have created the KATCO Joint Venture to mine uranium deposits. Areva will extract up to 4,000 tons of uranium per year in exchange for providing the technology to manufacture nuclear fuel assemblies and to construct a new facility to operate them at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant. The investment will come to $180 million and the project is expected to be fully operational by 2016. A French industrial delegation led by Minister of Industry, Energy and Digital Economy Eric Besson visited Kazakhstan in November 2011 and participated in the first meeting of the Managing Committee of the Kazakh-French Laboratory for Rare Metals (FreKaReL). The UKAD Joint Venture plant was opened on Sept. 19, 2011. French companies have opened dairy and cement plants in southern Kazakhstan. The Chimpharm is manufacturing the drug Essentiale. French companies have also financed new silicon metal production plants in Ust-Kamenogorsk and Astana. On June 21, 2010, Alstom of France, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (Kazakhstan State Railways) and Transmashholding of Russia signed an agreement to build a new plant to assemble electric locomotives in Astana. It opened on Dec. 4, 2012. On July 4, 2011, Alstom began work on Astana’s new light-rail tram system. In the aerospace field, work began on July 3, 2010 on the new Galam joint venture complex to assemble and test spacecraft complex built in participation with EADS-Astrium. EADS-Eurocopter has built a new helicopter assembly factory in Astana through the Eurocopter Kazakhstan Engineering Joint Venture. In November 2011, the first batch of helicopters was delivered from France. In June 2012, the plant was completed. In September 2011, the work on the new Thales Kazakhstan Engineering Joint Venture to assemble portable radios for Kazakhstan’s Defence Ministry started to build its new factory in Almaty. In July 2012, a large delegation headed by French Defence Min-
ister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Kazakhstan. Le Drian and Kazakhstan Defence Minister Adilbek Dzhaksybekov discussed the withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan and their transit through Kazakhstan. On Dec. 25, 2012, President Nazarbayev participated in the launch of a new Astana solar plant by Kazatomprom working with the Atomic Energy Commission and French alternative energy companies. The factory manufactures photovoltaic modules (solar panels) to convert solar energy into electricity. It will also manufacture diesel generators for use in hybrid systems with solar and wind power generators. The Alliance Française cultural and educational agency operates in Almaty, Astana, Shymkent, Karaganda and Aktobe. Currently 33 Kazakh students are studying in France under the Bolashak programme. Since 2010, Kazakh scientists have trained at the universities of Paris and Strasbourg. About 100 Kazakh students studied in France under various programmes during the academic year of 20112012. In June 2012, the third KazakhFrench forum of higher education took place in Paris. The KazakhFrench industrial park was set up in Astana with the support of Nazarbayev University. From June to August 2012, an exhibition called “Treasures of France - French Art and Culture from the Renaissance to the Present Day” was held at the Kasteyev State Museum of Art in Almaty. The House of Kazakhstan in Paris project serves to integrate the activities of the country’s diplomatic mission, consulate, cultural and linguistic centre and travel agency in the French capital in a single building. Direct flights between Paris and Astana are also planned for the near future. The two countries have also agreed to carry out expanded cultural exchanges in 2013 and 2014. Also an agreement on arranging cultural seasons of France in Kazakhstan and Kazakhstan in France in 2013 and 2014 was reached at the highest level. The French “season” will include major events such as the performance of The National Orchestra of Lille in September 2013 in Astana and Almaty with soloists from Kazakhstan.
The Astana Times
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Future of Nuclear Power Moves into Focus of Considerations By Yernat Mukhamadiyev ASTANA –Today, the power industry is the most important driving-force for world progress. Many believe that the greatest contribution to meeting the demand for energy and providing stable socio-economic development, for humanity in the 21st century will be made by the nuclear power industry. It is obvious that Kazakhstan’s power industry development will, sooner or later, follow this route. Therefore, in 2011 the government of Kazakhstan adopted a programme to develop the national nuclear industry. “Development of the peaceful nuclear power is the only way to meet the growing demand for energy,” President Nursultan Nazarbayev told an international forum for a nuclear weapons free world in Astana in 2011. President Nazarbayev said the nuclear industry was a major force of innovation for Kazakhstan’s future as the country holds about 25 percent of global uranium reserves. “We have all the industrial infrastructure of nuclear power and a huge scientific potential. And we ensure the safety and security of all the peaceful nuclear power facilities,” he said. Thepresident has, therefore, instructed the government to determine a suitable location to build the country’s first domestic nuclear power plant. [Kazakhstan used to have a nuclear power station in Aktau which was decommissioned in the 1990s.] “Let us proceed to the stage of actual construction,” the president told Vladimir Shkolnik, the head of the KazAtomProm Nuclear Company. “There have been a lot of arguments whether it is better to have a nuclear power plant in the centre of the country or in Aktau in Western Kazakhstan. Let us define a place and start actual negotiations with a partner.” “I assign the government the task of assessing the current energy balance,” the president said. “It will take many years to build a nuclear power plant. Many factors should be taken into account in the long run. I, therefore, instruct
the government to submit specific suggestions in the first half of 2013.” Nuclear power plants may be operational in Kazakhstan within the next 10 years, KazAtomProm Nuclear Company Vice Chairman Sergey Yashin told the Sixth KAZENERGY international forum in Astana last year. “In the very near future, we will have to define the place of nuclear power in the overall power balance, determine the location of future power plants, choose an optimal technology and solve a lot of related problems from personnel development to possible participation of Kazakhstan-based enterprises in construction of nuclear power plants,” Yashin said. “The construction of nuclear power plants is seen not only as an additional source of power, but also as a major driving force of industrial development: The construction of such facilities calls for sophisticated technology. All this will promote the development of related industries,” he said. Yergazy Kenzhin, director of the Nuclear Energy Institute of Kazakhstan National Nuclear Centre, said Kazakhstan may become a leader in exporting electrical energy among Commonwealth of Independent States(CIS) countries in the post-Soviet space after switching to nuclear power generation. He thinks nuclear power stations are feasible as basic energy sources that could become a core for the whole energy system of Kazakhstan. “If we establish a nuclear power complex generating 1 gigawatt (GW), it will be able to compete with thermal power stations and we will benefit from that, especially in the long-term perspective of the economy’s development,” he said. Kenzhin said the development of industry in Kazakhstan was directly linked to the amount of electrical energy the country produced domestically. He said energy production growth should, therefore, exceed the growth rate of domestic demand. He also said domestic nuclear power plants should have a high level of security. “What happened at Fukushima (in Japan in March 2011) is pri-
Top 10 World Uranium Producers
marily associated with the use of an old design of nuclear reactors and the tsunami,” Kenzhin said. “Nuclear power plants stand at the same level as green energy sources in their ecological parameters. The amounts of spent nuclear fuel produced by nuclear power plants and the emissions of the coal station are not comparable.” Kenzhin said two or three nuclear power plants with a capacity of about 1GW each would be enough to fully supply Kazakhstan with energy without any need to import any. This would be enough to make Kazakhstan the leader among CIS energy exporting nations. “We have to export energy instead of uranium. This should be the case for all mineral resources,” he said. Kenzhin also said the first two nuclear power complexes with a capacity of around 1GW each could be built in Kurchatov in the East Kazakhstan region in 20202022. The plants would have third-generation reactors. Timur Zhantikin, head of the Nuclear Energy committee the Ministry of Industry and New Technology, said the government was also considering the construction of a nuclear power plant in South Kazakhstan. “Research is under way to de-
termine the locations of nuclear power sources. The first possible option is Balkhash Lake;the other option is the South Kazakhstan hydropower unit in the energyhungry southern part of the country,” he said. “The third option is in the west of the country. From the point of view of the national power industry development, the optimum choice would be the South Kazakhstan hydropower unit. A feasibility study has been done.” “Currently, we are working on the industry master plan up to 2030. By 2030 approximately 4 percent to 4.5 percent of domestic power should be generated by nuclear power plants,” Zhantikin said. Kazakhstan is considering the construction of nuclear power plants with a total investment of $63 billion. “We study the possibility of building a nuclear power plant with up to 1 GW. Generation growth will make 62 percent and the total amount of an investment is estimated at the level of the current year in the amount of $63 billion dollars or 9.5 trillion tenge,” Samruk-Energo Chairman Almasadam Satkaliyev said. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Industry and New Technology has declared that Kazakhstan will not
give up nuclear energy. And Umirzak Shukeyev, the chairman of the Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund, said the country needed to make up its mind quickly about constructing a nuclear power station. “Kazakhstan has not given up on nuclear energy,” Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev said at the government meeting. Issekeshev confirmed that the construction of a nuclear power plant remained very much on the agenda. However, it was seen as a long-term objective and no decisions have yet been made on the type of reactor, the site or the timing of the project. “Safety, and the selection of the best technology, would be major considerations,” he said. Samruk-Kazyna Chairman Shukeyev said Kazakhstan needed to make its decision quickly. “We produce nuclear fuel, we have huge reserves of uranium and you know that these are our advantages. I think it does not make sense to have the fuel and the raw materials and not to have a nuclear station. That is why we have to keep on working on construction of the nuclear power station and we have to make up our minds as soon as possible,” Shukeyev said. Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov also pledged to build a nuclear power plant when he presented his vision for the development of Kazakhstan's power industry to 2030 to the government. He said the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies and the Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning were already currently working on plans for it. The government of Kazakhstan began discussing construction of the nuclear power plant six months ago. “It does not contradict with our general goals and the movement to a nuclear-free world,” Kanat Saudabayev, Chairman of the Presidential Commission on the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Director of the Nazarbayev Center said answering a question from a foreign journalist on whether it was right for Kazakhstan, as a country that actively propagates a nuclear weapons-free world, to construct its own nuclear plant. The nuclear power industry has considerable potential for Kazakhstan and its development will significantly increase the potential of the whole national power sector.
Country Rises in WB Business Conditions Rankings From Page A1 The World Bank report documented Kazakhstan’s progress in reforming its tax codes to encourage its private sector. In 2009, the country ranked No. 61 in this area, but by 2012 it had risen to No. 16. However, the government noted that Kazakhstan still ranked poorly on other business indicators in the World Bank report. It was only No. 155 on providing private businesses official permits for construction and it rated even lower at No. 182, the fourth ranking from the bottom, on the report’s volume of international trade index. Dossayev told the government that bureaucratic procedures still hindered the growth of exports and imports. “It takes 81 days and costs $5,000 just to issue nine documents to approve the export of a single cargo container,” he said. “And it takes 69 days, 12 documents, and $4,655 to clear the import into the country of a single cargo container.” However, Dossayev also noted that Kazakhstan’s poor international trade rating in the report also reflected its historically isolated position in the heart of Eurasia. “There are objective reasons for the low rating in this area, such as the country’s unfavourable geographical position,” he said. However, Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov noted that some of the shortcomings listed in the World Bank report such as the difficulties in obtaining building construction permits could not be explained or excused by the country’s geographical location. That problem “could be hardly justified by our status of a landlocked country,” he said. Serik Nokin, the acting chairman of the committee for construction and housing of the newly established Ministry of Regional Development, agreed with the prime minister. “Kazakhstan could have taken more advanta-
geous positions in the international rating if some innovations in the construction industry had been introduced in 2012,” he told the government. Reforms were being made and if they had been carried out sooner, Kazakhstan’s already impressive listing would have dramatically improved further, Nokin said. “The government has now eliminated requirements for permission to use land plots for construction, for the approval of the completed buildings and for independent technical supervisors,” he said. “Due to these changes, the time required for obtaining building permits has been cut by 53 days and the costs of the process have been reduced by 800,000 tenge.” If these reforms had been implemented early enough to be included in the World Bank’s assessment, “Kazakhstan could have risen 53 places higher in the report,” Nokin said. Prime Minister Akhmetov said the government needed to take more sweeping measures to streamline and modernize the entire construction industry in Kazakhstan. “The construction sphere as a whole needs systematic measures,” he said. Finance Minister Bolat Zhamishev said the government was streamlining its procedures for regulating imports and exports and expected these reforms to boost international trade. “In 2012, the (finance) ministry developed a new electronic information system for exports that has already been tested in the regions of Kostanay and Karaganda,” he said. “In the second half of 2013, the ministry will begin a trial run of its electronic system to register imports too. This will reduce the costs associated with international trade.” Zhamishev also told the government that a new integrated in-
formation system was being developed to monitor and facilitate international trade called the “Single Window for Export-Import Operations.” “In 2012, a feasibility study for this project was approved and in the second quarter of this year (April-June 2013), work will start on implementing it,” he said. “In the fourth quarter (October-December) of 2013, we plan to purchase the licensed software and hardware needed to operate it.” Zhamishev said the volume of Kazakhstan’s international trade depended on the activity of 14 government agencies covering more than 50 official procedures. Over the next two years, all these procedures will be computerised and all licenses and official authorisations could then be applied for and approved online, he said. Zhamishev said the new online single window would provide the integrating tool that would allow foreign companies to significantly reduce their costs in obtaining li-
censes and permits to do business in Kazakhstan. Industry and New Technologies Minister Asset Issekeshev told the government that new measures had been introduced to improve the population’s access to the national electric power grid. In 2011, Kazakhstan ranked No. 84 in the World Bank ratings in this area, but in 2012 it moved up to No. 80. Issekeshev said his ministry planned to streamline its process for issuing permits by automating the procedures and making the issue of new permits available through public service centres to connect applicants to grids with a capacity of more than 100 kilowatts (Kw). The Industry Ministry would make application procedures available on the Internet. He said the time period for assessing technical conditions for approving applications to receive access to the national power grid would be reduced to five-to-seven working days for electric power services up
to 100 kW and to 10 days for services up to 100-to-1,000 kW. After hearing Issekeshev’s report, the prime minister said the government was also considering the future development of the power industry. “However, in addition to the above issues we have a big problem - the question of networks, which needs drastic measures. New legislation on the development of the market for electric power will help to solve it,” he said. Bissengali Tadzhiyakov, deputy chairman of the National Bank, told the government that the World Bank report also confirmed that Kazakhstan still fell behind other nations for providing loans to businessmen. Kazakhstan ranked No. 83 on the World Bank list in this area. However, Tadzhiyakov said this situation would be improved through changes in the law on the recovery of competitive enterprises. He said measures would also be taken to improve the legal basis for restoring companies from states of bankruptcy, on business insurance, Islamic finance and on encouraging the growth of microcredit organizations. Kazakhstan ranked very favourably on the World Bank ratings for protecting investors at No. 10 out of the 185 listed nations. Deputy Prime Minister Yerbol Orynbayev told the Cabinet that the government had created five permanent working groups to coordinate measures to improve the country’s ratings on the relevant World Bank listings. He said the government had already approved an action plan for 2013 and was holding consultations with the World Bank on a regular basis to ensure that all new measures met international standards. The prime minister then instructed ministers and heads of state agencies to continue their work on improving conditions for doing business in the country.
Business News in Brief ● Kazakhstan’s state oil and gas company KazMunaiGas has bought a 24.5 percent stake held by U.S. energy major ConocoPhillips in the Nursultan offshore oil block in the Caspian Sea. The block holds an estimated 270 million tonnes of recoverable oil reserves and commercial production at the field is expected to start in 2016. With the acquisition of the stake, KazMunaiGas will now hold a 75.5 percent share in the exploration and development project and the Abu Dhabi state investment company Mubadala will hold the remaining 24.5 percent. ● A new high-speed rail being built to link Kazakhstan’s former capital and business centre Almaty with the northern capital Astana will reduce the travel time for riders by eight hours, local media reported at the end of January. Travel time between the cities will be reduced from 13 hours to five hours. “This route will be around 1,100 km [683 miles] long,” national railway monopoly Kazakhstan Temir Zholy Public Relations Director Murat Buldekbayev said. ● Kazakhstan experts have calculated that the EXPO 2017 exhibition in Astana may bring $520 to $910 million in profits. EXPO 2017 may be visited by four to seven million people. According to analysis of specialized exhibitions of recent years, one visitor brings a profit of around $130. Tickets to the latest exhibitions cost around $30. The EXPO 2017 budget has not been drawn yet, but the numbers are expected to be publicized at the end of 2013. Right now, it is known that 250 million euros will be allocated from the state budget for construction of infrastructure, communications and preparation of the exhibition site. Around one billion euros is expected to be invested into construction of the exhibition pavilions and hotels. ● The heads of organisations in the field of extracting crude oil and natural gas receive the highest salaries in Kazakhstan – 1.204 million tenge per month (approximately $8000 dollars. The exchange rate is 150.6 KZT/USD), or 5.2 times higher than the average wage of managers in the country, according to the Statistics Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, there is a significant gap in remuneration of the labour of employees in various types of economic activity and occupations. The most highly paid specialists in the production of refined petroleum products are foremen, technologists and heads of production (256,000-343,000 tenge).Workers in the field of air transport got an average salary of 211,000 tenge, whereas for employees of financial and insurance sectors, this figure was at 180,000 tenge. In the construction industry the maximum salary among highly qualified specialists was received by economists (190,000 tenge), and among qualified professionals - by facing workers and marble masons (232,000 tenge) and parquet floor layers (195,000 tenge). Covering all major positions and professions, women’s wages were lower than men's wages. Remuneration for a higher education institution teacher was 82,000 tenge with a difference between the regions of 1.8 times. The salary of a teacher in secondary education and elementary school was 74,000 tenge, with a 1.5 times difference respectively and instructors received 55,000 tenge with a 1.5 times difference. ● Samruk Green Energy (100percent owned by Samruk-Energy) and KazAgroFinance signed an agreement on intentions of the joint sales of small wind generators to be produced by Samruk Green Energy jointly with German company KD Stahl und Maschinenbau in the Innovative Technologies Park Free Economic Zone. The wind generators will have different capacities: from 300W to 7kW. Their main advantage lays in production of energy at small wind speeds (from 2m/sec), regardless of its direction. Samruk-Energy was established in May 2007. It is part of the SamrukKazyna National Welfare Fund. The company’s activities include production, distribution and sales of electric and heat energy, as well as production of power-generating coal.
The Astana Times
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
economy News in Brief ● Kazakhstan may join the World Trade Organisation this year, WTO director general Pascal Lamy said. “Kazakhstan is at an advanced stage of its accession negotiation. My guess is that this could be doable this year,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Gaidar Forum, an economic conference in Moscow. Kazakhstan applied to join the WTO in 1996. The oil-rich Central Asian state is one of the few countries in the world that remains outside the international trading club. Membership is expected to boost the Kazakhstan economy by opening it even further to foreign investors. ● Kazakhstan plans to turn to the market of sovereign bonds in 2013, issuing bonds worth $1 billion, according to the country’s Finance Minister Bolat Zhamishev. According to him, the estimated 2013 budget deficit stands at $5.2 billion (2.1 percent of the country’s GDP). Plans are there to finance the budget deficit through issuing securities worth $3.5 billion on the local market, and securities worth $1.6 billion on external markets. Following the planned issue of Eurobonds worth $1 billion, external government debt will stand at $5.4 billion (24.2 percent of overall government debt). ● Kazakhstan has improved residents’ access to budget information over the past two years. Research by independent experts once every two years has found that Kazakhstan has increased its level from 38 to 48 points out of 100. Kazakhstan is in the middle of the list among other CIS countries. For example, Azerbaijan scored 42 points, Georgia received 55 points, Russia scored 74 points and Tajikistan received 17 points. The most transparent countries are New Zealand (93 points), South Africa (90 points), Great Britain (88 points), Sweden (84 points), Norway and France (83 points each). The U.S. scored 79 points. ● According to National Bank Deputy Governor Bissengali Tadzhiyakov, Kazakhstan is ranked 32nd by the share of gold in the country’s gold and FX reserves. The National Bank of Kazakhstan started exercising its pre-emptive right to purchase all gold produced in Kazakhstan back in October 2011. The share of gold in the National Bank’s reserves had grown from 12 percent to 16.02 percent by the end of June 2012. “In the past year and a half, the National Bank has purchased about 21 tons of gold,” Tadzhiyakov elaborated. In 2012, Kazakhstan’s international reserves grew by 19.9 percent to make up $86 billion. Kazakhstan’s net international reserves as of December 2012 stood at $27.746 billion, with the assets of the National Oil Fund standing at $57.766 billion. ● Crude and condensed gas production in Kazakhstan in 2012 totaled 79.2 million tons. Exports of crude and condensed gas in 2012 totaled 68.616 million tons. Kazakhstan-based oil refineries processed a total of 14.2 million tons of crude, 3.6 percent up against 2011. Gas production output in 2012 equaled 40.1 billion cubic metres, 1.5 percent up against 2011. Gas exports made up 8.8 billion cubic metres, 3.7 percent up against 2011. Plans are there to produce 82 million tons of crude and condensed gas, Kazakhstan’s Oil and Gas Minister Sauat Mynbayev said. Crude gas production in 2013 will equal 40.5 billion cubic metres. In a separate statement, Mynbayev said Kazakhstan would lift the moratorium on developing new onshore hydrocarbons deposits this year. ● British-Australian mining firm Rio Tinto has signed a deal with Kazakh state firm Kazgeologiya to create two joint ventures to conduct exploration of copper. The deal is expected to lead to at least $10 million in investment. Kazgeologiya was created by President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2011 to oversee the discovery and exploration of new deposits. The two JVs will focus their exploration on the Balkhash-Saryshagan regions of the Karaganda region. Though investment in the exploration project is expected to be at least $10 million, it may be necessary to invest more.
Shymkent Poultry Farms Increase Locally Produced Turkey Meat Supply By Lyubov Dobrota SHYMKENT - By the end of this year, the capacity of the Ordabasy Kus LLP poultry farm to produce and process turkey meat will double. JSC KazAgro approved funding to expand the complex and 1.355 billion tenge was allocated through KazAgroFinance for the acquisition of equipment for ten new poultry houses. The Israeli company M.A.D., which successfully completed this type of work in the first phase of the project, is involved in the delivery and installation of the equipment. “Ten additional poultry houses will allow us to double the number of poultry stock and, consequently, double the amount of our product,” says Marat Togayev, head of Ordabasy Kus, LLP. “The capacity of the slaughter and feed shops of our processing complex was originally designed for ten thousand tons of output; therefore, we do not need to expand them. Moreover, at the initial stage of construction, we laid the necessary engineering infrastructure for future expansion. So now the construction is less expensive.” The creation of the first such complex in the country, worth 3.294 billion tenge, has already provided approximately 330 people with jobs. This modern enterprise is a
closed production cycle, which includes breeding, production of feed and deep processing of meat. The management of the partnership began construction using their own funds, but the state programme of Accelerated Industrial-Innovative Development helped accelerate the process and with additional funding the farm reached its full capacity in a short time frame. Last year, Ordabasy Kus LLP shipped 4,884 tons of its turkey meat and products. This is almost twice as much as in 2011. The demand for turkey meat is growing, despite the fact that turkey is a delicacy in Kazakhstan: the average production per capita is only about 250 grams. In contrast, for example, in the United States consumption of turkey meat reaches 15 kg per person; in Israel, 13.5 kg; in Europe, 11.7; in Russia, about one kg. One third of the partnership’s products are successfully sold to Russian markets. The network of potential exports is constantly expanding: in addition to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tambov and Chelyabinsk, negotiations are underway to export poultry to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, though the company’s priority is still to saturate the domestic market. Today, there are more than 30 kinds of products in Ordabasy Kus’s range, including breast fil-
Workers prepare turkey meat for shipping out to customers at the Ordabasy Kus factory in south Kazakhstan. lets, rolls, sausages, pates and preserves, which come to consumers under the brand Damdi Et (“delicious meat,” in Kazakh). By the end of this year, the company plans to complete the implementation of the second stage. The third stage of the project, scheduled for 2014, involves increasing capacity by two tons. However,
even this is not the final step in the development of the company. The creation of its own brood stock and production of hatching eggs, which are currently still being imported from Canada, is ahead. By then, it would mean that Kazakhstan has established its first centre for the turkey industry. The company seems to be on
the right path, as demonstrated by sustained consumer demand and numerous awards from prestigious exhibitions and fairs. Oradabasy Kus won in the Food Products category of the Best Product of Kazakhstan 2012 exhibition and received the European Quality certificate from the European Summit of Entrepreneurs.
New Kostanay SUV Plant Will Boost Auto Boom By Galiya Nurzhan ASTANA – A new auto plant for the welding and painting of Nomad SUVs for Kazakhstan’s domestic auto market will open in Kostanay city over the next year. Agromash Holding has announced that the new plant will be turning out a new line of Nomad SUVs by the end of this year for the domestic auto market and for export to other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States. The project is being directed by the Agromash Holding engineering bureau, engineers from the SsangYong Motor Corporation of South Korea and other engineering experts from Russia, Italy and South Korea. Agromash Holding said the project to set up the new plant consisted of eight stages: designing the plant and approving its equipment setting up the assembly line; preparing the welding process and staff; overseeing the launch of production; training the factory’s staff; overseeing production of the first prototype completed model; confirming its quality and certification and overseeing its introduction into the domestic and foreign markets. Agromash Holding said the project was part of an investment programme to utilize the resources of the former diesel plant in Kostanay city. The South Korean SocieTech Company will provide the new equipment for the factory up to international standards. Andrei Lavrentiev, director general of Allur Auto, said the Nomad SUV programme was the first of its kind on such a scale in the history of Kazakhstan. He said it would attract new investment and technology into the country. The number of cars manufactured in Kazakhstan increased significantly in 2012 compared to the previous year. In 2011, the number of lines of cars marketed by Agromash Holding and Allur Auto grew with the addition of Chance cars, SsangYong Chairman Premium class sedans, Italian IVECO commercial vehicles and Russian UAZ models. The Kostanay city plant now manufactures 5,000 SUVs per year. This will rise to a volume of 15,000 cars per year when the CKD (complete knock down) production process is introduced. CKDs are complete automobile production kits: They are an increasingly commonly used way of supplying parts to a market, especially exporting from a primary producer to a market in other countries. CKD assembly has become a common practice in the international automotive industry, the bus and heavy truck industry, and the rail vehicle industry. Businesses sell CKD kits
to their foreign affiliates and often receive tax preferences for providing local manufacturing jobs. “A site of 40,000 square metres is being prepared to install the equipment to assemble Nomad cars at the (Kostanay) plant,” Lavrentiev said. “We plan to use Mercedes engines with other equipment imported from South Korea, Germany and Italy. Local engineering companies will produce various spare parts for the cars.” “The proportion of local content in the Nomad model will be about 30 percent. This allows us to describe it as a domestic car,” he said. “Over time, we will step up the pace and increase the proportion of local content.” Agromash Holding said $60 million in investment has gone into the Kostanay plant. The Nomad SUVs will sell for $22,000 each. The Kostanay plant was set up under the 2010-14 State Programme for Accelerated IndustrialInnovative Development (PAIID) within the Industrialization Map of Kazakhstan. The selling price of $22,000 for the SUVs will be 25 percent less than current market prices for such models in the domestic market, thanks to state benefits and cus-
toms preferences on import duties for the imported CKD kits. The SUVs will be produced in gasoline and diesel models. The number of options will vary with the most luxurious models selling for $30,000 each. They will be available in four versions depending on engine and transmission. The clients will also have a fairly wide choice of colour. Nomad owners will be provided with maintenance service through the Allur Auto dealer network in 12 regions across Kazakhstan. Spare parts will be available at accessible prices. Replacement brake pads, for example, cost 4,000 tenge ($26.53) per set. The South Korean auto industry produces spare parts with reliable advanced technology and at low prices. South Korean models rate highly for service. “In the first year of production, we plan to produce 5,000 to 7,000 Nomad units,” Lavrentiev said. “Only 30 percent of them will be sold in Kazakhstan, because the domestic market is not as large as Russia’s since the total population is much less than Russia’s. Therefore, 70 percent of total production will be directed to the Russian market. We plan to increase annual production volume till 2017, and
achieve a total production level of 15,000 cars per year.” The Agromash Holding plant has a favourable location for exports to Russia and other CIS countries. It will provide the South Korean company with access to the auto markets of Central Asia, Russia and Eastern Europe. The Trans-Siberian Highway provides the plant with a direct communications link with the main automobile industries of South Korea and Japan and with the main markets of Western Europe and Northeast Asia. The Kyzylorda-Shymkent-TashkentAlmaty road networks connect the plant with the main markets of Kazakhstan and Central Asia. On January 16, the Allur Group of automobile companies published its assessment of patterns of auto sales in 2012. The study listed Hyundai Accent, Kia Soul, Chance and Toyota Corolla as the bestselling models, due to their competitive prices, fuel economy and maneuverability. In late 2012, Agromash Holding said it would start producing the new Vida model from the Chance range in May of the current year. Chance models now sell for only $9,000 each. KIA of South Korea also introduced new models into the Kazakhstan domestic market in 2012.
Kazakhstan has seen a steady increase in the numbers of domestically manufactured cars, and the trend points towards further growth as producers seek to benefit from the Customs Union regulations.
2012 saw an increase in demand for low-cost, fuel-efficient cars and this trend is expected to continue. On January 21, Kazakh Motor Company Astana Motors, the first company in Kazakhstan to operate in the field of car sales and servicing, held a press conference on its operations in 2012 in Almaty. The company said it sold 12,406 passenger cars in 2012, a 104 percent increase on the 6,069 sold in 2011. In all, 86,966 passenger cars were sold throughout the country in 2012 compared to 38,574 in 2011. KMC Astana Motors sold 14 percent of all passenger cars in the country in 2012. KMC Astana Motors said the number of cars assembled and then sold in Kazakhstan rose in 2012, thanks to government support and to the stimulus of the far larger market provided by the Customs Union. Some 12.6 percent of all cars sold in Kazakhstan in 2012 were assembled in the country. The number came to 10,942 vehicles compared to 4,589 in 2011. Astana Group President Nurlan Smagulov said KMC Astana Motors opened two new premium auto-centres to market BMW/MINI and Lexus in Astana in 2012. Both auto-centres were built in strict compliance with the latest standards for manufacturers. The centres cost 1.3 billion tenge ($86.2 million) to build and created 100 new jobs. In 2013, KMC Astana Motors will open four new auto-centres in the 3S format (Sales, Service & Spare Parts) for Hyundai in Almaty, Astana and Kostanay and for BMW in Almaty at a cost of 3.4 billion tenge ($230 million). In 2013, KMC Astana Motors projects 130,000 car sales, a 49.4 percent increase on the 86,966 cars sold in 2012. Astana Motors plans to sell 18,860 passenger cars in 2013, a 52 percent increase compared to the 12,406 sold in 2012. In 2013, KMC Astana Motors will also start directly marketing the Hyundai i30 and i40, the Veloster and the extended version of the Hyundai Santa Fe (NC). Auto-Center Bavaria will introduce the BMW Z4, 5 series, 6 series and the new MINI Paceman three-door crossover. In 2013, the official distributor of Subaru in Kazakhstan will launch its Forester 4th generation, the BRZ rear-wheel drive sports coupe and the new sports 4WD WRX STi. Toyota will introduce its updated RAV4 and the Hilux; Nissan will introduce a new generation of Nissan Almeras and the restyled Nissan Tiida. The Hyundai Auto Trans car assembly plant plans to start production of large-capacity vehicles of 10 tons in 2013 (the Hyundai HD 270 and HD 500), as well as Hyundai all-wheel drive trucks.
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
The Astana Times editorial
Sky’s the Limit as Kazakhstan Seeks Wider International Cooperation in Space Kazakhstan is proud to be the host of the Baikonur cosmodrome, the world’s first and largest operational space launch facility. A busy spaceport, launching numerous commercial, military and scientific missions annually since 1957, it is located in the desert steppe of southwestern Kazakhstan. A newly created intergovernmental commission launched on January 30 in Moscow has started working on a new agreement on the administration of the cosmodrome. Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister Kairat Kelimbetov and Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov serve as co-chairs of the commission. Some bilateral rumblings over Baikonur first surfaced at the end of 2012, when Talgat Mussabayev, head of KazCosmos, Kazakhstan’s Space Agency, announced that Astana might want to renegotiate the lease terms. Otherwise, he suggested, Kazakhstan could abrogate the existing pact and assert its sovereign control over the facility. “The head of state has set a task before us and discussed the issue with Vladimir Putin. It was agreed to consider developing a new comprehensive agreement on the Baikonur complex which could envisage termination of the lease,” Mussabayev said, speaking in the Mazhjilis (the lower house of Kazakhstan’s Parliament) on December 10, 2012. Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov assured Russian newspaper Kommersant that Kazakhstan will not stop cooperation with Russia on the Baikonur cosmodrome. “Russia is a major space power. Therefore, any arguments and assertions regarding stopping cooperation are preposterous,” Idrissov said. The Kazakh government had agreed to lease the space station to Russia until 2050 but recently the issue of its management has become more topical as Kazakhstan seeks to develop its own space capabilities. “Kazakhstan hopes to expand its participation in the cosmodrome’s space activities and qualitative development of its space capabilities. Therefore, it would be wrong on our part to miss the opportunity to collaborate closely with such an important space power as Russia at our own cosmodrome,” a note on Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry’s website said on January 10, 2013. At a meeting between Nursultan Nazarbayev and Vladimir Putin on January 9-10, 2004, in Astana, the two countries signed an agreement on cooperation for the effective use of the Baikonur complex and the lease term was extended to 2050 at the existing rent of $115 million a year. Russia also contributes 1.16 billion rubles, or about $38.5 million, per year to the surrounding city of Baikonur. The Baikonur concession is considered a federal entity within the Russian Federation, possessing the same status as Moscow and St. Petersburg. Idrissov met Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov on January 25 in Moscow to discuss Baikonur as well as wider interaction within international organisations and integration associations such as the CIS, EurAsEC, Customs Union, Common Economic Space, Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO),
Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the U.N. In particular, they discussed practical measures aimed at strengthening the Kazakhstan-Russia relationship within the framework of interregional and cross-border cooperation in the energy and space spheres, as well as measures for effective implementation of the 2013-2015 Joint Action Plan, approved by the two presidents on December 19, 2012. Earlier, Russia sent two official notes on Baikonur to Kazakhstan. The first note asked for explanations on statements of Talgat Mussabayev. In the second note Russia informed Kazakhstan that it can stop working on all joint projects if Astana does not permit all launches planned by Russia from the cosmodrome for this year. Idrissov explained that Mussabayev’s statements were misunderstood by journalists. “You know, a complicated area requires specific knowledge. The comments of the journalists were so absurd that it was hard for us even to respond to them,” the minister said. “The presidents of our countries appreciate and cherish Baikonur as a symbol of our close and mutually beneficial cooperation. The cosmodrome is a project focusing on the future. I hope there will be no more unresolved issues in this sphere,” Idrissov said. At a press conference after the meeting with Idrissov, his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, said, “I would not talk about disagreements or about any special meaning of our correspondence over the note. We correspond regularly on a whole range of issues that inevitably occur when you have a great deal of cooperation, as we do between Russia and Kazakhstan. This interaction also includes the space sector, primarily the use of the Baikonur space launch complex that is traditionally one of our main priorities. During their meeting in Moscow on December 19, 2012, the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan confirmed the importance of this interaction and the need to continue development of Baikonur as a critical object of our cooperation and a symbol of partnership and alliance.” “I do not know who published this note in the mass media. We use note correspondence to ensure a standard form of diplomatic relationship. I do not know who published it, or allowed the leak. I think these were people wishing to make a mountain out of a molehill,” he added. It is natural that two neighbours, Kazakhstan and Russia, would from time to time have issues over such a complex matter as the management of Baikonur. It is also natural for Kazakhstan to want to become more active in terms of developing its own space capabilities. Just as it has been pursuing a multi-vector foreign policy for the first two decades of its independence, Kazakhstan would be wise to continue with the same approach in its space endeavours, developing ties with long-term partners such as Russia and new ones, such as France and India. The results will benefit all parties concerned.
A Struggle of Ideologies By Dosai Abraimov The spread of international terrorism and extremism, as noted in the Military Doctrine of Kazakhstan, represents the greatest danger among the new risks and threats to our security. “Terrorism has become the most dangerous challenge to the international security system. Today the scale of the threat has surpassed all expectations. The range of issues related to terrorism has also increased. In particular are conflicts emerging on the basis of nationalism, interethnic and religious conflicts, organised crime, drug and arms trafficking and money laundering,” said President Nursultan Nazarbayev, in a message to the Fourth Counter-Terrorism Committee of the U.N. Security Council. Many countries in the world are facing this evil as a result of various extremist political, nationalist and religious movements and organisations that have developed their own ideologies. These ideologies rest on violence and the violent intimidation of populations through terrorist attacks advocated by spiritual leaders and destructive elements. So what do they offer to their followers? The ideologists of terrorism present utopian projects and primitive calls for the complete destruction of existing community foundations, instead of seeking the personal involvement of citizens in the complex and painstaking process of economic, political and social development of their countries. Instead of complicated, long and thorough studies of religion and theological science which form a
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complete picture of peace and faith, they offer the public a set of quotes from the Koran and Hadith, taken out of context, to try to explain the necessity of constant struggle against “infidels” and “betrayers of the faith.” According to experts, extremist ideas offering simple solutions to urgent problems are a special danger, particularly for young people with immature spiritual and moral values. It is therefore necessary to debunk the cult of violence and hatred and the false romanticism of “martyrs” fighting for “higher justice” that can penetrate the hearts and minds of young people, and to explain the failure of the ideology of enmity of classes and religions, social groups and races. In a word, it is necessary to fight terrorism, as a socio-political phenomenon, as an ideology hostile to the people of Kazakhstan. Indeed, the ideology of Kazakhstan is, above all, constructed to prevent war and to ensure the peaceful course of our sovereign state and our national and international security. Our state ideology is one of tolerance and peace. Now it’s high time to organise a common, universal and directed fight against terrorist ideologies. The president’s recent signing of the law “On amendments to some legislative acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on combating terrorism” is a logical and important step. Deputy Chairman of the National Security Committee Kabdulkarim Abdikazimov, in his clarification of the law in Parliament, offered to revise the concept of counterterrorism by the legislative formalisation of its three directions.
First is preventing terrorism; that is, eliminating in all areas of society the conditions which give rise to terrorism and terrorist attacks. The second is the detecting, preventing and suppressing terrorism and investigating terrorist offenses. The third area includes minimising and eliminating acts of terrorism by the use of all available forces and means. It was noted that today terrorism must be seen not only as a specific criminal offense, but as a complex sociopolitical phenomenon. The main advantage of the law is its emphasis on the prevention of terrorism. Speaking of the need to prevent terrorism, we should also take into account such factors as the huge economic imbalance when comparing the cost of a terrorist attack and expenditures on its consequences. It must be clearly understood that the ideology of counterterrorism is not only the implementation of proper ideological actions. It is also the creation of a reliable shield of security in the military sphere and the minimisation of economic and social conditions that lead to the emergence of dissent. Events of recent years have shown that the ability of states to defend national security and the inviolability of their borders is one of the main foundations of global and regional politics. The most powerful ideology to counter terrorism is the cohesion and unity of our people and the reliability and power of our military forces. The author is a Doctor of Military Sciences and an Honoured Worker of Education and Science of Kazakhstan.
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Ak Zhol Party Continues to Advance Business Interests By Azat Peruashev
President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s latest State of the Nation address on Dec. 14, 2012, announced the new Strategy 2050. It has opened new horizons and opportunities for the people of Kazakhstan over the next 40 years. The president presented a new vision for the development of the country to the year 2050 and potentially beyond. The Ak Zhol party recognises the historical importance of the new policy. The new strategy follows a course of economic pragmatism in its liberal tax policy. Ak Zhol welcomes this move as we have urged the government to modernize existing tax policy for the benefit of national industry. We know that almost all the nations in the EU and most member states in the World Trade Organization use differentiated sector value-added tax rates (VAT) along with general rates. Thus, in the same country, the general VAT rate may be 20 percent to 25 percent, but it may be as low as zero for agriculture and only 3 percent to 5 percent for the food industry. However, under the current tax system in Kazakhstan, the agriculture, food, light industry, machinery and pharmaceuticals sectors still pay two to three times the proportion of taxes relative to their earnings than their competitors do in European Union nations. The embassies in Astana of Spain, Sweden, Britain, Romania, Germany, Slovakia, Austria, Netherlands, Lithuania, Bulgaria and other countries have confirmed to us the use of that practice. I proposed introducing a similar mechanism in our country. However, the Ministry of Finance rejected that amendment. Its position directly contradicts paragraph 3.2 of President Nazarbayev’s new Kazakhstan 2050 national strategy. There, the president say, “We must introduce a favourable tax regime for those employed in areas of production and new technologies… We must conduct a revision of all existing tax preferences and maximize their efficiency.” The Ak Zhol party intends to pursue similar initiatives and to extend their list and range of application. We think it is necessary to study closely the proposal to replace VAT with a sales tax that would be extremely beneficial for the manufacturing industry. This would end the need for VAT recovery for the export of our raw materials to foreign companies and owners, required under the current system of the taxation on domestic small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). If I am not mistaken, nowadays we must return more VAT revenues to the raw material suppliers than we collect from the processing industry. If we are going to keep VAT recovery, it should be applied only to the export of products from the agricultural sector and the processing industry, but not on those businesses that simply export our natural resources for further resale. The Ministry of Finance has rejected proposals to cancel the pseudo-entrepreneurship of stateowned companies competing in the private sector. In the Ak Zhol party, we will continue to call for the reduction of terms for the limitation of actions in tax disputes from five to three years and for the cancellation of taxation on recently established small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs), or businesses for the first three years from the date they were started. The Ak Zhol party will continue to present these and other amendments to reform the tax system to encourage private businessmen and to bring financial relief to existing SMEs. The Ak Zhol party also welcomes President Nazarbayev’s instruction about changing the government’s role in the economy and reduction of state participation in the market. Unfortunately, today many joint stock companies, limited liability partnerships and national state companies are forced to compete against state enterprises which drive out private business and create difficulties for their existence, using state budget and advantages in the national procurement system. We clearly understand that under these conditions private
companies will not be able to compete with state-owned companies which are not financially responsible for their own economic performance because they have direct government support. At the beginning of the 2008-9 global financial crisis, there was a widespread tendency around the world for governments to intervene more actively in the economy. That has happened in Britain, Germany, the United States and other developed countries. It has also happened in Kazakhstan with the result that the number of quasigovernmental sector companies has grown by 10 percent or more annually. The share of the private sector in the competitive market has fallen by a similar amount. We see that not only has the government entered more directly into business activities, but there has also been an increased commercialisation of state services that are paid for by citizens and private businesses through the taxes they pay to the state. One example of this process: Ort Sondirushi is a subsidiary company of the Ministry for Emergency Situations (MES). It has commercialised such services as fire protection, emergency-rescue services, mountain rescue operations and emergency medicine that should be performed by the ministry itself on a non-commercial basis as part of its official responsibilities. Due to such decisions, citizens who should be receiving these services from the government in return for the taxes they contribute are forced to pay a second time for them. And the government itself also loses because such companies are usually run in an uneconomic manner and at large losses. Therefore, their financial viability is extremely low. Today, a new draft law on civil protection has been submitted to the Mazhilis for consideration. It includes an attempt to define in law the monopoly position of this so-called “non-governmental firefighting service.” However, such attempts, in our opinion, directly contradict the tasks set by the president in his latest national address. In the second section of his address on the comprehensive support of entrepreneurship, President Nazarbayev demanded a change of the role of the government in the economy: “Private businesses are normally more effective than state run enterprises,” he said. The president, therefore, called for the handing over of all nonstrategic services and companies to private hands. This will be a fundamentally crucial step in strengthening domestic entrepreneurship. Therefore, we are interested in studying the best international practice regarding limitations of the governmental intervention in the economy and of official support for free market initiatives. The Ak Zhol party also supports the instructions of the president about modernizing the country’s foreign policy. In its 21 years of independence, Kazakhstan has become a prominent member of the world community. All the most important participants of the international investment market know our economic potential. Therefore, it is not sufficient for us today just to declare our existence. The time has come to understand and directly define foreign policy as a tool for the advancement of the national interests of the country. The establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union as defined by President Nazarbayev should be the main goal in this policy. For the first time, the president used the term “economic” to describe the nature of the Eurasian Union. This clearly implied a reconsideration of the role and meaning of the new union in contrast with the previously-declared project of simply a Eurasian Union. Therefore, it was no accident that President Nazarbayev emphasized that the political sovereignty of Kazakhstan would not be infringed during the union’s integration process. For the Ak Zhol party, this is a key issue. We have warned repeatedly for several months that there is an ongoing effort to influence our national legislation by our partners in the Customs Union
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and Common Free Market Zone (CFMZ). These concerns were raised by Ak Zhol members of the Majlis during discussions about adjusting excise rates and VAT levels to those in the Russian Federation. We considered these proposals to be steps taken under pressure from Russia and for the benefit of Russia but against the benefit of the economy of Kazakhstan. The ideas of establishing a supranational parliament and board of ministers over the Custom Union have been extensively discussed in the Russian media and the Internet lately. We strongly disagree with these proposals and see them as an attempt to influence our political sovereignty. The principles set out by President Nazarbayev in the Strategy 2050 on maintaining the priority of the national interest to define foreign policy will be supported by the Ak Zhol party in every possible way. The final goal of serious business policy cannot be just about money. Business has a meaning in one case only, if it is directed towards improving people’s lives, developing the country and the economy and the narrowing the gap in living standards. The national intelligentsia plays an important role in formulating this understanding, as the president recognized. The eve of Independence Day marked 95 years since the first Kazakh government, the Alash Orda, was established in December 1917 by representatives of intelligentsia and property owning citizens. Members of the Cadet party in the Russian State Duma had elected some of them. The intelligentsia forms and influences the liberal thoughts of society. It acts as an ethical criterion of justice and it creates new heroes in the national consciousness. That is why Ak Zhol will actively support any initiatives to improve the social status and role of the intelligentsia. A practical step would be to follow the European Union experience in this area. In many European countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands and Slovakia, the publication of books and creative literature is encouraged by reducing taxes on their sale to only one half or one third of the general VAT rate of 6 percent, at least for works published by the Writers and Journalists Association and other creative unions. An important and practical challenge in implementing the 2050 national strategy will be the consolidation and enforcement of the role of Parliament in the system of government power and establishing the rights and functions of parliamentary minority parties. The Ak Zhol party is preparing new proposals to meet this challenge. We will be studying successful practices in other nations. These are only a small number of the questions we would like to discuss regarding the president’s national address. Now that our party was elected into Parliament in the 2012 elections, we have a unique opportunity to participate in implementing the president’s historic strategy and bring our own new contributions to it. This is a chance to contribute something new to our nation. The author is chairman of the Ak Zhol party. He has been a member of the Mazhilis, the lower chamber of the Parliament of Kazakhstan, since January 2012.
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The Astana Times
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
EU-Kazakhstan Relations Must Evolve. Oil Is Not the Future By Erlan Idrissov When the first oil is pumped commercially out of the Kashagan field this year, it will be the result of over a decade of close collaboration between Kazakhstan and international energy companies. The technically challenging conditions which include extreme temperatures, shallow waters, and difficult geology have brought the best minds in the industry to our nation. Kashagan and other projects in the Caspian would not have been possible without the expertise of Europe’s energy companies. Total, Eni and Shell have invested heavily in the Caspian area. For the consortium of companies delivering the project, the benefits are clear. The Kashagan field is the biggest discovery in four decades with the potential to deliver over 12 billion barrels of oil. The partnership will also bring huge benefits to the people of Kazakhstan – something we have already seen through our existing successful partnerships with international energy companies. Oil and gas has driven the ten-fold increase in our national GDP in the last 15 years with the revenues invested wisely in our future and our citizens. Our people enjoy living standards which they would not have imagined when our country became independent 21 years ago. We have put money aside to protect us from global economic shocks and, at the same time, invested in modern infrastructure, health, welfare, education and skills. Energy companies, too, must play their role in developing local skills and expertise to leave a lasting legacy for the citizens of Kazakhstan. And, of course, Europe has ben-
efited too as we have helped meet vital energy needs. The European Union is our biggest trading partner with oil and gas making up 80% of our exports. The new developments in Kazakhstan will allow us to ease Europe’s energy security concerns for decades to come. But while oil, so far, has been the economic bedrock of EUKazakhstan relations and the springboard for our remarkable economic growth, we do not allow it to define our future. We are investing heavily to diversify our economy and grow high-skilled, hi-tech industries. Crucially, we also recognise that the global battle against climate change means that there has to be a switch away from fossil fuels towards renewable sources of energy. It might seem strange to be talking about climate change when
much of Western Europe has been hit by freezing temperatures and snow. But, of course, there is nothing surprising about sud-
Climate experts have long warned that more frequent and severe bouts of extreme weather – whether droughts, heat-waves or
But while oil, so far, has been the economic bedrock of EU-Kazakhstan relations and the springboard for our remarkable economic growth, we do not allow it to define our future. We are investing heavily to diversify our economy and grow high-skilled, hi-tech industries. Crucially, we also recognise that the global battle against climate change means that there has to be a switch away from fossil fuels towards renewable sources of energy. den bouts of cold weather even as annual temperatures are reaching record highs.
freezing spells – will also be the result of the changes we are making to our atmosphere. As we look
Kazakhstan’s Global Rankings Mean More Sustained Efforts Needed
By Akbota Khamitova and Dosan Kaumen The Economist Intelligence Unit in London has included Kazakhstan on its most recent list of best countries to be born in. In the ranking of 80 countries with the best quality of life, the EIU listed Kazakhstan at No. 74. Its experts took into account 11 indicators including geographical position, climate, politics, demographics, income level, GDP, life expectancy and freedom. The EIU rated Switzerland as No. 1 in its rankings. It listed the remaining top 10 nations to live in as Australia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Singapore, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Canada and Hong Kong. The United States was ranked No. 16. The only former Soviet republics to make the EIU’s top 80 were Azerbaijan at No. 70, Russia at No. 72, and Ukraine at No. 78. Other surveys have rated Kazakhstan more highly. Authors of the EIU rating determined the state of development of the countries for the coming 17 years considering only 11 criteria. But, it seems that such a definition is not enough to assess fully the level of living of the world population. For example, in September 2012, the World Economic Forum (WEF) announced the results of its annual survey of global competitiveness. These experts analyzed 144 countries through 111 indicators. They ranked Kazakhstan at No. 51, up 21 places from No. 72 in 2011. The WEF survey ranked Kazakhstan in its group of more developed nations in which efficiency and innovation factors played a larger role. The EIU rankings, in fact, ap-
pear questionable compared with the WEF ones. They place Syria, a county engulfed by civil war, at No. 73, ahead of peaceful Ukraine and in between Kazakhstan and Russia, two of the most politically and economically stable states in Eurasia. Despite China’s continued dramatic economic growth, it is only listed at N. 49 in the EIU list. In international business practice, decisions on investing in nations are often heavily influenced by such ratings. A nation’s attractiveness to foreign investors is usually assessed on the basis of expert evaluations on its laws regulating domestic and foreign investments; its conditions for capital export; the current state of its national currency; its inflation rate; its political condition; and the availability of its national capital. Kazakhstan is usually ranked highly on all these factors. Since independence, more than $160 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) has flowed into the country accounting for 70 percent of all foreign investments in Central Asia. And Kazakhstan remains the most attractive country for international investors among all 12 nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The gap between the poor and rich in Kazakhstan is steadily being reduced. The Gini Index calculates this gap between the richest 10 percent and poorest 10 percent of populations around the world. This Gini gap decreased from 0.339 to 0.289 in Kazakhstan from 2001 to 2010. This was comparable to the narrowing of the same gap in Australia, Canada and Italy.
Kazakhstan now generates more per capita income for its citizens than most CIS countries. In 2012, the average monthly salary of Kazakhstan citizens was $670. In Azerbaijan it was $450, in Ukraine $350, in Armenia $330 and in Belarus it was $210. Only Russia ranked higher among CIS countries with an average monthly salary of $760. The Kazakhstan Statistics Agency (KSA) has recorded that the percentage of people below the poverty level has decreased by 88 percent since 1996. It stood at only 4 percent for July-September 2012. The country’s unemployment rate also continues to fall. In November 2012, it stood at only 5.3 percent. Currently, more than 2.5 million people are employed in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Kazakhstan. The size and value of this private sector continues to grow rapidly. The private sector has produced 6,847 billion tenge worth of goods since January 2011, contributing 31.8 percent of GDP in that time. Following the annual Doing Business report of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation ranked Kazakhstan as No. 49 out of 185 countries included in the survey. On this list, Kazakhstan was far ahead of Belarus at No. 58, Kyrgyzstan at No. 70 and Russia at No. 121. In 2012, Kazakhstan’s per capita GDP was $12.500 compared to only $700 in 1993. Kazakhstan’s growing prosperity and rising standard of living is reflected in its rising birth rate and life expectancy. In 2000, the number of births exceeded deaths by only 72,000. However, by 2010 births outnumbered deaths by 215,000. Over the past 20 years, maternal mortality has fallen by almost 66 percent and infant mortality by 40 percent. Since 2004, Kazakhstan has enjoyed a net inflow of immigrants. The World Bank now ranks Kazakhstan among the top 10 countries in attracting numbers of immigrants. In 2012, the Lausanne-based Institute of Management Development ranked Kazakhstan at No. 32 on its global competitive list. The IMD listed Kazakhstan as the
most competitive country in the Commonwealth of Independent States. The IMD ranked Russia at No. 48 and Ukraine at No. 56. The Legatum Institute in Britain rated Kazakhstan at No. 43 on its list of the world’s most prosperous countries. This list put Kazakhstan ahead of Russia, China, Belarus and Uzbekistan. The Legatum researchers compared levels of economic development, business climates, government effectiveness, and levels of health care, education, safety and the rule of law, personal freedom and the size of personal incomes. The Institute for Economics and Peace launched its Global Terrorism Index in 2012. It rated the terrorism threat in Kazakhstan only at No. 47. This research is based on information provided by global database of terrorism of National consortium on terrorism study at University of Maryland - the world’s largest statistical database regarding terrorist activity containing information on more than 100,000 acts of terrorism over the last ten years. The GTI uses four indicators to measure the impact of terrorism: number of terrorist incidents, number of deaths, casualty figures and levels of property damage. The GTI listed, for example, Norway at No. 21 (it is at No. 3 in EIU ratings) and Israel at No. 20 (also at No. 20 in EIU ratings) as countries whose populations were more at risk from terrorist attacks than that of Kazakhstan. As with all other rankings, investors and analysts should, therefore, accept the recent EIU ratings with caution and compare them with other rankings to form an objective judgment of the real situation in any given country. However, Kazakhstan shouldn’t rest on its laurels. The country needs to push ahead with implementing President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s new Kazakhstan 2050 national development strategy to raise the nation’s standard of living to among the top 30 in the world. The authors are the chief research fellow and the senior research fellow at the Institute of Statehood, Security and Development Issues of the Nazarbayev Center.
around the world, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that this pattern is already well underway. We have to find ways together to power our economies without poisoning our atmosphere. This must, we believe, include extending civilian nuclear power to new countries. I know this can cause alarm. There are real fears that enriched uranium could be diverted from civilian purposes to make nuclear weapons or fall into the hands of terrorist groups. But we believe such concerns can be eased through a Nuclear Fuel Bank, built in Kazakhstan, under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The bank would provide enriched uranium to countries who want to develop their civilian nuclear programmes and take it back for re-processing. With our stability as a country, our expertise on nuclear safety and our record of having voluntarily renounced the world’s fourth biggest nuclear arsenal, we believe Kazakhstan is an ideal host for the bank. The IAEA have welcomed our offer and talks are in an advanced stage. Nuclear energy cannot be, of course, the sole answer to powering economies in a sustainable way. We also need the rapid expansion and development of renewable energy sources. Last month President Nursultan Nazabayev set our country the task of meeting at least half of our own energy needs from alternative and renewable sources by 2050. For a country with some of the world’s largest fossil fuel reserves in the world and a very small renewable sector at the moment, it was a bold statement. But there is huge potential, for example, to develop wind and so-
lar power in our country as well as cut energy waste. Europe is already a world leader in this sector and we need your expertise to help us meet these ambitions. It was our focus on ‘Future Energy’ as our theme which helped Astana, our capital, win the right to host Expo 2017. We are confident that the chance to showcase the latest energy developments from around the world will help accelerate the green energy revolution we need. We see Expo 2017 as a key part of our Green Bridge initiative to bring together governments, international organizations and private business to find solutions to sustainable growth. We have to be ambitious in creating partnerships to share technology and best practice with countries throughout the world, no matter what their stage of development. We can only begin to tackle climate change successfully when it can be done without putting the brakes on economic growth. Since our independence over twenty years ago, Kazakhstan’s relations with the EU have been defined by energy. Our oil wealth and projects such as Kashagan guarantee this partnership for decades to come. But as climate change and economic efficiency force a change of energy habits, so it will change the nature of the economic relationship between us. But just as European companies have been central to our remarkable success so far, so they will be central to our fulfilling our bold ambitions for the future – for the benefit of everyone. The author is the foreign minister of Kazakhstan. This opinion first appeared in Euractiv on January 30, 2013.
G-Global: A new forum to replace G-20, G-8
By Daniel A. Witt In our rapidly changing world, old institutions often survive but are regularly supplemented with newer, larger groups that keep pace with progress. That’s certainly the case with the G-8 and G-20 meetings, which have an important place in diplomacy but also have limitations. As the world develops, dynamic nations clamor to have their voices heard. One of those rising-star nations, Kazakhstan, has an idea for diplomatic expansion that has merit. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has publicly criticized the G-20 and G-8 as too inefficient to deal with global financial problems and has suggested creating a new format for communication called G-Global. The idea is to significantly widen the number of participants in diplomatic meetings in order to help forestall global financial meltdowns of the kind we’ve seen too often. Nazarbayev has said he wants to «radically widen the number of participants in seeking anti-crisis solutions for the world.» He has proposed including not just governments but also individual politicians, public figures, experts and scholars. G-Global, at least as Nazarbayev conceives it, would be a new communications platform – based in cyberspace – that would accommodate a wide-ranging, public debate. I’m not sure that such a platform is entirely practical for the purpose of forming an international consensus. But the notion of broadening the number of key people involved in world financial decisions at a policy level is an excellent idea. It deserves to be further discussed. Nazarbayev has recommended five principles that should guide GGlobal. They are overly general but make a great deal of sense. The first principle is a call for evolution, not revolution. The four others can be simplified into jus-
tice, trust, transparency and multilateralism. It’s hard to argue with any of them. On a less grand and more practical level, Nazarbayev has warned diplomats that the world is threatened by currency wars and that the monetary system is in danger of collapse unless the G-20 reaches a compromise in the near future. He even introduced the intriguing idea of a single world currency. Experts concluded that the first stage of moving in that direction might be to create a basket of stable currencies including the dollar, the euro, the yuan and the ruble. Not many people have the courage to make such visionary suggestions and few thinkers on world finance would endorse such a shocking change. I, for one, reject the idea of a global financial regulator. But new ideas especially from rising economies like Kazakhstan need to be listened to and evaluated on a regular basis. What is shocking now might one day be the pathway to prosperity. Nazarbayev has made a notable start. He is correct when he said: “No one has yet been able to offer a global anti-crisis plan that everyone would accept. . . . I propose expanding the number of countries participating in the search for anticrisis solutions for the world.” Indeed, wide engagement is a good thing in international affairs, particularly as more and more countries have outbound investment flows. Many more governments are now «players,» though the West and the G-20, among others, are still in some denial about that fact. Emerging economies are beginning to lead instead of merely taking cues from the U.S. and Europe. Indeed, it would be unwise to rely on the “old model” of sharing only the best practices from the West. The world’s economic leaders need to look to the pro-growth models that are working so well in Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa to stabilize the global economy and return it to a pro-growth trajectory. This opinion was first published in The Hill's Congress Blog and is reprinted here with the permission of the author. The author is president of the International Tax and Investment Center, a Washington-based nongovernmental organization that has been working on tax and investment reform in “new frontier markets” since 1993.
The Astana Times
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Nation & Eurasia Nation Promotes, Protects Women’s and Children’s Rights From Page A1
From 2009 to the present, Kazakhstan has adopted a number of regulations aimed at protecting the rights of minors in spheres including labour standards, health, the interests of the child in adoption, humanizing criminal law relationships and many others. The amendments and additions were made to the law On the Rights of Children in Kazakhstan and have brought the national legislation into conformity with the generally recognized principles and norms of international law, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In 2010, a study of the level of awareness among children about their rights covered 193,025 children in urban and rural regions of Kazakhstan. More than half the
children contacted were aware of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, with the highest rates, 89 percent, in the western Kazakhstan and Pavlodar regions. Less informed are repatriated families and immigrants. “According to monitoring of the Secretariat of the Human Rights Commission under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, out of the 23 sections of the plan, only three sections experienced problems and we have passed 20 sections of corresponding legislation, and a number of conventions were ratified,” Secretary of the Human Rights Commission under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Tastemir Abishev said. Kazakhstan has had some achievements in the field of gender equality, particularly in improving the regulatory framework.
In 2005, President Nazarbayev signed the Strategy on Gender Equality in Kazakhstan for 20062010, initiating the implementation of measures aimed at promoting gender equality in social and political life. In December 2009, Kazakhstan adopted the laws On the Prevention of Domestic Violence, and On State Guarantees of Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Men and Women. The president’s initiative in the involvement of women in the economy led to the successful implementation of the Microcredit Programs of Women’s Entrepreneurship for 2009-2015. “I instruct the government, together with the Presidential Administration, the National Commission on the Family and Women, the leadership of the Nur Otan political
party to develop a concrete action plan to 2016 to promote women’s participation in the spheres of decision-making,” the president has said. The review meetings were conducted in order to promote cooperation with civil society in determining the next steps for improving legislation and identifying them in order to formulate a new National Human Rights Action Plan for Kazakhstan up to 2020, which will have specific objectives and actions, not recommendations. The human rights defenders made their first proposal: to give the future national plan the status of a legal act or take it for execution after the approval of the presidential decrees, and, secondly, to establish a National Ombudsman for Children’s Rights.
The Astana Times
Nation & Capital Wednesday, 6 February 2013 Children with Disabilities Page B2
Dark Art Designer Reveals Her Creative Secrets Page B3
New Entertainment Facility Opens in Almaty to Attract Tourists, Improve Infrastructure Page B6
President Attends Ballet Premiere
Champion for the Disabled
The Prices We Pay at a Crossroads By John Couper Ph.D.
President Nazarbayev attended the Don Quixote ballet at the Kulyash Baiseitova theatre in Astana on Jan. 27, enjoying a light moment with the performers afterwards.
By Yelena Kuznetsova ASTANA – On January 27, President Nursultan Nazarbayev visited the Kulyash Baiseitova National Opera and Ballet Theatre and attended a performance of the Ludwig Minkus ballet “Don Quixote,” directed by Honoured Artist of Russia Shamil Teregulov. President Nazarbayev was invited to attend the “Don Quixote” premiere on January 9 by leading ballet stars Madina Basbayeva and
Tahir Gatauov when he attended an awards ceremony for writers and artists in Almaty. After the January 27 premiere, the President and Culture Minister Mukhtar Kul-Muhammed met the performers and posed for photographs with them. Chief choreographer Tursynbek Nurkaliev said the troupe was delighted to be honoured by the president. Basbayeva and Gatauov in the star roles were accompanied in the ballet by Aigerim Beketayeva (lady), Rustem Seitbekov (toreador), Anel Rustemova
(street dancer), Rahmetulla Nauanov (Don Quixote), Sayat Sarsembayev (Sancho Panza), Janat Sarsembayev (Lorenzo), Galia Mazhagulova and Balkhiya Zhanburchinova. The artists thanked the president for his contributions to national culture including the recently constructed Astana Opera. It will open with Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Sleeping Beauty” directed by the famous choreographer Yuri Grigorovich in July 2013. Theatrical sceneries and cos-
tumes for that presentation have already arrived from Italy. World famous art director Ezio Frigerio and Oscar-winning costume-designer Franka Skuarchapino will prepare the production. On Feb. 2, Gatauov and Beketayeva, at the invitation of the International Union of Choreographers, performed in the World Ballet Stars gala concert in Germany. In midSeptember, they will participate in three World Ballet Stars productions at the Paris Grand Opera.
I loved the huge, old trees that shaded my flat on Abai Prospect so I felt disturbed and sad to see workers cutting them down for the new Metro station. I still hate to see the gap in the old trees, but now I use that Metro station sometimes to get to work. We always pay a price. As a boy, forced to do propagandistic weekly drills of diving under school desks that would protect us from Soviet H-bombs, I never dreamed I would live in Kazakhstan, or even that it existed. As a teenager in New York, only a mile from the UN as Khrushchev banged his shoe in rhetorical anger, the idea of even visiting what was then the Soviet Union never crossed my mind. But now my home is Almaty. A foreigner living in Kazakhstan pays many prices. I had to fly half a world away for my brother’s wedding in California. Although I speak decent basic Russian, I never completely understand what people say. I can’t even try to negotiate the bureaucracy, so in any serious problem and must find someone for help. But for me, Kazakhstan is the best possible land of opportunity. I am laughing when I compare this country to America’s Wild West, but there is some similarity. Too much is uncertain here, but much more is possible. For decades I lived and traveled around the world – Europe, South America, South Asia, Africa – and always wondered if one place in the world had the best combination of options and resources. Then the Soros foundation offered me a year of teaching in Bishkek (in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan).
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By Assel Tleof Astana – Since the age of five, when Ali Amanbayev was diagnosed with a serious spinal injury, life has been a constant struggle. “As a schoolboy, I began using crutches and had to do my homework lying on my back,” he recalls. “As the years passed, I realized that life would only become more difficult. It is not easy being disabled in a society with limited social support systems.’’ But attitudes and mindsets are slowly changing in Kazhakstan. Today, at 65, Amanbayev leads the Kazakhstani Union for the organization of People with Disabilities. This summer, when he was appointed adviser to the Minister for Labour and Social Protection, he became the first person with a disability to hold this highly-ranked position in Kazakhstan. This flagship appointment came as no surprise for Amanbayev, who has watched the rights of the disabled flourish recently in Kazakhstan. Since 2008, UNDP has been working closely with the Ministry for Labour and Social Protection to support the rights of people living with disabilities. As a result, the country’s social protection system has been extended to include 500,000 disabled people. With UNDP support, a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also stepped up their lobbying efforts to appoint a person with a disability as an adviser to the Government. Amanbayev’s eventual appointment to the job marked a crucial signal of fundamental change.
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Ring Legend Nazarbayev Center Museum Displays Optimistic about Country’s Rich Heritage Country’s Boxing Future By Nadezhda Khamitova
ASTANA – The one-year-old Nazarbayev Center in Astana marks the achievements of Kazakhstan during its 21 years of independence and the rich history and cultural heritage of the nation in its five-story museum and head-
quarters located in the heart of the capital. The center was set up on Jan. 23, 2012 by the decree of the President of Kazakhstan as a unique multifunctional research and educational center. The Nazarbayev Center has a variety of functions and objectives aimed at promoting and strengthen-
Astana Arlans Defeat American Knockouts By Miras Abykov
Serik Sapiyev will work to strengthen the national boxing team. tions for my training and successful By Askar Beysenbayev performance at the London OlymASTANA – The triumph of Kaza- pics. Secondly, I have fully left profeskhstan’s national Olympic team in the United Kingdom and the return sional sports and will now share my of our national heroes back home experience gained in the ring. As will long remain in the memory they say, I know boxing from the of the fans. Some of our athletes inside. Yet, I have little experience still continue to reach the pinnacle and skills in administration. But I of sports and some, such as Serik think it will come, especially as eveSapiyev, have begun to pass their rything in the federation is clearly invaluable experience to those who arranged and structured. Everyone in the future will glorify the coun- knows how and where to best apply try. his knowledge and experience. A few weeks ago, Sapiyev, a gold In the near future, I plan to study medalist at the London Olympics, abroad, to improve my English and was appointed the sport director thus become a qualified professionof Kazakhstan Boxing Federation. al in sports management. His responsibilities include control Recently, I took part in the meetover the development of boxing ing of the federation’s Executive in the country and supervision of Committee where we discussed youth teams. plans for 2013. Does your appointment to the federation in any way indicate the final completion of your sports career? Your fans are still hoping to see you at the Brazilian Olympics. First of all, I thank our federation and its president, Timur Kulibayev, for the establishment of the condi-
What are your first impressions? For the first time, I saw how much work must be done to prepare the team and ensure its participation in a competition or championship.
Continued on Page B2
ASTANA – On February 1, the Astana Arlans boxing team continued their run of unbeaten tournaments and KO-ed the American Knockouts. In the first fight, Kazakhstan’s Ismail Akhunov beat American Braulio Avila Juarez, who failed to match his punching and lost all five rounds. In the lightweight division, 25year-old Samat Bashenov defeated Juaquin Chavez who could not match his skill and speed. Konstantin Snigur beat young William Williams in the middleweight division with a technical knock-out
(TKO), ensuring an overall victory in the tournament for the Arlans. Astana’s Ehsan Rouzbahani from Iran defeated Jamel Reynolds by another TKO in the light heavyweight division thanks to his combination punching. In the summer, Rouzbahani reached the quarter-finals of the London Olympics. Roman Kapitonenko, 2009 AIBA World Championship bronze medalist and a bronze medalist at the European Championship in 2010, was the only Arlans’ boxer to lose his bout. He was beaten by the Knockouts’ Istvan Bernath from Hungary. The Arlans will now travel to London to meet the British Lionhearts on February 7.
ing the most significant values of the Kazakh society, especially the principles of civic identity, popularizing the country’s history and patriotism. The center strives to foster international cooperation in the political, social and humanitarian fields and seeks to enhance the role of Kazakhstanin the world.
The Center is also a state-of-theart facility dedicated to identifying, recording, collecting, storing, and studying and using cultural values, which reflect the history of statehood in Kazakhstan. Its museum already contains a large collection.
Continued on Page B6
Things to Watch February National Theatre of Opera & Ballet named after Kulyash Baiseitova
February 9 at 17.00 “Birzhan-Sara” (opera in 2 acts) February 15 at 19.00 One-act Ballets of Fokin February 16 at 17.00 “Chio Chio San” by G.Puccini (opera in 3 acts) February 24 at 17.00 “Swan lake” by Tchaikovsky (ballets in 4 acts)
Russian Drama Theatre named after Maxim Gorky
February 8 at 18.00 Play “Sultan Beibarys” by Otarbayev February 9 at 18.00 Drama “Ivanov” by Tchekhov
Kazakh Music and Drama Theatre named after Kairat Kuanyshbayev
February 8 at 18.30 Tragedy “Akan Seri” by Musrepov
February 10 at 18.30 Comedy “Don Juan, or the Love of Geometry” by M. Frisch
The Museum of contemporary art
February 10 Exhibition of icons “Christianity in art”
The Congress Hall Astana
February 14 at 19.00 the concert of band “Orda”
Exhibition Complex “Korme”
February 20-22 10th Kazakhstan International Exhibition “Education and Science of the XXI century 2013” Astana Arlans boxing team continued their run of unbeaten tournaments and KO-ed the American Knockouts. Their next match is against British Lionhearts on Feb. 7.
Shopping and Entertainment Center “Azhar – Astana Mall”
February 17-23 Exhibition of Russian painter Mikhail Abram
The Astana Times
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Children with Disabilities: Social Challenge or Opportunity to Unite and Improve?
Assel Nauryzova, 21 years old, and her custodial mother Balmeken Nurdildayeva
By Zhuldyz Danabayeva KYZYLORDA – Around the world, children with disabilities are often locked away in institutions and forgotten. As conditions in these institutions are often poor, many children never make it to adolescence. Those who do are often condemned to a lifetime inside the walls of an institution, simply because they have a disability. Children with disabilities are rarely eligible for foster care in countries where this practice is available and parents who want
to keep children with disabilities almost never receive any help or support. Governments and international donors spend millions worldwide building and rebuilding these institutions for children with disabilities, when instead they should be supporting families, foster care and adoption, not to mention community services and education. Many children with disabilities are thought to go unregistered because of the stigma and discrimination attached to their disability. Children with disabilities who are not institutionalised are frequently
kept in the home and are severely limited in their opportunities for education and integration with society. It’s a lucky few disabled children who have morally strong parents who will provide them with the love and care they need. There are approximately 147,000 children with disabilities registered in Kazakhstan, of which more than 42,000 live in institutions for children with disabilities. More than 18,000 of them come from disadvantaged families. There are more than 20 institutions in Kazakhstan for children with special needs. While these institutions provide for children’s basic needs, children in many of these institutions are isolated from their families and communities and unable to participate in social life. The Kyzylorda Regional Institution for Children with Disabilities takes care of 162 children, including 117 from Kyzylorda region and 45 from Aktobe oblast, as Aktobe doesn’t have its own institution. 2012 was a good year for these children, as in August 2012 the institution added a new building with 200 places for children with disabilities and where all special and social services are fully provided to them. “I have been working in this institution for eight years and I believe this: Time is needed before our society sees a child with a disability as a child first, a child who lacks parents and care and needs love and attention just like other kids. But this change in perception will not just come on its own. State and local organisations working for the children’s best interests need to consolidate their efforts on every level to make this change happen sooner”, says pediatrician Balmeken Nurildayeva. Parents give children with disabilities to institutions due to low
Ring Legend Optimistic about Country’s Boxing Future
Serik Sapiyev flies Kazakhstan’s national flag after his spectacular win at the London Olympics in August 2012.
From Page B1 What are your priorities for the direction of the federation? Priorities today are aimed at the regions and one of the main areas is the construction of a centre for boxing. A powerful foundation is being laid for the preparation of future champions and our sport now is given much attention. There are no problems with funding, traveling (including to distant countries) and participating in various tournaments where we gain invaluable experience and practice. In addition, a variety of specialized workshops for referees are also organized in Kazakhstan. I think the construction of a boxing academy in Almaty is a great idea and a breakthrough for our country. Do you support our team’s upcoming bouts against athletes from several leading boxing nations? The tournament to be held February 14-17 in Astana will involve the teams of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. We have already held similar bouts, such as before the 2012 Olympics. Those matches gave us experience in the evaluation of the status of the lead-
ing boxers. It was the decision of the coaching staff and I absolutely support it. This practice helps lead to the successful performance of our athletes in various continental and international tournaments. In turn, I personally invite all fans to come and support our team. I wish the media would also pay more attention to sporting events and provide broader coverage of our sport achievements. By the way, the World Cup for the first time may be held without protective head gear. What is your opinion about this change? I strongly support it. Boxing has become more spectacular and fights are more open. Our sport consists of many parameters and a good blow is just one of them in addition to tactics, techniques and moving around the ring. The “closed” boxers had no technique, but could equally perform with strong rivals and even win. Previously, there were boxers who had never punched hard, but could win the battle. Why? Because they were well-protected fighters and had good tactics. It was a real show then and the whole world now comes back to that. I am glad that these changes were proposed
by the Kazakh federation. And for the first time in the world, the national championship was held under the so called “new-old” rules, i.e. without head gear. What is your forecast for the upcoming Summer Games in Brazil, especially for our boxers? Will they be able to win several gold medals? All efforts of our federation are concentrated on this purpose. Now, the federation strongly supports, including by funding, the opening of boxing centres throughout the country, participation of our athletes in various tournaments and training process. As for the forecast, we will for sure win one gold medal but, of course, we all want more. The backbone of the team has been already formed with the old guard leaders: the Olympians. But talented youth are also developing, such as Bekzat Sattarkhanov who became an Olympic champion at the age of 20 and Bakhtiyar Artayev at the age of 21. And just maybe the future medalists of Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, which will take place in three years from now, are now under 18.
public awareness of the issue, poor educational support and limited access to treatment services and care for these special children. Some parents see institutions as the only option they have. “The main aim of our staff is to find the parents or relatives of abandoned children with disabilities. Otherwise, when the child reaches 18 years old, he or she will be transferred to an institution for adults where they will stay for the rest of their lives in isolation and exclusion”, says Aida Talgat, a social worker at the Kyzylorda Regional Institution. The most common disabilities among children in institutions are neuro-psychiatric disorders and congenital anomalies (72 percent), most of which are diseases of the nervous system (34 percent), 20 percent of them being children with cerebral palsy. There are also many children with special needs due to other disabilities, learning difficulties or other disadvantages. When I visited Kyzylorda Regional Institution, I met the lovely Sara Yermekova, who has a congenital clubfoot. A clubfoot, or congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV), is a congenital deformity of the foot. Without proper treatment, individuals afflicted with CTEV are often forced to walk on their ankles or on the sides of their feet. Obviously, it was difficult to look at abandoned children with disabilities. When Sara noticed my reaction she said simply, “But I am alive”. There are, of course, stories of children who found happiness by being adopted. Assel Nauryzova, 21 years old, was adopted by Balmeken Nurdildayeva, a pediatrician who works at the Kyzylorda Regional Institution. Assel has a mild mental deficiency. She was found on the street in March 1991, by police when she was
three months old. At the orphanage her given name was Alfiya and her surname was Unknown. Assel was transferred to an institution for children with disabilities in 2008 and was adopted by a doctor in 2010. Her adoptive parents say Assel is a responsible, kind and honest girl who cares for her two nephews, the sons of Ms. Nurdildayeva’s oldest daughter. The most interesting part of Assel’s story is her participation and success in the Special Olympics World Summer Games, held June 25 to July 4, 2011, in Athens, Greece. Assel played on Kazakhstan’s Special Olympics basketball team. More than 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from nearly 180 nations—including more than 1,350 athletes and 1,152 coaches from Europe/Eurasia— participated in the event, demonstrating courage, showing their skills and developing friendships from all over the world. The Astana Times asked Assel about her new family, her achievements in basketball and about her future plans. How do you feel about your new family? Did you have any difficulties during your first days with them? I am so happy I was adopted by Balmeken-mother and actually I did not have any problems at home, because everyone in the family is so nice and ready to help me if anything is needed. How do you usually spend your day? Well, nowadays I live with Dana and her family. Dana is the eldest daughter of Balmeken-mother. She is married and has two lovely sons whom I take care of when both the boys’ parents are at work. I accept these children as if they are my little brothers. I like to help
Dana with housework and being involved in family activities, such as celebrating birthdays and other holidays. I also like drawing when I have any free time. Assel, I’ve heard that you’re good at basketball. How long have you been playing basketball? As far as I remember, I started when I was nine years old. Our regional team used to take part in cup competitions for children with disabilities at national and international levels. Athens in 2011 was amazing. We were together with so many children from different countries. Greece, the first foreign country I visited, will stay in my heart for a long time. How do you imagine your future? I could not graduate school due to my disease. However, my family always supports me and that is very important for me. I have a dream to sew lovely dresses for girls who live in institutions. Do you blame your birth parents for being abandoned? No, I have never felt abandoned, I have always felt special. My new parents made me feel special. Despite the struggles they have faced since early childhood, abandoned children with disabilities keep on believing that one day new parents will come to adopt them. To help make these hopes come true, we must undertake some large tasks, seriously and urgently. We must improve health care and we must make information about disabilities more accessible, because no government strategy can fix this problem as long as our society is closing its eyes to these issues.
The Astana Times
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Film by Kazakh Director to Compete at Berlinale By Maral Zhantaykyzy
ASTANA – For the first time in Kazakhstan’s history, a film directed by a Kazakh director has been chosen to enter the Berlin International Film Festival. “Harmony Lessons,” by Amir Baygazin, will be part of the main competition in this year’s 63rd Berlinale. The Berlin International Film Festival, held every February since 1951, is one of the world’s leading film festivals. In contrast to the Cannes Film Festival, the Berlinale focuses on progressive geopolitical cinema. This year, there were over 3,000 applications from all over the world seeking to participate in the Berlinale. The final 19 films in competition represent 21 countries. Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects,” “Closed Parde” (“a curtain” in Persian) by Jafar Panahi, “An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker” by Oscar winner Danis Tanovic, films by Bruno Dumont and Gus Van Sant and other well-known names in the world of cinema will compete alongside newcomers. Russia will be represented by a film by Boris Khlebnikov, “A Long and Happy Life.” “Harmony Lessons” first declared itself at the synopsis at Open Doors film forum on a film festival in Locarno, in 2010. In 2011, the film was awarded with the main prize of “The Kazakhstan Market for Film Projects. Shooting of the film was completed in early July 2012, and few days later the first cut was presented at the
Amir Baygazin hopes his “Harmony Lessons” will impress the critics and judges of the Berlinale. International Film Festival in Sara- “come laden with innovative aesthet- participated in the Asian Film Acadjevo, where the film won first place ic approach, tell the powerful stories emy at the Pusan International Film in the special projects competition of and have a unique artistic vision.” Festival and the Berlin Talent Camworks-in-progress. A competition for The Berlinale World Cinema Fund pus at the Berlinale. His short films films in post-production (works-in- annually gives several monetary have won awards at international progress) has been held in Sarajevo awards to projects in production. film festivals. In 2005, he played a for several years. The international jury was im- role in the film “Night Watch” by The main criteria for selecting pressed by the film’s aesthetics, but Timur Bekmambetov. He went on to projects – participants of the work- shocked by its cruelty. produce the independent film “Silin-progress must have international “Harmony Lessons” is a psycho- houettes of Almaty.” rental potential and interest of large logical drama. The film is about a Only once before has Kazakhstan festivals in their films. “Harmony teenager, Aslan, who is trying to stop been represented in the main comLessons” also won the Berlinale violence in his school, but eventually petition at a festival of this scale, in World Cinema Fund Prize in 2012, finds himself caught up in a crime. 1995, 18 years ago, in Venice, with becoming the first Kazakhstan film The main role in the film is played the film “Cardiogram,” directed by to be supported by the fund. by 14-year-old Timur Aidarbekov, a Darezhan Omirbaev. The Berlinale World Cinema Fund resident of Almaty’s orphanage. The Berlinale will be held from was established in 2004 by the BerScriptwriter and director of “Har- February 7-17. The winners will be lin Film Festival to support films that mony Lessons” Emir Baygazin has announced on February 16.
Pulse Dance Ensemble Enjoys Triumphal Return By Marzhan Imanbayeva ASTANA – The folk dance company Pulse, from Petropavlovsk, took the first place prize at the 9th International Competition of Youth and Children’s Art Workshop. The competition took place in Sochi, Russia, on January 4–9 and was organised by the Children’s Charity Fund Art Festival Roza Vetrov (“Flower of the wind” in Russian). Pulse is unusual for a dance company in that its dancers are deaf. The festival in Sochi welcomed several thousand participants from CIS countries, Egypt and Israel. Some countries were represented by several teams; Moscow, for example, was represented by four choreographed ensembles. Kazakhstan was represented only by the Pulse team of six dancers. They were the only team whose dancers followed the gestures of their dancing instructor during the competition. Neither the organisers nor the jury knew that they had been watching deaf dancers until after the performance. The students of the North Kazakhstan regional board-
ing school for children with hearing disabilities performed on par with the other trained dance teams. Their secret was revealed only after the jury announced them the winners, when Pulse dancers didn’t show any reaction. The girls were waiting, looking at the hands of their dancing instructor. Only after their instructor signed them the news did they begin to weep for joy. Pulse, a folk dance ensemble, presented two competitive dances, performing the Kazakh national dance “The Girls-Dzhigitki” (“Horsewoman” in Kazakh) and “Uzbek Dance” in the folk dances category. Fascinating costumes, original choreography and the artistic skill of the dancers captivated the audience and immediately attracted the attention of the organisers, who asked Pulse to open the festival with their Kazakh dance. Pulse also participated in the gala concert of the winners at the closing of the festival. The girls were invited to the next Roza Vetrov Festival, to be held in October this year in Moscow. The dancers Aynur Sainova,
Katya Voropayeva, Nastya Guselnikova, Asemgul Esengazina, Zarina Nakenova and Christina Kovalevskaya proved that they could dance without hearing the music, but by feeling it. When asked “How do you feel the music?” by one of the local newspapers, Katya Voropayeva answered, “I think it is beautiful. I feel it inside me. Almost imperceptible and very pleasant vibrations just envelop my body”. Pulse was founded at the boarding school in Petropavlovsk in 1995. Today the ensemble is made up of 56 people. The dancers perform at regional events, national competitions and now at international festivals. The beauty and synchronised movements of the team are the result of the hard work of students and teacher-choreographers. To participate at the International Festival Workshop the contestants took part in a tough selection process which included winning a national contest in order to move on. The funds for the trip to Sochi were collected, they say, from all over the world. They even held a charity concert.
Over the years, the dance team has captured the hearts of many viewers and won several prestigious medals and audience awards. In 2012 alone, in addition to the national contest, they took second place in the International Folk Dance Competition Kus Zholy (“The Milky Way” in Kazakh) and received first and third degree diplomas in international сompetitions (amateur and professional) of youth and children’s art in Kazakhstan. Their home town of Petropavlovsk met the victors with warm congratulations on banners and multi-coloured balls. Journalists, government officials and proud classmates were waiting for them at the station. Later, the akim (mayor) of the city, Bolat Zhumabekov, congratulated the winners. “You are commendable representatives of our city and the whole country at international events. I am sure there are more victories headed to your piggy banks”, he said and handed each participant flowers, a letter of appreciation and a cash certificate for 100,000 tenge.
Khasangaliev: The Man Who Writes Folk Hymns
Eskendir Khasangaliyev (r) with his son Birzhan
By Maral Zhantaykyzy ASTANA – Since its creation 33 years ago, “Atameken” (“Land of My Fathers” in Kazakh) has remained as popular as ever. “Atameken,” with lyrics by Kadyr Myrzaliev and music by Eskendir Khasangaliev, is considered the unofficial hymn of Kazakhstan. Kazakh young people sang this song during the protests in Almaty in December 1986, making “Atameken” a symbol of the struggle for an independent Kazakhstan. The patriotic song usually accompanies all major events, and listeners usually stand while it is performed. The first performer of the song was its composer, Eskendir Khasangaliev, a well-known Kazakh composer and singer. Khasangaliev has written more than 200 songs, choral works, film music and musical performances. He is called one of the founders of modern Kazakh music. Possessed of a lyric baritone, his singing is warm and heartfelt. His compositions are performed by stars of the Kazakhstan stage such as Roza Baglanova, Bibigul Tulegenova, Ermek Serkebayev, Roza Rymbayeva and other young singers. Each of his songs has its own story. His first song, written at age 21, was for his mother. That song “Anaga Salem” (“Greeting to Mother” in Kazakh) became a hit and made him almost instantly famous around the country. Then there were the songs “Ademi-ay” (“My beautiful” in Kazakh), “Sagyndym seni” (“I miss you”) and “Gul Sezim” (“Tenderness”). These songs were dedicated to his beautiful girlfriend Dariko, whom he met at one of his concerts and then lost for seven years. When they met again they did not part for almost 40 years. He dedicated to her his most important song “Es-
kirmeydi Mahabbat” (“An Eternal Love”). Eskendir and Dariko Khasangalievs are models of love, allegiance and harmony. In 1978, after the birth of his son, Birzhan, the composer wrote another hit, “Kelshi-kelshi, Balashim” (“Come, come to me, my baby”). Today’s youth grew up with that lullaby. Today, Eskendir and Birzhan Khasangalievs often sing duets. The composer’s son followed in his father’s footsteps: Birzhan also composes music, sings and performs. Eskendir Khasangaliev always sings live and his voice is still soft and velvety. He has been recognised steadily throughout his career, winning the Lenin Prize at age 30, the Honoured Artist title at 40 and the People’s Artist title at 45. Khasangaliev is famous in Kazakhstan, but his fame doesn’t stop at the county’s borders. His songs are also popular abroad. Recently, the Chuvash socio-cultural centre in Pavlodar translated “Atameken” into the Chuvash language. Khasangaliev also writes music for poems by Russian, Uighur, Tatar and German poets. One of Khasangaliev’s songs was chosen as the hymn of the Seventh Asian Winter Games in 2011. The composer was also among the Olympic flame torchbearers. In 2012, Khasangaliev wrote “Alga, Kazakhstan! Biz Zhenemiz” (“Go, Kazakhstan! We Shall Overcome!”) and Kazakhstan’s Olympic team fans went to the Olympic Stadium in London as one singing this hymn. The name of the song immediately became a Kazakhstan team motto. Despite his age, the 72-year-old composer continues to work actively, writing music and singing for his fans. On February 13, Khasangaliev will perform at the Kazakhstan Central Concert Hall in Astana.
Dark Art Designer Reveals Her Creative Secrets a fraction of their cost.” “I was invited to work in the United States, but only on a single project, Preobrazhenskaya told The Astana Times. “That’s why I did not agree to do it. I’m better known in Russian cities than in native Kostanai. Most of my subscribers are from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Chelyabinsk.” However, in 2012 Preobrazhenskaya finally received her recognition in Kazakhstan, as well when she was named the best creative blogger of the year. The Astana Times interviewed Preobrazhenskaya to learn about her achievements and her art.
The creations of Veronica Preobrazhenskaya impress viewers with their unusual play with light and colour.
By Miras Abykov Photographer, artist and designer Veronica Preobrazhenskaya became world famous by creating fantastic collages. Within a short time, the 20-year-old girl from Kazakhstan entered the elite circle of the best photo-illustrators in the world and became the country’s blogger of the year. Preobrazhenskaya is an exponent of “dark art.” It is a style de-
fined as being “dark” or unsettling in nature and it goes under such names as gothic, metaphysical, horror, nightmarish and disturbing. It is presented in a variety of techniques and styles. Despite her youth, Preobrazhenskaya has already won recognition as one of the most effective creators in the form on the largest design site in the world. One American admirer described her achievement as “creating high-budget images at
How long have you been engaged in art? It all began when I was a child. I was gifted with a highly developed imagination, and at first I did not know where to apply it. I had a dream about a device which could write or make pictures of ideas in my mind. I started to draw when I was five years old. When I went to school, I used to draw during the lessons. I often drew in the Gothic style. For that I was often chastised by teachers and sent to social workers. I was a difficult child and I had continual problems with society, so I didn’t communicate with anybody and I had a lot of time for drawing and learning graphic programmes. Then at age 13 I bought my first cheap camera and I fell
in love with photography. I had a dream to become a photographer.
What are your future plans? I plan to have a few dark-photo projects with special makeup, design ideas and art. And I’m going to make series of figures on a fantasy theme. How do you create your photographic style? I believe that to make a good photo, it is first necessary to have at least some imagination. You must have the ability to draw, to have knowledge of photoshop technology and at least an average camera. It is desirable first to sketch, then to make the image in accordance with it. Sometimes when new ideas come into your mind during the photo-shoot you need to improvise – improvising is always very good. An even greater role is played by the choice of the model – the model should be emotional. In photoshop technology, the main thing is the ability to use textures. Do you have any role models who inspire you? No, I don’t. But I have viewed thousands of works by foreign creators of digital art. Have you ever thought of holding an exhibition of your works? It is hard to carry out such an event in our town. It is necessary to have
money to hold an exhibition. Then you have to wait half a year or a year to get a suitable location where you can display it. So in the near future I am not planning anything. Did you study in an art academy or attend any photography courses? I studied at the Art School for several years, and then had a self-education. I studied graphic programmes independently at home. In the same way I learned the settings on the camera. Why is dark art not as popular in Kazakhstan as it is in the West or in Russia? The population of Kazakhstan is relatively small and, therefore,
the number of people who are interested in art is very little. There’s nothing else I can say about it. What do you do in your spare time? What kind of music do you listen to? Mostly, I read and draw when I’m not taking and editing photos. Recently, I’ve been listening to Dark Electro, but I enjoy music of all kinds. What’s your advice for young artists, photographers and designers entering the field? To allocate more time for creativity and to be patient.
The Astana Times
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Single Industry Towns Fight for Better Future Kentau Industrial Zone Development Begins By Lyubov Dobrota KENTAU, SOUTH KAZAKHSTAN – Kentau is the only town of seven cities in southern Kazakhstan included in the single industry towns’ development programme. To return to its former glory, the town, with a population of 80,000 people, is banking on the development of small- and medium-sized businesses. The establishment of an industrial zone and a regional office of the Centre of Business Services will actively promote entrepreneurship in the area. A 41-hectare plot has been allocated for the industrial zone and its
construction is scheduled for the first quarter of 2013. The state will cover expenditures for the creation of all necessary infrastructure and communications equipment. The national budget has provided 1.447 billion tenge for this purpose. Special grants are provided for small- and medium-sized businesses, but the sum does not exceed three million tenge for each grant. This is not the only programme that aims to support local businesses in this mining town. From now on, local entrepreneurs can apply to the office of the recently opened Centre of Business Service to learn more about mechanisms of state support and choose an appro-
priate programme to organise their own business. Office staff will help them with the selection of funding sources, provide information and advice on establishing and running a business, collect documents for loans from second tier banks and provide other support. Five entrepreneurs have already received approval for their projects. Bauyrzhan Tulemuratov intends to produce pens and promotional pens in the industrial zone in Kentau. Constructing a building and buying equipment will cost 15 million tenge, according to preliminary calculations. Tulemuratov said that a production capacity of 10 million pens will involve 15 employees. The manager of the centre is now analysing the project to determine the source and mechanism of its funding and will accompany the project up to its full implementation.
The Kentau transformer plant has become one of the most successful enterprises regionally, shipping its products for exports.
Comprehensive Plan Yields Promising Results in Karaganda Region By Natalia Ryzhkova ZHEZKAZGAN – The socioeconomic growth of eight industrial settlements in the Karaganda region is directly associated with the state programme of single industry towns’ development. Each of them was formed as part of the infrastructure of backbone enterprises. Thus, the smelting and mining enterprises of Kazakhmys Corporation have from the start been the economic platform for the towns of Zhezkazgan, Balkhash and Satpayev. The change in Kazakhstan’s copper capital in the past year is connected to the Comprehensive Plan of Socioeconomic Development of the towns of Zhezkazgan, Satpayev and the Ulytau district for 2012-2017. The most successful solution to everyday problems in these single industry towns is the upgrading of the Zhezkazgan heat power station (HPS) and the overhaul of equipment, in which the Kazakhmys Group in 2012 invested 3.6 billion tenge. For 60 years, the station, which employs 700 people, has been providing electricity and heat to the population and industrial processes of Zhezkazgan, annually producing on average more than one billion kW/h of electricity and more than one million Gcal of thermal energy in the form of steam and hot water. In the future they plan to renovate to increase production volume and capacity from 207 MW to 220 MW. To foster the sustainable development of the town, the regional akimat (city government) and Ka-
The copper welding plant in Zhezkazgan is a source of livelihood for the town’s residents. zakhmys LLP signed a memorandum on cooperation for 2013, according to which the corporation will allocate funds for the restora-
tion of the main water pipeline in Zhezkazgan and for financial assistance to veterans, among other social projects.
Arkalyk – Shubarkol Railway Job Opportunities Offer Balkhash Region Residents Spurs Town’s Development New Perspective By Valery Vedenko KOSTANAY REGION – A comprehensive plan for the development of Arkalyk City for the period of 2013-2015 was approved at a recent Kostanai oblast maslikhat (local administration) session. Despite the adjustment of the draft plan with national ministries and agencies, the deputies who complained about expensive and troublesome assistance to the most remote single industry town had a lot of questions for municipal authorities. Active discussions demonstrated that the city had a good chance to break out of its vicious circle. In
particular the transit potential of the Arkalyk-Shubarkol railway, which is currently under construction, as well as a pilot plant for the enrichment of rare earth metals and a wind power plant promise great possibilities for the socioeconomic development of the region. These key projects will give a new impetus to small- and mediumsized businesses, which are the main focus of the plan. Over three years, the state will provide targeted transfers to Arkalyk from the national budget amounting to over 1.8 billion tenge, and industrial production in the city is expected to grow by 2.7 billion tenge.
Zhanatas City Undergoes Revival By Vyacheslav Lebedev
ZHAMBYL REGION – Zhanatas, the town of miners with the unique phosphate base (60 percent of the country’s reserves), is undergoing rapid growth and economic diversification thanks to the state programme 2012-2020 for the development of company towns. The progress there includes the reconstruction of an enrichment factory and the commissioning of an oil refinery with an annual capacity of 25,000 tons and a powerful enterprise working with recycled material. Planned for this year are the launch of commercial development of new deposits of the
“stone of fertility”, the construction of the Baydibek wind power complex and the Zhanatas wind power plant, which will provide electricity to the entire Sarysu district. The revival has also seen 130 families receiving apartments in two restored buildings. The next step is to repair 26 buildings and 104 emergency houses will be demolished with new construction in their place. Two billion and 40 million tenge has been allotted for the reconstruction of the water supply system and a new gas pipeline will provide gas to the citizens of Zhanatas, who have been using bottled gas for 15 years.
By Natalia Ivanova BALKHASH – On the bank of the ancient lake this company town, which specialises in copper production, is working to meet the challenge set by President Nursultan Nazarbayev in his Strategy Kazakhstan-2050 to address social imbalances in regional development, including in the provision of employment. Through the state programme Employment 2020, some families from the depressed Sayak, Abay and Aktogai districts received keys to their new flats in this town of metallurgists on New Year’s Eve. It is the second time this has happened in Balkhash, where for six months housing was being constructed for the new employees, who are increasing the population of the town. In September a 48-unit building was commissioned in the Konyrat village. All newcomers will be employed in businesses in Balkhash and Konyrat Village. According to Mayor Nurlan Aubakirov, the implementation of specific measures to ensure sustainable employment is ongoing. More than 500 citizens will be provided with permanent jobs. A total of 250 jobs were established in one fell swoop at a new copper cathode production plant commissioned in May 2012. Construction within the Industrialisation Map of a plant for processing copperbearing slag and a hydrometallur-
gical shop for producing copper cathode, drawing an investment of 3.3 billion tenge and creating 140 new jobs, is ahead.
Over 500 citizens of the city will be engaged in public works, 120 men and women will work in training, two dozen people
will work in the social sphere, and youth practice will help 30 young people to begin their careers.
The Balkhash copper melting plant has been a backbone of the city for several decades. New investments are planned in related industrial facilities.
Experts Discuss Prospects for Kaznet Development By Yelden Sarybay ASTANA - On Jan. 22, 2013, an event held in KazMediaCenter brought together Kazakhstan’s Internet experts and activists to discuss the state and future of, Kaznet, and especially the future of its Kazakh-language segment. Organized by the National Democratic Party Nur Otan, information portal Abai.kz, information portal Alashorda.kz and the journalist support center Minber.kz, the event served as a focal point for discussing issues relevant to Kaznet. The conference, divided into four panels, had a format similar to a media forum. In light of the recently announced presidential strategy
Kazakhstan 2050, the issue of the Kazakh language and Internet content in Kazakh has become more acute. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has stated that “we have worked to restore our historic Kazakh culture and language after many years of decline” and that the “Kazakh language is our spiritual pivot.” Nur Otan secretary Yerlan Karin said the conference was held on the eve of a significant date, February 2, which this year marks 100 years since the first Kazakh newspaper was published. “This is some kind of symbolism,” said Karin. “Recently, we held the first meeting of Kazakh bloggers. Today is the first conference of editors of Kazakh sites.
This is an indication that we are developing.” Arman Kyrykbayev, Kazakhstan’s vice-minister of culture and information, who was also a panelist at the conference, said: “In the next year, 450 new Internet resources are planned to open. Today, there are close to 200 publishers in total and most of them use the Kazakh language. This year, one billion tenge have been allocated to develop the information sphere, 110 million of which will go into Internet resources.” Among the attendants of the event were forum coordinators, prominent bloggers and editors of sites and portals that create content in the Kazakh language. They discussed the pace of Kaznet’s activ-
ity, as well as content, design and technical support issues. One of the main issues on the agenda was the slated transition to the Latin alphabet. Editors of Kazakh sites in the U.S. and China also followed the discussion. Karin reminded conference participants that “Kazakhs use different alphabets in China, Mongolia and Turkey. For many official resources, even in Kazakhstan, we have to use both the Cyrillic alphabet, and for outreach purposes, introduce additional pages in “tote zhazu” (tote zhazu is based on Arabic script, created by the prominent Kazakh writer Akhmet Baitursynov).” “The transition to the Latin alphabet will further contribute to the development of
Internet projects, and generally the Kazakh Internet, which will greatly expand the audience,” he continued. In Strategy Kazakhstan 2050, the president set a concrete task of switching to the Latin alphabet by 2025. On the agenda of the first conference of Kazakh sites editors were problems of content and quality management. According to experts, despite the fact that the Kazakh Internet came relatively late into the digital age, it has a good chance to catch up quickly. In recent years, the number of Kazakh sites and users has increased significantly. At the same time, experts say, domestic sites are popular with Internet pirates. The Association of Website Edi-
tors in Kazakh will be created in the near future to solve problems together. For now, the experience of Kaznet activists can be useful in transitioning to the Latin alphabet. The use of new terms in the field of information technology and the transition to a new alphabet received special attention from the participants. “In recent years, we can clearly and confidently say that the potential has been growing and it’s expanding. It should also be noted that the number of users of Kazakh sites is growing. This is also a good indicator of a trend. It is interesting that people get both news and non-news templates,” blogger and translator Nurgisa Asylbekov said of the future of Kaznet.
The Astana Times
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
The Prices We Pay at a Crossroads From Page B1
I soon decided that, despite many frustrations and limitations, I should be in Central Asia. I love the crossroads culture of Kazakhstan and am more than happy to pay its prices, which seem weak and shadowy compared to the benefits. I enjoy opening this corner of the world to friends and colleagues whose understanding of landlocked lands that end in “-stan” has been close to zero. People in the U.S. and Europe are faintly confused that I want to live in what they saw as a black hole, but intrigued. They are amazed at stories and photos that suggest the layered variety of life in a place crammed with energy and options. A night picture of Almaty on my Facebook page was wildly popular. Lepyoshka? Wow—beautiful bread…. Shymbulak? Impossible to imagine. Kumiss? You must be joking! The cathedral at sunset? Where can I buy one? The main reason I stay are my students. Young people in Kazakhstan show the same variety as everywhere else: from idiocy to venality to genius. But the best students here are truly world-class, open to ideas in a way possible only in a culture changed by crisscrossing travelers for 2000 years. When I stood in the front hall of Turkestan’s Mausoleum of Khodja Akhmed Yassaui, imagining the fellow scholars and students of 1500 years ago, I felt a little closer to my iPhone-toting students of KIMEP and other universities where I occasionally teach. Many, though infected by Western consumerism, still respect the idea and passions of knowledge. Students here quickly learn to think and discuss flexibly in class, and in the hallway. They realize how their world will be opened up by the ability to ask and answer questions. My lifestyle goals seem very different than those of most foreigners in Almaty. Why should I prefer a private car and driver when I can have the discomfort and humiliation of bus 29 at eight on Monday morning? What is the appeal of an empty shop selling Pierre Cardin compared to the human traffic jams of Barakholka bazaar the day before Women’s Day? Why not occasionally call myself “Janibek”? Why not get huge approval simply by saying “hello”… in Kazakh? If I wanted to eat at Hardee’s and hang out with people like me, why should I move around the world? So yes, almost all of my friends are from Kazakhstan. It’s true that society here is more tribal than in America, and friendships are harder to engineer in Almaty than in,
A panoramic view of Almaty say, St. Louis. But Almaty people are more willing to help find a nice flat at a good price, introduce me to the ex-Minster of Defense, and point out the woman who sells the cheapest basil in the green bazaar. A big reason I feel at home in Kazakhstan, and across Central Asia, is its comfortable balance between dignity and playfulness. Young people especially seem to appreciate my twisted sense of humor and odd jokes, and I love visiting the families of local friends and have the kind of dinner that, in the American Midwest, is called a “gut buster.” In most ways, Russian and Kazakhstani families are like families anywhere. But the informal intensity of a family gathering in central Asia is a little special. The challenge of a table full of food that you know you will barely dent, but have to try. New Year’s party in the village home of a Russian family. The bag of baursaks and other goodies that make me feel that my next stop is a caravanserai on camelback. The urge to please each other. I especially feel at home because I found someone to help me create one. Nailya is from Pavlodar but now sees Almaty as home. She has the humor, warmth and solidity that Kazakhstanis wear so well but adds a naturalness that is rare. She has introduced me to her family, including mother and grandmother, which has definitely deepened my sense of family life here. Our household is a crossroads, too, since our cultures and languages are different and her ideas of mar-
ried life are more traditional than mine. Kazakhstani life opens many new paths to me. It was intense to be treated by a popular shaman, and feel the power of updated traditions that reach back to ancient China and Siberia. Some crossroads are invisible and almost indefinable, but impossible to dismiss. I don’t know how much she helped me, but she knew things about me she had no way to know, and she certainly reminded me we were in Kazakhstan, not England. I believe that, sadly, the world overemphasizes power, fancy technology and cash flow but undervalues their cultural and human equivalents. It is all important, but the balance is wrong. So I have gripped the opportunity of learning more about the richness of Russian culture. As a young man and greedy reader, I read books on Russia’s history, literature and the revolution, but had almost no sense of its depth and expressiveness. I have learned a little here that means a lot. I have also tried to get some sense of the thrust of Kazakhstan culture. It was a complex, moving experience to visit the home of Djambul, with its construction of music, poetry, and tradition. I enjoy hearing, and trying to play, traditional music like the kobyz. Kazakhstan is not a tourist destination on par with India or Peru. But I have taken advantage of my loose professor’s schedule to visit most parts of the country, walking along the river in Kostanai and seeing ice
Champion for the Disabled
Ali Amanbayev is the champion for the rights of the disabled.
From Page B1 UNDP, in partnership with the Government, also produced a National Human Development Report that, for the first time in any Central Asian country, advocated an end to exclusion and the promotion of equal rights for those with disabilities. The Report drew a lot of publicity and media attention. Thanks in part to UNDP’s advocacy, Kazakhstan signed the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol in 2008. More recently, UNDP has been working with the Government to promote national disability policies and the establishment of basic support services, such as opportunities to receive college degrees though distance learning, in addi-
tion to jobs training and rehabilitation services. Improving social services With UNDP’s advice, Kazakhstan has amended key laws to improve social services for vulnerable groups, with special attention given to those with disabilities. As a result, US$200 million of government funding has been allocated, allowing over 2,000 people with disabilities to receive special services. Amanbayev now has his own personal assistant who helps him in his wheelchair around the city and within his own home. These days, more than 7,000 disabled people in Kazakhstan receive these critical services. “It’s made such a difference,” Amanbayev says of his assistant. “He’s the extra oomph to help me face the challenges of each day.”
These days, Amanbayev and other NGO leaders are busy lobbying the Ministry for Transport and Communication to revise standards for providing the disabled access to public spaces and public transportation. As a result, Amanbayev was invited to take part in several hearings and meetings at the Ministry, where he convincingly pointed out the urgent need for change in a country where such standards lag far behind the international norm. The Ministry has reacted, promising to make all railway platforms and trains accessible for wheelchair users within the next two years. “You can’t imagine how vital this is,” Amanbayev says. Improving transport infrastructure is just one part of a wider national campaign to provide inclusive access to public spaces. This is bringing fundamental change to Kazakhstan, where more than 70 percent of public infrastructure is inaccessible to the disabled. With UNDP’s help, the Government is surveying the accessibility of public buildings and services and making cost estimates for necessary upgrades. Since its inception, UNDP’s programme has been successful at raising public awareness and fostering a culture of inclusion for those with disabilities. In addition to a short film, photo exhibitions and national and international conferences, over 5,000 copies of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have been distributed to major public institutions, libraries and universities. The author is a Communications Associate in UNDP Kazakhstan. This article was first published in The Development Advocate in January 28 2013.
sculptures in Karaganda. The Altai Mountains are simply magical, and a summer morning there will never really fade. Shymkent is full of rough energy and cheer. Astana is… well, Astana, all shiny vertical and earthy horizontal. I realize that I’m very lucky to be in this position in this location at this moment. I can pick and choose my work because so few people here have my education and experience. I have had many stimulating consulting opportunities, and teach English less for the money than for this way to be a part of constructive change. Doing business in Almaty is a complex experience. Many things are difficult here, with many more
barriers to creating a small business or consultancy. Other parts are easier: meeting important people is much less formal, only because many seem to want to meet new people. Kazakhstan has many needs, like advanced research and writing skills, that make me feel much more valued than I ever felt in the U.S. Although I often face new cultural norms and expectations, I enjoy working with people who are overwhelmingly decent and constructive. I came here as a teacher. KIMEP, despite its many flaws, is profoundly needed by Kazakhstan as a bridge across geographies, cultures and times, and I am lucky to be useful there. Education, perhaps like that designed for Nazarbayev University, is essential. However, the skill that matters most is the skill to adapt and imagine, more than to control and even more than to understand. Albert Einstein knew this, and it is more true than ever. The emerging generation of Kazakhstan is ready for this idea, probably more so than many of their teachers. In a dynamic world teachers must be ready to learn from their students, and mine teach me a great deal. For example, it can only help to learn not only from the strengths of Western education, but also from its weaknesses. After only 3 ½ years, I still understand very little about this country except its complexity. However, I allow myself the luxury of making wishes. I wish that more people could shake off more of the Soviet structuralism that has little value in a digital world. I wish its leaders had more faith in their citizens and in the contributions of new, strange, uncomfortable ideas, and less faith in power. I wish Kazakhstanis of all backgrounds could see themselves from outside and better understand their potential. I wish foreigners and locals could do more to find a better, hybrid culture. The Kazakhstani perception needs to
go beyond Hollywood’s suggestion that everything is perfect in the West, and is only worthwhile to the extent that it copies the West. I wish the brake of corruption could be lifted from Kazakh society. Our new crossroads is the Internet, which has emerged at the perfect time to benefit Kazakhstan. Its multi-layered dialog can dissolve the miles between here and many other places, while taking advantage of the natural intercultural curiosity and skill that so many young people have. The nation is working hard to encourage Internet capacity, both technological and human, but I think needs to accept the crossroad’s price of new ideas. I think the national goal can do far more than accept the Internet, and help to lead it by developing and contributing its own perspectives. What impresses me most about Kazakhstan? Its ability—its hunger—to reinvent itself. I want to see more clarity about the nation’s direction beyond industrial production and international status, but its drive is clear – drive like those that propelled America and China to global importance. I feel that more of that drive needs to consider the social, cultural, human needs of the nation. So some morning, if you see an odd small man with a big mustache looking up at the trees and down at the Metro on Abai Avenue, it could be me. Say “zdrastvuitie” or “salam” and I will probably cheerfully answer. The author is an Associate Professor at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of the Kazakhstan Institute of Management and Economic Prognosis (KIMEP). He also works as a consultant, and has lived in Almaty for 3 1/2 years The Russian-language edited version of this commentary was published in Esquire magazine in January 2013.
The Astana Times
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Nazarbayev Center Museum Displays Country’s Rich Heritage From Page B1 This combination of functions makes it a unique public institution in Kazakhstan. The first floor of the center’s museum is dedicated to an exhibition on independent Kazakhstan and its founder, President Nursultan Nazarbayev. It displays all the stages of the development of the sovereign state since independence under President Nazarbayev’s leadership. The main laws of the republic are presented in display cases around the hall. The exhibition also includes a collection of gifts to President Nazarbayev from heads of states and delegations from different countries. The Kassietti (or “Sacred”) Hall on the same floor displays a unique collection of national costumes, musical instruments, traditional Kazakh armour and jewelry. It includes the shapan, or winter robe of Abylai Khan, the great leader, diplomat, politician and far-sighted strategist who strengthened the power of the Kazakh Khanate in the 18th century. Also here the center houses the hall of ethnic culture, which displays the work of skilled craftsmen. It includes a collection of richly decorated women’s jewelry. A snow-white yurt, the symbol of the Kazakh nation, occupies the central place in this hall. The center’s archeological gallery located on the second floor displays a reconstruction of the famous “Andronov woman,” a female skeleton dated to the BronzeAge Andronovo Culture of 1,800 BC to 1,400 BC in western Siberia and the west Asiatic steppe. The woman is presented in her scientifically and authentically reconstructed clothes with ornaments.
The reconstruction was carried out by the great Kazakh archeologist Kemal Akishev (1924-2003). The museum’s Ancient World Hall tells the story of the epic archeological expedition under the leadership of Zainullah Samashev who discovered the unique Berel burial mound of a fourth century BC Saka chieftain that was discovered in the Katon-Karagay region of East Kazakhstan. The chieftain was buried with13 mummified chestnut horses, four of them wearing leather masks and decorated with wooden horns of mountain goats covered with leather and gold. The hall also displays a reconstruction of a Sarmatian chieftain who lived in the second century BC. All his clothes were richly inlaid with gold plates. The hall’s main attraction is the Golden Warrior Prince of the Saka’s Tirga-Hauda tribe, found in 1969 in the Issyk burial mound 60 kilometres east of Almaty. It has since become famous and is now recreated in national monuments as a symbol of rich historical legacy of the territory of modern-day Kazakhstan. An exhibition on “The World of the Kazakhs” presents the private collection of Astana Mayor Imangali Tasmagambetov. Over a 20-year period, Tasmagambetov assembled a collection of rare and unique masterpieces of national graphic and craft art, mostly dating to the 18th to 20th centuries but with items from earlier periods. The collection contains jewelry and adornments, belts for men and women, military equipment and armour, woman’s headdresses and musical instruments. The third floor houses the historical gallery records and pays tribute
The exhibition includes archeological discoveries and many artifacts to the long period of development of statehood beginning from the Late Middle Ages up to 1986. Each exhibit pays tribute to different events in the centuries-old struggle of the Kazakh people for their independence, including heroic feats of arms and tragic sacrifices. The fourth floor of the museum is devoted to religion, especially Islam and Orthodox Christian-
ity. It records the role of President Nazarbayev in creating a united nation with freedom of religion and full expression of ethnic identity for all. The exhibition displays unique books in Arabic, copies of the Quran, rare Orthodox Christian icons, a censer for incense and candlesticks. An exhibition on “Astana: the Past and the Present” documents
the history of Kazakhstan’s new young capital. The exhibition includes archeological discoveries from the ancient settlement of Bozok, historical documents, photographs and many artifacts recreating the different eras of the city’s history. The art gallery on the museum’s fifth floor displays the works of well-known Kazakhstan artists.
The gallery holds regular exhibitions displaying the works of old masters, young new national artists and creators from other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States. The museum also carries out research and cultural projects in cooperation with Kazakh and international museums, scientific, historical and cultural institutions.
New Entertainment Facility Opens in Almaty to Attract Tourists, Improve Infrastructure importantly, they don’t require any expensive infrastructure. It’s simple: Find the courage and desire to just go out into the countryside. Overseas, facilities like these have existed for more than ten years. We will build benches, arbors and bridges over streams. Our people will have infrastructure for energetic leisure activities. They will have places to rest, special points where tourists can drink spring water and more. We signed a memorandum on cooperation with the Austrian Alpine Club in October. That means we are recognised. The Austrian side will provide us with instructors and technology, and they will fulfill their own interests. My goal is to create infrastructure for tourism in Kazakhstan that is meeting worldwide standards, including having security systems. We can also create some additional services. For instance, we will build nomadic tents. They’re a national symbol, part of our culture, and they are unique. Will the park be suitable for children? Absolutely. We have built campgrounds, hiking trails and a snowshoeing track for children. We have already thought of the next set of improvements; for example, I would like to construct a house for children to have some rest beMaksut Zhumayev, the acclaimed mountaineer, himself tries the new rope park he has built at Shymbulak.
By Anel Adilbayeva ASTANA – A brand-new entertainment facility, a rope park, was opened at the Shymbulak Ski Resort in Almaty. The park is built of ropes, logs and ladders, which are arranged to create barriers of varying complexity. The first level is designed for children and is only dozen centimetres off the ground. More complex routes are three and nine metres high. The more difficult routes are 140 and 170 metres long. The idea for the park comes from famous Kazakh mountaineer Maksut Zhumayev, who has conquered all the 8,000-metre peaks
of the world without using supplemental oxygen. Zhumayev has 21 times raised the flag of Kazakhstan more than 8,000 metres above the surface of the Earth. He is the only Kazakh who has ascended Everest and K2. This project represents a fresh approach to tourism in Kazakhstan. The facility offers entertainment like walking through the mountains on snowshoes and sledding on balloon tires. Zhumayev has also said that guides can walk people to nearby glaciers. The Astana Times interviewed Zhumayev to find out more about his idea.
Does the idea of the project belong to you? Yes, of course. Mountains are my home. I practically live there. I would like mountains to become more friendly and approachable for both locals and guests of the city. Also, I am at my peak: I have become the twelfth person on the planet to have conquered all the 8,000-metre peaks of the world, I have a family and children and now I want to think and achieve something more. I have chosen this project because it’s close to my nature and it’s new for our country. For me, the success of this project has more value and significance than all my
other achievements, since those I accomplished for myself and this project is for my country. In your opinion, how could this project affect domestic tourism? My new project, Kazakh Alpine Club, is something amazing. From year to year it will allow people to make nature more comfortable for the people. I ask for grants and state support, but I do not need money if I do not have people. Our main aim is to unite the nation. How do people use leisure time actively today? Ride their bikes, go mountain climbing, rock climbing, and the usual hiking—none of these require any financial outlay. Most
tween activities. We do this for our children; for the world we live in to become a brighter, more positive place. How long did it take to build the park? It took us four months. But it was preceded by six months of design work. We chose the site for the park, we read about similar experiences around the world. We decided to partner with the Ukrainian company Alpine Park. They build modern rope tracks in Europe, the Ukraine and Russia. Parks have been built around the world for a hundred years now. We are just joining into this culture. It is not an attraction. No, it’s a way to create a positive impression. Shymbulak is an expensive vacation. Do you plan to make it more affordable for visitors? Absolutely, as right now, this is unique in our country. Currently, we are working on another project. I have already held talks with the director of Gorky Park. Our target audience is families, so we have to make the park as accessible and safe as possible. Children can ride on balloons while parents walk on snowshoes. Visitors will associate our park with clean air, sport and positive emotions. This vision gives me strength and hope to keep moving toward our goals.
The Astana Times
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Kazakhstan Takes Bronze at Bandy World Championship
National Wrestling Team Trains in U.S., Achieves First Peaks By Yuri Lifintsev
Kazakhstan’s national bandy team won bronze medal in the Bandy World Championship on Feb. 3.
By Miras Abykov On February 3, Kazakhstan’s national bandy team won bronze medal in the Bandy World Championship which took place in Sweden and Norway over the previous week. In the rematch of last year’s bronze medal game, Kazakhstan yet again faced Finland on February 3, beating its opponents 6-3. It became the fourth bronze medal for Kazakhstan in bandy world championships. Team Kazakhstan finished third in the group stage earlier, which allowed it to compete in the semifinals. In the semifinal game the Russian team took over with a final score of 8-2. Russia’s Sergey Lomanov scored first, in the fourth
minute. Before the break, Kazakhstan’s team was losing, 4-0, but in the 43rd minute Rauan Issaliyev finally scored. Earlier, Kazakhstan’s team won its first victory in the World Championship on January 29, defeating Norway by a score of 10-1. Vyacheslav Bronnikov, Rauan Issaliyev and Sergey Pochkunov were the stars of the game. The victory allowed Kazakhstan to move ahead of Norway in the standings, moving from fifth to fourth place. Earlier, Russia had defeated the Kazakhstan team by 6-4, even though Bronnikov scored first for Kazakhstan in the fourth minute of the game. And on January 28, Sweden beat Kazakhstan, 9-2. In the group stage Kazakhstan also beat Finland and Belarus, which allowed it to take the third place in the group stage.
The Bandy World Championship finals were held in Sweden and Norway and this year were played from January 27 to February 3. Games were played in Vaenersborg, Gothenburg, Trollhaettan and Oslo. The Bandy World Championship finals are organised on a play-all system with each team playing all the others. The four with the most points meet again in the semifinals. Russia was the favourite to win. Its team had won the World Cup six times before. However, the Russians got off to a slow start this time, losing their first game to Sweden. Bandy is a team game played on ice in which skaters use sticks to hit a ball into the opposing team’s goal.
Kazakhstan’s athletes are preparing for a major international tournament to be held in memory of the famous American wrestler, Olympic and world champion Dave Schultz. The event is so significant that several teams, including four groups in Colorado Springs, have begun preparation well ahead of the competition. The joint training, led by the Kazakh team’s head coach, Tanat Sagyndykov, and the American wrestlers, was in a mode of constant competition. Kazakh athletes held four friendly matches with constantly changing U.S. teams and won three games. The Kazakhstan team dominated at the start, taking over with a score of 7-0. The early victory was followed by a loss, 3-4. The Central Asian athletes then regrouped and won the last two matches with two scores of 5-2. According to the press service of the Wrestling Federation of Kazakhstan, in the last match two Kazakh wrestlers, Maksat Erezhepov (weight category up to 74 kg) and Nursultan Kalmyrzayev (55 kg) were injured and could not finish the fight. In the four matches against the American teams, Sagyndykov’s wrestlers were tested. Kazakhstan’s Greco-Roman wrestlers Nursultan Kalmyrzayev (55 kg); Erbol Kikbayev, Nurgalym Kuandyk and Almat Kebispaev (60 kg); Erbol Konyratov and Askhat Zhanbyrov (66 kg); Maksat Erezhepov (74 kg); Alkhazur Ozdiev and Nursultan Tursynov (84 kg); Erulan Iskakov and Zhanarbek Kabdolov (96 kg) and Nurmakhan Tynaliev (120 kg) showed themselves to be highly experienced athletes capable of international success.
Nationwide Ice Fishing Championship Draws Country’s Best Fishermen
Pikes and bass are typical fish caught by ice fishermen across Kazakhstan in the winter months.
By Manshuk Bekentayeva ASTANA – The Kazakhstan National Ice Fishing Championship was held under the auspices of the Federation of Sport Fishing of the Republic of Kazakhstan from January 18 to January 20 on Lake Balkhash. The championship has already become a tradition for fans of winter fishing and every year brings together anglers and athletes to demonstrate their ice fishing skills. As expected, the discipline was represented by teams from the regions traditionally famous for their ice fishing achievements. In particular, two teams from the Pavlodar region -- Irtyshane and Hunting for Fishing, two teams from the Karaganda region -- Karaganda and Karaganda Big Fish, one team each from Kostanay and Semey, and three teams from the Almaty region -- Balychok.kz, fishing.kz and Team of Almaty, participated in the championship.
Teams from the northern regions demonstrated their advanced ice fishing and teamwork skills. The tone of the event included lots of camaraderie among the teams, which shared their experiences, sports gear, and expertise. Ultimately, first and second place went to two Pavlodar teams -- Hunting Fishing and Irtyshane -- respectively. Third place went to Team of Almaty. Fourth place was awarded to the team from Semey, fifth place was awarded to the team from Karaganda and sixth went to the representatives of Kostanay. The stakes were exceptionally high at the event for the fishermen because they were also competing to represent Kazakhstan in the 10th annual World Ice Fishing Championship in Wausau, United States. The United States Freshwater Fishing Federation and the City of Wausau will be hosting the WIFC X at the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir Feb. 11-17, 2013. In 2012, the 9th World Ice-Fishing Championship was held in the
Republic of Kazakhstan in the Almaty Region at the Kapchagai Reservoir on Blue Bay February 6-12. That was the first time the WIFC was held in Asia. The National Team of Kaza-
khstan will be competing against international teams from the United States (2010 WIFC winner), Estonia, Finland, Japan, Belarus (2012 WIFC winner), Lithuania, Poland, Russia (2008-09 WIFC winner) Sweden, Ukraine (2011 WIFC winner) and Mongolia. Mongolia will be competing for the first time in their country’s history. The international contingent of anglers will bring top expertise, cutting-edge ice fishing techniques, baits and gear to the championship. After five days of pre-fishing on the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir, the winner of the 10th WIFC will be determined over two days of icefishing over two heats on February 16-17. Teams will draw for their sectors and fish a three-hour heat. The combined weights for each team will determine overall rank and score, with the winning world championship team crowned on February 17. The strongest ice anglers, numerous champions of regional and republican competitions earned spots on the national team of Kazakhstan. The 10th World Ice Fishing Championship offers not only the opportunity for great fishing, but also the opportunity for Kazakhstan’s teams to break through on an international level.
Alexey Poltoranin Wins Cross-Country World Cup Races
By Dannar Kalikhan Kazakhstan’s skiing champion Alexey Poltoranin has secured victory in the men’s 15-kilometre classical mass start race in La Clusaz France in the cross-country World Cup on January 19. Poltoranin has been enjoying a successful season. Just recently, He has won several World Cup stages and won the gold medal in the Continental Cup. It was Poltoranin’s second crosscountry skiing World Cup victory in his career. The 25-year-old sportsman claimed his best World Cup results in a victory in a 15kilometre classic in Davos in December 2010. He also took second place in the freestyle race at Gaellivare in 2012 and was third in the Ruka Triple. Those good performances came to fruition in La Clusaz as the Kazakhstan skier won a tight 15-kilometre classic mass start. He won the men’s 15-kilometre classical-style mass start race in a sprint finish, beating Russia’s Alexander Bessmertnykh by 0.01
seconds. In fact, in a tantalizing twist, Bessmertnykh began celebrating his victory too soon before he had realized how close Poltoranin was, but it was too late for him to beat the Kazakhstan skier’s finish thrust. Switzerland’s Dario Cologna was just behind them, finishing third. Cross-country skiing is one of the most popular sports in many countries with large snowfields, mainly in Northern Europe and Canada. Cross-country skiing is also popular in the United States. The origin of cross-country skiing dates back to the ancient days. The sport was developed in Norway, where skiing was practiced as a means of transport during the winter season. The modern form of the sport evolved during the late nineteenth century. Cross-country skiing involves mainly three styles: classic, skating and telemarking. It is becoming more and more popular among skiers. The Federation Internationale de Ski or the FIS at the international level governs many elite events.
The Astana Times
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Astana to Introduce New Venue for Connoisseurs of Art By Bektur Kadyrov ASTANA – In late January, a new State Opera and Ballet Theatre “Astana Opera” welcomed the journalists. The first season is to be opened in April 2013. The new theatre headed by well-known composer and public figure Tolegen Mukhamedzhanov is going to be the largest one in Central Asia. The construction of Astana Opera is winding down. The main hall has 1,250 seats, of which 450 are in the stalls, the rest are in the four tiers, designed in the Italian style, organized around the perimeter. In addition to the main stage, there is a chamber music hall for 250 seats, two large, six small and 11 additional rooms for rehearsals. For chorus and ballet troops, two separate rooms were designed. The main stage impresses with its area, which is about 400 square metres with additional side stage of 768 square metres. The orchestra pit was designed for 120 musicians. Overall, the scene represents an engineering and technological wonder. The acoustics system installed by German specialists makes the sound characteristics unique, leaving no part of the hall unreachable by the sound. It could be confidently stated that Astana Opera is bound to enter the ranks of world’s best theatres, along with La Scala, San Carlo and Bolshoi. Designers and architects from Switzerland, Italy, Albania, Morocco, Russia, and Kazakhstan were jointly developing the project of the theatre. The opening of the theatre is awaited in the second half of June and will be timed to the Day of the Capital. The world premiere here is scheduled on October 20-21. “Aida” by Verdi will open the first theatrical season of Astana Opera, performed together with the San Carlo Theatre. A group of artists from the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia is going to come for the premiere too. Other facilities of the theatre will include a museum and a ballet school, to ensure children have wide access to the beautiful art.
The spectacular hall of the Astana Opera is awaiting art connoisseurs.
In Astana, National Light Rail System to Come to Astana by 2017 Tennis Team Advances to Davis Cup Quarterfinals By Aibek Otarbayev
By Askar Beysenbayev ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s national tennis team has advanced to the Davis Cup quarterfinals against the Czech Republic after their spectacular win over Austria in the Davis Cup first round held here on Feb. 1 and 3. Andrey Golubev defeated Jurgen Melzer in the final match and led Kazakhstan to the Davis Cup quarterfinals. After the outstanding victory over Austrian team with the score 2-0 in the first day of the tournaments, the Kazakhs athletes were only to succeed in the remaining three matches. One of the most intense was the Saturday’s doubles match. Austrians Julian Knowle and Alexander Peya understood the importance of the game and put out their best against Andrey Golubev and Yuriy Schukin. In the first game, the Kazakh players confidently led with 40:0, but the guests surpassed themselves having recouped the remaining reserves and ended the game in their favour. Further, they only increased their advantage to 3:1. But our pair “came round” and even were able to level the draw – 3-3. Then it all went on the “swing” and the fate of the first set was de-
cided in a tie-break, which Andrey and Yuri lost (5-7). The second draw marked by great margin of Austrian players was also won by them with the score 6-3. The third deciding set was very difficult. The opponents, “fighting to the bitter end”, again came to the tie-break, and the guests, who were stronger - 7:3, won the match: 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 7-6 (7:3). Thus the fate of the whole series depended on Sunday’s individual meetings of Andrey Golubev and Yugeni Korolev with Jurgen Melzer and Andreas Haider-Maurer respectively. The first game of our 30thranked tennis player went unlucky, thus all hopes were placed on this meeting. Fortunately, Golubev, strengthening reserves and carefully playing on the back line, held three sets, literally, in one breath, and won with the score of 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 thereby bringing his team another victory. Kazakhstan repeated its success of two years ago and again reached the Davis Cup quarterfinals, where our players will meet the current holders of the Cup, the Czech Republic, led by the 6th ranked tennis player of the world, Tomas Berdych.
Andrey Golubev and Jurgen Melzer
A new light rail transportation system is due to appear in Astana by 2017. According to the akimat (district government) of Astana’s Saryarka district, up to 50 light trains will operate. Currently, on the instructions of the President and the Government of Kazakhstan, Astana City’s akimat (government) is implementing a project called “New Transport System of Astana City”. It envisages the creation of a rapid light rail transit system, which will become a major trasport system for the capital combinig all transport means of the city. The project will be executed in three stages. The total length of light rail line will be 42.1 kilometres. The on-the-ground part of the light rail sys-
tem will be more than 12 kilometres long, while the elevated part will stretch for 30 kilometres. Given Astana’s continental climatic contitions, it is planned to build enclosed-type ventilated heated stations. To ensure safety and convenience for passengers there will be subways at the stations, equipped with elevators and escalators. The platforms will be separated physically from the tramway by the system of automatic access with glass doors opening simultaneously with a tram’s doors. In 2017, Astana is preparing to host the specialized international exhibition EXPO 2017 which is expected to draw several million visitors to the city over a span of three months. (This story uses information provided by Astana City’s akimat at www.astana.kz)