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Kazakhstan improves on key indices of latest UN Human Development Report

Sun, 2017-06-11 03:05

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

ASTANA – Kazakhstan improved on key indices over 2015 in latest United Nations Global, Regional and National Human Development report.

Compared to 2015, life expectancy increased to 69.6 years from 69.4 years, average years in education rose to 11.7 compared to 11.4 and per capita gross national income reached $22,093, up from $20,876, according to a June 8 press release from the UN office in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan’s overall ranking as a high human development status country remained at 56.

The findings of the latest report were presented June 8 at Nazarbayev University by UN representatives and the Istanbul Regional Hub of the United Nations Development Programme.

“All three of these reports focus on ensuring that the benefits of human development are fairly distributed, and that no one is left behind. Such a focus is critically important, both in the world in general and in upper middle-income countries like Kazakhstan,” Cihan Sultanoglu said, the June 8 press release of the UN office in Kazakhstan reported.

Sultanoglu is the UN Commissioner-General for EXPO 2017, Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

According to the report, the significance of opportunities for the development of people and their well-being is the vital element of the human development concept and not the Gross National Product.

Each year, UNDP experts calculate the index to track and measure changes in the living standards between countries by comparing life expectancy, level of education and level of living.

In light of the growing importance of the human development concept, reports cover more areas of sustainability, such as inequality and empowerment in a broader sense.

Experts also say the Human Development Index indicates the course of political reforms and that it could become a tool for policymakers.

“In this regard, the presentation of the reports served as a platform for comprehensive discussion in the field of human development and its issues on global, regional and national levels,” the press release mentioned.

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Kazakh pavilion presents country at Cannes Film Festival

Sun, 2017-06-11 02:56

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

ASTANA – Kazakhstan had a pavilion at the May 17-28 70th Cannes Film Festival for the first time. It represents the film industry of the country on the Village International, one of the main world platforms of the film market. The opening is a rare opportunity for domestic filmmakers, distributors, owners of rental studios and representatives of film networks to interest and attract new partners come to Kazakhstan. 

“The festivals are searching for new names worldwide. And how they will know about you, about a new and up and coming name, if you do not communicate and do not talk about your films and your vision of cinema, about the film language and history you want to portray? All this is a part of the active work that is done in the background, not only being on the set,” said President of the Kazakhstan Academy of Cinematography Arts Rashid Nugmanov.

This year, 18 films took part from different countries in the main competition of the festival. Kazakh cinema was represented in the programme of short films by seven domestic movies made by young directors about life in Kazakhstan.

“It is very important.  We see more and more of these films every year and want to present them here. We would like Kazakh films to be watched worldwide,” said Director of Kazakh pavilion Anna Kachko.

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Cirque du Soleil gives sneak peek before EXPO 2017 performance

Fri, 2017-06-09 01:47

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

ASTANA – The world-famous Cirque du Soleil has prepared the exclusive REFLEKT show based on nomadic culture for EXPO 2017. A seven-minute portion, created by the team 45 DEGREES of Cirque du Soleil, was presented to journalists.

The mythical story reflects the idea of renewable energy sources and the desire of humankind for the future. The main character is Arman, an archaeologist who reveals the miracles of the seven elements of Kazakh culture: happiness and fortune, wisdom and prosperity, speed, growth and blessing. This role is based on the image of the Golden Man. Arman means “a dream” in Kazakh.

“We have developed a cultural and entertainment programme to demonstrate the diversity of Kazakhstan’s culture. Our orchestras, creative groups and our pop singers are thoroughly represented,” said Astana EXPO 2017 national company’s director of content and event organisation Marat Omarov.

Cirque du Soleil is including elements of Kazakh culture in its performance for the first time. The programme contains national ornaments tied to costumes, national dance choreography and a national instrument.

“The dombra will also be in musical accompaniment along with classical instruments. All the costumes of the artists will feature Kazakh ornaments. The Golden Man, archaeologist and golden eagle are the main characters. We are going to demonstrate the biggest show-jump with 38 participants. It is one of the interesting parts of the show and lasts seven minutes,” said REFLEKT general director Bernard Poyry.

According to Cirque du Soleil representatives, REFLEKT will only be presented in Kazakhstan. Nearly two years were devoted to the design of the programme and its numbers have not yet been presented to the public. Noiseless motorcycles also will be used for the first time.

The organisation of the show involves approximately 120 people, but only about 80 individuals will be performing for three months. The specially-created 75-minute performance will be shown 71 times from June 16-Sept. 9 in a separate circus pavilion on the expo grounds.

Cirque du Soleil, the largest theatrical entertainment producer in the world, was founded in Canada in 1984 by former street performers Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix. Each show, with its own central theme and storyline, is a synthesis of circus styles from around the world.

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Kazakh National Bank: inflation remains stable, base interest rate to decrease

Fri, 2017-06-09 01:36

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

ASTANA – The annual inflation rate was 7.5 percent in May and slowed its decline. The expectations of citizens regarding the future level of inflation remain stable and the National Bank lowered the base interest rate from 11 percent to 10.5 percent June 5.

“In May, as in April, the annual inflation totalled 7.5 percent. Inflation slowed down due to the shock of the offer. It was coincided with the seasonal rise in prices for certain types of food, in particular, vegetables and meat. At the same time, the growth is partly offset by a decline in world food prices for the past three months. Therefore, there are no significant changes in food inflation, and inflation continues to be within the target range,” National Bank Chairman Daniyar Akishev said.

According to the National Bank’s polling, the population’s perception of price increases is improving. Certain fluctuations are not significant and do not affect the overall trend. The results of the prediction analysis shows the annual inflation will be in the target corridor during 2017 and 2018.

“We expect a seasonal increase in the food products supply, which will contribute to the deceleration of annual inflation to the end of the third quarter. The annual inflation may slowly rise in the fourth quarter for a short period,” Akishev added.

There is also a gradual resumption in growth of consumer demand. The real income of the population increased 2.4 percent at the cost of the growth of social payment and pensions in January-March period. World oil prices ($48-54 per barrel) supported the growth of Kazakhstan economy.

The National Bank of Kazakhstan has reduced the base interest rate from 11 percent to 10.5 percent with a corridor of plus or minus 1-percentage points. It also decided to decrease liquidity provision operations to 11.5 percent and liquidity withdrawal operations to 9.5 percent.

The currency preferences of depositors continue to change in favour of the tenge. The volume of purchase of foreign currency fell more than three times to $88.4 million in April. Therefore, Kazakhstan citizens and participants of foreign exchange market have stable expectations regarding the tenge exchange rate, the state lender believes.

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Kazakh, Chinese leaders discuss economic cooperation, mark 25 years of relations in Astana

Fri, 2017-06-09 01:22

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

ASTANA – President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed bilateral economic cooperation and marked the 25th anniversary of relations during a June 8 meeting as part of the Chinese leader’s four-day official visit to Kazakhstan.

The sides also signed agreements, including a joint statement, a tax exemption for certain types of income from the Silk Road Fund, an agreement to cooperate on film production, an agreement to cooperate on the construction of the Chukurbulak protective dam in Khorgos and a memorandum to increase cooperation in transport infrastructure development.

The two leaders also launched the work of a new container service in the Eurasian space – the Kazakh-Chinese terminal at the port of Lianyungang (China) and the dry port of the Khorgos – Eastern Gate special economic zone.

Xi is in Astana for the June 8-9 Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit and the June 9 official launch of EXPO 2017 international specialised exhibition.

“A vivid example of such harmonious work is our cooperation in the framework of the SCO. Tomorrow, we will take part in a historic meeting of the organisation, which will expand due to the accession of India and Pakistan. After this meeting, the SCO chairmanship will be transferred to China. We want to wish you success,” Nazarbayev said June 8, welcoming his guest at the Akorda and noting that China is a close strategic partner.

The Kazakh President also noted increases in bilateral trade and said the coordination of Kazakhstan’s programme Nurly Zhol and China’s One Belt, One Road initiative also has the potential for success.

“I believe that our all-round dynamic interaction may serve as example for others. In spite of the positive dynamics, we cannot stay on this. We have the potential to deepen our cooperation in the priority areas. Mainly, we have to concentrate on the idea of ​​the Silk Road, which has a part on the territory of Kazakhstan. During four years, we built 1,500 kilometres of railways and 3,000 kilometres of highways. We have two railway and six automobile crossings. Thus, Kazakhstan becomes a transit state due to the development of trade with China,” he said.

Xi thanked Nazarbayev for the warm welcome and noted the rapid development of the Kazakh capital.

Over 20 years, Astana has experienced tremendous changes, which open up a great future for Kazakhstan. I am convinced that under the leadership of President Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan will achieve new successes in the matter of national revival and construction. During the period of our cooperation, we have achieved considerable results in all areas. We have trustful political relations,” Xi said.

“The One Belt, One Road initiative has received wide support all over the world. This initiative corresponds to the modern general trends of world processes. In fact, this is our common initiative that meets the challenges of global economic globalisation,” Xi added.

After the talks, the two Presidents visited China’s EXPO 2017 pavilion and took part in a programme titled “Kazakhstan and China – The Transit Bridge of Eurasia.”

“The Chinese exposition is one of the largest at EXPO 2017. China is a world leader in the field of renewable energy sources. I am confident that your country’s participation will make a significant contribution to the development of technologies and cultural ties,” Nazarbayev said.

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China honours EXPO 2017 with issuance of special bank note

Fri, 2017-06-09 00:47

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

ASTANA – With permission from the Astana EXPO 2017 national company, Chinese companies Wanbo and Zhangdao Wenhua have issued memorable banknotes and a postage stamp dedicated to the EXPO 2017 international specialised exhibition in Astana and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and China.

The banknotes and stamp were presented at a recent press conference in the Pudong area in Shanghai. Representatives of the Kazakh Consulate General in Shanghai, the promotion and tourism department of the Astana EXPO 2017 national company, the Committee for the Promotion of International Trade of China, the Foreign Affairs and Trade Chamber of Shanghai, the party leadership of the exhibition area of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone and approximately 50 large Chinese enterprises, as well as collectors of rare bills and representatives of the media attended.

This was the first issue of commemorative currency for an expo since 1851. The bank notes (without denomination) are issued in the amount of 5,000 sets, each of which has two bank notes showing Kazakhstan – with the Baiterek Tower on a blue background and the National Pavilion of Kazakhstan at the expo; and China – the Great Wall and the Temple of Heaven on a yellow background.

Consul General of Kazakhstan in Shanghai Zhoshykhan Kiraubayev noted during the unveiling that this year has been declared the Year of Chinese Tourism in Kazakhstan and that the Chinese president was about to visit Astana. He also invited the Chinese public to take part in expo activities.

Participants of the press conference were shown a video and were provided booklets about the exhibition.

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Tourism company offers double-decker bus sightseeing tours

Fri, 2017-06-09 00:42

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

ASTANA – The private company Visit Astana with the support of the city’s akimat (administration) is providing city sightseeing tours on double-decker buses, according to the akimat’s press service.

The Hop-on, Hop-off double-decker buses pass the city’s main attractions, including the territory of EXPO 2017. Buses are equipped with audio guides with the six available languages, including Kazakh, Russian, English, Chinese, Turkish and German.

Tickets cost 3,000 tenge (US$9) for adults, 2,000 tenge (US$6) for students and pensioners, 1,000 tenge (US$3) for children 6-14 and free for youngsters under five. The bus ticket is valid for 24 hours. Tourists can get off at any stop to walk around and get on the next bus. The interval between buses is 30-35 minutes.

The starting and ending point of the route is a stop in front of the Duman entertainment centre along the Kurgaldzhin Highway. The route includes the Duman entertainment centre, Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre, Mangilik Yel Arch, Mega Silk Way Shopping Mall, the National Museum of Kazakhstan and the Baiterek monument.

The project was launched last year.

“As the evenings are becoming colder, we offer plaid blankets for our guests. We also provide services for wedding catering. The wedding tours in our buses are now gaining popularity. There are a lot of tourists and visitors from Russia who are interested in the city’s development and architecture,” said Project Administrator Larissa Vostrova in an interview last year with The Astana Times.

Additional information is available at sightseeing-tours.kz.

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Book by Chinese president translated into Kazakh, presented in Astana

Fri, 2017-06-09 00:34

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

ASTANA – The Kazakh-language version of Chinese President’s book Xi Jinping: The Governance of China” was presented June 5 in the Library of the First President in Astana.

Photo credit: chinadaily.com.cn

Deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China Tuo Zhen said the book demonstrated China’s development theory and path, as well as internal and foreign policies, chinadaily.com.cn reports.

“The publication of the Kazakh-language version of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China’ opens a new window for the Kazakh people to better understand China and provides a new platform for both countries to communicate issues about governance in our countries,” he said.

Zhang Hanhui, the Chinese ambassador to Kazakhstan, added the new version of the book gives Kazakhstan a useful experience of how to govern a country.

“As the new book is published before the visit of President Xi to Kazakhstan, we believe the two countries will enhance mutual trust and better strategic coordination,” he said.

The book features 18 chapters and contains 79 speeches, talks, interviews, notes and letters written by the Chinese leader, dating between November 2012 and June 2014. The politician talks about the reforms in his country and, in general, about the country’s political path. The publication has been translated into 25 languages. Approximately 2,000 copies have been prepared in the Kazakh language. So far, more than 6.2 million copies have been distributed around the world.

In addition, the Beautiful China and Beautiful Kazakhstan photo exhibition with more than 200 works of the countries’ natural scenery and people has opened in the Palace of Peace and Harmony. The event marks the connecting of the China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with Kazakhstan’s Nurly Zhol economic policy.

According to China’s ambassador, the two countries have made great contributions to promoting cultural exchanges. The exhibition is significant because it displays the beauty of the two countries and shows the friendship of its peoples, he said.

The Chairman of the People’s Republic of China is visiting Kazakhstan June 7-10 to pay a state visit and participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit and the opening ceremony of the EXPO 2017 international exhibition at the invitation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

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Astana ready to welcome the world for EXPO 2017

Fri, 2017-06-09 00:26

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

2017 will undoubtedly go down as a momentous year in the history of Kazakhstan. In January, the country took up its seat on the United Nations Security Council, the first time a Central Asian nation has been given such a responsibility.

This gives our country a vital and important role in helping shape peace and stability around the world. Secondly, Kazakhstan has made valuable contributions in the search for a solution to the ongoing conflict and humanitarian disaster in Syria. Several rounds of talks under the Astana Process have taken place, bringing together all the sides of the devastating civil war, and the so called guarantor states, to help them find a lasting settlement. Now Kazakhstan has the responsibility to deliver a successful EXPO 2017 in Astana for visitors from near and far.

In many ways, EXPO 2017 has similarities with these important global responsibilities. The event spearheads an international effort to address the energy challenges of the 21st century as it helps create a more stable and prosperous future for the entire planet. This forward-looking approach to long-term stability and prosperity is entirely consistent with President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s call to the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 for “a strategy that would eliminate for good the threat of war and its causes.” A plentiful and sustainable energy supply to all parts of the world will help create conditions for peaceful co-existence.

Kazakhstan is blessed with a rich abundance of natural resources. Our country is  a major global exporter of oil and gas, as well as uranium and other rare earth metals. So, some may be surprised that Astana is hosting a major event that is dedicated to renewable energy. But Kazakhstan sees no contradiction between supplying today’s energy needs while also being committed to the development of sustainable and cleaner energy that will benefit future generations. The two are not mutually exclusive in our progressive vision.

For those attending EXPO 2017 under the title Future Energy, there will be the opportunity to visit numerous awe-inspiring exhibits. From pavilions hosted by dozens of countries from around the world, to the incredible gravity-defying “Reflekt” show by Cirque de Soleil, it promises to be an experience that will live long in the memory. Indeed, EXPO 2017 was a driving factor in helping Kazakhstan become one of the New York Times’ “top 52 places to visit in 2017” as it hailed the country’s “earnest transition from oil state to eco-destination.”

EXPO 2017 is more than about being just an entertaining and spectacular destination, as important as that may be. Nations from every corner of the world are coming together to share and discuss one of the most pressing issues that faces mankind – our future energy. It’s arguably the biggest and most important event that’s focused on creating a clean and sustainable future for us all. Kazakhstan has an abundance of oil and gas reserves but we are also the first to admit that global supplies are finite, which is a sign of a mature and future-looking nation that considers the long-term future of this country and all others on Earth.

The exhibition will showcase developments from around the world in the field of renewable energy, including the latest advances in areas, such as wind power, solar energy, renewable fuel and clean coal technologies. It, therefore, promises to stimulate the mind as much as it does the senses.

The event has a major role to play in Kazakhstan’s goal of becoming one of the world’s top 30 global economies by 2050. Indeed, it has been designed to “drive the next stage of our industrial development and diversification with a new emphasis on sustainability, high-tech and skills.”

The global event will also act as a catalyst for tourism to Kazakhstan by giving the opportunity for visitors from near and far to experience Astana for the first time. They will be able to take in the wider sights of our capital city, including its world-class architecture, culture and cuisine. They can also be assured of the warmest welcome and famous hospitality that the people of Kazakhstan will provide like few can do elsewhere on Earth.

So, the world, welcome to Astana and welcome to Kazakhstan!

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Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Astana will be historic

Thu, 2017-06-08 00:57

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

The upcoming meeting of the heads of member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Astana June 8-9 is important and historic. It is expected that India and Pakistan will become full members of the SCO, joining the six current member nations of the organisation – China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The significance of the accession of India and Pakistan should not be underestimated. Mark Shields, a well-known American political columnist and commentator, once said, “There is always strength in numbers.” This is, indeed, the case when it comes to India and Pakistan gaining full membership in the SCO. It will significantly strengthen the SCO’s security capabilities and enhance the political and economic aspect of the organisation. With the latest expansion, the SCO will include countries encompassing over 40 percent of the world’s population. In addition, full membership could bring a number of benefits for India and Pakistan. The organisation provides a platform for bilateral dialogue, which can contribute to improving the complex – and at times strained – relations between India and Pakistan.

There is no denying that the world is currently experiencing serious challenges that are affecting all of us. Though Daesh is losing ground in Syria and Iraq, terrorist organisations and lone attackers still pose a significant global threat, as was demonstrated by the recent horrific terrorist attacks in Manchester, St. Petersburg, in the Egyptian desert, and elsewhere. Global terrorism is partly emanating from the spread of radical extremism. In order to defeat terrorism, international organisations will need to implement concrete steps to stamp out extremism. This will be an area of great focus for the heads of member states of the SCO when they meet in Astana.

Drug trafficking will be another priority area during the meeting. As well as hurting ordinary people, the link between terrorism and drug trafficking is evident and has been recognised by the United Nations Security Council. Indeed, drug trafficking has provided funding for insurgency and those who use terrorist violence in various regions throughout the world. It is well-known that drug trafficking is a huge problem in Afghanistan, which is a major concern for the SCO member states, whose territories are used by criminals for  heroin refining and smuggling. The SCO will need to have a thorough discussion and come up with concrete steps to tackle this problem.

It is, therefore, a welcome sign that the SCO summit is expected to produce a joint statement by the heads of state on the joint fighting against international terrorism and the Convention on countering extremism.

However, as Kazakhstan frequently pointed out, to stamp out drug trafficking originating from our region, as well as defeat terrorism, a major effort is required to develop the economies of these countries and integrate them regionally and into the global economy. Kazakhstan has been helping secure peace and stability in Afghanistan and should continue to work closely with other members of the SCO to help the country get back on its feet. In fact, all member states of the SCO would benefit from closer economic cooperation, especially taking into account the massive potential of the emerging markets, including Kazakhstan, that make up the SCO.

From its inception, the main objectives of the SCO have been to maintain peace, stability and security in the region, as well as to develop economic and humanitarian cooperation. The expected accession of India and Pakistan will undoubtedly raise the SCO’s prestige, but more importantly it will, hopefully, facilitate the achievement of the SCO’s aims.

There will be a lot of important issues on the agenda when the heads of member states convene in Astana and there is no doubt that finding solutions to some of the pressing regional problems will not be an easy task. Nevertheless, the historic significance of the meeting should provide the necessary incentive for the member states to agree upon concrete measures that will contribute to the security and development of the region.

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New Astana-Delhi flight will assist Astana’s development as transit hub in centre of Eurasia

Thu, 2017-06-08 00:52

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

“India had never been a far-off country for the Kazakh people. Historical and geographic proximity gave us the opportunity to closely follow events in the Indian peninsula and democratic transformations taking place there found a vivid response in the hearts of the people of Kazakhstan”

(Nursultan Nazarbayev, Delhi,

February 1992)

I am very glad to note that we managed to agree on opening a direct flight between the capitals of our two countries during the significant year of celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Kazakh-Indian diplomatic relations.

Starting July 2, Air Astana will operate a direct Astana-Delhi flight three times a week to complement the already existing Almaty-Delhi daily flights. The activities establishing the flight were carried out in accordance with the Plan of the Nation – 100 Concrete Steps to implement the Five Institutional Reforms proposed by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. In particular, it will help develop Air Astana into a major international operator; turn Astana into Eurasia’s business, cultural and scientific centre; attract researchers, students, businesspersons and tourists from all over the region and provide international transport accessibility to the financial centre of Astana.

Relations between our countries and people are rooted in ancient times when migration took place from Eurasia to South Asia. This period is linked to the Indian ruler Kanishka, known in Kazakhstan’s history as Khan Yerke, and to the Scythians (Saks), who were known in India as Saka people. In the middle ages, our people and cultures were linked during the times of such historic personalities as Qutubuddin Aibak, Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, Amir Timur, Babur and Muhammed Haider Dughlat. In modern times, even before Kazakhstan attained independence, the links between our countries were manifested through the love of Kazakh people for Indian culture and through the visit of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi to Kazakhstan in 1955.

Twenty-five years is a very small period considering the centuries-old history of our relations. However, representatives of both countries generally agree that over these 25 years, our ties of friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation have stood the test of time and our people have retained their warm relations.

India was the first country President Nazarbayev visited outside the post-Soviet area. He always maintained the path of practical improvement of mutually beneficial ties. He has visited India several times since Kazakhstan gained independence (in 1992, 1996, 2002 and 2009). Furthermore, the establishment of a strategic partnership was announced during his January 2009 visit as chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations. This also showed the sincerity of the two nations and people to strengthen partnership and open new cooperation vistas.

The fact that there are no problems in bilateral or multilateral cooperation between our countries is a matter of special pride and a great achievement. Effective political cooperation between our countries has been ensured due to the similarity of our positions on basic international issues. The leaders of the two countries make use of all the opportunities and multilateral platforms to exchange views on global and regional processes and develop cooperation. Undoubtedly, the foreign ministries of the two countries and their leadership are playing a major coordinating role in this multifaceted cooperation between Kazakhstan and India.

Such a high level of political cooperation is also a good base for developing mutually-beneficial trade and economic relations. Right now, Kazakhstan is India’s main trading partner in Central Asia and the second largest partner in the entire post-Soviet region. Despite that, the trade and economic cooperation does not match the potential and the capabilities of our countries.

It is my considered view that thanks to the political will, desire and clear understanding of the importance of developing cooperation between Kazakhstan and India as not only major countries but also leaders in their regions, the leadership of both countries wishes to do its best to strengthen friendship and stable partnership in all areas of cooperation.

When appointing me as Ambassador to India in November 2014, President Nazarbayev assigned me with a number of specific tasks for expanding partnership relations between our countries. I was tasked to strengthen strategic cooperation, take trade and economic relations to new heights and organise the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Kazakhstan for setting new aims to be achieved by our countries in the near future.

Over the last two-and-a-half years, the Kazakh Embassy in India has tried to do its best to achieve the tasks assigned by the President. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kazakhstan in July 2015, which made it possible to sign a number of important agreements. An investment roadmap that included 26 business projects was adopted and a contract for the supply of 5,000 tonnes of uranium to India was signed, as well as an agreement on defence and military-technical cooperation, etc.

Our strategic partnership has acquired a clearer shape. Kazakhstan’s intention to support India’s candidature for permanent membership on the UN Security Council is a testimony to the strong political ties between our countries. This was included in the joint statement at the end of President Nazarbayev’s 2002 visit to India. Of equal significance is India’s support for Kazakhstan’s membership on the UN Security Council for 2017-18, which was also included in the Tez Kadam joint statement during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Kazakhstan in July 2015.

Another confirmation of strong partnership is India’s serious approach to its participation in the EXPO 2017 international specialised exhibition. Despite the fact that India is not a member of the International Bureau of Expositions (BIE), it not only decided to take part in the expo because of the level of cooperation between our countries, but also made a request for a pavilion with the largest space.

Two of Kazakhstan’s honorary consulates have been opened: in Mumbai (for Maharashtra) in 2015 and in Chennai (for Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala) in 2017.

Over the past two years, the flow of Indian citizens to Kazakhstan has more than doubled from 5,000 to nearly 11,000 people. During the same period, the number of visitors from Kazakhstan to India increased almost threefold to 18,000 in 2016.

I am confident that the direct flight between the capitals along with the already successfully functioning Almaty-Delhi flight will contribute significantly to the implementation of President Nazarbayev’s vision, including increasing the number of foreign visitors to EXPO 2017 and making fuller use of the economic and investment potential of business representatives and tourists from India.

 

The author is Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to India.

 

 

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Astana’s new Nurly Zhol railway station is open for business

Thu, 2017-06-08 00:45

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

ASTANA – The new Nurly Zhol railway station had its first passengers June 1 and a visit from President Nursultan Nazarbayev, according to akorda.kz.

In the run-up to EXPO 2017 in the capital, the whole city is undergoing a make-over – new buildings, hotels and services are being launched – all to accommodate guests during the three-month exhibition.

Nazarbayev, who met with the station’s staff and had the chance to assess some of the surrounding infrastructure, told the press he was impressed.

“Soon, the opening of the expo exhibition will kick off; this is why today I’m checking the new facilities of the capital, which are the new pride of Astana. New air routes are being launched covering the whole of Europe and Asia. These objects show the new look of the capital. The Nurly Zhol railway station is one of a kind, as there is no such station in the entire post-Soviet region,” he said.

The head of state also stressed the dynamic pace of infrastructure and transport development in the entire country; for example, the launch of the high-speed Talgo trains from Astana to all regions.

“All this is being built for the future of our state,” said the President. “These projects were erected within the framework of the Nurly Zhol programme. Only by launching the new terminal will the airport’s capacity increase from three to eight million passengers per year. All the expo visitors will arrive in Astana via these new facilities.”

The Nurly Zhol station complex consists of six levels with an area of ​​126,000 square metres connecting six receiving and sending routes. Passengers get on and off the trains on the third floor. The station is equipped with cutting-edge intelligent control and monitoring systems for passenger traffic, queueing, security and e-ticket sales.

The station’s management said it expects a passenger flow of approximately 12 million people a year. The facility, built according to the latest advanced technologies, has a staff of more than 1,000 people. Trains will now arrive inside the station to ensure passengers are warm during the winter and comfortable in summer’s heat. The new station was constructed according to all international and modern standards and will include energy-saving elevators and escalators to follow the future energy concept.

The expo exhibition will officially launch June 10. The grand opening ceremony, scheduled for June 9, will include parades and theatrical shows with foreign and local stars and celebrities.

The organisers are expecting about five million visitors in the span from June 10-Sept. 10. Approximately 85 percent of the guests will be Kazakh residents, while the remainder will be foreign citizens, the majority from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and China.

 

 

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Astana Opera House to stage Kazakh and world masterpieces in June

Thu, 2017-06-08 00:36

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

ASTANA – The Kazakh capital is turning into the world’s largest performance venue this summer. During the more than 90 days of EXPO 2017, the city will offer a rich cultural and entertaining programme featuring local and foreign artists. The Astana Opera House and Astana Ballet Theatre have unveiled the upcoming performance schedule.

Photo credit: yvision.kz

“Abai,” the national production of one of the outstanding operatic achievements of Kazakh musical art created by composers Akhmet Zhubanov and Latif Khamidi, will be staged June 11.

Abai was a great poet, educator and philosopher who will always remain a spiritual master of the nation. The opera unveils the depth of experience and thoughts of this powerful personality.

“Abai is very important to the Kazakh people. He carried out a creative, social, political and cultural mission. He always looked to the future, thought about the people and was with the people,” said Production Director Giancarlo del Monaco.

“Manon,” a dramatic ballet from the repertoire of London’s Royal Opera House, will be performed June 17 at the capital’s opera house. The presentation will be staged with the design of the late renowned British choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan and to the music of Jules Massenet.

The ballet tells the tragic love story of Manon Lescaut and the Chevalier des Grieux, with the heroine facing a difficult choice between wealth and love. The pas de deux of the main characters is the dramatic centre of the narrative.

“Vechernyaya Serenada” (“A Night Serenade”), a concert of chamber and instrumental music dedicated to the 220th birth anniversary of Austrian composer Franz Schubert, will be held June 21. The programme will feature chamber and instrumental music, as well as vocal works of the great romantic.

The Kazakh masterpiece opera “Kyz Zhibek” by Yevgeny Brusilovsky will be staged June 22.

Astana Opera is preparing “Verdi reads Verdi,” a magnificent show with the participation of outstanding Italian playwright, actor and filmmaker Massimiliano Finazzer Flory, for June 23. Flory will offer viewers an original interpretation of the key moments of Giuseppe Verdi’s biography. On stage, Verdi will speak in detail about his life from early childhood to excerpts from his will. The audience will learn about his relationship with music, composer Richard Wagner and librettist Arrigo Boito, listen to advice for young composers and singers and reflections on art, theatre, music and culture.

A concert of Italian classics will be organised June 24 as part of the expo cultural programme with the participation of young Italian pianist and winner of the 2016 FVG International Piano Competition Stefano Andreatta and the Astana Opera symphony orchestra conducted by Eddi De Nadai (Italy).

The Kazakh Ministry of Culture and Sports, Kazakh Auenderi Company and the theatre will present Ludwig Minkus’ ballet “Don Quixote” staged in the open air by the People’s Artist of Russia and Astana Opera art director and head of the Kazakh National Academy of Choreography Altynai Assylmuratova. The choreographic masterpiece will be held June 25 in front of the Palace of Peace and Harmony as part of the expo cultural programme.

“Our team sets task to dance well everywhere, whether it’s an open area or a theatrical stage. Initially, the production involves changes in scenery and the use of various techniques possible due to the stage equipment in the theatre. Therefore, the performance will be adapted for presentation in the open air. The festive atmosphere of noisy Barcelona will be created at the foot of the palace. We also invite all the guests to the theatre, where they will be able to watch this temperamental, virtuosic ballet in full, in its entire splendour,” said Assylmuratova.

The magnificent scenery of famous stage designer Ezio Frigerio, colourful costumes of Oscar-winner Frank Squarciapino and skilful use of 3D effects and animation of projection designer Sergio Metalli will please the capital’s residents and guests, note the organisers.

Astana Ballet Theatre will present the Astana Ballet EXPO GALA programme June 23-24, including the best performances from the team’s repertoire created by domestic and foreign choreographers. The programme focuses on contemporary Kazakh ballet art and reflects modern dance trends.

 

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Information satellite system saves Kazakhstan $45 million

Thu, 2017-06-08 00:30

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

ASTANA – Space technology development contributes to the increase of domestic content in space system production for foreign customers, said Minister of Defence and Aerospace Industry Beibut Atamkulov at a June 5 government meeting.

The KazSat system ensured the import substitution in the amount of 27 billion tenge (US$86.3 million) due to the reduction of the use of foreign satellites resources and brought in 14.7 billion tenge (US$46.9 million) during the period of its operation.

“Our consumers would annually pay $45 million for services of foreign satellites if there wasn’t a KazSat satellite. The income from commercial sales amounted to 760 million tenge (US$2.4 million) in Kazakhstan and 143 million tenge (US$457,171) abroad during the years of KazEOSat-1 and KazEOSat-2 space probing system operation,” the minister said.

Space images of more than 22.3 million square kilometres of space with a cost of 12.2 billion tenge (US$39 million) were provided from the beginning of last year to the present day.

“These space images would cost us more than 23 billion tenge (US$73.5 million) according to the tariffs of foreign operators. The space images do not solve the tasks of state bodies, they need appropriate decoding. This is thematic processing in a certain direction in the industry,” he said.

The minister said that the state bodies have difficulties with thematic processing of remote sensing data due to lack of personnel, technical and financial resources. Creation of sectoral geoportals, subsystems of space monitoring and control based on the space system for remote sensing of the Earth will solve these issues effectively.

“The geoportal of the Prosecutor General’s Office for monitoring land was created as part of the Land by Law – Prevent Self-Seizure project. This geoportal is designed to identify squatting open land and the irrelevance of the database of land cadastre,” he said.

A Kazakh-British team of engineers planned to launch two satellites of the space system of scientific and technological designation in early 2018.

Last year, the parliament adopted a law on space activities, which allows creating a legal mechanism for the effective use of space infrastructure, practical implementation of the results of space monitoring and technology in public administration of various areas of the economy.

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KIOGE turns 25, looks to further successes

Thu, 2017-06-08 00:08

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

ALMATY – The Kazakhstan International Oil & Gas Exhibition and Conference – KIOGE – is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Since its first edition, it has been attended by heads of government and ministers from various countries. In its initial years, the exhibition was opened personally by the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

In fact, KIOGE was the first international industry event in Kazakhstan. Participants over the years have included leading global giants such as Chevron, BG, Shell, NCOC, KPO, ExxonMobil, Total, Tengizchevroil, Lukoil, Statoil, OMV, Gazprom and, of course, KazMunayGas National Company. Many participants have remained faithful to the project for many years and are ready to present their stands at the 25th anniversary edition, takes place Oct. 4-6 in Almaty.

Since its creation, the KIOGE exhibition and conference has received support from the Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan, the city administration of Almaty, KazMunayGas, the Union of Service Companies of Kazakhstan, and diplomatic missions from participating countries.

The business programme of the conference will include a two-day event full of sessions, round tables, and official document signing ceremonies.

The conference’s plenary session will be dedicated to reviewing the formation of Kazakhstan’s oil and gas industry and assessing its current state, while experts will share their vision for the future of hydrocarbons. The conference will continue with meetings on more specific topics, for participants to discuss exploration and production issues in terms of technological innovations and their economic impact. The issue of oil and gas transportation as a dynamically developing industry with great prospects will also be touched upon.

The conference programme provides for a special anniversary session: National Treasure: Kazakhstan’s Oil and Gas Industry in Faces. The successful development of the hydrocarbon sphere was achieved by professionals at all levels, from the senior politicians to local producers. Due to the authority and purposeful decisions of many local community leaders, the industry received foreign investments and opportunities to develop Kazakh companies and staff. The session will serve as a platform to meet industry legends, who will talk about how independent Kazakhstan’s oil and gas industry was created.

Special events for exhibitors and visitors will be put on in the pavilions – presentations and media events by KIOGE partners and exhibitors. The Children Draw the World display has been organised in collaboration with the Kazakh National Federation of UNESCO Clubs.

The exhibition sectors will remain consistent, covering more than 10 industry sectors from geology and exploration to processing and consulting services.

The anniversary edition of KIOGE will have a celebratory atmosphere, whilst remaining a universal industry platform for customers and service providers for Kazakhstan’s main industry to meet.

The KIOGE Conference 2017 will take place Oct. 4-5 at the Intercontinental Almaty Hotel, while the exhibition will take place, as per tradition, at the Atakent Kazakhstan Business Cooperation Centre Oct. 4-6.

KIOGE 2017 is organised by Kazakhstan exhibition company Iteca and its international partners: ITE Group (the U.K., Germany, China, Russia, Turkey, the UAE and Malaysia).

 

 

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Kazakhstan exceeds expectations, says Dominican FM

Wed, 2017-06-07 05:21

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

ASTANA – In an exclusive interview with The Astana Times following his June 5-6 visit to Kazakhstan, Dominican Republic Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas said he saw many opportunities for cooperation, particularly in human resources, education and business.

“You have great universities here. But mainly our cooperation focuses on trade and commerce. We will also look for ways to facilitate business processes between the businesspeople from Kazakhstan and the Dominican Republic,” he said.

Though bilateral trade numbers are lower than with some other trading partners, trade numbers increased significantly in the last few years. According to the statistics provided by Kazakh Customs, trade last year reached a record $890,300, which is up from $659,100 in 2014. The main goods of trade were medical equipment, medicine and cigars from the Dominican Republic and chemicals from Kazakhstan.

During the visit, Vargas met with Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov and the two signed a political declaration. It also touched upon cooperation regarding EXPO 2017 and in international organisations. And they have agreed to facilitate the visa regime further and to explore possibilities for improving air links.

“Presently Kazakh nationals can enter the Dominican Republic without a visa by purchasing a $10 card upon arrival,” Vargas told The Astana Times. “After formalising the new visa regime agreement, Dominicans will also be able to travel to Kazakhstan, without a visa. Also, the agreement will relieve Kazakhs from buying the 10-dollar card upon arrival. This will be signed in the next couple of weeks.”

With the air links, the minister said he wished to establish “connection” hubs for Dominicans and Kazakhs.

“Most Kazakh nationals use the gateway of Moscow or Saint Petersburg or chartered flights when traveling to the Dominican Republic. Right now, we have 14 flights a week from Russia to the Dominican Republic. We are looking forward to increasing the flights from Moscow to our country, however, we also suggested to formalise the air agreements between Kazakhstan and the Dominican Republic, so that the Kazakh airlines would use a third country, like Spain for instance, to reach the Dominican Republic and also use the country as a connecting hub to other countries in the region. We would like to formalise this air service agreement between Kazakhstan and the Dominican Republic to facilitate the people-to-people contact.”

The Dominican delegation also focused on other areas of cooperation, in particular natural resources and energy, the minister said.

“We signed an agreement of cooperation in the energy field,” Vargas said referring to a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Energy. “As a matter of fact, we came to Kazakhstan because of the expo, our participation in the exhibition was what got our interest in coming to Kazakhstan. And it shows the importance Kazakhstan places [on this issue], given the amount of energy resources that you already have but making sure it is respectful to the environment and taken over to the 50-50 programme, where renewable energy is used. I am very impressed by how Kazakhstan is looking forward to the future and we want to cooperate and learn from each other’s good practice.”

The minister said his personal impressions of the country also exceeded his expectations.

“Astana is not only a beautiful but a well-developed city, a city looking towards the future. My impression was highlighted by the hospitality of the Kazakh people and the host, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, and everybody we have met during our visit, they all have impressed us even more.”

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Kazakhstan jumps 15 spots on IMD World Competitiveness ranking

Wed, 2017-06-07 05:14

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

ASTANA – Kazakhstan climbed from 47th to 32th place in the IMD World Competitiveness ranking, evaluating business efficiency, public finance and domestic economy. The new ranking shows Kazakhstan surpassing states such as Spain, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Portugal, Italy, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

“Kazakhstan has demonstrated the greatest progress on public finances and domestic economy indicators. The public finances indicator jumped from 51st place to 4th, the domestic economy improved from 51st to 40th place. The country also significantly increased in the business efficiency category in all positions,” said Alexander Zemlyanichenko, expert of RBK Russian media company.

Kazakhstan improved its positions for the year, rising 15 spots with an index of 76 points out of 100. Thirty-second place also was achieved by Kazakhstan in 2014 as reported the IMD World Competitiveness ranking 2014 yearbook, according to www.imd.org.

The World Competitiveness ranking evaluates 63 countries. This year Cyprus and Saudi Arabia were evaluated for the first time, according to the IMD Swiss business school’s annual research.

Hong Kong took first place in the ranking for the second year in a row. Switzerland and Singapore are in second and third place. The U.S. fell from third to fourth position, receiving the worst result in the last five years. The Netherlands rose in the latest ranking to fifth place from the eighth.

The IMD World Competitiveness Centre has also published a separate report ranking countries’ digital competitiveness for the first time this year. Kazakhstan took 38th place, improving from 43th place last year. The new Digital Competitiveness Ranking introduces several new criteria to measure countries’ ability to adopt and explore digital technologies leading to transformation in government practices, business models and society.

The World Competitiveness ranking determines how countries, regions and companies manage their competencies to achieve long-term growth, generate jobs and increase welfare.

The ranking assesses competitiveness using 20 indicators, divided into four categories. There are economic indicators, infrastructure, government and business efficiency categories. The indexes consist of 323 variables, such as the contribution to world GDP, gasoline prices, tax rates and the state policy transparency.

The IMD World Competitiveness Centre has been a pioneer in the field of the competitiveness of nations and the World Economy Ranking. The IMD Centre has published the rankings every year since 1989.

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Worst times gone for Kazakhstan, says PwC tax and legal leader for Eurasia

Wed, 2017-06-07 05:01

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

ASTANA – Long-time expat, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Tax & Legal Services leader for Eurasia Michael Ahern believes the worst times of economically tough 2015-2016 are over for Kazakhstan.

Michael Ahern

“We will not return to the boom times of high oil prices, but the trend is up,” he told The Astana Times in an exclusive interview.

“In 2015-2016, we’ve been at the lowest point – currency devaluation, low oil prices. The significance of [the launch of] Tengizchevroil’s Future Growth Project cannot be overemphasised and the Astana EXPO will bring a lot of visitors to the country,” he added.

Originally from South Arica and an expat since 1998, Ahern lived three years in Poland. He moved to Belgrade, Serbia, in 2001, where he lived another three years, then moved back to Poland in 2006. While there, he worked on many transactions and became familiar with almost all countries in Central Europe – from the Baltic States all the way down to Albania.

“I have a pretty good knowledge of these countries and their people,” he told the paper. He believes “the impact of China is significant for Kazakhstan” in speaking about the forecast for latter’s economy for the near future.

“Kazakhstan is a part of the route connecting China and Europe, rather than Chinese investments in the Kazakh oil and gas industry. This will help to significantly develop the country’s infrastructure. Something to think about is the impact on Kazakhstan as Uzbekistan opens up, given the relative size of the Uzbek market. Kazakhstan needs a response even though it is significantly ahead in terms of development,” he said.

Ahern admits he knew close to nothing about the Central Asian country before moving and it was quite challenging despite his extensive relocating experience in the past.

“In fact, I did not know much before moving to Kazakhstan in 2014. I was lucky to come to Kazakhstan once in 2011 for a large multinational corporation based in a fairly remote location. I saw something in three days, but not much. I also had some knowledge from a regular PwC tax leaders’ meetings for Central and Eastern Europe and in particular from one of the early leaders of the practice, Courtney Fowler, who lived in Almaty for 12 years. I had the impression of a country with big spaces and horses a long way from anywhere,” he said.

One of the reasons Ahern encountered difficulties was his age, he admitted.

“I was 16 years older than when I first became an expat and I wasn’t as flexible in my ways. The second thing is I never really worked in true post-Soviet countries. I saw an enormous difference between Poland and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. Here, people seemed more hesitant to make decisions or step out of line and do something different. This is not good or bad, simply different,” he noted.

He didn’t hesitate, however, to quickly learn about his new surroundings.

“An enormous plus is that Kazakhstan is at a crossroad between Europe and Asia – I had never had Asian experience. So, one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most is an opportunity to look to and learn from the East,” he said.

“I really find Kazakhstan and its people very interesting. People are so friendly, genuinely want to help, have time for you, remember your name. People smile and despite the fact that I don’t speak Russian, they communicate with me and are always ready to help. Kazakh people are friendly, they engage, they are helpful, much more caring than in the western world, where people seem to be more in a rush, and are much focused on their own life and work. In Kazakhstan, people quickly remember you; they are very attentive, hospitable and respectful. You end up with the feeling that people care,” he added.

PwC global and operations in Kazakhstan

PwC opened its first office in Kazakhstan in 1993 and today the company has more than 500 staff in three fully operating offices in Almaty and Astana. The company’s expansion didn’t stop just in Kazakhstan or the Central Asia region. PwC established offices in Baku (Azerbaijan), Tbilisi (Georgia), Yerevan (Armenia), Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) and Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia).

“We do very traditional tax consulting for many oil and gas companies, companies in the retail and consumer sector and companies providing services in both of those areas,” he said.

“Tax disputes and litigation are an important part of our practice. There is a positive trend in that while there are a lot of disputes, we see more of them being resolved in favour of taxpayers.  Transfer pricing is possibly the ‘hottest’ tax topic globally, and it’s no different here. There is a big focus on how companies in a group price the transactions between themselves. We do more and more outsourcing work – tax compliance, tax returns, accounting services and immigration support. This is for companies as well as individuals. Legal services are an increasingly important part of our practice, dealing with corporate matters, financing, employment and intellectual property. Legal is extremely complementary to our tax and advisory work,” he added.

Human resource consulting is crucial, too.

“Everything has a dimension related to people. We cover most matters related to people looking at recruitment, career paths, remuneration structures, job grading, leadership development and motivation. We provide this range of services consistently across Eurasia. So, our practice is comparable with a PwC practice anywhere in the world,” he said.

“Definitely, we are not changing our strategy, i.e. to build trust in society and solve important problems,” he added.

PwC to participate in EXPO 2017

PwC will be involved in EXPO 2017.

“We are very supportive of EXPO and we are certainly going to participate in different events – meetings with trade delegations, national days, Astana Economic Forum, innovation summit, 30th plenary session of the Foreign Investors’ Council chaired by the President, etc.,” he said.

“We will bring leading colleagues to participate in different events during the EXPO. For instance, Michal Mazur, a partner of PwC’s drone consultancy who is one of 100 Europe changemakers according to the Financial Times 2016, and Rahul Gupta, an expert on smart cities and cybersecurity, will come to Astana in June. More generally, we are moving about the country, sharing our experiences over the last 20 years and encouraging investors in Kazakhstan,” he said.

“We wish EXPO 2017 great success and all guests and participants a most rewarding and enjoyable time in Astana. The new infrastructure, new airport, Congress Hall and exhibition centre, top brand hotels – all are good for the country for the long term,” he added.

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Italy presents details of its EXPO 2017 pavilion

Wed, 2017-06-07 04:47

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

ASTANA – Italian officials revealed a few details of Italy’s EXPO 2017 pavilion during a June 2 press conference in Astana devoted to Italy’s National Day. Among the details revealed was that the pavilion’s walls will include visual and audio effects.

“As a designer, I chose to create the physical squares that would represent the cities of Italy, historic cities based on their resources as a first theme. In our pavilion, the historic cities of Italy will speak via walls. Walls will talk due to our visual content. And there will be a constant broadcast,” said pavilion architect Paolo Desideri.

Translations will be provided, as well as English and Russian subtitles.

“This is done for visitors to hear the music of our language. The catalogue with information is almost done, it will be presented in three languages: Russian, Kazakh and English,” the designer said.

The pavilion is 900 square metres and its four main halls are named after prominent Italian scientists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Alessandro Volta, Enrico Fermi and Antonio Pacinotti.

The pavilion concept is based on the question ‘What is energy and what does it serve?’ Moving from one room to another, visitors will plunge into the history of Italy and see the future for which the homeland of poets and sea travellers is striving today, says the press release.

According to Ambassador of Italy to Kazakhstan and Italy’s EXPO 2017 Commissioner Stefano Ravagnan, a fascinating journey to the natural places and cultural and historical places of Italy is awaiting visitors to the pavilion. Guests will see technologies, which were developed and applied by Italian innovators. All that will be possible due to a unique 360-degree panorama.

During the press conference, Italian officials gave a video presentation noting that Italy’s 15 regions, 11 private companies and five national institutes will participate in the expo.

“Our regions have developed hundreds of promising projects, turned to the future, and are aiming to develop new ways of obtaining and using energy with greater environmental friendliness and efficiency,” said Ravagnan.

He added that each region will also showcase its unique offerings. For instance, the Veneto region will bring Murano glass. The region of Tuscany will present ceramics. The region of Lazio and the city of Rome will show models of Roman ruins. Also, there will be 15 objects of art.

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Kazakhstan – UAE: together for a quarter of a century

Wed, 2017-06-07 04:36

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

This year, we celebrate 25 years of friendship and diplomacy between Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates. This celebration is a landmark one for our bilateral relations and my visit to Kazakhstan in late May presented an opportunity to reflect on the status of our partnership and on what steps we can take to further strengthen links between Kazakhstan and the UAE.

The relationship between Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates is underpinned by a shared desire to uphold principles that both our countries hold dear. We stand united in our resolve to build on the warm and multi-faceted relations that exist between our countries, embrace opportunities and confront challenges in a fast changing world.

The United Arab Emirates and Kazakhstan share a solid commitment to promoting a positive and constructive sustainable development agenda and a vision for advancing cooperation in the development of clean energy technologies. Future Energy will be the theme of the Astana EXPO 2017, which is scheduled to begin in June. The UAE believes the EXPO 2017 in Astana will mark a milestone in the development of clean and renewable energy and is very pleased to have the largest pavilion at the exhibition, spread over 980 square meters and featuring a presence from major UAE organisations.

Kazakhstan’s participation in the World EXPO in Dubai in 2020 is also an important manifestation of the strength of our relationship. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Kazakhstan for being one of the first countries to officially announce its participation, and I look forward to welcoming Kazakh visitors to the first World EXPO in the Middle East in 2020. Our EXPO teams are working closely together to share expertise and assist each other, and formalised their cooperation earlier this year through a memorandum of understanding.

Economic ties are a core area of focus in our bilateral relations. With a non-oil volume of trade of close to $250 million in 2016, the UAE is Kazakhstan’s largest Arab trade partner. Over the last decade, the UAE has made substantial investments exceeding $2 billion in a wide array of economic sectors in Kazakhstan. These include establishing the Al Falah Fund in Kazakhstan, which helps finance projects in strategic areas, such as oil and gas, and food security. Currently, there are approximately 200 Emirati companies operating in Kazakhstan, including Al Hilal, an Abu Dhabi-based bank, which established the first Islamic bank in Kazakhstan and Al Dar, a leading UAE real estate developer, which is building the Abu Dhabi Plaza in Astana.

UAE companies remain interested in investing in Kazakhstan and in order to facilitate these investments, we have agreed to make progress on several important bilateral agreements, which will be signed during my visit. These include an agreement on the establishment of a Kazakh-Emirati Business Council and an agreement related to the establishment by Mubadala and the Kazakh Government of a petrochemical complex in Kazakhstan.

The UAE also looks to Kazakhstan as a friend on the international stage, where we are like-minded partners on pressing global and regional issues, including non-proliferation and the urgent need to fight extremism. Over the last years, the UAE has supported a number of Kazakh initiatives, including the establishment of the Islamic Organisation for Food Security in Astana and the establishment of the first-ever Low-Enriched Uranium Bank in Kazakhstan. We have also supported Kazakhstan’s successful bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2017–18, and we look forward to working with Kazakhstan during its term on the UN Security Council to advance issues related to peace and security.

Furthermore, both our countries focus on investing in human capital and in a foreign policy that strongly emphasises soft power. There are strong cultural and people-to-people links between the UAE and Kazakhstan, which were reaffirmed by the recent signing of an agreement between the Emirates Diplomatic Academy and the Kazakh Academy of Public Administration. I trust that our increased dialogue on education, training and research will help us strengthen our important relationship in a constructive way. I am also confident that our countries will continue to expand their ties in a wide array of sectors in the years to come.

On the occasion of my visit to Kazakhstan, I reaffirm the commitment of the UAE to continue strengthening our relationship, and I look forward to working with our Kazakh partners to deepen the bonds between our people and create new opportunities for the future. I believe it is in the mutual interest of both countries to continue to strengthen these ties.

 

The author is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates.

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