Page 1

Astana Calling

Issue No 280 FRIDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2012 A weekly online publication of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Astana wins bid to host EXPO 2017 Beats challenge by Belgium’s Liège

President Nazarbayev meets President Hollande in Paris Discusses bilateral trade and cooperation

Kazakhstan’s OIC Chairmanship

Minister of Internal Affairs Addresses Parliament

Foreign Minister addresses OIC Council of Ministers

Updates on criminal justice system reforms

Things to Watch

Also in the News

Deputy Prime Minister Kairat Kelimbetov and Mayor of Astana Imangali Tasmagambetov at a press conference in Paris on Tuesday ahead of the BIE vote

Astana wins bid to host EXPO 2017 103 of the 161 member states of the International Expositions Bureau (BIE) voted in Paris on November 22 in favour of Astana’s bid to host the International EXPO 2017 on the theme of “Future Energy”. This is the first time that a BIE event has been awarded to a city on the territory of the former Soviet Union. BIE countries chose between the bids of Astana and the Belgian city of Liège. EXPO 2017 will take place in Astana between June 10 and September 10 2017 Astana’s victory is the culmination of a long promotional campaign to persuade BIE member states of the advantages of Astana’s bid that will address the urgent challenge of developing alternative energy solutions in a city that symbolises the spirit of innovation. Before the vote on November 22, Deputy Prime Minister Kelimbetov addressed the BIE General Assembly and explained that Kazakhstan’s EXPO 2017 reflects the country’s commitment to “green” its economy in line with President Nazarbayev’s initiatives to protect the planet. These began with the decisions to shut down the world’s largest nuclear testing site and voluntarily give up the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal. The Deputy Prime Minister outlined the steps that Kazakhstan has already taken to promote renewable energy sources and transition to a green economy. He also pointed out that Kazakhstan is committed to helping developing countries find alternative sources of energy: “An EXPO-2017 Assistance Fund is already up and running in Kazakhstan. Its aim is to support research in future energy and it will help train skilled professionals from developing countries at Nazarbayev University in the development and introduction of renewable energy sources. We have already begun funding research and development projects in developing countries”, Mr Kelimbetov said.

“We are fully aware of the historic responsibility that rests on us. This is the first time that EXPO will be held in the center of the huge Eurasian continent. I am sure that the international exhibition “Future Energy” will give a powerful impulse to transformations in world energy. Kazakhstan will do its maximum to ensure it takes place at the highest level.” President Nazarbayev

Astana’s EXPO 2017 bid builds on Kazakhstan’s initiative to establish a “Green Bridge Partnership” to bring together governments, international organizations and private business to find transnational solutions to sustainable growth. At a regional level, the initiative aims to address many issues in Central Asia and the CIS that are related to energy and environmental security, including water. By hosting EXPO-2017, Astana intends to be a showcase for demonstrating the latest global developments in these areas and become a hub for developing alternative energy solutions across Central Asia. Kazakhstan has enormous potential in renewable energy, particularly in wind and solar. Wind power can potentially produce 25 times more energy in a year than is currently produced from its hydrocarbons. The Government also sees vast opportunities to conserve energy, including at the consumer end by 50-60%. Urgent steps are already being taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Kazakhstan will be the first CIS country to launch a cap and trade system starting in January 2013.


Back to Contents

President Hollande receives President Nazarbayev at the Elysee Palace

President Nazarbayev meets President Hollande in Paris President Nazarbayev met with France’s President François Hollande during a visit to France on November 21-23, his tenth since diplomatic relations between the two countries were established 20 years ago, and his first since President Hollande took office in May 2012. The two Presidents discussed issues of bilateral trade and cooperation on the economic, cultural and humanitarian fronts. President Nazarbayev described France as one of Kazakhstan’s leading trade partners and underlined the need to take economic relations to an even higher level. This will involve activating the work of the Kazakhstan-France Business Council and the Inter-governmental Commission on Economic Cooperation. The President talked about Kazakhstan’s program of accelerated industrial-innovative development. There was also discussion of establishing direct flights between Astana and Paris. President Nazarbayev noted Kazakhstan’s interest in cooperating with France in the area of education and research and development. President Nazarbayev invited President Hollande to make an official visit to Kazakhstan. At a press briefing after the meeting, President Nazarbayev noted that Kazakhstan and France are cooperating on 27 major joint projects and that annual meetings of the Nazarbayev-Hollande commission will continue to maintain the progress of these projects. “I believe that our cooperation in the economic, political and humanitarian-educational sphere will continue for the benefit of the interests of both sides”, the President said. Among a series of meetings with leading members of the French business community, President Nazarbayev met with Alstom chairman, Patrick Kron. Alstom, the world’s largest power equipment and rail manufacturer, will soon begin a joint venture with Kazakhstan Railways to produce electric locomotives.

“On December 4, we are planning to open a joint locomotives factory in Kazakhstan. We have also a lot of projects for the future. This is a joint venture for the production of switch gear and training for your locomotive drivers. Also, we are very interested in participating in the project for the development of public transport, which is light rail trams in Astana and Almaty.” Patrick Kron, Chairman of Alstom

Since 1994 French companies have invested over USD 9 billion in Kazakhstan and the level of investment has intensified in recent years, with more than 100 joint enterprises now in operation. Investors include major enterprises such as Alstom, Areva, Bouygues, EADS Eurocopter, Lactalis, Thales, Total, Vinci and Vika. Trade turnover between France and Kazakhstan has risen in recent years, to reach USD 6 billion in 2011, an increase of 20% over the 2010 figure. Growth has continued this year, when trade between January and August amounted to USD 4.9 billion, an increase of 32% over the comparable 2011 period.

During the visit, President Nazarbayev also met with Bernard Bigot, Chairman of France’s Atomic Energy Commission and JeanPierre Talamoni, Director of International Development of EADS, the aerospace and defense group. A meeting also took place with prominent French economist and writer Jacques Attali, first President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.


Back to Contents

Foreign Minister Idrissov (left) together with the Secretary General of the OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (middle) and Djibouti’s Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf

Kazakhstan’s OIC Chairmanship As Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the 57-country Organization of Islamic Cooperation drew to a close, Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov summed up its achievements. Mr Idrissov was addressing the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the OIC on November 15, when he passed on the Chairmanship to his counterpart in Djibouti. Acknowledging that Kazakhstan held the Chair during one of the most turbulent periods in the modern history of the Islamic world, Mr Idrissov said that the overarching goal of the Chairmanship had been to strengthen the global competitiveness of the Islamic Ummah (or collective nation) across the political, economic, socio-cultural and ideological spheres. To this end, a clearly-defined agenda emphasized a more active political role for the OIC in the international arena, promoted social and economic programs and the modernization of the Muslim world, and achieved substantial reforms of the OIC itself, said Mr Idrissov. He listed the three guiding principles that had governed Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship: as Peace, Cooperation and Development. In relation to Peace, the biggest challenge was to manage the situation in the Middle East in the wake of uprisings in many countries of North Africa and the Middle East. Kazakhstan worked to ensure the success of the political transitions that were set in motion, to create and sustain the political and economic conditions for statebuilding and, importantly, to prevent Islamic nations from falling into the hands of extremists. Mr Idrissov said that the OIC must continue to encourage dialogue, support stability and uphold the values that unite its member nations. Other areas where Kazakhstan worked to support peace were in the situation in Syria, in promoting the cause of Palestine and in upholding peace within OIC member states - not only in North Africa and the Middle East, but also in Afghanistan, Mali, the Philippines, Somalia and Sudan.


Back to Contents

Another area of focus was the development of religious dialogue platforms to promote peace and security within the OIC area. Mr Idrissov said that the OIC must continue to speak out against hatred, intolerance and Islamophobia and to condemn all acts of terrorism. He commended the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, to set up an International Center for Dialogue between Islamic sects, in Vienna. Mr Idrissov expressed the belief that since the 2011 meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Astana, the OIC has been inspired by the cooperative “spirit of Astana”, which was clearly manifested in the change in name from the Organization of Islamic Conference to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Cooperation, the second guiding principle of Kazakhstan’s CFM Chairmanship, was also the driving force that launched the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission, which Mr Idrissov described as one of the biggest achievements of the OIC in recent years. Kazakhstan worked with other OIC members to raise over USD 500 million for aid to Somalia, to advance the implementation of the OIC Water Concept, and to achieve deeper interactions between the OIC and other international organizations such as the European Union, the OSCE and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The adoption of the OIC Plan of Action for Central Asia was another important achievement of Kazakhstan’s CFM Chairmanship and Mr Idrissov called on member states to support its ongoing implementation. Development was the third priority of Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship and its importance was clear from the outset, when in June 2011 Astana hosted the 7th World Islamic Economic Forum on the theme of “Global Economic Development”. Mr Idrissov added that Kazakhstan is now joining with the Islamic Development Bank to launch a Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Fund, and is working to establish the KazAid Agency, which will channel large-scale technical assistance to other OIC states and Central Asian countries.

“Much work still lies ahead of us in order to further promote peace, cooperation and development. Rest assured that although Kazakhstan will now be handing over the Chairmanship of the Council of Foreign Ministers to Djibouti, we will remain actively engaged in OIC matters in order to help move forward the many initiatives that have been taken during our Chairmanship, and to achieve the objectives of the OIC.” Erlan Idrissov

Kazakhstan supports the sustainable development of natural resources and Mr Idrissov reminded his audience of the “Green Bridge” initiative of Kazakhstan, which promotes the development of green economies across the world. Sustainable development is also a key issue in relation to food security, which motivated Kazakhstan to propose the establishment of the OIC Food Security Office in Astana. Speaking at the CFM meeting, President of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh, and Foreign Ministers of the OIC member states commended Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the OIC and noted the relevance of initiatives put forward by President Nazarbayev in addressing the major issues of the Islamic Ummah. OIC Secretary General, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, described it as one of the most brilliant chapters in the history of the Organization.


Back to Contents

Minister of Internal Affairs, Kalmukhanbet Kassymov

Minister of Internal Affairs Addresses Parliament Minister of Internal Affairs, Kalmukhanbet Kassymov, addressed the Mazhilis (Parliament) this week with an update on the reforms to the criminal justice system and anti-terrorism measures. In August 2010 President Nazarbayev issued a decree on measures to improve the criminal justice system and law enforcement in Kazakhstan. This followed a series of measures and legislation on security sector reform over the previous decade. Minister Kassymov said that measures to expose corruption had resulted in criminal proceedings being taken in 2012 against 25 employees of the Interior Ministry, all accused of covering up crimes. A further 542 Ministry employees were fired for misconduct. The Minister said that reforms initiated by the Prosecutor General last year to ensure that all reports of crime are registered in an objective manner, and in their entirety, have resulted in a 50% increase in crimes registered. However, this does not reflect any increase in the amount of crime committed, but rather an accurate registering of some 75,000 crimes which had previously been concealed, said the Minister. The main types of crime concerned are theft and public order offenses. Mr Kassymov emphasized the importance of maintaining high standards of integrity in the police force and stressed that deficiencies and flaws of a systemic nature which had developed within the police force must be weeded out. The Minister said that since the penitentiary system was brought back under the control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in August 2011, significant steps have been taken towards reform. A review of organizational issues has been completed and a budget of KZT 22 billion (USD 145 million) allocated, to implement a development program for the criminal justice system from 2012 – 2015.

“Together with the Prosecutor General and as directed by the Head of State, since last year we have been keeping to a tough policy to ensure that all reports of crime are registered in an objective manner and in their entirety� Minister of Internal Affairs, Kalmukhanbet Kassymov

The program includes changes to the Criminal Code that will extend the areas in which alternatives to custodial sentences can be applied. A probation service is to begin next year to work with ex-offenders on crime prevention. These measures are expected to result in a reduction in the prison population. Meanwhile, existing prisons are to be renovated or replaced with new correctional facilities built by joint state and private sector partnerships. On the anti-terrorism front, Mr Kassymov said that seven terrorist groups have been intercepted in Kazakhstan this year, resulting in 23 criminal cases involving charges for extremist crimes, as well as the arrest of 18 accomplices who have been charged with criminal liability. The suspected terrorist activities were concentrated in the Aktyubinsk, West Kazakhstan and Atyrau regions. The Minister stressed that, in line with recent amendments to legislation, convicted leaders of organized criminal groups will not be eligible for release on parole.


Back to Contents

Also in The News… • Kazakhstan’s Minister for Economic Integration Zhanar Aitzhanova was in Washington DC this week for a series of meetings in USTR Office, Department of State, and the White House. The purpose of the meetings was to finalize Kazakh-US multilateral talks on WTO accession. Kazakhstan signed a bilateral protocol on goods and services with the U.S. in September 2011. Kazakhstan expects to finalize negotiations with all the WTO members, including the U.S. and EU, during the first half of 2013. (Kazakhstan’s Embassy to the US) • On November 19, President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka began a state visit to Astana that marked 20 years of Kazakh-Sri Lankan relations. President Nazarbayev invited President Rajapaksa to join the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). Both sides also signed an agreement on tourism. President Rajapaksa also attended the Kazakhstan-Sri Lankan business forum during which Kazakhstan said it would be ready to export grain to Sri Lanka. (Tengrinews) • On November 22, Kazakhstan’s Vice Minister of Transport and Communications, Azat Bekturov, and Luxembourg’s Minister of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, Claude Wiseler, signed an agreement to establish a flight connection between the two countries. The agreement was prepared in line with requirements set down by the European Union and allows all EU airlines to offer flights between Luxembourg and Kazakhstan. A memorandum of understanding was also signed that will allow Cargolux – Europe’s biggest cargo airline – to schedule regular flights between Kazakhstan and Luxembourg. (Tengrinews) • On November 21, a conference was held in Ankara on “The role of the first President of Kazakhstan in establishing and developing Kazakh-Turkish relations”. Kazakh Ambassador, Zhanseit Tuimebayev, spoke of Kazakhstan’s main achievements during its years of independence and the President’s role in developing the country. The Deputy Chairman of the Turkish International Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), Sureyya Er, said that political, socio-economic and cultural cooperation between both countries was developing swiftly. ( • On November 12 Foreign Minister Idrissov met with Madagascar’s Foreign Minister Pierrot Rajaonarivelo and discussed future prospects for bilateral relations as well as cooperation through international organizations. On the subject of trade, Mr Idrissov underlined Kazakhstan’s interest in investing in strategically important projects in Africa. • The President of Kazakhstan visited an LG factory in Almaty, where he was shown an automated motherboard production line which is the only one of its kind in the CIS. The President said that this was the only factory in Kazakhstan to manufacture all types of household appliances. The company plans to significantly expand its production by building a new factory measuring a total area of 28 hectares next year. The factory was opened in 1998. 60 % of the components used are now made in Kazakhstan. (Akorda) • Fitch Ratings upgraded Kazakhstan’s investment-grade currency ratings by a notch to reflect the Central Asian country’s improved balance sheet, low government debt levels and healthy growth prospects. Fitch raised the rating to triple-B-plus-three notches into investment grade--and said the outlook is stable as it also cited the nation’s steps toward overhauling its banking system. Fitch expects Kazakhstan to have a budget surplus of about 3% of GDP next year, assuming average oil prices of about $100 a barrel. Even if oil prices drop below $80 a barrel, Fitch still expects the government to have a surplus. (Dow Jones)


Back to Contents

• Kazakhstan’s banks could expand lending by up to 15 percent next year as the economy grows but it will take a year before a distressed asset fund weeds out bad loans and restores the sector to health, the central bank says. The central bank set up the fund this year to handle bad loans run up by banks in the wake of the global financial crisis that laid bare banks’ exposure to bloated real estate markets and foreign borrowing. Central bank Governor Grigory Marchenko said the central bank had hired U.S.-based valuation firm American Appraisal to price the toxic assets of Kazakh banks. (Reuters) • The National Bank of Kazakhstan has become a member of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB). The IFSB is an international organization that promotes and enhances the soundness and stability of the Islamic financial services industry by issuing global standards and guiding principles for the industry, broadly defined to include banking, capital markets and insurance sectors. The IFSB also conducts research and coordinates initiatives on industry related issues, and organizes roundtables, seminars and conferences for regulators and industry stakeholders. (Bnews) • Kazakhstan’s State Philharmonic Chamber Choir is performing a new program that gives pride of place to Kazakhstan’s national music. The Choir’s experience of performing abroad has shown that European publics are particularly interested in hearing Kazakh music. Yerzhan Dautov, the artistic director and conductor of the Astana Chamber Choir said: “We have long dreamed of carrying out this project because Kazakh music makes up most of our repertoire. In this concert we performed long-forgotten but extremely beautiful Kazakh pieces to enable our nation to remember and sing together with us.” ( • Daniel Juncadella, Kazakhstan’s race driver for Astana TAK Group, completed his Formula One test in a Ferrari F60. The test was held at the Vallelunga circuit in Italy and lasted for about two hours. “Making my debut in Formula One in a Ferrari is more than I could dream of. It felt good to be working with specialists from such a distinguished team. As for the race car itself, my reaction was as I expected - I was more impressed by the brakes than the acceleration. It was an amazing, unforgettable experience. Now I am concentrating on the Macau Grand Prix”, said Daniel Juncadella. (Interfax Kazakhstan) • On November 18, Aleksey Poltoranin won his second gold in the International Ski Federation men’s 10km classic in Muonio, Finland. He won his first gold in the men’s sprint. Silver and bronze in this category went to Nikolay Chebotko and Denis Volotko from Kazakhstan. In the under 20s men’s category first place went to Sergey Malyshev from Kazakhstan and in the women’s category, Anna Stoyan from Kazakhstan won third place. (KazTAG)

Things to Watch… • On November 26 a delegation from Kazakhstan’s Armed Forces will arrive in Washington led by the Minister of Defence, Major General Talgat Zhanzhumenov. Bilateral consultations will be held on the Five-Year Military Cooperation Plan 2008-2012 and both sides hope to sign a new Five-Year Plan for 2012-2017.

ASTANA CALLING is a weekly online publication of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan Please send your requests and questions to


Back to Contents


A weekly online publication of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan "Astana Calling" is also available o...