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Astana Calling

Issue No 281 FRIDAY, 30 NOVEMBER 2012 www.mfa.kz A weekly online publication of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Nazarbayev Readings launched in Astana International forum analyzes the achievements of Kazakhstan’s first President

Ministry of Defence Collegium Review of progress in developing Armed Forces

EU-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting in Bishkek EU and Central Asian countries discuss cooperation

U.S. Under Secretary of State visits Kazakhstan

Supreme Mufti visits Washington D.C.

Discusses bilateral cooperation, Afghanistan and the New Silk Road

Launches book “Islam: Religion of Peace and Creation”

Things to Watch

Also in the News


This week’s inaugural Nazarbayev Readings took place at Nazarbayev University

Nazarbayev Readings launched in Astana On the eve of the “Day of the First President”, the new national holiday to be celebrated for the first time on 1 December 2012, public and political figures from around the world gathered for the inaugural “Nazarbayev Readings”, an international forum for discussing the historic role of Kazakhstan’s first President, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The series of lectures, co-organized by the Nazarbayev Center and the Ministry of Education and Science, aims to examine the role President Nazarbayev has played in shaping Kazakhstan’s achievements as a newly independent and economically successful country with a voice on the international arena. Assel Kapalova, a representative of the Ministry of Education and Science, explained the rationale of the Readings: “The pace of economic development has put Kazakhstan in the top three fastest growing countries of the world. These and many other of Kazakhstan’s achievements are inextricably linked with the name of the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan”, she said. As she explained, Kazakhstan today has a strong presence internationally and has put forward a number of initiatives and major projects on the international political arena. She noted that the readings aim to provide a comprehensive analysis by prominent Kazakhstani and international experts of President Nazarbayev’s role in establishing an independent state, and put forward recommendations to further promote Kazakhstan’s dynamic development and strengthen its position on the world stage.

“In 1997, when the economic situation was difficult, in an address to the people of Kazakhstan, President Nazarbayev vowed that “by 2030, our descendants will live in a country which not be left behind the curve of global events”. Despite the skepticism of many, this goal has been achieved in much less time and Kazakhstan has become Central Asia’s greatest success story with a dynamic and flourishing economy. This achievement is, of course, no accident. Without the visionary and avant-garde spirit of President Nazarbayev, who had the courage to launch numerous radical reforms, things might have gone differently,” Senator Emery de Montesquieu, Chairman of the France-Kazakhstan Inter-parliamentary Friendship Committee

The first reading, “New Kazakhstan in a New World”, took place in Astana on November 29. In his opening remarks Kanat Saudabayev, Director of the Nazarbayev Center, welcomed participants to Astana, recalling the capital’s success in winning its bid to host the international exhibition EXPO 2017. He thanked the foreign guests, statesmen, politicians and scholars from over 50 countries who attended the forum: “I think that this is a clear sign of the huge interest in the world for Kazakhstan, which in its short years of independence under the outstanding leadership of its first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been transformed from an unknown fragment of the former Soviet empire into an economically strong, democratic state that is a recognized and respected partner of the international community” Saudabayev said. He noted that Nazarbayev’s policies and leadership have been the subject of in-depth research and analysis in many countries, and highlighted that these Readings provide an opportunity to see and understand the historic scale of these efforts. Almat Zhakybekov, Executive Secretary of “Jas Otan”, the Youth Wing of the ruling Nur Otan party emphasized the significance of the Readings and of the Day of the First President: “For two decades, he (President Nazarbayev) has managed to create a strong and rapidly developing state with a rich history, culture and spiritual heritage that dominates Central Asia and competes with leading global powers”. “Today, when the world is facing various social conflicts, Kazakhstan demonstrates to the world an example of extraordinary political stability and prosperity.” ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 281 / 2

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EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton with Central Asian Foreign Ministers in Bishkek

EU-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting in Bishkek On 27 November, Central Asian Ministers of Foreign Affairs met in Bishkek with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, at the 6th EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting. Kazakhstan was represented by Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov. Participants discussed the implementation of the EU-Central Asia Strategy adopted by the European Council in 2007, as well as EU assistance for sustainable economic development in Central Asia and other regional issues such as the efficient use of energy and water, environmental protection, the fight against terrorism and extremism. Participants also exchanged views on regional security and stability, including the situation in Afghanistan ahead of the withdrawal of most international forces by the end of 2014.

“We face shared security challenges. We have great potential to further develop our energy, trade and economic relations, to the benefit of the countries of Central Asia and the European Union. And we want to support the efforts of the countries of Central Asia as you take that journey of political and economic reforms and help you to deal with some of the challenges you face – for example environmental challenges – where we can share some of the experience and knowledge that we have.” Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Speaking after the meeting, Lady Ashton took stock of the EU-Central Asia partnership over the past five years: “We agreed that all the areas of the Strategy remain important but that we should do more to make our cooperation more targeted and more efficient.” The EU Strategy focuses on a number of key initiatives: education, the rule of law, the environment and water, democratization, human rights and the development of civil society. She noted the great potential to further develop energy, trade and economic relations to the benefit of both the EU and Central Asian countries. She reiterated the EU’s support for Central Asian countries’ political and economic reforms, and its willingness to share experience and knowledge in areas such as the environment.

Lady Ashton confirmed that the EU and Central Asian countries will strengthen their cooperation in the security area through a regular High Level Security Dialogue, in particular to “promote a secure Afghanistan and a prosperous region as a whole”. During a press briefing after the event, Minister Idrissov drew attention to a number of shared challenges and common goals in EU-Central Asia cooperation. In particular, he noted the importance of security issues and foreign policy cooperation, including on Afghanistan and Iran. “Our views on the need for sustainable and stable development in the region are the same”, the Minister said. He reiterated Kazakhstan’s support for this ministerial format meeting, calling on its role to be strengthened and moving from an information sharing exercise to deeper consultations in order to develop coordinated solutions to the most pressing issues of mutual concern. The Minister said that he was “convinced of the need to join forces in the region with the EU in post-crisis management, and exchange ideas on economic modernization and the implementation of joint projects”. The EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting was the first to be held in the Kyrgyz Republic. It was attended by the Foreign Ministers or Deputy Foreign Ministers of all five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and was the ninth Ministerial meeting since the Central Asia Strategy was adopted by the European Council in 2007. Lady Ashton also visited Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan on a tour of the region. ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 281 / 3

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U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman meets Foreign Minister Idrissov

U.S. Under Secretary of State visits Kazakhstan On November 28-29, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, visited Astana and met with Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov, senior government officials and NGO representatives to discuss regional and global security, and trade and economic links, as well as cooperation on energy and human rights and U.S. policy priorities for Central Asia. Ms. Sherman was en route from a two-day visit to Afghanistan. Meeting with Foreign Minister Idrissov, she stressed that Europe and the U.S. will keep peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014. After the withdrawal of combat units, peacekeepers will remain with a mandate to train Afghan troops for at least the next 25 months, so that they can bring even more of the country under the control of Afghan forces. Ms. Sherman paid particular tribute to the leading role played by Kazakhstan in many processes in the region aimed at building a better future for the people of Afghanistan.

“By maximizing the use of transportation and energy infrastructure and actively promoting cross-border collaboration and trade, Central and South Asia can once again become a bustling hub for global commerce. The economic potential of a more open and integrated region as dynamic as this one is virtually unlimited.” Geoffrey Pyatt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. State Department Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, speaking at the Tokyo Symposium on a New Silk Road in July 2012

The Under Secretary is the fourth highest-ranking official in the U.S. State Department. She is responsible for overall regional and bilateral policy issues, and oversees the State Department bureaus for Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, the Near East, South and Central Asia, the Western Hemisphere and international organizations. In an address at Gumilev Eurasian National University, Ms. Sherman emphasized the strength of the strategic relationship between the U.S. and Kazakhstan and said that it is based on broad and expanding mutual interest, as well as Kazakhstan’s leadership both in the Central Asian region and, increasingly, on the global front. She highlighted the close and ongoing cooperation between the two countries on the area of nuclear non-proliferation and security and voiced the appreciation of the U.S. Government for President Nazarbayev’s strong leadership in calling for the Government of Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. She went on to outline U.S. policy priorities for Central Asia, with particular focus on the “New Silk Road” vision, first outlined by Secretary of State Clinton in 2011 in the context of the peace and future security of Afghanistan and the broader region. The New Silk Road would re-connect economies across the region in a dynamic network of trade and cooperation, similar to that which existed in the past, when the region served as a hub of interlinking trade routes across Europe, Asia and the Middle East, through which ideas, goods and people passed from one continent to another. Decades of war and rivalry between states have destroyed many of those connections, and South and Central Asia is now one of the least economically-integrated areas of the world: The New Silk Road offers a framework to regenerate regional economic integration through two primary means: firstly, by liberalizing trade through the reduction of non-tariff trade barriers, improved regulatory regimes, transparent and efficient border clearance procedures; and secondly, by connecting goods, services and people through energy, water, transport and infrastructure.

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Participants at last week’s meeting of the Collegium of the Ministry of Defense

Ministry of Defence Collegium Last week, Kazakhstan’s Defense Minister, Adilbek Dzhaksybekov, presided over a Collegium of the Ministry of Defence, which conducted a comprehensive review of the country’s Armed Forces, held in the garrison of Gvardeyskiy in south-eastern Kazakhstan. The Collegium reviewed the activities of the Armed Forces during 2012, as well as logistical support for the forces, the quality of preparation and level of combat readiness and reforms in the areas of military discipline and law and order. Progress in all of these areas was benchmarked against the goals set out in the Military Doctrine signed by President Nazarbayev in 2011. After Kazakhstan declared independence in 1991, it had to create national defense forces under its control. During the first 20 years of Kazakhstan’s independence, the focus has been on developing Armed Forces fit for the purpose of maintaining and defending the country. Today, the Armed Forces comprise 46,800 troops across four military districts and three branches: Ground Troops, Air Force and Navy. The 2011 Military Doctrine sets out a plan for the further development of lean, but technologically advanced and highly mobile Armed Forces. It defines the role of the armed forces as defensive and stresses that Kazakhstan pursues good neighbourly relations, does not interfere in the domestic affairs of neighbouring states and works towards the peaceful resolution of international disputes, in cooperation with international organizations such as the Customs Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and NATO’s Partnership for Peace Programme. The Collegium heard that in 2012, over 80 military exercises were completed, with the aim of equipping the Armed Forces to deal with every possible scenario and to adapt to different conditions of terrain and weather. The capacity of the forces was tested by moving troops to unfamiliar regions to engage in simulated combat tasks. The Defence Minister told the assembled military and naval commanders that the forces had achieved satisfactory results in the areas of attack and navigation training and that the focus going forward will be on the quality of military preparation. For 2013, the Armed Forces will adopt a new slogan for combat events, which signifies the next stage of their development: “A Strong Army for a Strong Kazakhstan”. The Minister set out the main objectives for the coming year, which include: improving field training, increasing combat readiness and the quality of military cadres, developing the infrastructure for garrisons, and continuing to support Kazakhstan’s defence-industry complex by introducing new production technologies and the service maintenance of weapons and military technology. The day before the Collegium, the commanding officers of the Armed Forces, Generals and officers alike, completed a series of tests of physical fitness, weapons proficiency and ability to drive military vehicles and carry equipment on challenging routes. The Defence Minister praised the results and emphasized the importance of commanders setting a good example to their troops in these practical abilities as well as in leadership. On December 1 – the Day of the First President of Kazakhstan – the latest batch of new recruits to the Armed Forces will be sworn in. The Collegium discussed plans to build up military reserves by drafting reserve officers in universities and higher education institutions.

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Sheikh Abdsattar Haji Derbisali, Supreme Mufti of Kazakhstan

Supreme Mufti visits Washington D.C. Sheikh Abdsattar Haji Derbisali, the Supreme Mufti of Kazakhstan and spiritual leader of 70 per cent of the population, visited Washington, D.C. and New York last week to launch his new book, “Islam: Religion of Peace and Creation”, which promotes a modern, enlightened and progressive Islam. During his trip, he held meetings with Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake, Deputy Special Representative to Muslim Communities Adnan Kifayat and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Cook, to discuss issues of religious tolerance, inter-faith dialogue and religious freedom. In Washington, D.C., Sheikh Derbisali spoke at the Center for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue at the Rumi Forum and participated in a roundtable on “Islam in Central Asia” organized by the Jamestown Foundation. He also spoke at a reception to launch his book, hosted by the Embassy of Kazakhstan. Before assuming his current role as spiritual leader of Kazakhstan’s Muslim community, Sheikh Derbisali had a long and distinguished career as an academic and diplomat. He rose through the ranks of academia at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University to become Vice-Dean of the philological department in 1977, going on to found the department of Arabic Studies in 1984. He was appointed Vice Rector of Foreign Languages and International Affairs in 1991. In 1997, at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Derbisali departed for Saudi Arabia, where he served as Counselor in the Embassy of Kazakhstan until 2000. In June of that year, he was elected Supreme Mufti and Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan. He was re-elected to the position in 2005 and in 2007 was elected Chairman of the Council of Muftis in Central Asia. The Supreme Mufti has published over 600 works on topics including the Arabic language and literature, the early history of Kazakh literature, the history of Islam, the Holy Qu’ran and the Hadith of the Prophet. He has also lectured at the Universities of Baghdad, Columbia (New York), Kashmir, Madrid, Peshawar, Madrid and Tokyo and participated in many international forums including the UN, UNESCO and the Moscow Summit of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. His latest publication, “Islam: Religion of Peace and Creation”, is a work of theological and historical-philological research, incorporating articles and reflections, reports and interviews, with the purpose of promoting a moderate and progressive Islam, which rejects extremism. At the Rumi Forum in Washington, Director Jena Luedtke paid particular tribute to the way in which Sheikh Derbisali has used his diplomatic skills to reach out to leaders of other religions, foster inter-faith dialogue and enhance understanding between religions. Sheikh Derbisali spoke on the theme of religious harmony and said that he is a strong proponent of moderate Islam, which is both generous and welcoming of other religions. He emphasized that the Kazakh government and its leader, President Nazarbayev, endeavors to act as a bridge between East and West, connecting the two civilizations and their religions. He said that Kazakhstan will continue to spread the message of tolerance it delivered during its 2010 chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and through such ongoing initiatives as the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. ASTANA CALLING / ISSUE 281 / 6

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Also in The News… • The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, made her first visit to Astana on November 29-30 and met with President Nazarbayev. They discussed the strengthening of relations between Kazakhstan and the EU as well as topical issues, including the situation in Afghanistan. She said that the EU supported Kazakhstan in its efforts to join the World Trade Organization as well as backing President Nazarbayev’s regional integration initiatives. (President’s Press Service) • On November 29-30, the intergovernmental commission on bilateral cooperation between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan met in Tashkent. The delegation from Kazakhstan was led by Deputy Prime Minister Krymbek Kusherbayev and the expert meeting was chaired by Vice Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Timur Zhaksylykov. Discussions centred on Kazakh-Uzbek cooperation in trade and investment, transport, gas and electricity and agriculture and the management of agriculture and water. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Service) • The UN supports Kazakhstan’s bid to hold the G-Global Forum. Deputy Director General of the UN office in Geneva, KasymZhomart Tokayev, said that from a political and economic point of view, Kazakhstan has the right to host the forum under the aegis of the UN and that a wider selection of states should help to resolve economic problems, not only those in the G20. (Tengrinews) • On November 28, an international conference entitled “Institution of the Presidency in creating an independent Kazakhstan” took place in Astana. Leading political analysts from China Kazakhstan, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, the US and the UK attended the conference which was organized in anticipation of the Day of the First President of Kazakhstan. (Bnews) • US Eximbank has offered “Lokomotiv” a loan of USD 400 million to acquire TE33A “Evolution” diesel locomotives from General Electric. The loan agreement was signed November 26 and is the first deal of its kind. (KazTAG) • President Nazarbayev has published a decree on forming a state commission for the international exhibition, EXPO 2017. The document can be found on the Akorda website. Last week, at the International Exhibitions Bureau in Paris, Astana won the bid to host EXPO 2017 with 103 votes to 44 for its rival city, Liège (Belgium). Astana’s EXPO theme is “Energy of the future” and it will be dedicated to alternative energies and green technology.(Bnews) • President Nazarbayev has instructed the government to remove a four-year moratorium on issuing new mineral exploration licences in a bid to spur investment in the outlying regions of Kazakhstan. “We need now to remove the moratorium on subsoil use,” he told a meeting of regional governors at his residence on Wednesday. (Reuters) • In the North Kazakhstan Region mining sector, the volume of production has increased 1.8 times for January-October 2012 in comparison to the same period in 2011. Despite the relatively low numbers of mining companies (16 are based in the region), recently there have been positive developments. Mining of titanium zirconia minerals has increased by a factor of 2.3 in comparison to January-October 2011; rock salt by 30.3 %; gravel and ballast by 20.9 %. (Bnews)

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• On November 29, Kazakhstan’s Health Minister Salidat Kairbekova met with Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Kazakhstan, Bedrzhikh Kopetski, President of “Puro Klima” Jaromir Ferbr and Director of “Puro Klima” Exports, Pavel Nemets. “Puro Klima” is an engineering and supply company specializing in health services and has been working with Kazakhstan for over five years. Both sides agreed to step up bilateral cooperation by holding master classes in Kazakhstan, improving the qualifications of medical staff, using Czech expertise in heart surgery, cardiology, and radiology.. (Zakon.kz) • On November 29, an extended meeting of the Assembly of the People Council of Kazakhstan entitled “Kazakhstan’s way: Stability. Unity. Modernization” was held in the Palace of Independence in Astana. State Secretary Mukhtar Kul-Mukhammed said that from now on December 1 would be associated with the institution of the presidency and the leader of Kazakhstan himself. He highlighted that stability and unity were a sine qua non in the President’s policies and that this had facilitated the successful political, economic and social modernization of the country. (Zakon.kz) • In the run to the Day of the First President, 1,000 low-income families in Astana have received food packages from the Department of Labor and Social Programs. The Department has also earmarked 10,000 tenge to help support large families. (Zakon.kz) • The Minister of Industry and New Technologies, Asset Issekeshev, held a meeting on the rational location of house-building construction plants. Developing house-building construction plants is a priority in the “Accessible housing 2020” program. (Zakon.kz)

Things to Watch… • Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov will take part in the next Prime Ministers’ meeting of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Bishkek. • President Nazarbayev and Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov will take part in the CIS Summit in Ashgabat on December 5. • Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov will take part in the 19th OSCE Council of Foreign Ministers in Dublin on December 6-7.

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

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AstanaCalling #281  

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

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