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Green Energy Development Centre, Massive Solar Power Investment Announced at Sustainable Energy Ministerial Conference

Tue, 2017-06-13 02:36

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Among the announcements at the June 11 Meeting the Challenge of Sustainable Energy Ministerial Conference in Astana was an official declaration to build a UN-backed sustainable energy centre at Astana’s EXPO 2017 site and a nearly $45 million investment in solar power in Kazakhstan.

The Future Energy international centre for the development of green technology and investment projects is to be created and housed within infrastructure built for EXPO 2017 in Astana. The centre will be supported by the UN, the conference said in the declaration it adopted.

The mission of the centre is to contribute to global sustainable development by supporting green growth and the principles of the Green Bridge partnership programme.

The international centre will cover seven main activities: transforming the energy sector, creating sustainable urban development, supporting green business development, facilitating the transfer and adaptation of green technologies and best practices, developing green financing, developing renewable energy sources and building green growth capacity.

In turn, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced plans to invest $44.5 million in solar power plant construction in the country.

“Burnoye Solar 2 is a very significant project for us. We were proud to support Burnoye 1, the first large-scale solar plant in Kazakhstan … It works, it wins awards and now we are doubling it. It shows that renewable energy is not just a dream but a reality now for Kazakhstan. The Burnoye project will be co-financed with the Clean Technology Fund, a multilateral fund that supports development of renewables and the enabling environment. We hope a real viable market of renewable energy will soon emerge in Kazakhstan and in the region,” said EBRD Managing Director for Energy and Natural Resources Nandita Parshad.

Kazakhstan’s green energy sector will boost the country’s gross domestic product by 3 percent by 2050, said Kazakh Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev in his remarks at the opening of the conference.

“The government is currently working on the implementation of the third modernisation. Green economy reform will increase Kazakhstan’s GDP by 3 percent by 2050 and create more than 500,000 new jobs. New sectors of industry and services will be established and quality of life will be improved,” said Sagintayev.

The prime minister noted that the international community must continue to discuss the current situation and understand what actions need to be taken by the governments of different countries and international organisations to ensure sustainable development in the energy sector.

“We need new models for the global energy market, which should give an impetus to the development of the world economy and find a balance between economic development and the preservation of the ecosystem of the planet. This is our responsibility to the future and future generations,” he said.

Minister of Energy Kanat Bozumbayev said Kazakhstan intends to reduce the energy intensity of its gross domestic product by 25 percent by 2020 and by 50 percent by 2050. The share of alternative and renewable energy sources in the country’s energy balance will be 3 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2050.

“The total reserves of primary energy resources of Kazakhstan, including oil, gas, coal and uranium, are estimated at the equivalent of about 32 billion tonnes of oil, which is about 4 percent of the world’s energy resources. The country ranks 12th in terms of hydrocarbon reserves. Kazakhstan is the world leader among countries having uranium reserves,” the minister said.

Approximately 15 percent of the country’s GDP today comes from revenues from the sale of hydrocarbons, but Kazakhstan intends to develop a low-carbon model for its future economic development, and to reduce emissions of sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide and solid particles to the European level.

“Kazakhstan, as a reliable and responsible participant in providing an energy security system, calls for sustainable political and economic development. We joined efforts and interests of representatives of 15 countries and 16 nongovernmental international organisations to stimulate green economic growth by promoting the Green Bridge partnership programme,” he said.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) plans to collaborate with the Central Asian countries to capitalise on substantial renewable energy potential. Six key areas to facilitate the up-take of renewables and help diversify the region’s energy mix were identified in a regional action plan.

“Covering over 4 million square kilometres, the countries of Central Asia are endowed with rich renewable energy sources that can drive sustainable economic development and growth. With renewable energy targets in place for 2020 and beyond, the region can now seize this transformative opportunity for a sustainable energy future, and the new Action Plan will help boost efforts of renewable energy uptake,” said IRENA Director General Adnan Amin.

Countries identified areas including resource assessments, integration of variable renewable energy into power grids, policies and regulations for renewable energy deployment, renewable energy statistics and data collection, project facilitation, and awareness raising for collaboration with IRENA.

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Astana Arlans revenge Brits for last year’s WSB defeat, to meet Cubans in final

Tue, 2017-06-13 02:28

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The Astana Arlans boxing team claimed a solid 7-3 victory over the British Lionhearts in the semifinals of the World Series of Boxing (WSB). As the British team prevented the Kazakh boxers from reaching the finals last season, the Arlans were determined to take revenge against their opponents.

The first leg was held in the northern Kazakh city of Kostanai and it was clear from the first bout the Astana team intended to gain an advantage before the trip to London. Temirtas Zhussupov (49kg) overwhelmed Kieran McDonald, then Ilyas Suleimenov did not give his opponent Christopher Bourke any chance, forcing a corner retirement.

The outcome of the match was decided in the third bout, when Dilmurat Mizhitov beat Conor Loftus, giving the Arlans an ahead-of-time win.

The 75kg fourth bout brought together home team boxer Abilkhan Amankul against Brit Nikita Ababiy. Amankul, called by some specialists one of Kazakhstan’s most talented young boxers, had a confident win over his opponent.

The hosts failed to win just one bout that evening, as heavyweight Anton Pinchuk lost to David Kieran Nyika. Pinchuk was injured in the quarterfinals, however, and have not made a full recovery.

“We were pleased with the way our boxers fought. All bouts turned out to be tough, but the guys coped and showed grit. As for Pinchuk’s loss, there is nothing to blame him for, because despite the injury he got last time, he decided to box and did his best to help the team. I’m very grateful to the fans who helped the Kazakh boxers in all bouts. We have laid a good groundwork and almost made it to the finals, but away fights are always hard, so we will get ready for the return match to confirm our superiority in London,” said Nurlan Akurpekov, the Arlans head coach.

Based on the first round results, Team Kazakhstan needed to win at least two of the five fights in the June 8 return match to go to the finals. The Arlans won more than needed, claiming a 3-2 away victory in London to secure tickets to the WSB finals.

Rio Olympics’ participant Olzhas Sattybayev (52kg) topped Dean Farrell, thus scoring the first point for the Arlans. One of the club’s most experienced boxers, Zakir Safiullin, showed his great skills, knocking down New Zealander Chad Milnes two times and forcing the home team’s boxer to stop the fight. In the 69kg category, Aslanbek Shymbergenov beat Kumar Manoj by unanimous decision. Arman Rysbek (81 kg) lost to Thomas Whittaker-Hart. Thus, after two matches, the Astana Arlans defeated the British Lionhearts by a score of 7-3.

In the finals, Team Kazakhstan will challenge the Cuba Domadores who reached by defeating WSB’s Colombian franchise.

The final will be the fourth for the Arlans in the past seven years. The team took silver in 2011, then became WSB champions in 2013 and 2015. With two titles each, the Arlans and Domadores lead the league.

WSB is a league that sees the world’s best amateur boxers competing in teams without headgear and using the scoring system of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA). According to the WSB website, the appearance of the league “reunited the broader boxing world and its grassroots amateur foundation by providing a bridge between Olympic Boxing and a future professional programme within the AIBA family.”

AIBA wholly owns WSB. All WSB boxers are registered with AIBA and all referees and officials working WSB matches are specifically certified for the competition. Franchises have a national identity and are formed by national federations. Teams are allowed a quota of overseas boxers: a maximum of eight and no more than three of the same nationality.

Teams compete in the 10 AIBA standard weight categories. The regular season takes the form of a league phase, with the teams facing each other home and away in alternating weight categories. The top teams continue to the playoff stages. Teams representing franchises across the globe compete in a league format leading to playoffs and a final. The boxers compete in five three-minute rounds and five bouts per match.


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Astana EXPO 2017 kicks off with dazzling show, concert and fireworks

Tue, 2017-06-13 02:18

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Visiting more than a hundred countries in one day is now possible thanks to world expositions such as the one happening this year in the Kazakh capital. The long-awaited EXPO 2017 kicked off June 10 with numerous pavilions open for public view.

For the 25-year-old country, the exhibition has become the most important event in its history. Kazakhstan has had the experience of hosting large-scale events like the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit in 2010 and the Asian Winter Games in 2011, but the expo supersedes all the others by its magnitude.

Right after hosting the 17th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev greeted his guests June 9 – 17 heads of state and government who arrived for the show. They witnessed the dazzling opening celebration, concert and fireworks that went late into the night.

The fair officially opened to the public the next morning with a contrast of African jazz, Russian stilt walkers and Asian dancers just to name a few – all nearly at the same time and leaving little chance for one person to cover everything.

The Kazakh pavilion, represented by an eight-storey sphere, is certainly the main attraction and The Astana Times recommends starting one’s tour there. The pavilion tells the story of the young country, including its ancient history through unique art installations, and enigmatic 3D shows and video clips unveiling future energy.

After the Kazakh pavilion, it’s a personal preference where to visit next. It’s nearly impossible to finish the tour in one day; we suggest buying an unlimited ticket (tickets can be purchased via the official website and spending at least a few days. Make sure to wear sneakers or other comfortable shoes to walk the distance.

Each pavilion offers a unique concept about future energy, an idea each country interprets in a different way. For instance, the U.S. pavilion sees it as the source of infinite energy that’s within all of us.

“It’s imagination, innovation; it’s invention that has driven America and that drives other countries that we see here gathered in Astana for EXPO 2017,” pavilion director of communications Anthony DeAngelo told the paper.

“We are focused on the power that lies within all of us as individuals, as nations, to power the future. We are also focused on our student-ambassadors,” he added.

Nearly 40 undergraduate and graduate students from 33 American universities are in the capital for the event. They all speak either Russian or Kazakh and have a deep affection for this part of the world, he said.

“They have come for three months for the expo not only to meet the Kazakhs, but also to give them and the people around the world an opportunity to really meet the future of America and that source of infinite energy that is going to power the future energy,” added DeAngelo.

The Russian pavilion, focusing on the Arctic, nuclear power and renewable energy sources, features a real iceberg brought from the Arctic.

“This iceberg is over four metres in height,” said Russian pavilion guide Aigul. “This is only a small fragment transported in a container and it was broken off by a Russian icebreaker ship. With the help of such icebreakers like the Russian Leader that will be finished in 2025, Russians want to research the Arctic.”

The South Korean pavilion boasts the longest lines, as the average visit takes about half an hour. It features the concept “Energy of the future. Smart life.”

The Japanese pavilion, the biggest in size, is named Smart mix technology and focuses on research to develop areas of future energy.

“Among our favourite pavilions was the Israeli pavilion,” said Russian IT technologist Sergei Andreichenko. “It was a spectacular show, very artistic and beautiful. We also enjoyed the Egyptian pyramid and the Thai pavilion. But I think everyone will find something for him or herself.”

Small food kiosks are located in front of each pavilion and there are restaurants on the expo grounds, although some are still under construction. A first-floor international bar and second-floor food court are open near the exit from the Kazakh pavilion.

The more than 1,500 volunteers at the site every day, most of whom speak English to accommodate foreign guests, will make sure no one gets lost.

Each pavilion offers its own solutions for future energy and is worth checking out. In addition, every week organisers are offering various concerts, shows and entertainment. For more information, visit the official website

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LEU Bank in Kazakhstan in focus at Oslo nuclear security conference

Tue, 2017-06-13 02:09

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Low Enriched Uranium Bank (LEU Bank), being established in Kazakhstan under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was a primary topic at the June 8-10 high-level nuclear security and nonproliferation conference in Oslo, Norway.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. Photo: D. Calma/IAEA

“This will serve as a last-resort mechanism to provide confidence to countries that they will be able to obtain LEU for the manufacture of fuel for nuclear power plants in the event of an unforeseen, non-commercial disruption to their supplies. As you can imagine, this is a very complex project. I am grateful to the Government of Kazakhstan for hosting the LEU Bank,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told a conference panel.

The Norwegian Atlantic Committee, the Norwegian Nobel Institute and the Nobel Peace Centre organised the conference. It was attended by international nuclear experts, international organisation heads and government officials, including Amano, former Kazakh Foreign Minister and the incumbent Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United Kingdom Erlan Idrissov and Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission of Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) Lassina Zerbo.

Amano briefed attendees on IAEA activities to promote cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy and praised Kazakhstan’s contribution to nuclear nonproliferation as it relates to issues such as cyber threats, computer and information security, nuclear technology and radioactive material safety.

Idrissov also briefed a conference panel on the creation and objectives of the LEU Bank and Kazakhstan’s peace initiatives since the country gained independence.

“We are very young, we are 25 years old. But we, at the start of our independence back in 1992, were the fourth-largest nuclear power in the world,” he said.

Kazakhstan voluntarily destroyed the 1,400 nuclear weapons it inherited from the Soviet Union.

“And we have destroyed other means of the nuclear threat, the infrastructure for the delivery of nuclear weapons, the infrastructure for testing nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan was the first to close, at the end of Soviet days, the largest nuclear test site in the world, the Semipalatinsk test site, where 500 nuclear explosions took place,” he said, adding the LEU Bank is another example of Kazakh efforts to address the nuclear weapons issue.

“This is an important tool, a practical step in making sure that the world is a little bit safer in terms of the nuclear threat,” he said.

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Team Kazakhstan loses to Denmark in FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification

Tue, 2017-06-13 01:51

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ALMATY – Kazakhstan’s national football team lost to Denmark 3-1 in the qualifying match for the FIFA World Cup 2018. The match took place in Almaty, where the host team had not played for more than a year, so the game aroused great interest in the southern capital.


Even before the beginning of the match, local fans understood it would be very difficult to beat Denmark, which currently features such star players as one of England’s Premier League best players Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspurs FC. As the Kazakh team managed surprising home draws last fall against higher-ranked Poland and Romania, however, there were hopes something similar could happen in Almaty.

It was clear from the first minute that the hosts were determined to show their best. They kept the ball for long periods and the visiting team’s goalkeeper on his toes. Azat Nurgaliyev had a good scoring chance, but the midfielder shot at an acute angle and the ball hit above the net. Georgi Zhukov then made an inaccurate long-range shot.

Unfortunately, the initial domination brought no benefits to the Kazakhs. The situation was quite the opposite for Denmark, which got the most from the least. The first goal to hit the net behind host goalkeeper David Loria was scored by the visitors in the 27th minute, when, with a pass from Yussuf Poulsen, teammate Nicolai Jorgensen completed the attack. Shortly before the end of the first half, Team Kazakhstan was left short-handed when Bauyrzhan Islamkhan hit William Kvist with an elbow in a dog-fight and saw red.

At the beginning of the second half, the referee awarded a penalty for Denmark. Eriksen, the visitors’ captain, was accurate and increased the difference in the score. While it was hard to expect a good result in this situation, the Kazakh team kept playing and in the 76th minute managed to win back one goal. Islambek Kuat went one-on-one with the goalkeeper and scored, making it 2-1 and giving some hope that the game could be saved.

Only a few minutes later, however, the Danes scored the third goal. Forward Kasper Dolberg made a well-placed shot, setting the final score for Denmark.

The win was the third for Denmark in the qualifying round. With 10 points, the team is now ranked second in Group E behind Poland. Team Kazakhstan, which suffered its fifth defeat, is on the bottom in sixth place, with only two points.

“Our guys played well and showed grit. As for the red card for our captain, it was a [regular] collision and I do not understand why the referee made such a decision. Of course, there were very few chances when playing in the minority, but our guys kept on [doing their job] and I want to thank them for that. We still have a lot to do; we will have to correct our mistakes, but the game showed that our team has character and hence the future. I want to thank all the fans who came to the match and created an excellent atmosphere,” said Team Kazakhstan’s head coach Alexander Borodyuk after the match.

“The game was tough. I don’t know what to say and I cannot understand why the red card was shown [to Islamkhan]. The guys played 200 percent. After the red card they showed grit, but lacked strength. We tried our best for our fans. They came to support us and we wanted to please them. I think we have the desire, so we will achieve a positive result. Once again, I want to thank the fans who supported us,” said Loria.

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Investments in Kazakhstan are welcome

Tue, 2017-06-13 01:37

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

What makes a country attractive for investments? A transparent legislation, a clear and an effective taxation and customs regulation system, developed infrastructure and high quality human resources. Kazakhstan is ready to offer all of these to its partners now.

Attracting foreign capital belongs to the strategic objectives of the development of the Kazakh economy. Foreign direct investments that provide access to financial resources, modern technologies, management skills, innovative goods and services and directly boost the competitiveness of domestic economy, its sustainable growth and contribute to improving living standards of citizens are essential in this process. In this regard, creating favourable conditions for increasing an inflow of funds from foreign investors is one of the priority guidelines of state economic policy.

Today, comprehensive work is carried out in the country to implement the instruction of President Nursultan Nazarbayev for creating a more favourable investment climate in Kazakhstan and for achieving the developed economy status.

For example, in 2016 Kazakhstan moved up from rank 41 to rank 35 in the World Bank’s Doing Business rating. According to the National Bank of Kazakhstan, the gross inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) amounted to more than $20 billion and increased by 40 percent compared to 2015.

Kazakh Invest acts as a common negotiator from the Government of Kazakhstan by ensuring full support for investors under “a one window” principle. The board of directors includes heads of relevant ministries and authoritative foreign consultants. It is led by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan. This suggests that attracting and supporting investors is a top priority for Kazakhstan.

Together with the World Bank, a National Investment Strategy is being developed. It will give a comprehensive vision and define clear coordination mechanisms for all state bodies and national companies, sequence and an algorithm of their interaction, target sources of investments and measures to further improve the investment climate in our country. Investing in Kazakhstan is easy and profitable.

The main functional duty of Kazakh Invest is to provide full support for foreign investors – from the development of idea to the commencement of production in Kazakhstan and the subsequent export. In other words, investment project support is not limited to consulting activities only, but extends up to the release and dispatch of products to consumers. Such a comprehensive approach allows us to work with each of our partners more efficiently and rationally, establishing productive cooperation.

We are open for constructive dialogue and are ready to provide the most favourable conditions for your business. Your success is in our interests.

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Historical milestone on the road to nuclear disarmament

Tue, 2017-06-13 01:24

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

On May 22, President of the UN Conference on negotiating a nuclear weapons ban, Ambassador Elayne Whyte of Costa Rica presented a historical draft of the Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Out of the three types of weapons of mass destruction – nuclear, chemical and biological – only nuclear are currently not legally banned.

Moreover, the status of the five nuclear weapon countries – the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia and China – has been legalised in accordance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) signed in 1968. Four more nations are known to have developed and tested nuclear arsenals – India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel (although Israel has not confirmed this).

According to Article 6 of the document, each of the parties undertakes “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

In 2020, the global community will mark the 50th anniversary of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty’s entry into force. However, one of its fundamental provisions – gradual disarmament of the nuclear powers in exchange for renouncement by other states to attempt to obtain military technology – remains unfulfilled, and the logical completion of the negotiations relating to this commitment does not yet exist.

In this regard, it is very difficult to overestimate the UN General Assembly resolution 71/258, approved Dec. 23, 2016, on “Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations,” in accordance with which the negotiations on the development of a nuclear weapon ban treaty were launched.

The first round of the negotiations was held March 27-31, 2017 in New York, which resulted in the abovementioned presentation of the draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

From June 15 to July 8, more than 100 UN member states will gather in New York to hold the second round of negotiations on the harmonisation and approval of the text of the draft convention.

Nuclear powers and their allies are boycotting this process and doing everything to sabotage or weaken the negotiations.

The vast majority within the international community have been making a serious effort to ban and destroy this inhumane weapon from the moment it was first used in August 1945. After 72 years, this is no longer a deadlock issue. Nevertheless, hard and strenuous work lies ahead.

Even if the Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is signed and enters into force, it certainly does not mean that nuclear powers will voluntarily destroy them. However, the presence of the legally binding document will put significant pressure on them. This convention is undoubtedly a considerable step towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.


The author is the Director of the Centre for International Security and Policy in Astana.

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Building world without violence to be key focus of 6th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions

Tue, 2017-06-13 00:46

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Religious leaders for a safe world will be the key topic at the 6th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions Oct. 10-11, 2018.

Berik Aryn

“This theme symbolises the commitment of religious leaders to a safe, conflict-free world where harmony, justice and compassion reign. There is a need to prompt societies and countries to take a more decisive part in building a world without war and violence and safe for all people,” said Kazakh Vice-Minister for Religious Affairs and Civil Society Berik Aryn in an interview for this story.

The list of panel session themes includes President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s manifesto “The World. The 21st Century” as a concept of global security and religions in changing geopolitics; new opportunities for the consolidation of humanity, religion and globalisation; challenges and answers for religious leaders and politicians and overcoming extremism and terrorism.

“Our country has supported international efforts aimed at strengthening peace and security, promoting interreligious dialogue and harmony and fighting against religious extremism and terrorism in all their forms and manifestations from the first days of its independence. Counteraction to present-day threats and challenges requires the joint efforts of leaders of world and traditional religions,” he said.

Aryn noted the role of the Secretariat of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. Its 16th session took place May 18 in the Kazakh capital and representatives of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto and Hinduism, leaders of international organisations and guests participated in the meeting. The delegates agreed and approved the agendas of the third meeting of the Council of Religious Leaders and the sixth congress.

Initially, the secretariat was created to effectively organise the work of the participants of the interreligious summit, develop conceptual documents and materials for the global agenda of the next congress and seek solutions for security issues of societies and states.

“The secretariat has become an authoritative institution of the congress with prospects for the growth and development of this unique global interreligious dialogue platform. The core values ​​of the secretariat – tolerance, respect for each other’s interests and opinions, mutual understanding and interested and voluntary agreement to implement the agreements reached – have contributed to the productive activities of the congress over 14 years,” said Aryn.

A great deal of work must be done to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the sixth congress and strengthen its status in the global world.

Kazakhstan’s priorities on the UN Security Council were also presented as part of the event. The protocol of the 16th secretariat, providing the conceptual and substantive basis for the upcoming sixth Congress, was adopted. All the issues on the agenda have been considered and discussed and the relevant decisions taken were included in the protocol.

“The large-scale preparation for the interreligious summit has been planned, including the development of the sixth congress’ concept. The key provisions of the declaration are currently under consideration,” he said.

Aryn also spoke about the plan to adopt the Concept of State Policy in the Religious Sphere up to 2020, an important strategic document for the nation.

“It provides approaches on improving state-confessional and inter-confessional relations, strengthening the secular foundations of the state and preventing the use of religion for destructive purposes. The document is based on an analysis of the main trends and features in the religious sphere and defines the strategic goals and main directions of state policy in the religious sphere. It has been developed as part of the Kazakhstan 2050 strategy and ‘Course towards the future: modernisation of Kazakhstan’s identity’ policy set by President Nursultan Nazarbayev,” he added.

The draft of the document has been widely publicised and coordinated by state bodies, after which it was approved by the government.

“The concept is aimed at the need to create a new model for the unity and consent of citizens regardless of their religion and ethnicity, whose consciousness is a complex palette from deep believers to atheists. Accounting for this factor is certainly an important condition for the effectiveness of public policy,” he said.

The state policy concept is the basis for further developing policy in the religious sphere to improve the system of normative legal acts and socio-economic, political and administrative measures and regulate the religious sphere.

“The religious vector has always been and remains one of the most important priorities of Kazakhstan’s domestic policy. Ensuring peace and security, strengthening the political stability of secular society, the social well-being of the citizens and countering religious extremism and terrorism are simple but urgent tasks in the religious sphere,” he said.


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Operalia 2017 to be held in Astana

Tue, 2017-06-13 00:42

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Four Kazakh singers, including the laureate of many international competitions and well-known Astana Opera Theatre soloist Maria Mudryak, will participate in Placido Domingo’s Operalia 2017, the world opera contest to be held in the capital. The 25th season of the event will involve 40 participants from 17 different countries competing for the title of best opera singer.

Photo credit:

By tradition, the competition will take several days. The quarterfinal and semi-final rounds will be held as auditions on July 24, 25 and 26, when the participants will perform their chosen arias. On July 29, 10 finalists will perform in a gala concert format under the accompaniment of the Astana Opera Symphony Orchestra directed by Maestro Domingo himself. All stages of the competition will be held publicly for the viewers’ delight.

“Kazakhstan met us with great enthusiasm. We are warmed by all of it. This year, we received a number of invitations where we could host the Operalia. Among them was an invitation from the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Kazakhstan. When we considered the invitation, we took into account many factors, including the expo and the conditions that are presented here. And what we found here is amazing. The performance on the stage of your Astana Opera Theatre will be an excellent professional experience for young singers,” said Operalia Vice President Alvaro Domingo.

Residents and guests of the city will be able to follow the fate of the contestants, not only by buying a ticket, but also by watching the live broadcast on the country’s main TV channels. The nation’s main opera house plans to surprise visitors with an interesting programme throughout the international exhibition. Tickets for Operalia 2017 are already on sale at the Astana Opera ticket offices.

“There will be open air events, such as the ‘Kyz Zhibek’ and ‘Aida’ operas, and the ballet ‘Don Quixote.’ We are going to hold the Astana Ball on July 1 for the first time. There will be a grandiose event in the marble hall; there will be about a hundred pairs here. It will be like the Vienna Ball. Also, we plan to show an open air performance of Mahler’s 8th Symphony, where more than a thousand people will take part. Astana is the epicentre of world culture now,” said Astana Opera Director Galym Akhmediyarov.

Known as the King of Opera, Domingo is one of the most famous tenors of all time. He has always taken a special interest in promising young singers, as he knows the difficulties they face at the beginning of their careers. The prize fund for Operalia stands at $180,000.


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Central Asia’s largest marine park opens in Astana

Tue, 2017-06-13 00:39

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The marine park opened recently in Happylon, the amusement park in Mega Silk Way centre. Residents and guests can now enjoy the indoor water park, which also intends to create an inclusive development programme for children with special needs.

Photo credit:

Opening the largest marine park in Central Asia is a cultural and historical event and was part of the run-up to EXPO 2017. A grandiose show was prepared for 400 children. Capital resident Lyazzat Bersebayeva, who attended with two youngsters, noted she was enjoying such a family entertainment park for the first time.

“We saw joy in the eyes of the children after the charity show. This is a great reward for us, because our main idea is to give children love,” said organiser and Nur Otan Party Deputy Chairperson Vladislav Sergeev.

The spectacular show includes more than 40 different elements. Children and adults delighted in the performance by four dolphins and three fur seals. The oldest dolphin, Danya, is 12 years old and the youngest, Deison, performs with his parents.

Happylon measures 7,190 square metres and the area of the marine park is more than 1,300 square metres. The latter includes a huge pool for performances surrounded by 400 seats, including special lifts for the disabled and other technical facilities for show organisations, and two additional pools for quarantine and animals.

The five-level purification system minimises the chlorine in the water, according to the administration. The treatment equipment is located under the delphinarium. All the necessary conditions have been created for the floating artists. The trainers watch the animals 24 hours a day and their necessary diets are kept in strict order. Capelin, herring and humpback salmon are the favourite items on their menu.

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Eurasian Media Forum to focus on today’s most pressing issues

Tue, 2017-06-13 00:32

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

Frank and open dialogue has never been more important in today’s world. The challenges we face are ever more complex and no longer affect only individual states or societies but ripple across the globe. Climate change, international terrorism, migration and the strains – and benefits – from globalisation are just some of the most pressing topics requiring the widest possible discussion to help us reach the right solutions.

Providing the platform for these informed conversations is the aim of the Eurasian Media Forum, which will again take place in Astana on June 22-24. Approximately 600 delegates from 60 countries will gather in Kazakhstan’s capital to join in the important debates.

The agenda goes to the heart of the foreign policy challenges faced by the international community if we are to spread peace and prosperity. Delegates, for example, will discuss the big changes in the world order and what this means for how countries can work together.

It recognises that the last few years have seen a major transformation in the international order. There are now many more countries and regions with influence on the global stage and whose views and interests must be carefully considered when decisions are made.

Asia is now a continent of serious economic and political power. India seems set to join China in global influence. In its own way, too, Kazakhstan’s growing stature shows the increasing role of fast-developing nations in international affairs.

How the global economy can grow in a sustainable way is another challenge for which  we must collectively find answers. Green energy must be a central part of any solution. This year the Eurasian Media Forum is being held as part of EXPO 2017 with its theme of “Future Energy.” Kazakhstan’s decision to make this topic the focus of the prestigious international event reflects the country’s desire to promote sustainable development.

Kazakhstan is fortunate to have large fossil fuel reserves which have, up to now, been the springboard for the country’s development. But the government, with a clear eye on the future, is determined that Kazakhstan helps lead the move to a green economy. The forum will hear from Kazakh and outside experts how oil-rich states can best manage the switch to a green economy smoothly.

The forum is, of course, international in its scope and will focus as well on immediate challenges to global stability and security. None is more pressing than the continuing Syrian crisis which has caused human suffering on a devastating scale and has fuelled extremism and terrorism.

Kazakhstan is already playing its part in helping to resolve this terrible conflict. The Astana Process has already seen the capital host four rounds of talks, with the next scheduled for July. Despite progress, there remains a great deal of work to, first, end the violence and, second, reach a political solution to the crisis.

The discussions on Syria during the media forum won’t themselves, of course, lead to the breakthrough needed. But any dialogue can only help by increasing understanding of the fears and ambitions of all sides. It will be especially interesting to hear from the experts how the Astana Process can continue to help the international community edge towards a fair and lasting resolution of the conflict.

The forum also provides the opportunity to consider how best to spread the benefits – and manage the risks – from the digital revolution. This has already had a huge impact on our lives but we are only at the beginning of the opportunities this will bring in everything from economic progress to individual health. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has already called for his country to be in the forefront of the adoption of this technology to cultivate new industries and improve the performance of existing sectors.

Dr. Dariga Nazarbayeva, the chair of the forum’s organizing committee, said it aims “to seek solutions to the most significant issues affecting the Central Asian region.” But the agenda also shows that themes reflect the challenges faced by every region and country. This is an event staged in Kazakhstan but increasingly with a true global significance.


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Astana Economic Forum puts Kazakhstan at the heart of global debate

Tue, 2017-06-13 00:22

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

Kazakhstan prides itself at being at the centre of Eurasia. But with EXPO 2017, the Eurasian Media Forum and the annual Astana Economic Forum all taking place here this month, there is a case for suggesting that our country is – at least for a short while – at the heart of global debate.

Nearly 4,000 experts have registered to attend this year’s 10th Astana Economic Forum held under the title “New Energy – New Economy”. They have been attracted by an agenda which promises to examine the drivers and obstacles to regional and global prosperity. Among the topics they will debate are how sustainable growth can be achieved, how innovation can be encouraged and the role of green energy in the world’s future.

The delegates from countries around the world will arrive in Astana at a time of continuing uncertainty for the global economy. Productivity in many economies is under pressure, investment is falling and there are concerns that the innovative advances we need to power growth and rising living standards may suffer.

It is also hard to think of a period in the recent past when the benefits of globalisation and even international trade have been so widely doubted. These concerns are shared not only by ordinary citizens but also by national leaders.

As the economic forum will discuss, Kazakhstan is standing out against this worrying trend. While others are becoming more inward looking, Kazakhstan is increasing cooperation with its neighbours to expand opportunities, employment and spread prosperity. This is based on the evidence which shows that we all benefit if trade can be encouraged.

The country is now a vital link in China’s New Silk Road initiative and is an active member of the Eurasian Economic Union. Transport links have been improved not only to the major markets to the east and west but also to the south. At a time when some countries are lowering their sights, Kazakhstan has shown its confidence in the future.

This has been coupled with continued reforms and investment to strengthen its economy. A far-reaching domestic programme of modernisation has been put in place. Privatisations of major sectors are being accelerated to introduce new funding and new ideas. The establishment of the Astana International Financial Centre is designed to secure Kazakhstan’s position as a key regional hub in the global economy but also to attract new investment to Central Asia as a whole.

These steps have already been reflected in the positive way our country and economy is viewed globally. Kazakhstan was one of the biggest risers in the World Bank’s 2017 Ease of Doing Business report, jumping six places to 35th in the league table.

This significant improvement follows a series of concrete steps to remove barriers to investment. They include making it easier to set up new businesses, to obtain a building permit and export goods.

Shareholders’ and investors’ rights have also been strengthened, propelling Kazakhstan into the top five countries for protecting minority investors, according to the World Bank. There is more to do but Kazakhstan is moving in the right direction.

Among the areas where there is great potential is in renewable energy which is also an important topic for discussion at the Astana Economic Forum. Last month, a unique atlas, drawn up by the Ministry of Energy and the United Nations Development Programme, enabled the public for the first time to examine online the country’s solar energy potential.

It is potential which is already being acknowledged outside our country. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development recently approved a framework to invest up to €200 million ($224 million) in the development of renewable energies within our borders.

It is a practical example of the international partnerships which will help improve living standards while protecting our planet. If we achieve these ambitions, we need more, not less, international cooperation on economic challenges.

Now is not the time to lower our sights but to work together more closely. Finding this common ground is exactly the aim of the Astana Economic Forum.


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Eurasian Media Forum to debate global interaction patterns, security strategy, focus on country branding

Mon, 2017-06-12 01:19

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – How should countries operate in an era of growing multipolarity? Is there any chance of eradicating terrorism? What contributes to strengthening the role of Asia? What is the secret of the Asian economic miracle? Is it possible to disconnect from the information flow? What does life look like in the simplified world?

These and many other questions will be dealt with as influential leaders and pundits, open and earnest discussions and fascinating talks are expected at the 14th Eurasian Media Forum (EAMF) this month.

Ruslan Zhemkov

“We support the energy of the future initiative and try to get more media coverage on this topic. The programme includes the most relevant events that have taken place worldwide over the past period,” EAMF General Director Ruslan Zhemkov told The Astana Times.

This year, the forum will take place June 22–24 at the EXPO area. More than 600 delegates from 60 countries, including significant figures in the global media space, opinion leaders and recognised professionals in different fields, are expected to attend the event.

Eight panel sessions are scheduled featuring approximately 50-55 foreign speakers. A series of thematic master classes from world media experts and a roundtable dedicated to the upcoming meeting of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF) will be held.

“Delegates will discuss the scenarios of the global interaction and transformation of the world map. They will have a chance to speak about the concept of a green economy, economic topics and topics on new frontiers in information. There are also interesting topics about the digital revolution, the concept of digital reform, safety strategy and blockchain as a new algorithm of technological capabilities and solutions,” he added.

This year, the list of speakers includes former European commission president José Manuel Barroso, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy senior research fellow Parag Khanna, 11th President of Turkey Mr.Abdullah Gul, director of Energy ConsenSys Tyler Smith, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, Skolkovo Foundation President Viktor Vekselberg, Newseum Vice Chair Shelby Coffey and others.

“One of the most urgent topics, the Syrian issue, is on the agenda. We want to stress in every possible way that the Syrian issue is a crisis and there are political processes in conflict resolution. We should note the role of President Nursultan Nazarbayev in bringing the conflicting sides to settle this conflict. Astana has become a platform for peaceful concepts. States should unite in the fight against terrorism and put an end to the war. All the topics are united by one general idea of a ‘win-win scenario,’” said Zhemkov.

The organisers will try to observe recent trends and the needs of the audience and the format will be one that is convenient for participants and attendees, including the configuration, coffee zone, networking areas and rooms for business meetings.

“We use the latest technology and standard instruments. We want to become a base for training and development of our media representatives. Our platform provides exclusive news and statements from various representatives of the expert community and politicians. A creative synergy is of great importance for us. A vibrant business atmosphere is combined with cultural activities, media attention and entertainment business at the event,” he said.

The organising committee is to launch a mobile studio, which all local and international media can pre-book to record their interviews.

“As a foundation, our priority is to promote the country and its achievements. We have all the preconditions for this, starting from the platform itself, which forms an open dialogue, ending with the geopolitical position and the development strategy of the country. Our platform determines a certain public mood and creates an opinion on different issues. We are some kind of trendsetters in certain areas. We are open to new initiatives,” he said.

In its 15 years of existence, the EAMF has become an authoritative dialogue platform in the Eurasian space. More than 6,000 foreign participants and 1,500 representatives of foreign media have visited Kazakhstan as part of the forum throughout the years of its activities.

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India, Pakistan expand SCO’s borders, anti-extremism convention tops agenda at Astana SCO summit

Sun, 2017-06-11 11:33

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The Kazakh capital hosted the 17th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit June 8-9, with the accession of India and Pakistan and anti-extremism convention topping the agenda amid hopes of bolstering the organisation’s presence in Eurasia.  

While the world had its collective eyes on the Kazakh capital as it held the summit and launched EXPO 2017 June 9, President Nursultan Nazarbayev conducted a number of bilateral meetings with the heads of state who arrived in the run up to the summit.

During the meeting of the Council of the SCO Heads of State, he noted the accession of India and Pakistan would give new impetus to the growing-in-numbers organisation and raise its international status. Nazarbayev added this was the last time the heads of only the six states – China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – would be seated at the negotiating table, as the next summit will include the two new member nations.

SCO also has four observer countries – Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia.

The Kazakh President noted due to the SCO, China and the former Soviet states resolved border issues, managed to strengthen regional security and counter extremism.

Undoubtedly, the accession of military and economic powers such as India and Pakistan will only enhance the organisation’s security agenda and presence in the Eurasian space, according to Kazakh political experts.

In addition, many hope the move will break the ice in bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi already met with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif June 8 after a two-year cool-off and they had a brief chitchat.

“With India and Pakistan aboard, the SCO unites about 40 percent of the planet’s entire population,” Nazarbayev said June 7 at the Akorda presidential residence during a meeting with the SCO defence ministers.

“The priority is to preserve the ‘Shanghai spirit,’ which is based on the solution of all emerging issues on the basis of consensus,” he added.

The President also stressed the need to strengthen the economic component within the organisation’s activities.

“The positive dynamics of the SCO are currently conditioned by the development of the New Silk Road programme. This programme is supported by all members of the organisation, first of all by Kazakhstan – China’s neighbour,” he said.

The leaders of the SCO states expressed hope the organisation will solidify efforts in countering pressing issues and continue strengthening regional security.

Seventeen heads of state and government visited the Kazakh capital to either attend the summit or witness the historic, for Kazakhstan, event – the grand opening ceremony of the expo. In addition to the SCO members and observers, presidents of Armenia, the Czech Republic, Serbia, and Turkmenistan, the king of Spain and the prime minister of Luxembourg attended the launch of the expo, along with the UN Secretary General.

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Kazakhstan’s population nears 18 million people

Sun, 2017-06-11 11:30

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s population stood at 17.9 million people as of May 1, Chairperson of Statistics Committee of National Economy Ministry Nurbolat Aidapkelov announced at a June 5 government briefing.

However, the committee is not publishing open data on the population base yet. When the number reaches 18 million people an announcement will be made, reports.

“As of May 1, the number amounted to 17,994,000 people. As a whole, the growth amounted to 241,000 people per one year. … We do not see 18 million yet but are expecting,” Aidapkelov said.

The population has increased 1.45 percent in 2017 from 2016. Detailed information about the population base in separate regions, birth rate, mortality and other figures has not been published from July of last year, a previous report by stated.

First Vice-Minister of National Economy Ruslan Dalenov mentioned it has been a long time since the country’s population numbers were publicly available.

One can track the moment when the population reaches 18 million by visiting a website the committee on statistics will establish in July.

“We are now going to launch an online register. This means every citizen will see how many people are currently residing in Kazakhstan at an interval of several seconds. We will be publishing this data and launching this project during the next month,” Dalenov added, according to

“We were not publishing until that moment because we are clarifying methodology. Because we are introducing an electronic meter, we were clarifying all data, which has taken time. Now after an online register will be published, we will go back to the monthly publishing of ‘solid’ reports on the figure of our population,” he added.

More than seven million Kazakh residents were born in the past 25 years. Approximately 3.59 million were females and 3.77 million were males. South Kazakhstan has been setting birth rate records during this period as more than 1.5 million people were born there.

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Kazakhs increasingly buying more euros

Sun, 2017-06-11 11:26

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The demand for euros has been growing in the exchange offices since the beginning of the year. Approximately 400 million euro (US$449 million) were sold, increasing 70.4 percent. Almaty and Astana are leading in buying euros.

Astana and Almaty residents purchased 61.6 percent euro in April. The U.S. dollar losses its own positions as its sales fell 25.6 percent. The country’s exchange offices sold about $3 billion in four months. Demand for the Russian ruble fell 4 percent as well.

The foreign currency sale in April decreased in the exchange offices as the sale of dollars fell 25.6 percent (US$562.5 million), euro 0.5 percent (106.8 million euro) and Rubles sales decreased 4 percent (11.4 billion Rubles) this month.

Kazakhstan citizens have bought 386.2 million euro (US$434 million) for four months since the beginning of the year, which is 70.4 percent more than a year ago. At that, 44.8 billion Rubles were sold, which is 5.3 percent more than in Jan-April 2016. Also $2.7 billion was bought, which is only 0.7 percent more than during the first four months of 2016.

Residents of Almaty bought most of all dollars in April ($276.5 million, 24.1 percent less than in the previous month, and 8.5 percent more compared to April 2016). The exchange offices of Astana are second sellers of dollars and sold $67.3 million, which is 22.2 percent less than in March and 24.3 percent less than in April last year. Actually, the two megalopolises purchased 61.1 percent of all dollars, sold by exchange services of Kazakhstan.

South Kazakhstan came in third place with $38.5 million sold, which is 6.8 percent of the country’s sales. The decline for the month is 38.9 percent, but the number increased 51.2 percent in comparison with April 2016.

Astana and Almaty are also leading in sales of euro. Approximately 61.6 percent of the state’s sales was made in these cities in April. Almaty residents bought 9.4 percent less than in March and 47.1 percent more than in April 2016. Astana residents bought 21.7 million euro (US$24.4 million) and the growth reached 16.4 percent in April and 97 percent year-on-year. Inhabitants of the South Kazakhstan region bought 7.5 million euro (US$8.4 million), which is 7.1 percent of the country’s sales.

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Afghanistan, security challenges discussed at EU-Central Asia Political and Security Dialogue in Bishkek

Sun, 2017-06-11 11:22

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Representatives from Central Asian countries, Afghanistan and the European Union discussed at the June 8 EU-Central Asia High-Level Political and Security Dialogue in Bishkek existing agreements, security challenges, and joint efforts in fighting radicalisation, drug trafficking and terrorism.

“Kazakhstan, like the entire international community, is committed to the economically sustainable and safe development of Afghanistan,” Kazakh Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Roman Vassilenko said.

“The national restoration of this country as a prosperous state and a good neighbour will have a great positive impact on the well-being of our region,” he added.

Participants discussed regional and global issues and reviewed the implementation of agreements reached at the previous meeting in Brussels in May 2016. They also focused on cooperation in border management and counter-narcotics activity by agreeing to extend implementation of the EU-funded Border Management Programme in the Central Asian region (BOMCA) and the Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP) until 2019.

During its existence, the BOMCA programme held 36 events, including seminars, trainings, meetings and conferences on cross-border security with the participation of 200 Kazakh representatives.

The participation of Afghanistan’s representatives in the meeting allowed its participants to consider the situation in the region in a wider context and discuss different formats of interrelations to support Afghanistan government efforts to achieve political stability and improve the social and economic situation inside the country.

Vassilenko and head of the European delegation Jean-Christophe Belliard also discussed the implementation of the platform for EU cooperation with the countries of the Central Asian region in relation to Kazakhstan, highlighting prospects for cooperation in education and the development of small and medium-sized businesses.

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New road emergency response system expected to save hundreds of lives per year

Sun, 2017-06-11 11:14

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The government will adopt by the end of 2018 a notification system to emergency services for road accidents that is expected to reduce emergency response times by 30 to 40 percent and save hundreds of lives per year, Minister of Defence and Aerospace Industry Beibut Atamkulov said during a June 7 government hour in the Mazhilis (lower chamber of Parliament).

The system will be used to call emergency response services, monitor vehicles on the road and forecast emergency situations.

“Thanks to this system, relief aid will be delivered over a period of the so called ‘golden hour,’ this will allow to reduce mortality on roads to a significant degree. The system functions in pilot mode now from Jan. 1 of this year, as foreseen by Kazakhstan’s obligation within the Customs Union. The works on this continue and will be completed next year,” Atamkulov said, adding that 50 percent of all this occur because emergency services did not respond in time.

The system will involve a signal for assistance that will pass to a data processing centre, which will determine the coordinates of a road accident and which cars are involved.

The signal will pass from the centre to an operator who in real-time mode will contact the person sending out the call for help to clarify whether medical aid is needed, the number of victims and that information is passed to emergency agencies.

A programme of support was developed for the system’s data centre in all 14 regional emergency departments with system operators and automation.

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Kazakh high school students to be taught in English

Sun, 2017-06-11 11:11

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

The Kazakh Ministry of Education recently approved new standards requiring a minimum of 50 to 90 minutes of homework, depending on a specified class. At the same time, assignments will not be given on holidays, weekends and after control tests. First-graders will no longer have the assigned homework.

A portion of Kazakh high school students will also study English in the new academic year, Minister of Education and Science Yerlan Sagadiyev reported.

“This year we allowed the pilot classes to be taught in English. I think, there will be many students as more than five hundred students have already signed up. We will conduct classes using the methodology of former Kazakh Turkish lyceum since September. Their books will be used for transition to the English language in pilot mode. The transition will be implemented for a year with parental consent,” Yerlan Sagadiyev said.

Nazarbayev Intellectual schools and Bilim Innovation lyceums will be encouraged to develop English language textbooks. Bilim Innovation is preparing two pilot types of textbooks, which will be given to students, according to the minister. The first book is entirely in English and the second is mixed in 25 and 50 or 75 percent. The History of Kazakhstan, Chemistry, Biology, Physics and IT disciplines are going be transitioned into English.

Therefore, about 12,000 teachers will be taught how to teach in English. The pilot project demands the figure of around 16,500 teachers, who will teach four subjects in 10th and 11th grades. The Ministry of Education and Science planned that 5,000 teachers will undergo preparations, but 12,000 have already registered for the courses. There are different types of training, among which the maximum goes up to nine months. Salary and payment of business trips are paid out during the duration of studies.

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Some Kazakh elementary schools introduce chess classes

Sun, 2017-06-11 11:05

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Some students in Almaty, Kyzylorda and Pavlodar will start studying chess as a school subject from Sept. 1.

“Chess playing instruction will take one hour a week in the second grades of 42 schools in Almaty, Kyzylorda, Pavlodar and the Pavlodar Region. We provided textbooks and manuals in the Kazakh and Russian languages. The authors of the books are famous Kazakh chess players such as Flyura Khasanova and Gulmira Dauletova,” explained Executive Director of the Science and Education Foundation Aiganym Malisheva.

According to the Kazakhstan Chess Federation, 1,500 students will begin receiving chess instruction.

The instruction is part of an experiment – to see how students who study chess develop compared to those who don’t. Schools participating in the project had to agree to teach chess to only one of two second grade classes, so students can be compared at the end of the year.

“The project psychologists will check the development of attention and memory, thinking and other parameters at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the school year. They will draw conclusions based on the results. After that, we will consider expanding chess studying to other schools in Kazakhstan,” said Kazakhstan Chess Federation Chief Executive Officer Irina Grischenko.

Every school participating in the project will receive 20 sets of chessboards and figures, a demonstration board, a projector and a screen, speakers and printers. The 36 teachers and 20 psychologists who will work in the pilot project will be trained ahead of time in Almaty.

Psychologists from Kyzylorda and Almaty will be taught by Almagul Ayaganova and Sholpan Imangaliyeva, teachers at Korkyt Ata Kyzylorda State University. They have developed tests for the project and will provide a methodology for research in schools.  Dr. Adil Samekin of Pavlodar State University will teach psychologists in Pavlodar schools.

World Chess Federation President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov proposed including the study of chess in Kazakhstan’s schools last year.

“Chess has been introduced into school programmes in many countries of the world. Today, chess is played by 600 million people in the world. FIDE set a task to teach chess to 1 billion people in the world until 2020. We have a slogan: 1 billion chess players: 1 billion smart people. I think we will achieve that with the help of teachers and parents,” he said.

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