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Astana Calling

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Kazakhstan

Central Communications Service for the President of Kazakhstan


President Nazarbayev participates at Iranian Inauguration President congratulates new President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani

Fighting for a Healthy Kazakhstan Education the key to battling hepatitis and other diseases

President Congratulates Railway Workers

Kazakhstan Marks End of Ramadan

New housing and awards on Transport Workers’ Day

News from the Government in Brief

Also in the News

President Nazarbayev and the new President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani

President Nazarbayev participates at Iranian Inauguration A delegation from Kazakhstan led by President Nursultan Nazarbayev joined some 50 other foreign delegations at the inauguration of Hassan Rouhani as the new President of Iran on August 4. President Nazarbayev also used the occasion of his visit to Tehran to hold one-on-one talks both with President Rouhani and his First Vice President, Eshaq Jahangiri. The President of Kazakhstan was in the hall of the Iranian parliament for the ceremony at which President Rouhani swore his oath of allegiance as President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He also joined in the photo session which followed and signed the book of honored guests. President Nazarbayev had been swift to send a telegram of congratulations to his Iranian counterpart, following the latter’s election in June. Given the healthy state of relations between these two neighbors across the Caspian Sea, there seemed little doubt that President Nazarbayev would accept the invitation which then followed to attend the inauguration ceremony.

President Nazarbayev in discussion with Iran’s First Vice President, Eshaq Jahangiri

Kazakhstan has already played a vital role in helping Iran to stabilize relations with a number of countries around the world. International talks have already taken place twice this year in Kazakhstan, in February and again in April, on the question of the future of Iran’s nuclear program.

In theory, Kazakhstan was simply the neutral host for the talks of the so-called “5+1 Group”: Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the USA, and Iran. But in practice Kazakhstan has a lot more to offer than just a convenient geographical location. Following the decision shortly after the break-up of the Soviet Union to renounce the nuclear weapons which Kazakhstan held on its territory, Kazakhstan is seen as a major player in the nuclear non-proliferation movement. And both sides at the talks noted in a very positive way the careful behind-the-scenes encouragement which the host nation gave to help move the process forward. Kazakhstan and Iran were quick to establish diplomatic relations following Kazakhstan’s independence in late 1991. With diplomatic relations established in January 1992, Kazakhstan opened its embassy in Tehran the following year. The two countries’ interparliamentary group meets regularly, discussing trade, technology and cultural issues. There are regular flights between Tehran and Almaty. In addition, the Caspian Sea is a constant trade route between the two countries. In 2011 trade between Kazakhstan and Iran crossed the billion dollar mark, with exports from Kazakhstan amounting to just over USD 1bn, and imports nearly USD 35m.

“The two sides discussed the question of regulating the situation around Iran’s nuclear program as soon as possible, a process in which Kazakhstan is prepared to play an active part, including offering itself as a venue for the next round of the “5+1” talks.” Press service of the President of Kazakhstan, following President Nazarbayev’s meeting with President Rouhani ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 316 / 2

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The plan for more new housing for railway workers is shown to the President by the Chairman of Kazakhstan Railways, Askar Mamin (R) and senior managers of railway company Mobitex

President Congratulates Railway Workers Over 500 railway workers and their families celebrated Transport Workers’ Day on August 4 by moving into brand new housing in Astana. Keys to the apartments were handed over on the eve of the holiday by President Nursultan Nazarbayev himself. Almost 900 other workers throughout the country marked the day by receiving awards for their work. Addressing the newly-housed railway workers, the President praised and thanked them for their hard work, emphasizing that the rapidly-developing transport infrastructure in the country was key to the overall development of the economy. He pointed out that in just over 20 years since independence was gained, 1,200km of new railway lines have been laid and as many kilometers again are being laid or planned. President Nazarbayev told the railway workers, “If all of our citizens will work for the development of our country, we shall create a hard-working society and we shall teach our young people to love their work.” The new apartments in Astana are just the first stage in a country-wide program to improve the living conditions of railway workers. The 548 families who have just received their keys represent only the first half of the construction plan in the capital. The second part should be completed in the first half of 2014, providing new housing for a total of 1,029 workers and their families. New housing for railway workers is being built also on two new lines which are under construction. A total of 1,482 apartments will be provided at stations and junctions of the line being laid between Jezkazgan and Beyneu; and a further 157 homes are being constructed at stations along the route from Arkalyk to Shubarkol.

One of the 500 railway workers to receive keys to a new apartment in Astana from the President

The President’s praise for the railway workers was not simply because of the amount of construction of new lines. Traffic, both freight and passenger, has increased exponentially in recent years. From 2008 to 2012, the amount of freight carried by Kazakhstan’s railways increased by 16%, from 232m tons per km to 270m tons per km. Over the same period, the income of the Kazakhstan Railway Company went up by 1.7 times, from KZT 497bn to KZT 820bn. In 2012 the consolidated net income of the railway company was over KZT 113bn, close to twice the level in 2008. Passenger numbers for the first half of 2013 – measured in passenger-kilometers – were just under 8bn, almost a 7% increase on the same period in 2012. Another sign of the healthy development of the railway sector is shown by the effort being put into the training of personnel. In the first half of 2013 some 70,000 railways workers have been on training courses, leading to over 8,000 workers gaining higher qualifications. By the end of the year at least 80,000 railway workers will have participated at courses.

“Our country devotes a great deal of attention to the transport network and infrastructure. Each year in Kazakhstan we repair 1,500km of railroads, and there are currently a further 1,200km under construction. No other country in the post-Soviet space is building railway lines in such numbers. What’s more, we have built our own factories for producing carriages and locomotives, which we are already exporting.” President Nazarbayev ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 316 / 3

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Chairman of the Committee for Sanitary and Epidemiological Control of the Health Ministry, Dr Zhandarbek Bekshin

Fighting for a Healthy Kazakhstan Kazakhstan marks the United Nations’ “World Hepatitis Day” on July 28 by running a month-long program to educate people about the threat posed by the various strands of hepatitis and other infectious diseases. The Chairman of the Committee for Sanitary and Epidemiological Control of the Health Ministry, Dr Zhandarbek Bekshin, used the occasion to give a detailed briefing about measures people should take to protect themselves. This is the third year in a row that the World Health Organization (WHO) of the UN has run World Hepatitis Day. The theme of the campaign – “Know it, confront it. Hepatitis affects everyone, everywhere” – was designed to highlight the fact that more than two billion people worldwide have been infected by the virus, and each year nearly one million deaths are attributed to viral hepatitis infections. There are five strains of hepatitis, identified by the letters A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis A and E are both caused by eating contaminated food or through poor personal hygiene. Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood or other bodily fluids, often through sexual contact. Hepatitis C is also transmitted through contact with the blood of an infected person; and hepatitis D occurs only in those who are infected with hepatitis B. The most common forms of hepatitis found in Kazakhstan are B and C. In 2011 a screening program was established for hepatitis B and C in children. Guaranteed free medical help, including the necessary medicines, is now provided for all those diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B and C. Kazakhstan is the only country of the former Soviet Union which provides this treatment free of charge. There are now 16 specialist hepatitis centers throughout Kazakhstan, giving consultations, investigations and treatment, often highly specialized. As part of the month-long healthcare program linked to World Hepatitis Day, a series of events will be held in these centers and elsewhere: seminars; specialist training for health professionals; “Open Doors” days on the diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis; and screening programs. This program fits, too, into the wider healthcare program for the country from 2011-2015, “Salamatty Kazakhstan”, which is intended to raise the population’s awareness of disease and how they can look after themselves better. This was the wider topic of Dr Bekshin’s briefing. Dr Bekshin was able to report the encouraging news that cases of acute intestinal infection this year in Kazakhstan are down by nearly 18% compared to 2012. But there are certain diseases which are endemic to Kazakhstan, and he warned tourists in particular about the dangers posed by plague, anthrax, rabbit fever, rabies, tick borne encephalitis and haemorrhagic fever. One of the most effective ways of dealing with these and other diseases, for both tourists and the native population, is vaccination. The government budgets between KZT 12-18bn each year for the vaccination program, regularly vaccinating some 5m citizens, among them 1.3m children. This is carried out free for the population.

“Viral hepatitis is one of the most prevalent and serious infectious diseases in the world. It deserves much more attention, understanding and action. These are the goals we are aiming for today.” Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO)


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Kazakhstan Marks End of Ramadan On August 8, Kazakhstan marked the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan by celebrating the feast of Oraza ayt. This is the feast of the breaking of the fast, and is sometimes known as the little feast which follows the great feast of sacrifice. Families gather together, not only to celebrate as one but also to remember their loved ones who are now dead. After a celebratory service, they visit the tombs of their family members who have passed on. President Nazarbayev marked the occasion by congratulating the people of Kazakhstan on the start of the Oraza ayt celebration. The President stated that in Kazakhstan, Islam has always been a religion of consent, tolerance, creativity and harmony. The President also sent congratulatory telegrams to the heads of foreign states to mark the start of Oraza ayt. Speaking on behalf of the people of Kazakhstan, the President wished them and the peoples of their countries strong health, happiness, prosperity and progress. Pictured above: The Nur-Astana Mosque


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News from the Government in Brief President holds meeting with Oil and Gas Minister President Nazarbayev held a meeting this week with the Oil and Gas Minister of Kazakhstan, Uzakbay Karabalin. It was the first time since he took office a month ago that Mr Karabalin had briefed the President about the activities of the Ministry and about the current state of oil and gas production. The two men also discussed the petrochemical industry and the transportation of hydrocarbons. As President Nazarbayev stressed to his Minister, the oil and gas sector is a crucial strategic sector for Kazakhstan. They discussed issues around some of the main oil and gas fields, especially the Tengiz oilfield project and the continuing search for other new sources of oil and gas. Mr Karabalin reported that in the first half of the year the total extraction of oil and gas had reached 40m tons, which was nearly two per cent higher than in the same period for 2012. On the whole, he added, export targets are being met, although the full picture will be known only at the end of the year. (

Machine-builders meet the Prime Minister Members of the Machine-Building Trade Union this week discussed developments in their industry with the Prime Minister, Serik Akhmetov. The First Deputy Minister for Industry and New Technologies, Albert Rau, gave an account of the industry’s achievements to date this year. So far production has amounted to KZT 367bn; if current trends continue this could equal USD 5bn worth of production by the end of the year. Machine-building has increased its share of the manufacturing market by 2% compared to last year, now accounting for 13.2% of all manufacturing, Mr Rau added. The Deputy Minister gave some concrete examples. Production of diesel locomotives is up to 45 this year (an increase of more than one and half times on 2012); automobile production has more than doubled to over 16,000; oil and gas machinebuilding has risen by 31% and for the mining sector by 12%. Mr Rau asked the government to look into the question of providing subsidies for consumer credit for the purchase of cars built in Kazakhstan. (

Government discusses housing and the harvest The government heard this week from the Deputy Minister for Regional Development, Serik Nokin, about the pace of the “Affordable Housing-2020” project. “In the first six months of this year three million square meters of housing has been completed, which is 46% of the annual plan,” said Mr Nokin. He continued, “If previously we were building some 2,0002,500 apartments each year, then this year it is planned to make that 4,000.” But much more needs to be done in the second half of the year. In fact, only 632 apartments are already in use, which is just 13% of the plan for the year. The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Muslim Umiryaev, spoke about the pace of the 2013 harvest. By August 2, 830,000 tons of grain had already been harvested, a slight increase on this time last year. More than 67% of sowing was deemed “good”, with a further 30% “satisfactory”. This should produce an overall grain harvest of 16.3m tons, the Deputy Minister added. (


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Also in The News… • Busy schedule for Minister in Aktobe Region The Minister for Regional Development, Bakytzhan Sagintayev, visited Aktobe Region on August 6 with a packed schedule. He started his visit in the Alginsk Area, examining the AkTep livestock complex and the Aym A driving school, which was built under the terms of the “Business Road Map-2020” program. Mr Sagintayev then went on to the regional capital, Aktobe, where he spent the second half of the day inspecting a number of industrial projects, including the construction of the new ferroalloy plant No.4, which is part of the Republican Map for the Industrialization of Kazakhstan. He also visited the Aktobe Railway Plant, which makes rails for the Kazakhstan Railway Company and also for export to Kazakhstan’s neighbours. After a whistlestop tour, the Minister then chaired a meeting to discuss the issues raised during the day. ( • Students living abroad gather in Astana Students from Kazakhstan who are studying abroad are gathering in Astana on August 9-10 for the annual Rally of Kazakhstan’s Overseas Students’ Organizations. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the “Bolashak” program. The program gives scholarships to students from Kazakhstan to spend a period of study abroad. Some 300 students from 60 overseas students’ organizations are getting together in the capital to share and learn from each other’s experiences. ( • First Five-Year Visas Issued for US Citizens Following a recent agreement between the Government of Kazakhstan and the United States’ Congress, the first five-year visas to visit Kazakhstan have begun to be issued for US citizens. The very first recipient was a member of Congress, Eni Faleomavaega. Mr Faleomavaega plans to visit Kazakhstan this month and noted the symbolic nature of the occasion. Mr Faleomavaega added that because of Kazakhstan’s political stability and economic prosperity as well as President Nazarbayev’s commitment to nuclear disarmament, he holds great hopes for Kazakhstan as a strategic partner of the USA. ( • ‘Nanotechnology, Energetics and the Cosmos’ reach new audiences in Kazakhstan This week the Third International Symposium on ‘Nanotechnology, Energetics and the Cosmos’ opened in Almaty. One of the main focuses of the Symposium was a discussion of the themes for the global exhibition EXPO 2017 to be held in Astana under the banner of ‘Energy of the Future’. The event, organized by the Ministry of Education and Science, heard from experts who explained the practical uses of nanotechnology including how it could be used to create highly-renewable and ecologicallyclean sources of energy as well as aid space exploration. Scientists and specialists representing large scientific centers, companies and space agencies from the US, Russia, EU, Japan and Kazakhstan participated at the Symposium as did representatives from the National Company ‘Astana EXPO 2017’, the Ministry of Education and Science, and the Ministry of Industry and New Technology (MINT) of Kazakhstan. The Symposium continues until August 8. ( • Homeless rehabilitation centre expands its services The social rehabilitation centre for the homeless in Astana sees up to 700 homeless people each day. Plans are underway to add an extra 200 places in 2014. Working with non-governmental organizations, the aim is to try to bring people who have fallen on hard times back to a normal life. ( • European first for football in Kazakhstan Shakhter from Karaganda have become the first football club from Kazakhstan to make it through to the group stages of a European club football competition. By beating Skenderbeu of Albania 5:3 on aggregate (a 3:0 victory at home followed by a 2:3 defeat away) Shakhter have qualified for the play-off round of the European Champions League. Even if they fail to progress from there into the group stages of the Champions League, they will be guaranteed a place in the Europa League – the first time that a team from Kazakhstan has managed this. ( • Gold Medal for Kazakhstani Policeman Askhat Yelubaev from the Eastern Kazakhstan Region became the first competitor from Kazakhstan to win a gold medal at the XV International Games for Police and Fire-Fighters, being held in the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast. Yelubaev defeated his Romanian opponent in the under-90kg judo competition. (



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Astana calling no 316  

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