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Astana Calling

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Kazakhstan

Central Communications Service for the President of Kazakhstan


Kazakhstan and Russia: Ten Years in Tandem Cooperation Forum takes place in Yekaterinburg

Canadian Foreign Minister Visits Astana Major step forward in Kazakhstan-Canada Relations

Sixth Civil Forum Gathers in Astana Non-governmental sector discusses its role in modernization of Kazakhstan

Culture Minister Announces Shake-Up of National Television

The History of the Turkic and Turgesh Khanates

More emphasis on Kazakh language programming

News from the Government in Brief

Also in the News

Historic Kazakhstan

The two Presidents share a lighter moment in Yekaterinburg this week

Kazakhstan and Russia: Ten Years in Tandem President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and President Vladimir Putin of Russia met on November 10-11 in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg for the Tenth Inter-Regional Cooperation Forum between their countries. The focus of the Forum was industrial cooperation, and it was attended by representatives from a number of regions in both countries. The two Presidents took part in the plenary session and gave a joint press briefing. The Forum concluded with the signing of an Agreement between Kazakhstan and Russia on Good-Neighborliness and Cooperation in the 21st Century. President Nazarbayev thanked his hosts for their hospitality and said: “Ten years ago we initiated this Forum. In the years since then it has come to be highly valued and has become an important part of the cooperation between our two countries. I should say that in the post-Soviet space it is Kazakhstan and Russia which have done the most to preserve the links between people, between enterprises and between our economies. We are neighbors and you don’t choose your neighbors. Our ancestors lived side-by-side; we do as well; and those that come after us will live in this way, too. It is important to work at improving our relations – this is the basis for the life of future generations.” For his part, President Putin also spoke about the importance of the Forum and of maintaining good relations with Kazakhstan. “In the course of my talks with the President of Kazakhstan,” Mr Putin said, “and then at the plenary session, we discussed the most crucial questions of our multi-sided partnership. The Inter-Regional Cooperation Forum has been held every year since 2003 and it plays an important role in the development of our bilateral, practical cooperation. We’ve examined important questions such as the potential of our region for transit transportation; the strengthening of our cooperation in the energy field; in the matter of sustainable economic development; and in high technology.” President Nazarbayev spoke about the importance of the Customs Union, created between Kazakhstan and Russia, along with Belarus, and the Single Economic Space. Not only do these help to provide a firm basis for the development of bilateral relations, the President commented that they were also playing an important part in Kazakhstan’s progress towards joining the World Trade Organization. Turning to the results of the Forum, President Nazarbayev said that they had discussed a large number of issues relating to relations between Kazakhstan and Russia, and that the two sides had strengthened trade and economic cooperation at the Forum. He said that the agreements reached at the Forum would give, “a new dynamic to the strategic partnership” between Kazakhstan and Russia. As an illustration of the strength of the relationship, President Putin pointed out that in just the first nine months of this year the trade turnover between the two countries had increased by 15% to USD 18bn. As well as the keynote Agreement on Good-Neighborliness and Cooperation in the 21st Century, a string of other agreements were signed on a number of aspects of industrial cooperation; on fighting forest fires in border areas; and a preliminary agreement on the transportation of oil through the territory of Kazakhstan. The next session of the Forum will take place in 2014 in the city of Atyrau in Kazakhstan, at a date to be confirmed.

“There is huge potential for partnership in the fields of electro-energy; agriculture; and the development of the transit potential of our countries. We’re opening up completely new horizons for cooperation in the area of science.” President Nazarbayev


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President Nazarbayev and Foreign Minister Baird in Astana this week

Canadian Foreign Minister Visits Astana Canada’s Foreign Minister, John Baird, made an official visit to Astana this week, marking an important step forward in relations between Kazakhstan and Canada. Although diplomatic relations were established between the two countries in 1992, there have been few direct official contacts. President Nazarbayev made an official visit to Canada, in June 2003; but other than this and some ministerial visits, most high-level meetings have taken place during summit meetings of international organizations. President Nazarbayev held a meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, in November 2010 on the margins of a NATO meeting in Lisbon. The two leaders met again in September this year on the fringes of the G20 meeting to which President Nazarbayev was invited by the host, President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Meetings between the Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan and Canada have also occurred as part of wider meetings. There were two meetings between the then Foreign Ministers in 2010, at an informal meeting in Almaty of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and at the United Nations in September that year. The current Foreign Ministers, Erlan Idrissov of Kazakhstan and Mr Baird, met for the first time almost exactly a year ago in Abu Dhabi. And it was following a meeting at this September’s G20 meeting that this week’s visit to Astana by Mr Baird was arranged. Kazakhstan and Canada have much in common. They are both large countries with comparatively small populations – Canada is the world’s second largest country, with a population of around 34m people; Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country, with 17m people. Both countries have similar continental climates. It follows that agriculture was high on the agenda of subjects for discussion during Mr Baird’s visit this week. Agriculture has been discussed at previous meetings, and in May this year the Canadian Agriculture Minister, Gerry Ritz, spent almost a week in Kazakhstan. An agricultural delegation from Alberta Province also visited Astana and Kostanay Region. Both sides are keen to improve political dialogue, too. Mr Baird met with President Nazarbayev this week. He also discussed trade and investment with Kazakhstan’s government ministers, and met with Nurlan Nigmatulin, Chairman of the Majilis. Canada was Kazakhstan’s tenth largest trading partner in 2012, with bilateral trade standing at USD 3.3bn, a 17% increase on the previous year. Greater cooperation between national law enforcement agencies and the possible easing of visa restrictions between Kazakhstan and Canada were also touched upon. One area of particular significance which featured prominently in the Canadian Foreign Minister’s talks was the question of nuclear energy. In one of his previous governmental posts, Mr Baird was Canada’s Minister for the Environment, and he remains convinced of the ecological advantages of nuclear energy. Perhaps the strongest legacy of this visit will be the Agreement on Cooperation in the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy, signed by the two governments. This gives a legal basis for future cooperation in this sphere and opens the way for Kazakhstan to make use of Canada’s technology and its tried and tested experience. On the other side of the nuclear coin, Canada is also a strong supporter of the non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament policy actively pursued by Kazakhstan. This promises to be a key factor in further strengthening relations between Kazakhstan and Canada.

“The whole world knows Kazakhstan as a dynamically-growing state, and your President Nursultan Nazarbayev is known as a leader in the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.” John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 330 / 3

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Minister of Culture and Information, Mukhtar Kul-Mukhammed

Culture Minister Announces Shake-Up of National Television When President Nazarbayev criticized a number of aspects of the work of the government on October 11, he pointed out that a number of media outlets either do not present information in an objective fashion or simply repeat what can be found elsewhere. The Minister of Culture and Information, Mukhtar Kul-Mukhammed, responded to the President’s words this week and announced some radical changes, especially in television. Speaking about the criticism which the President levelled at the media, Mr Kul-Mukhammed said that it was, “not only justified but had a strategic foundation.” He went on to emphasize the role which the media should play in helping Kazakhstan to progress: “If our country puts before itself a challenging aim – to become one of the 30 most developed countries in the world – then the media must face up to that task, too.” One immediate change being implemented is the amalgamation from January of two TV channels – “Bilim” and “Medeniet”. This follows the President’s comments that there are channels which are simply copying each other. The Culture Minister was keen to point out that there are some notable successes in the media in Kazakhstan, especially in TV. The 24-hour channel, “24KZ” has been broadcasting for just over a year, but has already become, “for many people of Kazakhstan one of the main sources of lively and reliable video-information at any hour of the day or night”. Similarly, the Minister emphasized the success of the international station, “Kazakh TV”. “Kazakh TV” broadcasts in three languages, Kazakh, Russian and English and can be accessed in 93 countries around the world. “This channel,” he told the briefing, “objectively informs an international audience about the realities and achievements of our country. I wouldn’t say that the channel has yet fulfilled all of the tasks which it has been set. There are still a few problems to be ironed out with the content of the broadcasts and we need to find the optimum language balance. We are currently looking at a number of possibilities to improve the channel.” A major success this year was the start of the “Sport” channel. Mr Kul-Mukhammed noted the channel’s popularity, and said that thanks to the “Sport” channel many people can now watch a great number of different sporting competitions, including those featuring sportsmen and women from Kazakhstan. As Minister of Culture and Information, Mr Kul-Mukhammed is well aware of the role which the media can and must play both in promoting Kazakhstan’s own film and TV production industry, and in encouraging the learning of the Kazakh language. One thing which in recent years has hampered both of these goals has been the practice of buying in Korean and Turkish TV serials. Now this is going to stop. “We have already taken a final decision,” the Minister declared, “to stop buying Korean and Turkish TV serials. The money we save on this will be directed towards the development of our own film industry and home-grown TV serials.” The Minister concluded with a word of warning for TV producers. He reminded them that, under the law of Kazakhstan, 50% of all output must be conducted in the Kazakh language. He himself has held a number of meetings with media editors on this subject, the most recent being on October 21. “They promised me,” he said, “that the situation will be remedied by December.” Any media outlets not complying with the law, Mr Kul-Mukhammed warned, risk being punished – even down to having their licence to broadcast taken away.

“Some television channels, especially non-governmental ones, refuse to show Kazakh language programs at peak viewing times. I consider their objections to be groundless and incorrect.” Mukhtar Kul-Mukhammed, Minister of Culture and Information


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Deputy Head of the Executive Office of the President, Baglan Mailybayev addressed the Forum

Sixth Civil Forum Gathers in Astana The Sixth Civil Forum has been taking place in Astana this week, organized by the Civil Alliance movement and the Ministry of Culture and Education of Kazakhstan. The idea behind the Forum is to confirm the support of the nongovernmental (NGO) sector of Kazakhstan’s society for the social modernization of the country in order to bring about the ideas contained in the Strategy “Kazakhstan-2050”. The main aim of the Strategy is for Kazakhstan to become one of the 30 most developed countries in the world by the middle of this century. This week’s gathering in Astana is developing a dialogue across the country on issues of improving the legal basis of civil society. The Forum deals with organizational matters to ensure that the NGO sector (often referred to as “the Third Sector”) is engaged in the process of social modernization and inter-nation harmony. The Forum took place over two days, November 14 and 15. A packed program started on the morning of November 14 with the opening of an exhibition illustrating the achievements of the NGO sector. After the official opening, the rest of the morning was taken up with a plenary session, in which the Deputy Head of the Executive Office of the President, Baglan Mailybayev spoke. Mr Mailybayev pointed out the strong contribution that Civil Society makes in Kazakhstan saying that, “Civil society has made a significant contribution to the Strategy “Kazakhstan-2050” launched by President Nazarbayev. In order to achieve the main goal of entering the top 30 most developed countries of the world, the state and society will need to take equal responsibility and cooperate constructively.” Other senior government ministers spoke at the plenary session including the Executive Secretary of the Minister of Culture and Information, Zhanna Kurmangaliyeva and the President of the Civic Alliance of Kazakhstan, Nurlan Yerimbetov as well as representatives of the largest NGOs in the country. For the rest of the first day, delegates held a series of meetings with a number of ministers and representatives of government departments. The second day was divided into a series of sessions looking at topics such as, “The participation of NGOs in regional development and local self-government”; “Cooperation with International and Foreign NGOs”; and “The Role of NGOs in National Projects”, such as the “Green Bridge” ecological initiative and the EXPO-2017 event taking place in Astana in four years’ time. The second day concluded with the “Tanim” awards ceremony for outstanding achievements by NGOs. This week’s meeting is simply the most visible element of the work of the Civil Forum. Throughout September and October a series of local forums have taken place in regional centers and also in the cities of Astana and Almaty to discuss the issues at hand and to select delegates to the Sixth Civil Forum. These meetings were followed by a meeting of the Government’s Coordinating Council for Working with NGOs, and meetings of NGO leaders. After this week’s gathering, the concluding phase of the Sixth Civil Forum will take place, as delegates report back to their local organizations on the results of the Astana meeting. These meetings should be completed by the end of December, and it is hoped that the NGOs will have suitable inspiration to carry forward the results of the Forum into the New Year and towards the goal of 2050.

“This gathering of the Civil Forum will help civil society and NGOs to discuss the burning questions such as the relationship between civil society and the state, and relations within the Third Sector itself.” Nurlan Yerimbetov, President of the Civic Alliance of Kazakhstan


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Historic Kazakhstan

The History of the Turkic and Turgesh Khanates - Part One: The Origins of the Turks The government of Kazakhstan is making considerable efforts to equip Kazakhstanis with a firm understanding of the country’s history, in line with President Nazarbayev’s call for Kazakhstan to have an objective understanding of its past. As part of this effort, the Ministry of Education and Science is leading the work on a program called “A People in the Flow of History”. Over the coming weeks, Astana Calling will be publishing a series of items charting the course of Kazakhstan’s history from the Middle Ages through to independence in 1991. This article, in two parts, looks at the Turkic Khanate (552-704 AD), which brought new peoples and cultures into the territory of modern Kazakhstan and took Turkic-speaking peoples to the borders of Europe. Between the 2nd and 5th centuries AD, the ethno-political map of Kazakhstan and Central Asia was in a state of considerable flux as numerous groups of Turkic-speaking tribes settled in the region. By the 6th century, however, the powerful and dominant Ashina tribe had emerged to govern the territory of Kazakhstan and establish the Turkic Khanate.

The first reference to the term “Turk” is found in Chinese historical annals dating to 542 AD – the Chinese thought the Turks to be descendants of the Huns. The Turks were strengthened after a significant military victory in 546 AD, and in the spring of 552 AD, the leader of the Turks, Bumin, led his army to a crushing defeat over their overlords, the Avars. It was following this victory that the Turks established the Turkic Khanate, or Turkic Empire with Bumin Khan as supreme leader. Though Bumin Khan died shortly afterwards in 553 AD, the Turkic Khanate achieved political supremacy in Central Asia under his descendant Mukan Khagan (553-572 AD). Mukan Khagan conquered the Khitans of Manchuria as well as the Kyrgyz on the Yenisei (river). The northern part of China even became a client-state of the Turkic Khanate. The Turks moved further into Central Asia eventually taking control of the strategically-important and lucrative “Silk Road” leading to the Mediterranean Sea. As the Turks pushed westwards they encountered the powerful Persian and Byzantine empires. Eventually, the Turks were defeated by the Persians at Herat in 588. This resulted in the formation of the Western Turkic Khanate which stretched from the oases of Eastern Turkestan to the Amu Darya river in Central Asia, and from the Volga region to the North Caucasus. The ethno-political core of the Western Turkic Khanate were the “ten tribes” or “Onoq Budun”. Five Dulo tribes settled to the east of the Chu river – a river that runs through northern Kyrgyzstan and southern Kazakhstan. To the West of the Chu, the five Nushibi tribes settled. The Khanate’s capital was the city of Suyab (near Tokmak in Kyrgyzstan), with its summer residence in Ming-Bulag, near the city of Turkestan in Kazakhstan. The Khanate reached the extent of its power during the reigns of Jegui Khagan (610-618) and his younger brother, Jhabgu Khagan (618-630). Under their rule, military victories in Afghanistan and Tocharistan were achieved which enabled the state to extend its borders to northern India. The most important person in the Khanate was “Khagan” – the supreme ruler and military commander. The majority of the population, though, was nomadic or semi-nomadic populations involved in agricultural activity. The city and steppe were interdependent units within the Khanate. The Turks usually preserved the social, economic and political systems in the lands they conquered but tribute was taken. Ruling such a large empire became more and more difficult. There was a frequent change of rulers and a number of internal wars over the period 640-657 AD led to invasion by the Tang Empire. Internal weaknesses and foreign invasion led to the rise in power of the Turgeshes who in 704 AD established political hegemony of the region putting an end to the Turkic Khanate. Next week’s Astana Calling (edition 331) will examine the Turgesh Khanate in historical perspective. ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 330 / 6

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News from the Government in Brief Akim of Mangistau speaks out The website published a wide-ranging interview with the Governor (akim) of Mangistau Region on November 11. Alik Aydarbayev is known as the “youngest” akim in Kazakhstan – not because of his age, but because he has been in the post only since January 18 this year. This is his first post in government service since leaving the world of business. Mr Aydarbayev said that he believes that coming from the business world gives him a great advantage, as he takes a fresh approach to the challenges he faces. He believes in meeting the people, talking to them and finding out their hopes and ambitions, as well as the problems they face. He believes that through the media he can find out about issues that require attention. And he is prepared to tell central government that unless the budget is handled in the way it would be dealt with in a business, he will continue not only to underspend, but to send the money back to central government. He said that he regularly visits the oil town of Zhanaozen where there were riots in 2011 that led to tragic loss of life. He described the town as stable but noted that work is still underway to address local problems. (

Innovation economy in Kazakhstan: seminar A seminar took place in Astana on November 11 entitled, “The Innovation Economy in Kazakhstan: the Model for Commercialising Technology”. The seminar was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister, Yerbol Orynbayev, parliamentary deputies, government workers, academics and representatives of international organizations. Two days later, Mr Orynbayev went to a meeting of the Ministry of Education and Science that discussed priorities for the development of education and science in Kazakhstan in the period 2014-2016. (

Senior Swiss official in Astana The Chairman of the Council of Cantons (Upper Chamber) of Switzerland, Filippo Lombardi, made an official visit to Astana on November 12-14 and held talks with a number of senior Kazakhstan officials, including President Nazarbayev. The President welcomed Mr Lombardi, and said, “20 years ago we established diplomatic relations with Switzerland. We have developed a healthy trade relationship, and mutual investment is growing. We are very interested in furthering the positive dynamic of our bilateral relationship.” After the talks, which focussed on bilateral inter-parliamentary relations, and cooperation in the areas of new technology and energy, as well as mutual interaction within international organizations, Mr Lombardi said, “We wish to register our support for EXPO-2017, and express our admiration for the achievements of Kazakhstan in many areas, not least the economy and all you are doing to ensure stability and peace in the region.” (,

President Nazarbayev and Mr Lombardi in discussion

NATO official praises Kazakhstan-NATO cooperation James Appathurai, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, has given an interview at NATO Headquarters in Brussels for journalists from Kazakhstan. He described Kazakhstan as NATO’s “most active and reliable partner in Central Asia”, and said that NATO hopes to continue its cooperation with Kazakhstan on the future stability of Afghanistan; the battles against terrorism and drug-trafficking; and the guarantee of international peace and stability. Mr Appathurai said that Kazakhstan had very quickly worked out an individual partnership plan with NATO and that bilateral relations are well developed. He expressed his gratitude to Kazakhstan for its cooperation as a transit base for loads going into Afghanistan. He added that Kazakhstan plays a leading role in the Istanbul Process and in trying to find a long-term solution to the question of stability in Afghanistan. (


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Also in The News… • President attends Kazakhstan’s Cup Final President Nazarbayev was at the Astana Arena stadium on Sunday, November 10 to see Shakhtar Karagandy lift the Kazakhstan Cup for the first time after beating Taraz 1-0. The President presented the Cup to the winning captain, Andrei Finonchenko, and Michel Platini, the President of UEFA, presented the players with their medals. Winning the Cup means that Shakhtar Karagandy will once again enter the Europa League next season. Kazakhstan’s representative in the qualifying rounds of the European Champions League will be Aktobe, who clinched the league title for a fifth time on November 2. (, • Kazakhstan establishes diplomatic relations with Belize On November 11 Kazakhstan established diplomatic relations with Belize. Belize is in the north-east of Central America, bordering Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west. The documents establishing relations were signed in the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Washington DC. Kairat Umarov, the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the US, signed on behalf of Kazakhstan, and Nestor Mendez, Belize’s Ambassador to the US, signed on behalf of his country. ( • Space launch from Kazakhstan for Olympic Torch Kazakhstan played its part in a small piece of Olympic history last week when the rocket carrying the Olympic Torch into space was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rocket carried the logo of the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014, and took the Olympic Torch – unlit for safety reasons – into space, where it was then taken on a spacewalk for the first time ever. ( • Extended duties for Environment Minister Kazakhstan’s Minister for the Protection of the Environment, Nurlan Kapparov, was given a change of designation and extra responsibilities this week. Mr Kapparov’s title will now be Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. The change reflects the importance of the water issue in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is attempting to reach agreements with all of its neighbors on the use of water from cross-border rivers. ( • New Head of Taekwondo Federation of Kazakhstan The banker and economist, Vyacheslav Kim, has been elected as the new President of the Taekwondo Federation of Kazakhstan. Mr Kim replaces Shamsat Isabekov, who has run the Federation since 1995. The Federation was founded only in 1991; taekwondo was banned in the Soviet Union. ( • World Champion Boxer joins “Astana” sporting club Kazakhstan’s WBA World Champion middleweight boxer, Gennady Golovkin, travelled to Astana this week following last week’s victory over opponent Curtis Stevens in New York. While in Astana, Golovkin joined the “Astana” sporting club, which has promoted Kazakhstan’s international sporting achievements since its inception in 2012. The “Astana” sporting club brings together leading Kazakhstani sporting clubs and individuals in football, hockey, cycling, basketball and rallying. ( • Astana Opera opens its doors to schools The newly-opened Astana Opera House is offering schoolchildren in the capital’s schools free tours of the building. Children from the fifth to the tenth class (11-16 years of age) will be able to visit the Opera House in groups of up to 40 students and have a comprehensive tour of the building, including the main hall, the museum and backstage. In the longer term it is planned to open up the tours to schools from all over the country. ( • Legatum Institute says prosperity rising in Kazakhstan The international think-tank, the Legatum Institute, rates Kazakhstan 47th in its recently-published Prosperity Index for 2013, a rise of seven places on its 2012 standing. The Index looks at a number of factors, such as Social Capital, Governance, Education, Personal Freedom and Health in 142 countries. Norway, Switzerland and Canada occupied the top three places. Kazakhstan came out top out of all the countries of the former Soviet Union. Belarus was next (58th) and then Russia in 61st place. (



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