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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 / WWW.MFA.GOV.KZ ISSUE NO 339 / FRIDAY, JANUARY 31 2014

President Nazarbayev attends Davos World Economic Forum Foreign investment high on the agenda

Erlan Idrissov visits Lithuania, Hungary and Latvia

Latest developments in Kazakhstan’s justice system

Focus on strengthening relations with the EU

2013 saw fall in custodial sentences

News from the Government in Brief

Also in the News


President Nazarbayev with the President of the Swiss Confederation, Didier Burkhalter

President Nazarbayev attends Davos World Economic Forum President Nazarbayev attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 22-24 and met with heads of state and government as well as global business leaders. This year’s Forum gathered under the theme of “The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business”, and discussed initiatives and actions necessary to respond to current and emerging global challenges. A regular participant at Davos, President Nazarbayev underlined the importance of the event as a place for bringing Kazakhstan to the attention of the world’s political and business leaders. “After Kazakhstan became independent, I often came to the Forum since our country was little known at the time. I recall that it was here that the creation of the Foreign Investors Council began. Today we must tell Forum participants about “Strategy-2050” and the goal to enter the top 30 developed nations of the world”, the President said. During the Forum, President Nazarbayev met the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. They discussed EU-Kazakhstan relations, including the possibility of introducing a visa free regime and Kazakhstan’s desire to complete negotiations on joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) as soon as possible. Mr Barroso recognized Kazakhstan’s strong contribution to economic development and stability in Central Asia as well as the fact that the EU is Kazakhstan’s biggest trading and investment partner. The President also met the Director-General of the WTO, Roberto Azevêdo. The two leaders discussed the status of Kazakhstan’s negotiations with the WTO and the President was keen to point out that WTO entry is one of the country’s major foreign policy goals. For his part, Mr Azevêdo stated that the key remaining question before Kazakhstan joins the WTO is harmonization of the country’s obligations on import customs duties in connection with the Customs Union with Russia. Mr Azevêdo assured President Nazarbayev that the WTO’s Secretariat will fully support Kazakhstan in its accession negotiations. President Nazarbayev met Professor Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, and held a series of meetings with the heads of multinational companies operating in Kazakhstan, including the CEO of Total, Christophe de Margerie, and the CEO of Bombardier, Pierre Beaudoin. Attracting inward investment was a major theme in the President’s meetings, in particular the opportunities for foreign companies to invest in the EXPO-2017 exhibition in Astana. President Nazarbayev also met the Head of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Sir Suma Chakrabarti and called on the Bank to support small and medium businesses in Kazakhstan. During his visit, President Nazarbayev met the Swiss President Didier Burkhalter and discussed relations between Kazakhstan and Switzerland as well as the development of bilateral trade. Switzerland is one of Kazakhstan’s main European trading partners.

“The European and US economies are growing, albeit slowly, which is good news. At the same time, China’s growth levels are slowing, which, in turn, is an alarming signal. For us the state of the Russian economy is also important. All these issues are of concern to us since we are part of the world community and all the changes happening in the world affect us.” President Nazarbayev ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 339 / 2

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Minister Idrissov with Hungary’s Foreign Minister, Janos Martonyi, President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, and with the Latvian Foreign Minister, Edgars Rinkevics

Erlan Idrissov visits Lithuania, Hungary and Latvia Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov was in Europe this week visiting Vilnius, Budapest and Riga to discuss a range of issues related to Kazakhstan’s relations with the EU. Mr Idrissov began his trip in the Lithuanian capital and met with President Dalia Grybauskaite, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius and Chair of the Parliament Loreta Grauziniene as well as Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius. Lithuania’s government representatives expressed strong support for Kazakhstan’s efforts to broaden its relations with Europe both bilaterally and with the EU as a whole. They confirmed their readiness to assist Kazakhstan in EU structures, including on issues such as the signing of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between Kazakhstan and the EU currently under negotiation and Kazakhstan’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as easing of Schengen visa restrictions for citizens of Kazakhstan. Mr Idrissov underlined the importance of addressing the visa issue. He said that easing of the current restriction and eventual visafree travel would be a powerful catalyst for cooperation in all areas, including business, tourism, education and investment. The two sides also discussed bilateral cooperation, including in the areas of trade, transportation and agriculture. During his visit to Hungary, Mr Idrissov continued his focus on cooperation with the EU, speaking at an EU-Kazakhstan forum in Budapest on January 28. Among the participants were government representatives from Kazakhstan and Hungary, including Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi as well as members of the European External Action Service, including the EU’s Special Representative for Central Asia, Patricia Flur. In his opening remarks, Minister Idrissov reminded the audience that the EU is Kazakhstan’s biggest trade partner, accounting for nearly 50% of Kazakhstan’s foreign trade. Foreign Minister Martonyi said that Hungary “was ready to give as much help as possible to bring Kazakhstan close to Europe. Mr Idrissov also held bilateral meetings with Minister Martonyi as well as with the Minster for National Economy, Mihaly Varga, and the Minister of Rural Development, Sandor Fazekas. Mr Idrissov finished his European tour with a visit to Latvia where he met with the Latvian President Andris Berzins, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics and Speaker of the Parliament Solvita Aboltina. He also participated as a guest speaker in the annual meeting of Latvian Ambassadors abroad that focused on Latvia’s presidency of the European Council in 2015. In his address, Mr Idrissov called on Latvia’s diplomats to view Kazakhstan as a bridge between Europe and Asia. There was considerable interest in Kazakhstan’s priorities in relations with Europe. The Minister highlighted the signing of the PCA, the easing of the visa regime for citizens of Kazakhstan and the expansion of trade links, including cooperation in the areas of innovation and technology. President Berzins’ visit to Kazakhstan in June 2013 has given renewed impulse to cooperation between Latvia and Kazakhstan. Work is currently underway to implement agreements reached during the visit, including the use of train cargo transport, the opening of a direct flight route between Kazakhstan and Latvia as well as cooperation in the areas of tourism and processing of agricultural production. The Minister noted the important transportation and logistical opportunities open to Kazakhstan through closer cooperation with Latvia. These will provide a route to the European market for goods from Kazakhstan, other CIS countries and China via Latvian ports. An example of this is the grain terminal belonging to Kazakhstan at the port of Ventspils that allows for transhipment of grain from Kazakhstan to world markets.

“For us it is important as a principle that the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU genuinely opens new perspectives, in particular, in areas such as the liberalization of the visa regime for Kazakhstanis and cooperation in science, technology and innovation. In other words, the Agreement should allow us to remove artificial barriers to bring closer citizens, science and business.” Erlan Idrissov, Minister of Foreign Affairs ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 339 / 3

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Chairman of the Collegium of Kazakhstan’s Supreme Court, Akyltai Kasimov

Latest developments in Kazakhstan’s justice system The Chairman of the Collegium of Kazakhstan’s Supreme Court, Akyltai Kasimov briefed journalists at the Central Communications Service on January 27 on the work of Kazakhstan’s justice system in 2013. Mr Kasimov began by referring to President Nazarbayev’s January 17 “State of the Nation” address in which he outlined the importance of ensuring that Kazakhstan has state institutions that create “an atmosphere of honest competition, justice, rule of law and a high level of legal culture” in order to reach the goal of entering the top 30 most developed countries by 2050. Two of the key elements in place for achieving these goals are the “Concept of the Republic’s Legal Culture up to 2020” and the “State Program for Further Modernization of the Law Enforcement System of the Republic of Kazakhstan from 2014-2020”, Mr Kasimov said. Reviewing the past 12 months, he noted that in 2013 Kazakhstan’s courts received over one million submissions and cases, a 14% rise on 2012. Mr Kasimov said that in 2013, the Supreme Court had introduced into parliament a number of draft laws to simplify the administration of justice and reduction of bureaucratic procedures. Analysis has shown the need to improve criminal law. This has led to the development and submission to parliament of a draft Criminal Code, a draft Criminal Procedural Code and a draft Penal Code. Work is also underway on developing a new Civil Procedural Code. “We expect that these innovations will contribute to raising the quality of the work of the justice system and the efficiency of law enforcement work as well as strengthening constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms”, Mr Kasimov said. He went on to explain that in December 2012 the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Supreme Court produced a Concept for Reducing the Prison Population. Together with the draft Codes, the basic idea is to humanize criminal law through wide use of alternative measures of sanction. He pointed out that in 2013 only 39% of total convictions led to jail sentences, 4% less than in 2012. The further development of the justice system will combine active implementation of the norms and principles of international law in the work of the courts as well as improved quality of pre-trial work, Mr Kasimov said. He pointed to the use in Kazakhstan’s courts of new technologies that make it possible to speed up considerably the administration of justice and provide transparency. At present, there are few countries with court systems where internet resources are available for search requests as well as the possibility to consult audio or video reports of court sessions and court orders. Recruitment of the best people is the top priority for the justice system, Mr Kasimov said. Work is underway to develop a human resources policy aimed at ensuring transparency and fairness in the recruitment and deployment of judges, including possible surveys of future judges in order to rate their performance. Mr Kasimov noted that the names of candidates for judges are published in the media and that the Supreme Court wants to see public discussion ahead of appointment of judges. He finished the briefing by emphasizing the role of the media in developing people’s legal consciousness and their attitude to the justice system as well as their respect for the law. Objective reporting of the work of judges provides them with reassurance in performing the difficult task of administering justice, Mr Kasimov added. He announced that in this spirit, the Union of Judges together with the Union of Journalists and the Adil Soz International Foundation for Protection of Free Speech will organize a competition in 2014 for the best reporting on the work of Kazakhstan’s courts.

“One of the priority tasks of the justice system is to raise its effectiveness and strengthen the population’s trust in the servants of Themis (the Greek God of Justice). Above all, this is a question of improving the quality of the administration of justice.” Akyltai Kasimov, Chairman of the Collegium of Kazakhstan’s Supreme Court

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Kazakh Traveler Lands in New York, meets with US Companies Kazakh adventure traveler Sapar Iskakov, who is on an around-the-world cruise to promote EXPO-2017 in Astana, docked in New York City on January 28 and met with representatives of U.S. business as well as Kazakh nationals (see earlier article in Astana Calling No.337). Iskakov updated Astana Calling by phone from the Kazakhstan Consulate in New York and via email from aboard the Cunard liner “Queen Elizabeth,” answering questions with the aid of his granddaughter, Dameli, 16, who is traveling with him and acting as his translator. In New York, Iskakov met with members of the Kazakh diaspora and students studying in the U.S., including those at Columbia University. He also met with representatives of US business, who agreed to explore joint ventures in Kazakhstan related to EXPO- 2017. From New York, Iskakov sailed down the Atlantic coast and into the Caribbean. He will pass through the Panama Canal and steam up the Pacific coast to San Francisco, where he will dock on February 5. Onboard, says Dameli, Iskakov is studying the history and culture of countries where he has meetings planned, including Aruba, Costa Rica and Panama. The theme of EXPO-2017 is “Future Energy,” and Iskakov is taking his green message around the globe to meet with business and tourism leaders in several ports, including stops in Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, Egypt and Italy, finally making port in May in the U.K., where his adventure began. Moved by witnessing the melting polar ice cap during a previous trip to plant the Kazakhstan flag at the North Pole, Iskakov believes EXPO-2017 can be a turning point in energy history, as the world pivots from carbon-based fuels and toward sustainable, eco-friendly energy generation. “It is very important we stage the transition from traditional to renewable energy, not only for Kazakhstan, but for the whole world,” Iskakov said. Iskakov is carrying both the national flag of Kazakhstan and the flag of EXPO-2017 with him on his journey.

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Prime Minister Akhmetov is briefed by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Kalmukhanbet Kasymov

Kazakhstan’s Police Force Under the Spotlight On January 24, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Kalmukhanbet Kasymov, reported to Prime Minister Akhmetov on the work of his department and outlined the priorities ahead for Kazakhstan’s police force. The good news is that serious crime in 2013 was significantly down, decreasing by 15% overall, the Minister said. Homicide levels were down by 12%; theft by 7%; and violent robbery by 18%. The Prime Minister said that one of the priorities of “Strategy-2050”, highlighted by the President, is the strengthening of the rule of law and maintaining the necessary level of security in the country. To this end, Mr Akhmetov said that the Ministry of the Interior’s budget is increasing annually, meaning higher numbers of staff, rising wages and better equipment and technology for police. Increased investment has resulted in higher expectations too, something the Prime Minister expanded upon: “The tasks of the Ministry are serious, and the expectations of successful work are higher still.” The Prime Minister also emphasized the importance of crime prevention, improving the quality of investigations and analytical work. As part of this, the Ministry was instructed to introduce proposals for a new crime prevention program which is also to be confirmed by regional governments. At the same meeting, the Head of the Law Enforcement System of the Presidential Administration, Alik Shpekbayev, gave further details about the new reforms aimed at modernizing the law-enforcement system to 2020. Mr Shpekbayev said that the plan of measures to reform the system will become a “roadmap” for the development of the law-enforcement agencies over the coming years.

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News from the Government in Brief Kazakhstan Grows Military Ties with Israel On January 20, Kazakhstan’s Defence Minister, Adilbek Dzhaksybekov, visited Israel, where he met President Shimon Peres and other officials to discuss expanding military cooperation between the two countries. It was announced that joint military exercises and training would take place with Israeli soldiers conducting drills in Kazakhstan as well as providing technical expertise for Kazakhstan’s growing defence industry. Minister Dzhaksybekov said, “Today the defining characteristic of Kazakhstan’s Armed Forces is its professionalization. Nowadays the forms and methods of modern warfare have changed… We attach particular importance to the opportunity to study Israel’s experience in combat training.” The Israeli President noted that Kazakhstan-Israeli relations are developing well, and that Kazakhstan is one of the fastest growing countries in Central Asia. In late 2013, Kazakhstan appointed a military attaché to work in its embassy in Tel Aviv. The appointment is aimed at facilitating closer military relations between the two countries. (mod.gov.kz)

President meets Key Government Officials On January 27, President Nazarbayev received Nurlan Kapparov, Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, for a briefing on the Ministry of Environment’s work in 2013 and its plans for 2014. Mr Kapparov informed the President about the Ministry’s activities in the “Green Economy”, as well as the development of water management and municipal waste programs. The President spoke about the importance of the training of qualified personnel, particularly in the management of water resources and in international negotiations that take place relating to trans-boundary rivers. President Nazarbayev also mentioned the importance of the transfer to the Ministry of the committees overseeing water resources, hunting and forestry, and fisheries.

Minister Kapparov briefs President Nazarbayev

On January 28, President Nazarbayev met the Chairman of the Committee for National Security, Nurtay Abykayev. Mr Abykayev briefed the President on the current activities of the Committee and outlined its priorities for the period ahead. Key questions of national security such as measures to fight international terrorism and extremism were discussed during the meeting. (akorda.kz)

Prosecutor General looks to Strengthen Entrepreneurship On January 23, Kazakhstan’s Prosecutor General presided over a meeting with representatives of local prosecutors and the Chamber of Entrepreneurs to discuss measures to strengthen the rights of business people and to set out future cooperation of state prosecutors with business associations. Strengthening the rights of entrepreneurs has been a major focus in the country since the signing of a Memorandum in December 2013 between the Prosecutor General and the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs. At the meeting, the two sides signed a joint plan to achieve the objectives of the Memorandum. Deputy Prosecutor General, Andrey Kravchenko, spoke about the business reforms within the context of “Strategy-2050”, noting that plans are underway to improve the business climate, remove administrative barriers and make better laws for business. For his part the Chairman of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, Ablay Myrzakhmetov, spoke about elements in the plans, in particular, about the organization of “hotlines” in territorial and regional chambers of entrepreneurs; mapping the problems that entrepreneurs encounter; and the development and launch of the “Strong Business – Strong Kazakhstan” project. This will involve the establishment of working groups in all regions to develop a common approach to resolving issues facing businesspeople. (prokuror.gov.kz)

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Also in The News… • Health Spending Increases The Ministry of Public Health announced on January 28 that government spending on health in Kazakhstan in 2013 was more than 838.2bn tenge, which is 2.4% of GDP. The Health Minister, Salidat Kairbekova said that spending in her department in 2013 was up 14% year-on-year. (primeminister.kz) • Kazakhstan’s Ombudsman meets EU Ambassador On January 29, Kazakhstan’s Ombudsman or Commissioner for Human Rights, Askar Shakirov, met with the EU’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Aurelia Bouchez, as well as with the Regional Director of Penal Reform International (PRI) in Central Asia, Saule Mektepbayeva. They discussed the implementation of new principles of social policy and the protection of social rights. The meeting concluded with a commitment from the parties to cooperate further on human rights initiatives. (kazinform.kz) • Honorary Consulate opened in Hamburg On January 23, Kazakhstan officially opened a new Honorary Consulate in Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg. Members of the Bundestag and local government authorities, prominent political, business and social figures as well as emigrant organizations and media took part in the event. During the official opening, Nurlan Onzhanov, Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Germany, delivered a consular commission to Johann Killinger, the new honorary consul. Ambassador Onzhanov hoped that the new Consulate would help to facilitate stronger Kazakhstan-German relations in the years ahead. (mfa.gov.kz) • Kazakhstan to take 50 Competitors to Sochi 50 competitors will make up Team Kazakhstan at the Sochi Winter Olympics, which start on February 7. They will compete in 10 different sporting disciplines including skiing and ski-biathlon, figure skating, snowboarding, ski jumping and speedskating. In total, Kazakhstan’s delegation will comprise of 102 people: 50 sportsmen, 31 trainers, six doctors and masseurs, five team managers, five journalists and five other accredited officials. At the opening ceremony, Kazakhstan’s flag will be carried by skier Erdos Akhmadiyev. (kazinform) • New Medical School to Open Plans are underway to open a new medical school on the campus of Nazarbayev University in 2015. The plans were announced by the Chairman of the Board of the National Medical Holding, Alibek Kennet, who said that the medical school would be “international standard” and that all teaching would be in English. (kazinform.kz) • Kazakhstan to join “Montreal Convention” in 2014 The Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, Azat Bekturov, announced on January 29 that Kazakhstan will join the “Montreal Convention” later this year. The “Montreal Convention” is a multilateral aviation treaty that ensures uniformity of rules relating to the international carriage of passengers, baggage and cargo. (bnews.kz)

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• Football Federation bids to Host “Euro 2020” Group Games The Head of the International Department of Kazakhstan’s Football Association (FFK), Kuanysh Kanapyanov, has confirmed that the association is interested in hosting matches of the “Euro-2020” Football Championship at the “Astana Arena”. Mr Kanapyanov said that Kazakhstan had put forward the “Astana Arena” following an invitation to bid for games from UEFA, which has decided to host games in different countries for the first time. The “Astana Arena” could host up to three group games in the Championship. (vesti.kz) • Akhmed Agadi performs “Birzhan” at Almaty Opera Almaty residents will be able to see the Kazakh opera, “Birzhan-Sara”, in full for the first time. The celebrated international tenor, Akhmed Agadi, who trained at the legendary Marinsky theater in St. Petersburg, is performing in the role of Birzhan. The opera also features a new musical arrangement by the maestro, Abzal Mukhitdinov. (ortcom.kz)

ASTANA CALLING A WEEKLY ONLINE PUBLICATION / WWW.MFA.GOV.KZ Please send comments and questions to pressa@mfa.kz

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Astana calling no 339  

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

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