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Astana Calling

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Kazakhstan

Central Communications Service for the President of Kazakhstan

A weekly online publication / Issue No 307 / FRIDAY, June 7 2013

Kazakhstan-EU Relations Flourishing Barroso visit a major boost

Kazakhstan-Latvia: Growing Closer Latvian President’s visit links trade and history

Refugees and Migration Discussed in Almaty

School-leavers Sit National Exams Tense time for teenagers

2nd Conference on Almaty Process

News from the Government in Brief

Also in the News

Things to Watch

President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and President Nazarbayev in Astana this week

Kazakhstan-EU Relations Flourishing The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, completed a two-day visit to Kazakhstan on June 3. It was the first time that Mr Barroso had visited Kazakhstan, and the visit proved so successful that both sides are now talking not only about the strength of the relationship between Kazakhstan and the European Union (EU), but also about how the visit has given a boost to Kazakhstan’s bid for membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO). As a region, Europe represents Kazakhstan’s biggest trading partner. In 2012 there was a trade balance of USD 53 billion between Kazakhstan and EU member states, representing 45% of Kazakhstan’s trade turnover. Half of the foreign investment which Kazakhstan has attracted in the last few years, some USD 80 billion, has come from EU countries. During his visit, Mr Barroso met President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov and the Chairman of the Lower Chamber of Parliament (Majilis), Nurlan Nigmatulin. He also delivered a lecture to students and teaching staff at the Eurasian National University. Mr Barroso’s discussions centered on the priority issues in Kazakhstan’s cooperation with the EU. Top of the agenda were negotiations on a new and enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Mr Barroso summed up the importance that both sides attach to this Agreement, when he said, “We are committed to opening a new era in our relations through the conclusion of the negotiations of a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. This agreement will be a new generation, an enhanced and more comprehensive Agreement.” The two sides also discussed the development of their trade relations. Aside from cooperation in the natural resources sector, an important aspect of this is cooperation on civil aviation. While in Astana, Mr Barroso visited the factory of Eurocopter Kazakhstan Engineering, a joint venture between Eurocopter and Kazakhstan Engineering that is assembling EC 145 helicopters. Other bilateral issues covered were the simplification of the visa regime; improving and activating links in the areas of external security, science, innovation and new technologies; and regional security issues, including Afghanistan. As Mr Barroso acknowledged in his closing statement before his departure from Astana, “We very much appreciate Kazakhstan’s role in promoting regional cooperation in Central Asia. Only by working together will it be possible to address the common challenges that all the countries in the region face, from terrorism and extremism, to drug trafficking or water management.” He went on to say that the EU greatly supports Kazakhstan’s strategy of economic diversification and its focus on green growth. With the EU also pursuing a sustainable growth strategy, Mr Barroso said that there is a lot of potential for cooperation between Kazakhstan and Europe on renewables and energy efficiency. And the European Commission President had encouraging words, too, for Kazakhstan’s bid for membership of the WTO. He said, “I am most pleased to be able to confirm here today that our trade negotiators have found agreement on the substantive elements of the bilateral terms of Kazakhstan’s WTO accession, and we look forward to signing the deal soon.”

“We talked about easing the visa regime for a specific category of our citizens. We touched on the possibility of unrestricted flights for our airlines into European countries. We also discussed cooperation with the European Union on the process of Kazakhstan’s accession to the World Trade Organization. On all of these questions we were of one mind; we received support and for this I am very grateful to Mr Barroso.” President Nazarbayev ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 307 / 2

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Latvia’s President Andris Berzins and President Nazarbayev in discussion

Kazakhstan-Latvia: Growing Closer The Latvian President, Andris Berzins, visited Kazakhstan this week both to discuss political and economic relations between the two countries and to honor victims of political repression in the darker moments of the history of each state. The visit has given a major boost to relations between the two states. Kazakhstan has well-developed relations with Latvia. In 2012, trade turnover between the two reached almost USD 350 million, the bulk of this being exports from Kazakhstan worth USD 290 million. There are also 60 Kazakhstan-Latvian joint ventures registered in Kazakhstan. Speaking alongside President Berzins at the opening of the Kazakhstan-Latvia Business Forum on June 3, the Prime Minister, Serik Akhmetov, said that Kazakhstan would like to see economic relations with Latvia, “at least doubled”. Each country represents an excellent transit route for the other country’s trade: Kazakhstan is the land link, by road and rail, between Europe and China, and – as President Nazarbayev also underlined, after his meeting with President Berzins – Kazakhstan would like to make greater use of Latvia’s sea ports.

Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov addresses the KazakhstanLatvia Business Forum on June 3

Other areas which Prime Minister Akhmetov singled out as being particularly suitable for cooperation between Kazakhstan and Latvia are technology; agriculture; tourism; and education. Indeed, he suggested that the first two of these can be combined, with Kazakhstan benefiting from Latvia’s experience of using new technologies in the processing of agricultural products. President Berzins agreed, describing Kazakhstan as Latvia’s most important partner in Central Asia. Tourism and education were brought together, too, as an agreement was signed during Mr Berzins’ visit under which students from Kazakhstan will study tourism and industry in Latvia’s colleges. Specifically, Kazakhstan’s students will be welcomed at the Aviation University in Riga, and an agreement was signed between the Ministries of Education and Science of each country. President Berzins’ visit began in a particularly poignant manner. On June 2 he arrived in Karaganda Region to unveil a memorial to the Latvians who were the victims of political repression from 1938-1941. Some 17,000 Latvians were deported by the Soviet authorities from their homeland to this region of Kazakhstan, and many of them perished. President Nazarbayev had started the process when he visited Riga in 2006 and gave the Latvian authorities details that had only recently been released from the archives of Latvians who suffered repression in Kazakhstan in Soviet times. At the unveiling ceremony of the monument, President Berzins produced a linen bag containing earth from the Daugava River. This was a deeply symbolic moment. Linen is a favourite material in Latvia; and the Daugava River, the longest river in Latvia, is linked with many important moments in the history of the Latvian people. The earth was scattered from the bag around the monument. President Berzins thanked all those who had helped make the establishment of the monument possible, especially President Nazarbayev.

“Latvia, which is situated virtually in the centre of Europe, has developed high-technology in various areas. One way in which Kazakhstan sees possibilities for cooperation is an exchange of raw materials for high-technology.” Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 307 / 3

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UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres in discussion with Foreign Minister Idrissov

Refugees and Migration Discussed in Almaty The Second Ministerial Conference on Refugee Protection and International Migration: The Almaty Process, took place on June 5 in Almaty. Opened by Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister, Erlan Idrissov, the conference was organized and financed by the Government of Kazakhstan, with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The first such conference took place in Almaty in March 2011, which led to the name, “The Almaty Process”. The conference brings together ten governments from Central Asia and neighboring countries – the host country, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey - to explore collaborative responses to challenges of mixed migration, including refugees and economic migrants, through the launching of a regional consultative process on migration. Central Asia has a long history of complex population movements, some of it voluntary migration and some through forced displacement. Certain countries in the region are still coming to terms with changes in the population following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The resulting instability, persistent inter-ethnic tensions and conflicts over resources continue to trigger internal and cross-border movements within the region. Environmental degradation and natural disasters have been additional factors that have affected movement within Central Asia. Countries in the region are also home to a considerable stateless population and to refugees, in particular from neighboring Afghanistan. The continuing conflict and instability in Afghanistan has had a constant effect on Central Asia. The withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in 2014 and the expected political and security transition which is expected to follow this may lead to more migration from the country, including towards Central Asia. These population movements can be used as cover by traffickers, militants or other ill-intentioned groups to infiltrate Central Asia.

Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov addresses the Conference

It was with all this in mind that the first Regional Conference on Refugee Protection and International Migration in Central Asia was held. This Conference concluded with the sevenpoint Almaty Declaration, which recognized that the best way to deal with the issues of refugees and migration was through cooperation by the countries in the region and an integrated approach, coordinated by the UNHCR and IOM.

The role of Kazakhstan as the host country was recognized by Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who attended the Conference this week and also held a personal meeting with President Nazarbayev. As Mr Guterres told the President, “We know that you have put great personal effort into pushing forward Kazakhstan’s many international initiatives, both in the political and economic spheres. There has been notable success in encouraging inter-confessional dialogue; protection of the environment; and the struggle with the financial crisis. And Kazakhstan’s initiative in establishing a UN Center in Almaty has also been crucial.” After this second conference, the principal tasks for the Almaty Process are to take stock of the progress made since the first conference and agree on priorities and key objectives for the next two years, and to try to involve other interested states as members or as observers.

“It is essential for Kazakhstan to settle the question of migration. In recent years, our country has provided shelter for more than 15,000 refugees. We are very grateful to the UNHCR for its recognition of the role our government has played in this. But work must continue, as the migration process is on the increase throughout the world and the number of refugees grows each year. ” President Nazarbayev ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 307 / 4

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Minister of Education and Science Bakytzhan Zhumagulov observes the preparations at the Eurasian National University testing center

School-leavers Sit National Exams It is exam season in Kazakhstan. Almost 100,000 school leavers in Kazakhstan are currently going through nervous times as they sit their final exams. This is the tenth year when those leaving school take the Unified National Examination (UNE). Each pupil will sit four papers in the following subjects: Kazakh or Russian language (depending on which language they have been using during their school education); the history of Kazakhstan; mathematics; and a fourth paper on their specialist subject. There are 25 questions on each paper, and the exams will be taken between June 3-15. In the nine years to date when the UNE has been running, nearly one and a quarter million young citizens of Kazakhstan have taken the exam. Of the 99,565 who are sitting the exam this year, more than two-thirds will be taking the tests in the Kazakh language: 68,316. A further 31,249 will be sitting the exams using Russian. The Ministry of Education and Science, with the help of the media, has conducted an information campaign to ensure that all the students are ready for the exams. Much information has been carried online; 38 articles have been published in the press; there have been 15 reports on TV and radio. Furthermore, since May 23 two TV stations have been running advisory reports about the rules governing the exams. Final year pupils have been sitting mock exams in school in recent weeks. On average, each pupil has completed six mock papers. And for those who wish to spend time outside school preparing, 470,000 booklets have been published with test papers and a further 210,000 guides to the UNE subjects. In case the school-leavers think they are doing all the work, there is an army of assistants to make sure that all passes off smoothly and that the exams are carried out fairly. Preparation for the exams has been followed closely by educational psychologists. The Education Ministry’s Institute of the History of the State has called in independent specialists to ensure that the subject is examined in an objective fashion. In every center where the exams are taking place there is a specially trained representative of the Ministry of Education; some 1,500 in total. In each region, representatives of the local education authorities are tasked with ensuring that the rules for sitting the exams are observed. The school-leavers may have celebrated last week when they had their final lessons in school; but the real relief will come for them on June 15, when the UNE will be over. All they have to do then is look to the future!

“Today you are taking the most responsible examination of your life to date. It may well be the most decisive exam for your future. I wish all of you, school-leavers of Kazakhstan, a successful UNE.” Bakytzhan Zhumagulov, Minister of Education and Science


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News from the Government in Brief Peugeot cars to start production in Kazakhstan A three-way agreement between Peugeot Citroen, AgromashHolding and the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies of Kazakhstan means that Peugeot cars will start production in Kostanay, in northern Kazakhstan, as early as July this year. Initially, the Peugeot 301, the Peugeot 3008, the Peugeot 508 and the Peugeot Partner will be produced, at a rate of 4,000 cars per year. This can be expected to increase to 10,000 per year. The project will create 150 new jobs at the AgromashHolding plant. The first finished cars will come off the production line and be available through dealers in September. They will go on sale simultaneously in Astana, Almaty, Karaganda and Kostanay. Prices for the 301 will start from USD 16,000. Andrey Lavrentiev, a member of the Board of Directors of AgromashHolding, said that the vehicles will compete on the market with Korean cars. (

Large growth in chemical exports; more specialists needed Exports of goods produced by the chemical industry in Kazakhstan in 2012 rose by 12% on the previous year, to the value of almost USD 4 billion, the Minister for Industry and New Technologies, Asset Issekeshev, announced this week. This represents a rise of 67.7% between 2009 and 2012. But this encouraging news was tempered by a warning from the Minister. As things stand, it looks as if there will be a shortfall of 15,000 qualified workers in the chemical industry by the year 2020. “There’s a shortage of qualified workers now,” said Mr Issekeshev. “And to carry out the specific projects in the chemical industry which have already been laid out we need a further 15,000 workers with a variety of qualifications. That’s over 3,000 with a degree; more than 2,000 with trained technical skills; and the rest, qualified workers with a professional education.” (

Subsoil law under scrutiny Over 100 amendments have been made to the draft subsoil law, the Deputy Minister for Industry and New Technologies, Albert Rau, told a news conference this week, which was called to mark Mining Day in Kazakhstan. If, as expected, the amendments are implemented, it will simplify the procedure of both the reconnaissance and the exploitation of the subsoil. (

Kazakhstan faces water shortage Kazakhstan could experience a water shortage of up to 14bn cubic meters of water by 2030 unless serious conservation measures are taken, the Minister for the Environment, Nurlan Kapparov, warned this week. The seriousness of the situation, Mr Kapparov emphasized, can be illustrated by the fact that at present Kazakhstan uses 20bn cubic meters of water per annum. It is essential, therefore, that the country adopts water-saving measures. These include more efficient systems for irrigation and transport of water; more careful use of water in industry; and better management of leaks in apartment blocks and on highways. At the state level there has to be increased dialogue with Kazakhstan’s neighbors about the use of water from rivers which cross national boundaries. All of this is included in the transition to the “green economy” in Kazakhstan, enshrined in the Decree signed by President Nazarbayev on June 1 2013. (

Kazakhstan needs new history books The Ministry of Education and Science is drawing up a plan to produce two new basic but high quality textbooks on the history of Kazakhstan, one on the country’s ancient history and a second one on the recent history of independent Kazakhstan. In the Ministry’s opinion, too many of the textbooks currently available are either too politicized or simply full of dates, facts and figures which can have the effect of turning students away from the subject. Also much that has been written about the modern period is too superficial. History books should include illustrations, including maps and diagrams, and modern methods of learning should be employed, such as audio courses, television and internet versions, and even electronic versions with mobile applications. The new textbooks could then be adapted for different age categories, such as slightly simplified and illustrated versions for schoolchildren and more detailed ones for students. ( ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 307 / 6

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Also in The News… • “Green economy” should help Kazakhstan increase GDP Changing to the “green economy”, as laid down by President Nazarbayev’s Decree of June 1, should help Kazakhstan to increase its GDP in real terms by 3% by 2050, and create between 400,000 and 600,000 new jobs, according to the Minister for the Environment, Nurlan Kapparov. But for this to happen there will need to be USD$3-4billion of investment per year, the equivalent to 1% of GDP. The priority for making the green economy work is the effective use of resources. ( • President visits innovation technology park On June 5, President Nazarbayev visited the Special Economic Zone “Innovation Technology Park” during a working visit to Almaty. The President was shown around by the Minister for Industry and New Technologies, Asset Issekeshev. The park has already attracted 87 companies, and the aim is to have 250 companies by 2020, creating 50,000 new jobs. ( • Kazakhstan population nears 17m According to the State Statistics Agency, the population of Kazakhstan on May 1 2013 was almost 17m – 16,990,100, a rise of 0.5% since the start of the year. Rises in the population were recorded in this period in various regions of the country, including 10,000 people in Astana and just over 7,000 in Almaty. In Astana the increase was thanks to 5,700 births and 4,300 immigrants, while immigration accounted for just 2,000 of the increase in Almaty. (State Statistics Agency) • Kazakhstan-China financial cooperation discussed The eighth session of the Sub-Committee on Financial Cooperation of the Kazakhstan-China Committee on Cooperation has been held in Guilin, China. Representatives of the Central Banks of both countries as well as other interested financial institutions took part. A major topic of discussion was payment methods in trade between Kazakhstan and China. ( • Air Astana signs code-sharing agreement with Turkish Airlines Air Astana and Turkish Airlines have signed a code-sharing agreement for flights between Astana and Istanbul and Almaty and Istanbul. This will make it easier for passengers to plan their journeys, especially if they need to make a connecting flight in Turkey. ( • Foreign Ministry marks International Children’s Day The Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan organized a range of activities for children from the Children’s Psycho-Neurological Institute in Astana to mark International Day for the Protection of Children on June 1. Children were taken to the “Happylon” fun park and also to see the film, “Epic”. They also received illustrated encyclopaedias as presents, acting on the premise that, “the best present is a book”. (


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• Kazakhstan-German student forum A student and youth forum was held in Berlin on June 2 under the auspices of the Center for International Programs in Germany and Continental Europe to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding by President Nazarbayev of the “Bolashak” study program. “Bolashak”, which means “future” in Kazakh, provides grants for students from Kazakhstan to study in countries across the world. The forum included various sporting and intellectual challenges. ( • Kazakh vies for “Entrepreneur of the Year” title Askar Baitassov, who won the title of “Entrepreneur of the Year 2012” in Kazakhstan, is in the running for the international title in Monte Carlo, sponsored by Ernst & Young. Mr Baytasov is one of 49 competitors from 47 different countries. He won the title in Kazakhstan thanks to his chain of 35 restaurants with 12 different brands. He is already expanding his business into Russia and plans to move into Western Europe. ( • Kazakhstan cycle team triumphs in Italy The “Astana” cycle team was triumphant in the Giro d’Italia international cycling race, and the Olympic champion Alexander Vinokourov wrote a letter of congratulations to President Nazarbayev and all the people of Kazakhstan. Vinokourov wrote that this underlined Kazakhstan’s place as a member of the international sporting community. (

Things to Watch • Conference to commemorate Nazir Turyakulov On June 7. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will host an international conference together with the Foundation “Diplomat Nazir Turyakulov” to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the birth of the famous Kazakh diplomat. As part of the conference, there will be a photo exhibition about the life and work of Nazir Turyakulov (1892-1937). Turyakulov was the USSR’s first Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (1932-36). He was arrested by the Soviet authorities in July 1937 and executed later that year. • Presidential visit to Uzbekistan President Nazarbayev will make an official visit to Uzbekistan June 13-14. As part of the run up to the visit, the 13th session of the Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan Intergovernmental Commission took place this week in Tashkent with a focus on activating economic co-operation between the two countries.



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Astana Calling No. 307  

A weekly online publication of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Astana Calling No. 307  

A weekly online publication of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan