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Astana Calling

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Kazakhstan

Central Communications Service for the President of Kazakhstan


Abylay Khan, a great figure in Kazakhstan’s history 300th anniversary a cause for national celebration

Reviving the Silk Road for Cultural Tourism Almaty hosts UNESCO meeting

Traffic in Almaty: Room for Improvement

8th KAZENERGY Forum Held in Astana

Authorities try to encourage greater use of public transport

Kazakhstan presents new “Eurasia” consortium

News from the Government in Brief

Also in the News

Things to Watch

Abylay Khan, a great figure in Kazakhstan’s history Few events in Kazakhstan in recent years have brought such a cause for national celebration as the 300th anniversary of the birth of Abylay Khan. Abylay was an outstanding figure in the history of Kazakhstan. He was the leading khan in the period from 1771 to 1781 as well as a military leader and a diplomat who fought for the independence and the integrity of the early Kazakh state leaving an indelible mark on the history of Kazakhstan. President Nazarbayev wrote a leading article on the legacy of Abylay Khan in the newspaper, Kazakhstanskaya Pravda on October 8. The President wrote: “Abylay devoted the whole of his active life to the strengthening of the Kazakh state... He liberated the spacious lands of the Kazakh Khanate from invaders and united the territories. History shows that Abylay was a leader of vision, who dreamed of lifting the Kazakh people, creating prosperity in the land, and doing this not by military means alone but also by the power of diplomacy.” The President believes that it is essential that the youth of today’s Kazakhstan know about the often turbulent history of their state, and the great leaders who helped create the country in which they live today. President Nazarbayev sees a parallel with modern times. “Today we should make a radical re-think of our national history, bearing in mind the new approaches which have been developed in the years of independence. The difficult period when Abylay Khan ruled was a time of great personalities. At those times when the fate of the nation was decided, when it was a question of life or death, alongside Abylay there always stood faithful subjects, wise and just advisers and fearless warriors. And it is these people, who didn’t spare themselves for the sake of the Motherland, whose legacy has been passed down from generation to generation.” Alongside the nationwide celebrations of the anniversary, particular focus was on Kokshetau, the main city in Abylay Khan’s home region. Here an international academic conference was held on October 5, entitled “Abylay Khan and his Historical Times”. Over 600 people attended the conference, including representatives from the Presidential Administration, the national and local governments and 21 direct descendants of Abylay Khan himself. The main aim of the conference was to develop a systematic approach to the study of Abylay Khan and his times, as well as to establish the state’s policy towards his place and role in the history of the country in modern times. The organizers also wanted to use the conference to give wider publicity to the academic research already carried out on Abylay. The participants were set the task of studying the defence of the Fatherland against the Dzungars – this successful defence preserved the sovereignty of the Kazakh Khanate. The conference further analyzed the Khanate’s relations with neighboring states and the measures taken by Abylay to ensure security and cooperation in the region. Conference attendees also looked at ways in which Kazakhstan’s history can be communicated to an international audience, as a way of forming a positive image of independent Kazakhstan, showing the great figures from the past and the present. And they considered, too, how the study of the past can help to strengthen inter-ethnic peace and relationships in Kazakhstan today.

“Abylay saved the Kazakh state from extinction. With his dream of a bright future for his people, he took upon himself with honor the great responsibility which history had placed upon his shoulders, and carried out his filial duty to his country.”

President Nursultan Nazarbayev


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Prime Minister Akhmetov meets with delegates

The Forum is an important meeting point for oil, gas and other energy companies

8th KAZENERGY Forum Held in Astana The 8th KAZENERGY Eurasian Forum took place in Astana on October 8-9, under the title, “Future Energy – Eurasian Prospects”. The Forum has become one of the most important events of the year for oil and gas and other energy companies doing business in Central Asia. The Forum was opened by the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Serik Akhmetov, who read a message of greeting from President Nazarbayev. The President stressed Kazakhstan’s willingness to work with international companies, not only to exploit the country’s oil and gas reserves but also to develop new technologies for exploration and refinement. He also emphasized the importance of introducing innovative production techniques, especially where they contribute to ecological safety. A practical example of this is the extraction work which started at the Kashagan oil field this year. “Ahead of us,” the President said, “lie a number of very promising projects. The oil and gas industry, as one of the key sectors in the economy of our country, should also be a leader in terms of technology. I am convinced that our work together and the strength of our partnership will enable us to achieve all the goals we have set.” The Prime Minister echoed the President’s words, saying that the energy sector was the foundation of Kazakhstan’s economy. To underline the point, he quoted these figures: “In a short space of time oil extraction in Kazakhstan has risen more than three times, and it stands now at 80m tonnes per year; gas extraction has gone up over five times, producing more than 40bn cubic meters.” Speaking about the Kashagan project, Mr Akhmetov described it as, “a victory for technological progress”, and added that the project is not the only exploration project which Kazakhstan will be carrying out. “Geological exploration is one of the policy priorities for developing the resource-industrial capability of Kazakhstan.” Emphasizing Kazakhstan’s intention to be at the forefront of geological exploration, the Oil and Gas Minister, Uzakbay Karabalin, used the Forum to unveil the new “Eurasia” exploration project. This has come about following recent studies which suggest that Kazakhstan possesses potentially huge resources of hydrocarbons. The major portion of these resources is concentrated predominantly in more deep-lying oil and gas horizons, perhaps over 6-7 km deep. The “Eurasia” project takes into account the long-term development of Kazakhstan’s oil and gas industry and the need to replenish hydrocarbon resources. The project’s focus is the deep-water horizon exploration of the Caspian depression, both on land and at sea, on the territory of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation. A consortium of oil companies is expected to be created to participate in the project and provide funding for it. The significance of the “Eurasia” project cannot be overestimated. It could double the resource potential of Kazakhstan, which would put the country firmly in the top ten countries in the world for reserves of natural resources. An important discussion at the Forum was on the formation of the international consortium which will take part in the “Eurasia” project. Mr Karabalin reminded his audience that the age of easily accessible oil was coming to an end, and deep horizon oil drilling was going to be essential.

“Kazakhstan remains committed to mutually-beneficial international cooperation in the energy sphere. One of the principles of the future development of the country is the switch from the extraction of raw materials to cooperation in the field of renewable energy resources and the exchange of the latest technology.” President Nazarbayev


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Reviving the Silk Road for Cultural Tourism On October 7-8, Almaty hosted a working meeting together with UNWTO (the United Nations World Tourism Organization) and UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) with the aim of producing a plan for the development of tourism along the ancient Silk Road route. For some years, UNESCO and other international bodies have been working on the development of what are known as the “heritage corridors” of the Silk Road. A final decision on the plan should be made by the end of 2014. UNESCO is now considering two nominations for the historical and cultural heritage corridors of the Silk Road. The nominations have been developed further by the countries involved in the project, originally 15 and now 28. The first corridor goes through China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan; the second through Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of tourism in modern economies. When the idea of reviving the Silk Road as part of the World Heritage Convention first appeared in the 1970s, it was for cultural reasons, not because of tourism. But tourism has grown hugely since then. The business volume of tourism now surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles. Tourism represents an estimated 5% of the world’s GDP and 30% of global exports of services (USD 1trln a year). Tourism accounts for one in 12 jobs worldwide. Forty years ago, there were some 180m international tourist arrivals annually. That figure is now around 1bn. Significantly, cultural tourism accounts for about 40% of all trips. Figures such as these underline why Kazakhstan is seeking to boost its tourist industry – the Silk Road project is a golden opportunity to do this, in collaboration with its Central Asian neighbors. The ancient Silk Road was the first bridge between east and west and played a key role in the development of business between China, Central and Western Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Roman Empire. It became much more than simply a trade route, something to which the numerous architectural monuments and memorials along the route bear witness. But this is not simply about boosting tourism for its own sake. Tourism can be used as the driving force to ensure the protection and preservation of both the cultural and natural heritage of the region, as well as creating the conditions for sustainable development. Tourism at World Heritage sites has been shown to stimulate growth in jobs and help develop the local economy, particularly small businesses. But to do this tourism needs to be carefully planned and managed. When it is left to its own devices, tourism has been shown to have the opposite effect, causing social, cultural and economic damage to societies. UNESCO, UNWTO and all other interested parties are determined to prevent this from happening with the Silk Road project, hence the carefully-planned series of events of which this week’s meeting in Almaty was an important part. There has already been a high level of cooperation and agreement on the project and all sides are agreed on certain objectives going forward. These include: applying the principles of sustainable development to the management of tourism in the whole area; effective management of tourist flows through the Silk Road route in order to give tourists the maximum time at each site and thus maximum returns for operators; the creation of new opportunities to attract investment; strengthening international ties; and investigating new opportunities for public-private partnership (PPP) projects. The latest UNWTO Programme for the Silk Road project can be found at

“The UNWTO Silk Road Programme… aims to maximize the benefits of tourism development for local Silk Road communities, while stimulating investment and promoting the conservation of the route’s natural and cultural heritage.” Website of the United Nations World Tourism Organization Network


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Traffic in Almaty: Room for Improvement As countries become more prosperous and the wealth levels of populations grow, it is an unfortunate fact that transport often brings a negative effect to big cities. Owning your own car becomes a symbol of well-being but more and more cars on the roads create greater strain on a city’s infrastructure, an increased number of traffic jams and more air pollution. Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, shows the classic signs of greater prosperity but this has led to worse problems on the roads. The Head of Passenger Transport for Almaty, Talgat Abdrakhmanov, discussed these issues with the “Kazinform” news agency in an interview published on October 7. Mr Abdrakhmanov acknowledged that there is a direct correlation between the rise in living standards of the population of Almaty; the increase in the number of cars; and more problems getting around the city and worse air pollution. He said that there are now 521,000 cars in Almaty, which means 350 cars per 1,000 inhabitants. The situation has been made worse by the fact that infrastructure improvements have fallen behind – largely because of budget restraints. The transport system in Almaty is finding it difficult to cope with the strain. This has a knock-on effect on other areas of life. It takes longer to travel around the city, which means that thousands of working hours are being lost each week, and it is taking longer for goods to be delivered, causing other delays in the economy. This also is leading to an increase in traffic accidents – the number of accidents happening in Almaty is ten times the average in developed countries. And motor vehicles continue to be by far the biggest cause of air pollution in the city. They are currently responsible for putting 200,000 tonnes of pollutants into the atmosphere each year, which represents 95% of all the air pollution in Almaty. In most parts of the city, motor transport is also the fundamental cause of noise pollution. Mr Abdrakhmanov acknowledges that solutions to these problems exist and have been found to work in other places. Among them are the ideas of polycentric development, where a city is organized around a number of points instead of just one center; improving the basic road infrastructure; better regulation of traffic flows; giving priority to public transport; and limiting the use of private transport, such as by allowing cars with even-numbered plates to drive into the city’s center on every other day, and oddnumbered cars on the other days. Almaty’s Head of Passenger Transport is in no doubt that the greater use of public transport presents the best answer to the problem. This is why over the last three years the Mayor’s office has put a great deal of effort into improving the public transport system. This includes instigating a coordinated system whereby all public transport in the city is directed with the help of a GPS navigation system. In addition, in December 2011, the first metro line was opened, going through the center of Almaty for a distance of just over 8km. An exciting new project is now underway to build a light rail system. This will be jointly financed by the Mayor’s office and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Judging by experience elsewhere, it should take between three and three and a half years to complete. When finished, there will be 28 trains running on the line at intervals of four to six minutes. The light rail can carry up to 150,000 passengers a day. The project is expected to cost USD 300m, with USD 100m being put in by the state for the infrastructure, and the remaining USD 200m coming from private investors for the construction of the actual line, the depot and the trains themselves.

“The transport system in the biggest city in the country is coming under ever-increasing pressure… International practice shows that the key solution is encouraging greater use of public transport.” Talgat Abdrakhmanov, Head of Passenger Transport for Almaty


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News from the Government in Brief Ministry reports increase in home-grown output The Deputy Minister of Industry and New Technologies, Nurlan Sauranbayev, said on October 7 that local output of goods, work and services in Kazakhstan increased by over 12% in the first six months of 2013, compared to the same period in 2011. Speaking at a seminar on “The Development of Local Content: International Experience and Best Practice”, Mr Sauranbayev said, “The general growth in local content across the board for the monitoring we carried out shows that in the first half of this year there was an increase of 12.2% on the same period in 2011, or a rise of KZT 726bn.” He added that Kazakhstan’s producers receive orders from the government worth USD 30bn each year, which helps to boost domestic production. A number of measures have been taken which have led to an increase in the local content of goods and services. New rules have been introduced on the use of subsoil, and much has been done to improve hi-tech, home-grown services in major oil and gas projects. (

EXPO-2017 “Constitution” submitted to BIE The first draft of the registration dossier – the “Constitution” of EXPO-2017 – was sent to the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE), Minister for the Environment, Nurlan Kapparov, reported on October 7. The 200-page dossier, which sets out all the preparation work for the exhibition, has to be approved by the BIE and all those countries which plan to take part in the exhibition. It will then serve as the handbook for everything which is done between now and 2017. “We hope to receive initial approval in November,” said Mr Kapparov, “and everything should be passed by the start of next year.” In other related developments, it has also been announced that work on the construction of the site for EXPO-2017 will begin in April 2014, following a tender in which 49 companies from 22 countries took part. The theme of EXPO-2017 is “Future Energy”, and Mr Kapparov also announced that the conference which was held on September 30 on the subject of the “green economy” was deemed a success, with eight countries signing up to the “Green Bridge” charter. He said that this officially marks the beginning of the “Green Bridge” project, an important step towards creating a “green economy” in Kazakhstan. (,

Training of Peacekeepers for Collective Security Treaty Organization Military exercises involving peacekeeping forces from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) have been taking place this week in the Chelyabinsk Region of the Russian Federation. Troops taking part are from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. They were joined by Special Forces from the Russian Interior Ministry. The scenario for the exercise envisaged a rapidly-changing military-political situation in a region of the CSTO, including strife in the government, religious conflict and activities by separatist forces. (


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Also in The News… • Prime Minister briefs President on Economy On October 8, Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov, briefed President Nazarbayev on the socio-economic development of the country in the first nine months of the year, and also on the progress of the gathering of this year’s harvest. The President told Mr Akhmetov that it was important to have reasonable results at the end of the year. “This is very important,” he said, “especially in light of the signs of crisis which are still taking place in the world.” The Prime Minister reported that GDP was up 5.7% for the period, and that he is expecting it to reach 6% for the year. As for the harvest, apart from in the Akmola Region where there have been heavy rains, results have been satisfactory, with 18.5m tonnes gathered in so far. The overall total for the year should be 20m tonnes. ( • Foreign Minister meets Energy Charter Secretary General Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov held a meeting on October 8 with the Secretary General of the Energy Charter Secretariat, Urban Rusnák. Mr Rusnák was in Astana to attend the KAZENERGY Forum, where he signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the KAZENERGY Association. Mr Idrissov and Mr Rusnák discussed questions of energy security, the updating of the Energy Charter and the adaptation of the Charter to cope with the new energy map of the world. Kazakhstan signed and ratified the Energy Charter in 1995. ( • Representative for Women’s and Children’s Issues visits Finland The Chairwoman of the National Commission for Women’s Issues and Family and Demographic Policy, Gulshara Abdykalikova, visited Finland last week. The visit came about thanks to an invitation issued by the Finnish President, Sauli Niinistö, when he was in Kazakhstan in April. Ms Abdykalikova’s program included meetings in the Education and Culture Ministry; the Ministry of Social Welfare and Health; the Foreign Ministry; the National Parliament; and the Council for Gender Equality. ( • Kashagan producing 60,000 barrels of oil a day The Chairman of the Board of KazMunaiGaz, Sauat Mynbayev, told the KAZENERGY Forum that the Kashagan oil field is now producing 60,000 barrels of oil each day. He also said that by 2025 he expects that Kazakhstan should be producing 108m tonnes of oil and condensate annually. This would be 29m tonnes more than in 2012. ( • First International Automobile Show takes place in Astana The “Astana International Auto Salon – 2013” (AIAS-2013) has been taking place in the capital on October 10-12. The main objective of the exhibition is to provide a unique platform for car-makers from around the world to show off new trends, opportunities and achievements in the automotive industry. Kazakhstan needs to update all of the country’s domestic vehicle fleets, partly for reasons of safety but also for ecological reasons. As well as seeing the latest cars, visitors to AIAS-2013 can learn about innovative ideas in the industry, hi-tech equipment for machine-building enterprises and for service stations and gas stations, and also the latest in the market for spare parts and accessories. ( • Kazakhstan to send cadets to US military academies Kazakhstan’s Defence Ministry has begun the process of looking for four suitable candidates to train for four years at the USA’s prestigious military academies: West Point, for the army; the Naval Academy; the Air Force Academy; and the Coastguard Academy. Applications are open until November 20. Candidates must be between the ages of 17 and 23, be single, have secondary education and speak fluent English. They must also pass a medical commission. The names of the successful candidates will be made known in May, and they will leave for the USA in mid-June, after they have taken the Military Oath of the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan. Upon completion of their training in America, they will be obliged to serve for a minimum of ten years in the Kazakhstan Armed Forces. The first two cadets have already completed a year’s service in the USA, Abylay Akhmetov in West Point and Ilyas Kameledinov in the Naval Academy. ( ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 325 / 7

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• 20th anniversary of Turkic Culture Organization Celebrations have been taking place in Ankara at the headquarters of Türksoy, the Turkic Culture Organization. Türksoy was founded in July 1993 to bring together peoples with a Turkic heritage. As the President of Türksoy, Shakira Ibrayeva, said, over the last 20 years Türksoy has successfully publicized the great achievements of the culture of the Turkic peoples, from ancient times to the present day. ( • “The Nation in the Flow of History”: new model The Head of the Faculty of the Philosophy and History of the Ryskulov Kazakh Economic University, Georgiy Kan, says that President Nazarbayev’s program, “The Nation in the Flow of History”, is a new model for the study of history which fits with the aims and ambitions outlined in the Strategy “Kazakhstan-2050”. Professor Kan was speaking as the third part of his major work, “Innovative Methodology in the Study of the History of Kazakhstan”, was published online. (

Things to Watch • Acting OSCE Chairperson to Visit Astana The Ukrainian Foreign Minister and Acting Chairperson of the OSCE, Leonid Kozhara, will make a working visit to Astana on October 13-15. During the visit, Mr Kozhara will meet his counterparts from Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss a wide range of bilateral issues.



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Astana calling no 325