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Fitness Park Astana opens new season for open-air workouts

Thu, 2017-06-01 02:00

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

ASTANA – It is that time of the year again when the residents of the capital can get outside and enjoy having open-air exercises with fitness professionals. Fitness Park Astana has opened a new season of weekly workouts at Astana’s parks.

Photo credit: rk-news.com

One can go for CrossFit, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Zumba, Combat battle or yoga sessions led by the best fitness instructors in the city. Trainings are then followed by cool down exercises and music.

Exercises are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday during the summer at Stolichniy (Capital) Park, Zheruyik and Studencheskiy parks.

“From the bottom of my heart, I congratulate all on the opening of this project. Because the projects that promote sports are very important. I recommend all to engage in sports and support its development,” Olympic champion Daniyar Yeleussinov said in an earlier interview, according to Olympic.kz.

Fitness Park Astana has become a well-loved activity for many, including many beginners. From businessmen to stay-at-home parents people come to cross fit trainings.

Photo credit: rk-news.com

“There are many new beginners this year. Considering cross fit is quite a complex type of sport activity, people with completely different levels of physical training started coming to our trainings. And this is good news as striving is the main thing here. We are holding exercises at all three parks and hope it will be so every Sunday,” said one CrossFit coach, Total.kz reported.

Yeleussinov along with Olympic athlete Georgiy Tsurtsumia thanked organisers for a great initiative and wished them good luck during the second season of Fitness Park Astana.

The capital’s Akimat (city administration) is an organiser while the National Olympic Committee of Kazakhstan supported the project this year.

“I really liked open-air trainings. Even kids are thrilled to bits even though we came here early. You know there is some kind of a special energy here. We will surely come back next Sunday,” one of the mothers who came to combat-battle training with her children noted.

Exercising at a park is far more pleasant than at a gym, according to her.

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Astana to host open air production of ‘Aida’ opera

Thu, 2017-06-01 01:52

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

ASTANA – Giuseppe Verdi’s masterpiece “Aida” will be staged under the open sky near the Palace of Peace and Harmony, Astana’s famous pyramid as part of the EXPO 2017 cultural events June 15.

Photo credit: Karla Nur

The opera will be performed by the Astana Opera House soloists with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Sports and Kazakh Auenderi Company, according to the theatre’s press service.

“The opera is included in the programme of events dedicated to the EXPO 2017 exhibition. Opera performance under the open sky is a new genre for local audiences as they used to enjoy performances at the theatre hall. We aim to attract young people and popularise high art by changing the location. The square near the Palace of Peace and Harmony will be transformed into an opera house under the open sky. The stage decoration was made according to the sketches of outstanding stage designer and contemporary director Franco Zeffirelli,” the theatre said in a statement.

Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Zhupar Gabdullina will perform the title role of Aida and Bulgarian tenor Kamen Chanev will act as Radamès. The cast also includes Bolat Yessimkhanov as the king of Egypt, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Dina Khamzina as Amneris (daughter of the pharaoh), People’s Artist of Armenia Barsegh Tumanyan as Ramfis and Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Talgat Mussabayev as Amonasro.

Photo credit: Karla Nur

The Astana Opera symphony orchestra will perform under the leadership of the Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Abzal Mukhitdinov.

The “Aida” opera has gained worldwide fame. A spectacular and large-scale performance shows a human drama full of acute collisions with mass scenes, lavish processions, dances and hymns.

The composer elevated the spiritual beauty and passion of Aida and Radamès through his music. The opera is a hymn to human’s highest ideals. The love between main characters Aida and Radamès stands all the obstacles even before death.

The opera premiered on the stage of the Astana Opera Nov. 19, 2014. Last year, it was held under the open sky for the first time as part of the Astana Day celebrations.

“Kyz Zhibek,” a great opera project created by Yevgeny Brusilovsky and Gabit Musrepov in a modern version, is also scheduled as an outdoor performance produced by the Astana Opera July 5.

Photo credit: Karla Nur

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Singapore Pavilion to Present “Small City, Big Ideas” at Astana EXPO 2017

Thu, 2017-06-01 00:55

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

ASTANA – Singapore is a thriving, modern and global city; a global hub for commerce, finance, shipping and travel. Its airport is amongst the world’s most efficient; its container port amongst the world’s busiest. It is ranked the most sustainable city in Asia and second in the world, according to the Sustainable Cities Index 2016. Singapore started its journey as a poor developing nation. It is familiar with the experience of many developing nations, having to overcome the challenges of growing the economy and creating enough jobs for its people on a sustainable basis.

Singapore’s city skyline.

Through developing multiple growth engines to enhance the economy’s robustness and resilience against external shocks, as well as minimise over-reliance on any one industry or sector, Singapore has successfully transformed
into a globally-oriented, broadbased and diversified economy, while ensuring that development was not at the expense of environmental sustainability.
Today, Singapore strives to maintain a globally-competitive, highend manufacturing sector while supporting a well-diversified services sector. Investing in new growth areas such as urban solutions, data analytics and satellite technologies, the nation also continues to welcome foreign direct investment and encourage local companies to venture into markets abroad.

Doing business in Singapore, the Gateway to Asia
Singapore is one of the best places in the world to do business. The World Bank ranks Singapore second in the world and the best in Asia in the ease of doing business for 2017. Singapore’s pro-business environment, connectivity, highlyskilled labour force, access to talent, and vibrancy make Singapore an attractive investment destination.

In addition, a stable political environment with clear, consistent rules and regulations, and a strong
intellectual property framework have also helped the city-state attract foreign investment and anchor multinational companies.

Artist’s impression of the Singapore Pavillion at EXPO 2017.

Singapore has 4,550 flights to  more than 200 cities in 60 countries. Every day, 200 shipping lines run to more than 600 ports in 123 countries. Singapore’s strong regional and international connections offer a good base for companies to use Singapore as a springboard into the larger ASEAN market. Companies from all over the world have chosen to anchor themselves in Singapore.

Companies can also tap Singapore’s strong network of trade and investment agreements. To date, the country has 21 Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and Economic Partnership Agreements with countries around the world. Together with its wide network of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTA) and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT), companies will find Singapore a good place to base their business to get connections in Southeast Asia and
the larger Asia Pacific.

Opportunities for greater collaboration between Singapore and Kazakhstan companies
Trade relations between Singapore and Kazakhstan are growing. In 2016, Kazakhstan was ranked as Singapore’s top trading partner among the five Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan). There is a DTA between the two countries, which came into force in August 2007. This will relieve double taxation of income that is earned by Singaporeans in Kazakhstan, and vice versa, allowing greater
opportunities for collaboration between companies that do business in these two countries. Singapore is also negotiating a BIT with Kazakhstan, which will encourage further investments between the two countries.

DCIM100MEDIA

Kazakhstan, like Singapore, aims to be a hub in its region. This through research, experimentation and innovation, we have developed approaches and solutions that balance our three policy objectives – energy security, economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability. We hope to share these solutions at EXPO 2017.

Through the Singapore Pavilion, visitors will see how Singapore, as a living lab, is test-bedding and implementing many new solutions to bring about advanced and new energy solutions that will help Singapore to meet its future energy needs efficiently and sustainably,” said Senior Minister of State for Trade & Industry, Dr Koh Poh Koon.

Clean energy development amid Singapore’s constraints
As a small, densely populated city-state, Singapore has had to address the challenges of resource constraints from the very beginning of its development. Singapore’s key energy strategies have been to promote the efficient use of energy, competitive energy markets, and investing in technology and innovation to address its own energy
security, competitiveness and environmental sustainability needs.
Among the various clean energy options, solar photovoltaic (PV) currently has the greatest potential for wider deployment in Singapore. Singapore has therefore taken active steps to promote its deployment. The Government has enhanced its regulatory frameworks and facilitated innovative business models and financing in clean energy. Singapore has also made significant investments in Energy Research, Development & Deployment (RD&D)
to enhance Singapore’s position as a living lab and develop cost-competitive technological solutions that
can be deployed in Singapore and beyond, especially in the areas of solar PV, energy storage systems and smart grids. In addition, the Government has taken the lead to catalyse growth in the clean energy sector, by aggregating public sector demand for solar energy across public buildings and spaces under the SolarNova programme. A number of these initiatives will be featured in Singapore Pavilion at Astana Expo.
The annual Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW), organised by the Energy Market Authority, Singapore, also facilitates dialogue on clean energy. This week-long international platform brings energy leaders together to exchange ideas and generate insights on staying nimble, navigating challenges, and seizing opportunities in the evolving energy landscape. The 10th edition of SIEW will be held at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands from October
23-27, 2017. Registration opens on July 1.
Singapore has seen strong growth momentum in its clean energy sector. For instance, solar PV deployed in Singapore has grown from less than 1 MWp in 2008 to 126 MWp in 2016. The increased adoption of cost-competitive solar energy has opened up new opportunities for innovation and economic growth. Singapore’s clean energy industry has grown from a modest base of about ten companies in 2007, to around 100 in 2016. Singapore is
now well positioned to serve the growing regional and global demand for clean energy solutions.
Singapore pavilion at Astana EXPO 2017
Themed “Small City, Big Ideas”, the Singapore Pavilion will highlight Singapore’s reputation as a garden city, as well as its efforts in creating an ecosystem which supports the development of effective solutions for a sustainable
future. Spanning 385 square metres, the Pavilion will feature six zones, each providing visitors with a unique experience.
The Pavilion will feature 10 key ideas or solutions that Singapor has developed including initiatives by government agencies. It will also highlight the commercial solutions to overcome some of the challenges in implementing renewable energy. These solutions cut across the generation, transmission and consumption of energy. Important solutions such as demand response (DR) aimed at managing peak energy demand, and reduction of energy costs to consumers will be displayed. Smart technology solutions aimed at providing energy users with more information
about their energy consumption patterns will also be highlighted.
In addition, Singapore will conduct a Capacity Building Programme throughout the duration of the Expo, specially designed for policy makers and regulators from Central Asia and neighbouring countries. Through the Programme, Singapore aims to promote best practices in sustainable development, urban planning and future energy, and encourage greater exchange of knowledge and expertise in new energy solutions.
The Singapore Pavilion will officially open on June 10, 2017. The Pavilion will be operational everyday throughout the 3-month period for 12 hours daily. Official operating hours for the pavilion is from 0930 to 2130 hours daily.
There will also be a Singapore Day celebration on 25 July 2017, where Singapore will showcase the Singapore story to international and Kazakhstan audience.
Singapore Pavilion website: www.astanaexpo2017sg.com
Singapore Pavilion Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/astanaexpo2017sg

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Astana is ready for EXPO 2017, Mayor says

Tue, 2017-05-30 23:49

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

ASTANA – These days, Astana is probably the busiest and most sleepless city in Central Asia. In an exclusive interview with The Astana Times, Akim (Mayor) of Astana Asset Issekeshev talks about the most relevant issues for the capital, the development of the transport system, the attraction of investments and, of course, the city’s preparedness for the highly anticipated EXPO 2017 to be held under the theme of Future Energy.

Asset Issekeshev

There is very little time left before the opening of EXPO 2017. Is the city ready for the anticipated event? Is everything going according to plan?

The akimat (city administration) has established a special headquarters for preparing the city for EXPO. All activities are conducted in accordance with the deadlines. All the services of the city are working in an amplified mode. In general, the city is ready to receive and accommodate more than 2 million tourists from within Kazakhstan and abroad.

There are sufficient rooms to accommodate all the guests in the amount of the 35,000 people expected to arrive at hotels and apartments. A reservation department was established and 10 regions have already reserved rooms for their delegations. Eighteen residence halls will accommodate 40,000 students from the regions. Accommodations will also be provided for seconded employees of law enforcement agencies and volunteers.

For the comfortable stay of foreign tourists, online registration was introduced directly in hotels.

According to the application dossier, on the day of the maximum peak load, 110,000 seats are required. There are 273 restaurants in the city with 80,000 seats, 460 cafes with 23,000 seats and 27 canteens with 3,000 seats. Today, 850 food points provide 116,000 seats, with emphasis on different cuisines.

All issues of the city’s food security have been resolved.

We expect growth of food consumption by 20-30 percent – up to 160,000 tonnes for three months.

The storage capacity in the city is sufficient.

The schedule of fairs and deliveries of products from Central Asia has been approved. For more than 30 products that are under the risk of deficit and appreciation, we have developed a special programme together with trading enterprises and banks in order to stabilise them.

A detailed programme of cultural and sporting events was formed. All 93 exhibition days have scheduled events.

Most of the events will be held on the territory of the exhibition, while the Ministry of Culture and akimat will be organising events throughout the city.

More than 18 sports competitions at an international level will take place in the capital, including the Cups of the President of Kazakhstan in tennis and football, various championships of the world and Asia, and international tournaments. There will be the Astana Duathlon 2017 on June 25, the Astana Triathlon 2017 on July 30 and the Astana Marathon 2017 on August 27.

In addition to volunteers from the Astana EXPO 2017 national company, 1,000 city volunteers who speak foreign languages will help in organising events, as well as logistics at the airport and railway stations. Eight information kiosks with hand-outs, memos and instructions for tourists in four languages have begun operations. Tourist routes and audio guides have been prepared in five languages.

A new airport terminal and a new railway station will be introduced on time.

We are launching seven additional shuttle bus routes, which will be serviced by 167 new buses. They will connect EXPO with remote areas of the city and pass through the most attractive places in the city. For 11 operating city routes, it is planned to additionally launch 103 new buses.

All issues have been worked out with the city’s Department of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the National Security Committee within the interdepartmental working group. Protection of public order in the city will be provided by the reinforced Astana garrison and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan with a total of 8,867 employees.

On the territory of the city about 3,000 new cameras were installed. At sites close to the EXPO territory another 2,165 cameras were installed as well.

For clear coordination and prompt response, a Situation Centre has been established, and 123 emergency situations have already been determined, with response algorithms worked out.

To ensure affordable and high-quality medical care, an operational headquarters was created at the EXPO 2017 site. The territory will accommodate six first-aid posts and a medical centre. Also 13 city medical institutions and national clinics have been prepared.

Understanding the great responsibility that the large number of tourists and visitors represents, we launched projects for landscaping, planting and decorating the city. Within a month, major works on landscaping will be completed.

On the eve of expo, the city’s cultural facilities are also being prepared for the reception of numerous foreign guests. The ethno-memorial complex ‘Atameken Map of Kazakhstan,’ the Baiterek Monument and the Triumphal Arch Mangilik El will be presented with updated appearances and new content after completion of works.

In your opinion, what are the most urgent problems existing in the city today? What is being done to solve them?

In the 100 Steps programme, President Nursultan Nazarbayev set the task of making Astana one of the leading centres in the Eurasian space. The akimat continues to work in this direction to make the city clean, comfortable, beautiful, hospitable and safe. We set the task of developing public spaces, places for family leisure, for walking and cycling.

We conducted a sociological study to understand what residents of Astana need to be happy about the city. In addition, thousands of requests are received every day through the 109 call-in service. I want to say that we have an understanding of what key issues are bothering Astana residents, whether they live in Koktal or on the left bank.

For us, contact is important; we are developing a partnership system. After all, by working together, reacting and listening, we form the culture of the “active citizen” – someone who is not only unhappy about something, but also knows that the city authorities listen to him or her, that he or she has the opportunity to influence these or other issues. Thereby, he becomes more responsible. Taking this approach into account, we have adjusted the Astana Development Programme until 2020, the main goal of which is the social well-being of the population.

There are two tasks, the solution of which will ensure the welfare of citizens. The first is improvement of the quality of life. This is about the environment in which we live, including housing, public transport, ecology, health, education, people’s safety, kindergartens, sports and leisure. The second task is to ensure the growth of incomes of the population through the development of small and medium-sized businesses and creation of new jobs. Within its framework, we have identified the key tasks that we can solve in three years, taking into account financial resources and on a phased basis.

Look at the world experience – New York, London, Singapore. Each of these megacities has priority tasks and secondary ones. It is impossible to take on everything at once. For example, one of the 20 steps is the social development of the city. Here, we defined 32 social standards that should be accessible to any resident. The city was conditionally divided into 129 sectors, with about 10,000 people each. Each sector should have polyclinics, schools, bus stops, food stores, sports sections and playgrounds. This is done to reduce unnecessary traffic flows. If every square has everything, then there will be no need to go somewhere by car. We have an understanding of what those sectors are missing. Some areas need clinics, parks and gardens, more retail space, pharmacies and other things.

Lately a lot has been done to improve the city’s transport system, but there is still traffic congestion. Are there any further changes planned? What should we expect?

We have 350,000 vehicles that are registered in the city, plus about 100,000 that are transit and non-resident. A total of 400,000 – 450,000 vehicles are moving around the city on a daily basis. To change this situation, we set the task of increasing the share of the population using public transport from 33 percent to 45 percent. For this, we bought 380 new buses. In addition to the construction of roads leading to the new residential areas, the number and length of bus routes will increase.

The comprehensive plan provides measures until the end of 2019, including the construction of a light rail tram that is to be completed in 2019. A total of 18 stations will be built on the way from the new railway station to the international airport. The road network is developing as well. At the moment, 13 roads are being built linking the new railway station, airport, botanical garden and the area around EXPO.

The construction of the 47-km Small Ring Road is 48.5 percent complete and is already ready for operation. Its completion will allow more than 90,000 cars to bypass the centre of the city.

There are medium-term projects. We have started designing more than 10 interchanges. In 2018, we will build those that are the most priority ones – four interchanges with aboveground and underground passages. Construction of 12 pedestrian crossings will be carried out separately.

Another area of work is the introduction of “smart” traffic lights. This year, 90 key intersections will be connected, which will create a “green wave;” this will allow us to manage traffic. For the safety of people, we will install illuminated pedestrian crossings. There are a number of other measures that, in their entirety, should ensure the resolution of the traffic issue.

As for changing the working schedules, this is one of the measures that is used around the world. For example, in Minsk, each company has its own schedule; in Beijing, if the number of a car ends with a certain number, then on particular days it cannot drive around the city. There are more stringent measures, as in Singapore with its toll roads. There are streets in the centre of the city where the toll is very high, so people do not go there at all.

And what is here? Forty-five percent of traffic is in the morning hours. That is when everyone is rushing to different places by the same time at 9 a.m.

Therefore, we propose to divide the streams. Now, many residents are already working by this schedule. For example, builders start working at 7 a.m. Akimat and city services are open from 8.30 a.m. The police starts at 6 a.m. We did not change the time of schools and kindergartens. Currently, the number of schoolchildren in the city is about 130,000 and the number of students is 85,000. At the moment, the student schedule is discussed jointly with the Ministry of Education and Science. We suggest a start time of 9:30 a.m. or 10 a.m.; Public Service Centres and banks are also recommended to open at 10 a.m. The load is expected to decrease from about 45 percent to 36 percent.

The second measure is a restriction of the movement of freight transport, which is also used in many countries of the world. That means that the freight transport, including all communal equipment, will move only from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Let’s talk about the investment attractiveness of Astana. What is the trend? What is most attractive for investors?

In general, Astana is one of the youngest and most dynamically developing capitals in the world, including in terms of investment attractiveness. Over 19 years, investments in fixed assets have grown by more than 40 times and their total volume has exceeded 7 trillion tenge (US$22.4 billion).

The akimat is doing a lot of work in the sphere of attracting investments: new potential investors are being sought on a regular basis. A separate Astana Invest organisation was created under the Socio-Entrepreneurial Corporation Astana, which is responsible for attracting investments. A railway engineering cluster has been formed, small and medium business is developing and an innovative cluster is being formed at Nazarbayev University.

The key area for attracting investments is the Special Economic Zone Astana – The New City, which includes an industrial park and an administrative and business centre. Its territory is more than 7,600 hectares.

The main objectives of the Special Economic Zone are accelerated development of the city of Astana by attracting investments and using advanced technologies in construction, as well as creating modern infrastructure and highly efficient, high-tech and competitive industries developing new types of products.

On the territory of Industrial Park No. 1, 65 investment projects are being implemented, and 41 of them have been put into operation. In 2016, under the Industrialisation Programme, 10 projects worth 37 billion tenge (US$118.6 million) were launched on the territory of the Industrial Park.

Taking into account all the global challenges of the last year, the akimat has adjusted the City Development Programme to 2020, which has two main directions – the growth of welfare, the increase in the quality of life of the population, and the transformation of Astana into a global smart city.

Global megacities and their economic impact were analysed. Ten priority sectors that ensure sustainable economic growth taking into account and the already existing advantages of the city were identified.

The first sector is tourism. Astana will become an international centre for business and medical tourism due to its world-class sports and cultural facilities. The second is a construction cluster, including new technologies in construction, new materials and engineering that will ensure a favourable growth of the city. The Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) is the third sector. The centre provides conditions for global investors including an independent legal system based on the principles of English law, tax benefits, simplified visa and labour regimes, modern infrastructure and direct flights to the major financial centres. Modern production sectors including solutions for a smart city are also important. Another sector is public services and international organisations. Regional headquarters of international organisations should be attracted to Astana. Proposals should be provided to improve national regulation in the sphere of non-commercial organisations. The list of priority sectors also includes vocational education, healthcare, trade and logistics, creative sectors, culture and sports.

Private-public partnership mechanisms and all favourable conditions will be created to attract investments to these priority sectors.

Smart specialisation has also been developed. Five centres of competence are being created in Astana with the participation of leading global companies. These are the centres of urban and agricultural technologies, medical technologies, energy, and financial technology. Start-ups will be supported as part of these initiatives.

You are a very active user of Facebook. How does this practice affect your activity as Akim? Does it help you see new issues or is it a platform for communicating with citizens?

Working in social networks is the starting point. We have interactive platforms for discussing new innovative projects, including those coming from residents. There are a lot of suggestions, including from experts proposing options on optimising the city’s development, also complaints and opinions of residents, as well as discussion about measures that can improve life. In fact, everything is done with a mind to residents.

 

 

 

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115 states and 22 international organisations to take part in EXPO, Kazakh national commissioner says

Tue, 2017-05-30 23:36

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

In this interview, Rapil Zhoshybayev, Kazakhstan’s National EXPO 2017 Commissioner recounted the story of the preparations for the biggest event of the year for Kazakhstan and the world, spoke about what to expect during the exhibition and what future use there will be for its premises once all the pavilions are emptied in September.

Rapil Zhoshybayev

On April 21 at the meeting on preparations for EXPO 2017, the head of state positively evaluated the work done to attract international participants to the exhibition. Please tell us about what you did and what difficulties you faced?

To fulfill the task of the head of state aimed at attracting countries and international organisations to the exhibition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with the foreign missions of Kazakhstan and the Astana EXPO 2017 national company have done a lot of work. We planned to attract 100 countries and 10 international organisations but managed to reach 115 states and 22 international organisations.

I would like to note that attracting international participants is a difficult process consisting of several stages. First, this includes presenting invitations to international participants on behalf of the head of state and the prime minister of Kazakhstan. After that, we work on attracting them to the exhibition by negotiating at different levels, making presentations and holding meetings. The next stage is obtaining an official note with confirmation of a state’s participation. Once the note is received, we start discussing the terms of participation, the size of pavilions. Participating countries appoint national section commissioners and reserve National Days. The main outcome of such negotiations is signing of the participation contract.

It should be noted the decision to participate in the expo cannot be made at once. This is quite a long and complex process. In accordance with internal procedures in most states, it takes time to approve the budget, assess feasibility, define responsible state agencies, et cetera. These activities have already been completed.

In general, at this stage, we are focused on interacting with national section commissioners and coordinating organisational and protocol matters regarding major international events and high-level visits, as well as content of international pavilions.

 

What new technologies in green energy are to be showcased at the expo?

The Future Energy theme chosen by the head of state has drawn the attention of the whole international community. During negotiations with the exhibition participants, I see this theme is truly relevant.

In general, during the exhibition we will be able to see projects we could only dream about. EXPO 2017 will serve as the attraction centre for new technologies. This is a wonderful opportunity for our young scientists to introduce their ideas even if they seem to be absurd and unreal. The technological progress is so fast that we do not even notice we are living in a different world.

Every participating country tries to develop the theme of the Astana exhibition and is ready to share its experience in renewal energy sources. For example, China will demonstrate the development history of Chinese energy with the help of interactive 3D technologies and show how an “artificial sun” – a model of a fusion reactor created by Chinese scientists – works. Korea will showcase smart grids, fuel cell vehicles and advanced energy saving solutions. The Netherlands will present a holographic show using projection, hologram technologies and sound effects to tell the history of the state and show advanced technologies and innovations. The United Kingdom will exhibit graphene, a material of the future that can dramatically change energy generation and consumption approaches. Germany will display modern electric cars and smart houses that generate more energy than they consume. Switzerland will show energy independent and eco-friendly houses using new technologies. Romania will demonstrate the fastest laser in the world and Thailand will exhibit renewable energy technologies using agricultural waste.

EXPO is not only about new technologies and exhibition pavilions. What international events will be held within the exhibition?

Yes, you are right. A number of major international and cultural events will be held during the exhibition. As you are aware, on June 9, together with the official opening ceremony of EXPO 2017, the summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) heads of state will be held. So far, we expect visits by the leadership of SCO member states, observers and special guests.

In general, during the 93 days of the exhibition, we expect a large number of delegations and tourists. Within expo it is planned to hold a number of major international conferences with the participation of ministers of energy and tourism. The exhibition’s closing ceremony will coincide with the first Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit on science and technology with the participation of heads of member states. Every day, participating countries will hold National Days, during which every visitor will have an opportunity to experience their culture, traditions and customs as well as to try national cuisine and beverages.

In addition, the Ministry of Culture and Sport, the Akimat (city administration) of Astana and the Astana EXPO 2017 National Company have developed a calendar of cultural and sport events for guests of the city and EXPO 2017. In total, over the three months [of expo], 3,000 different events are planned in Astana. It will be very interesting. That is why I would like to seize this opportunity to invite everybody to EXPO 2017

 

As we know, you gave a number of lectures on EXPO for Kazakh students in the run-up to the exhibition. How are youth preparing for the exhibition? What questions do they ask?

To attract scientific circles and leading research centres [to EXPO 2017], we visited the US Silicon Valley and Stanford University, graduates of which have founded many start-ups; Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley and a major industrial technology park of Skolkovo in Moscow; major innovation centres in the [Commonwealth of Independent States]; Australian universities such as Australian National University and Monash University; and leading universities of Singapore, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

Now we continue this practice in our country, visiting universities and scientific centres. I would like to say that the youth shows great interest in the EXPO. Some 4,500 students have been selected as volunteers. They are preparing the exhibition and undergoing special training.

I was impressed by the scientific innovations of students in the sphere of green technologies, many of which will be demonstrated at our pavilion. The Al-Farabi Kazakh National University created a centre of green technologies in the run-up to the exhibition that is used as a platform for implementing projects with renewable energy sources.

During lectures, students ask many different questions, and this is very good. Many of them are interested in the origin of the idea of hosting the exhibition in Astana and the bidding process for the right to hold it.

I would like to note the importance of the participation of youth and volunteers in such an event. For example, when we participated in exhibitions in Yeosu and Milan, it was volunteers who gave us our impression of the countries and their citizens, since they meet guests with smiles, accompany them and assist in pavilions. I believe the youth will play a special role in promoting a positive image of the country and presenting the hospitality of the people of Kazakhstan.

 

One of the main criteria of a successful EXPO is the number of tourists who visit. How many tourists do we expect? What are we doing to attract foreign guests?

Yes, you are right. The success of EXPO directly depends on the number of visitors. We expect more than 2 million visitors at the exhibition, 15 percent of whom are expected to be foreign tourists.

During my visits, we have signed 47 memorandums of cooperation with tourist associations of the world, among them the Pacific Asia Travel Association and tourist associations from Russia, China, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and others.

In order to attract foreign tourists, the Astana EXPO 2017 National Company actively participates and presents our country in such international exhibitions as ITB Berlin (Germany), JATA (Japan), PATA (India, Indonesia), COTTOM (China), MITT (Russia), ITE (Hong Kong) and WTM (UK).

Road shows are held in target states: China, Russia, France, Korea, Azerbaijan and Japan. Following the results of presentations, over 30 agreements with foreign tour operators have been signed on ticket sales for EXPO.

Moreover, the “EXPO Caravan” has been launched. This is a portable interactive pavilion that uses new technologies such as a 3D printer, augmented reality glasses, wind-powered chargers and interactive touch screens to offer an opportunity to get detailed information about Kazakhstan, its capital and regions and help explain why the Astana EXPO is worth visiting.

In addition, starting from January 1, a visa-free regime was introduced for citizens of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), EU countries and the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Singapore and Monaco which allows them to enter and stay in the territory of our country for up to 30 days without visas.

From early June, air companies from Poland, Hungary, Finland and China will open new flights from Warsaw, Budapest, Helsinki and Beijing with an overall frequency of 11 flights in a week.

Kazakh air companies are planning to open new flights to such cities as Xi’an, Kiev, Yerevan, Chelyabinsk and others.

One of the outcomes is that Kazakhstan and EXPO 2017 were for the first time included into the top 52 places to visit in 2017 by the New York Times and the top 17 places by Huffington Post, as well as in the list of “Time Out Abu Dhabi,” along with other world tourism centres.

 

How will the exhibition’s infrastructure be used after EXPO 2017?

The success of the exhibition is also defined by the post-exhibition period. In EXPO history there are examples of inefficient use of infrastructure, when facilities stayed empty after the exhibition. Here I would like to mention that our head of state, from the very beginning, attached great importance to the use of the exhibition facilities after EXPO 2017.

As you know, on the initiative of the President, EXPO 2017 infrastructure will be used to establish the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC), the International Centre on the Development of Green Technologies and Investment Projects under the UN, as well as the International Technology Park of IT Start-ups.

The AIFC will follow the example of such advanced financial centres of the world as London, Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore. In order to actively attract foreign investment, the centre will offer unprecedented conditions. It will be based on English law principles that will ensure justice and increase confidence in Kazakhstan among foreign investors.

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed establishing the UN International Centre on the Development of Green Technologies and Investment Projects at the 70th UN General Assembly. This project has already been recognised by the international community and supported by the UN.

As you are aware, in the beginning of the year in his address to the people of Kazakhstan titled “Third Modernisation of Kazakhstan: Global Competitiveness,” the President assigned the government with creating the International Technology Park of IT Start-ups at one of the EXPO 2017 facilities.

All these initiatives should serve as the foundation for attracting entrepreneurs, investors and new technology from the whole world.

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Kazakhstan’s first ever Cross-Country World Cup stage finishes in Aktau

Tue, 2017-05-30 02:15

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

ASTANA – Rally Kazakhstan 2017, which was also the fifth stage of the Cross-Country World Cup organised by the International Automobile Federation (FIA), was held in Aktau May 20-26 with the support of the Kazakhstan Federation of Automobile Sports.

Photo credit: sports.kz.

The FIA Cross-Country World Cup is a multi-stage racing series held annually in different countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Morocco. This was the first time Kazakhstan gained the right to hold one of the stages of the prestigious series.

Twenty-five crews (50 drivers and co-drivers) from Belarus, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the UAE took part in the rally.

The official launch was from Aktau’s Waterfront Square in Micro-District 15. The rally consisted of six stages and racers needed to travel more than 2,500 km. Mangystau region in West Kazakhstan was chosen for the rally as its demanding terrain offers a unique sense of thrill.

Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar came in first, followed by Polish riders Jakub Przygonski and Aron Domzala.

“Today, we finished the last stage of the rally. Everything went very well. That was a drive with excellent and challenging sections, so it was a pleasure to race it and win,” said Al-Attiyah.

Astana Motorsports crew captain Artur Ardavichus, who has passed several of the world’s most taxing rally-marathons in his career, drove a MAN truck in Rally Kazakhstan.

“Our racers did very well, all in accordance with the standard and regulations. It was definitely a very well organised race in terms of complexity of the tracks, navigation and load on the car. What was particularly great is that we did not have to run around camps. The organisers took this into account and placed the camp in one place, which was pretty good I must say. So, we did not have to deal with logistics and could focus more on the race itself. I hope next year I will race in my native land again,” said Ardavichus.

“The specific side of this race was that its distance was 2,500 km, so the participants could gain a good score here and improve their positions in the World Cup standings. Kazakhstan was represented by 13 crews, all of which did quite well. International experts commended the level of organisation of the race. The route was not easy and there were windy and rocky sections. I think it was an impressive event for many fans as well, as they could see the world’s best motor sport crews live,” said Kazakh coach Nurpeis Konysbayev.

The event provided the opportunity for some of the world’s best riders to learn first-hand about the natural, cultural and historical treasures of West Kazakhstan and get acquainted with its unique beauty. Mangystau region, the home of ancient civilisations, is known as sort of a museum under the open sky and the region of unique religious sites and places of spiritual importance. It is an archaeological reserve where more than 11,000 historical monuments are under state protection. There are thousands of wall paintings, unique constructions and the Beket-Ata, Masat-Ata, Shakpak-Ata and Shopan-Ata mosques. Pilgrims not only from Kazakhstan, but also from neighbouring countries, regularly visit the sites.

The rally route ran through the Karagiye Depression, where the caravan routes of the Great Silk Road used to pass. A giant bowl with uneven slopes, Karagiye serves as the habitat for many representatives of rare fauna. The Karagiye Depression is the fourth largest in the world after Ghor in the Turfan Basin, Afar and Kattara.

Cross-country racing fans are preparing for another big rally to cross Kazakhstan, as the organisers recently announced the route and dates for the Silk Way Rally 2017. The race will kick off July 7 in Moscow’s famous Red Square and finish in Xian, the starting point of the historic Silk Road, on July 22. One of the rally’s central stages will see its finish in Astana on July 11 as one of the capital’s highlights during EXPO 2017. The rally’s announced total length is 9,608 km, with special stages covering 4,089 km, or 42.6 percent of the entire route.

Kazakh fans will be supporting crews from the Astana Presidential Professional Sports Club. Last year, its four crews competed successfully in the Silk Way Rally. Denis Berezovskiy and his co-pilot Ignat Falkov, riding a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 200, won in the T2 class, which featured cross-country series production vehicles. Well-known Kazakh businessperson and rally rider Aidyn Rakhimbaev and his Russian co-driver Anton Nikolaev in their MINI All 4 Racing finished in the top five in the T1 class, which featured improved cross-country production vehicles.

 

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Olympic champion predicts Golovkin will knockout Alvarez

Tue, 2017-05-30 02:10

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

ASTANA – The 2004 Olympic champion Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov of Russia, the boxer who defeated Gennady Golovkin (GGG) in the finals of the Athens Olympics, believes GGG can beat Mexican Saul Alvarez, Gaidarbekov recently told The Astana Times. As previously reported, the fight between the world’s two strongest middleweights will be Sept. 16. This bout is called the most important boxing event of the year and awaited by millions of fans throughout the world.

Gennady Golovkin (L) and Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov. Photo credit: sports.kz.

What do you think about Golovkin’s fight with Alvarez?

Alvarez is a dangerous fighter. I cannot say with absolute certainty, after all, it’s boxing, and anything can happen, but I see Gena has some prospects in this fight. Despite being a current boxing superstar, Golovkin does not relax, and it’s very good. Having this huge experience after a great number of fights, he needs to go further, and a fight against Alvarez could do good to Golovkin. I think Golovkin should take the initiative and take off in this fight. So, he really needs to make up his mind and get ready for a very tough bout, and then he will make it.

Both fighters have good striking power. Can we expect an open heavy fight?

No, they will box very carefully. Golovkin has good tactics in all fights. I did not quite like his last fight though. Jacobs played it very safe, so he couldn’t do well. The American was afraid of missing the blows, so he was very careful and did not get into full contact. Punch, then slip… He ran a lot, so it was hard for Golovkin. If I’m not mistaken, that was the first time in a long while  that Gena fought all 12 rounds. This time, I think, Alvarez will also be careful, but will make some occasional sudden attacks. I think the fight against Canelo, who is much slower than Gena, will be even easier for Golovkin than with Jacobs.

Because Alvarez will not be afraid?

Yes, Alvarez will fling a lot, and Gena will get him. Canelo is bolder, stouter and slightly lower than Golovkin. Gena will beat him and knock him out in the seventh or eighth round.

The famous Russian boxer also said that he was thinking about a possible fight between Gennady Golovkin and the legendary world champion Floyd Mayweather.

This will happen someday. If Floyd Mayweather wants it, I think this should happen. Both boxers are world stars, and this fight would be important for Floyd Mayweather himself. I believe Gena has all chances to win. Observing Golovkin, one cannot but say that he has grown very much in recent years. Today, he is like a cobra standing against his opponents. He has a very nice boxing style. He sees everything, and it’s very good. This is what boxing should be like.

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Study will examine aspects of Kazakhstan’s sacred places

Tue, 2017-05-30 02:05

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

ASTANA – A large-scale expedition of scientists and local historians incorporated by the project called Sacred Map of Kazakhstan is planning to gather information from Kazakhs living in different regions concerning the sacred places.

Berik Abdygaliuly

“The status of sacred place is determined by people, not by the state. If people consider a certain place sacred, it will be sacred regardless of the government orders. We need to find out why the people consider a certain site sacred and visit it. … There are different places in every region. We will announce the results of our expedition afterwards. The expedition will start in a month. By the end of the summer, we will have an exact number. The expedition team includes local historians and scientists, as well as those who have something to say,” Director of the Research Centre named Sacred Kazakhstan Berik Abdygaliuly informed, according to kazinfom.kz.

The main operator of the project is the National Museum of Kazakhstan. The centre is also created on its basis. The centre will be engaged directly in methodological support of the Atlas of the Sacred Sites of Kazakhstan.

“In general, the project provides a five-year budget. The list of sacred places will be determined by the end of the year. In the framework of this programme, in five years it is planned to publish books, albums, produce films and develope the routes to the objects included in the list of sacred places,” Abdygaliuly said.

The Kazakh Ministry of Culture and Sports clarified the criteria of selecting sacred objects. Those must be natural and landscape objects, archaeological and architectural monuments, revered religious objects or  sacred places associated with historical personalities and political events. According to the ministry’s information, this year the project will also conduct scientific research and field expeditions in southern, northern, eastern, western, central and south-eastern Kazakhstan.

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What does the Riyadh summit mean for the world?

Tue, 2017-05-30 02:02

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

When the U.S. President Donald Trump arrived on an official visit to Riyadh on May 20, Saudi Arabia became the first country chosen by the American leader for a foreign trip as the U.S. President. It is generally considered that the choice of a Muslim state and the Middle East region – and Riyadh in the region – for the first foreign tour is unprecedented and is worth special attention.

Askar Nursha

This visit gained more weight in the international arena due to the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh as recognition of the strategic significance of the dialogue with the Muslim world in the U.S. foreign policy strategy and clear aspiration of the new U.S. administration to deepen interaction with Saudi Arabia as a major element of the American strategy in the Middle East.

Against the background of strong criticism regarding the Middle East policy of the previous administration, President Trump made several important statements during his presidential campaign that made experts talk about possible revision and review of U.S. foreign policy approaches in the region. Moreover, there were assumptions in the expert community that the U.S. could cut down its activity because of enhanced isolation trends in the American policy.

Criticism regarding Saudi Arabia in the American Congress have also had a negative influence on bilateral relations. In autumn 2016, the U.S. Congress overrode the veto of President Barack Obama on a bill providing families of those who had died in the Sept. 11 attacks with the right to file a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia. These jeopardised bilateral relations since official Riyadh, in turn, threatened to apply retaliation measures impacting the American economy.

That is why Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia was expected first to clarify the situation regarding priorities and focuses the American administration plans to attach in relations with countries of the region. From this perspective, Trump’s visit and agreements reached during the trip sent an important signal expected in Riyadh and a message to the power circles of Saudi Arabia and its neighbours regarding the maintenance of the strategic partnership course in the U.S.

To give a new impetus to relations with the U.S., the King of Saudi Arabia, in turn, appointed his son Prince Khaled bin Salman bin Abdulaziz as Ambassador to the U.S. The fact that the new ambassador used to be a pilot in the Saudi Arabian Air Force and participated in operations against the Daesh terrorist group also speaks about the direction of the development of bilateral relations.

Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia is being compared with the Cairo speech his predecessor made in June 2009. Both speeches are considered to be milestone statements to the Muslim world. However, it should be noted that Obama’s speech in Cairo did not meet expectations in the Muslim world. This resulted from, among others, many reasonable causes and processes that were beyond the control or influence of the previous administration. They included the Arab Spring developments leading to changes in political regimes in several key countries of the region. They also included further destabilisation in the Middle East and growth of terrorism and religious extremism. They included the crisis in Syria. All these factors led to a growth of criticism towards U.S. actions in the Middle East and North Africa and weariness of the American society from military activities in the region and the burden of war expenditure in the country’s budget. As a result, appeals for leaving the region became more frequent in the U.S.

The anti-Iran direction in the Trump’s speech is at odds with Obama’s course, so the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have more in common here as well.

The outcomes of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia are an important indicator that pragmatism has prevailed in the new administration’s policy and that the U.S. will not be able to keep away from the Middle Eat processes.

It is obvious that this is for the better. Since the U.S. withdrawal, due to its huge involvement, can cause destabilisation leading to a vacuum of force.

At the same time, countries of the region themselves should bear greater responsibility for keeping regional security and fighting terrorism within their states. The U.S., in turn, as Trump’s speech shows, is ready to help them in this direction making partnership in counteracting terrorism one of the cornerstones of interaction with countries of the region.

It seems that the Muslim world will appreciate the idea expressed in Trump’s speech that victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim and the U.S. is not going to “lecture” and “tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship.”

It is apparent that the fight against terrorism in the region is impossible without broad interaction between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The biggest arms deal in the recent history of two countries shows that the U.S. is on the way towards deepening relations with Saudi Arabia in the military and political sphere and this cooperation is aimed at, at least, Trump’s presidential term.

Trump brings to the U.S. not only the arms deal but also a stability of jobs and new ones for American workers that will be interpreted by Washington and presented to the American electorate as another achievement of the administration aimed at the protection of national interests of the country.

On the margins of the summit, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with Trump to discuss bilateral cooperation. The fact that they met despite the busy schedule of the summit attests to a mutual interest in contacts between the two countries. This meeting is important in the development of bilateral relations.

 

The author is PhD in History, Chief of the Almaty Office of the Institute of World Economy and Politics under the Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

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Modernisation of Kazakhstan’s identity: view from Singapore

Tue, 2017-05-30 01:58

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

Few countries can match the scale and speed of institutional reforms in Kazakhstan. In the last four years, we have seen the roll out of the Kazakhstan 2050 strategy, the Five Institutional Reforms, anti-corruption measures and the recent Constitutional reforms and plans to decentralise powers.

Kishore Mahbubani

As part of this national modernisation effort, the Kazakh President is also paying attention to the “software” of the country – the culture, norms and values of the Kazakh people. This is an important effort because the success of a country depends not just on the dynamism and competitiveness of its economy, but also on the cohesion and trust of its people.

It is, therefore, encouraging to see the President emphasising the value of pragmatism and realism, an open and welcoming attitude to the world, the importance of education and evolutionary rather than revolutionary change. In this uncertain and volatile age, and at a time many countries seem to be turning inward, these qualities are invaluable. They will stand Kazakhstan in good stead in the coming decades as it strives to become one of the world’s top 30 economies.

In the last 25 years, Kazakhstan has made significant progress in its modernisation efforts. It deserves more international recognition for these efforts. But the international community has been slow to do this and ranking agencies have not always been fair to Kazakhstan. For example, despite Kazakhstan’s efforts, Transparency International still puts Kazakhstan in the same category as Nepal and many African countries. This ignores the substantial progress Kazakhstan has made in developing stronger, higher quality public institutions.

Changing culture is a multi-year, multi-decade enterprise. Unlike policy change, cultural change is not something that can be done in just a few years. And the place to start in changing culture and shaping norms and values is through education and investing in the youth of Kazakhstan. That is why, the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School is proud to be involved in Kazakhstan’s modernisation efforts – not just in economic and state modernisation – but also in shaping and inspiring the next generation of Kazakhstan’s leaders through our partnership with Nazarbayev University and especially its Graduate School of Public Policy.

 

The author is Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

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Central Asian integration: more real than ever?

Tue, 2017-05-30 01:51

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

ASTANA – Numerous international leaders, experts, and environmentalists have been promoting Central Asian integration for decades. However, all such initiatives, one way or another, have not come to fruition. Until now.

To many observers, the election of the new President in Uzbekistan last December and a diplomatic outreach he made to the neighbouring states in the early weeks and months of his administration heralded a fresh start.

This spring alone has seen an intensive schedule of mutual high-level visits, including two visits by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Kazakhstan, a state visit by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to Kazakhstan, and a visit by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to Kyrgyzstan, resulting in a package of important political and economic accords. Elsewhere, there have been increased, and increasingly productive visits and contacts between the leaders of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, as well as between Uzbekistan and other nations in the region.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev (L) and Nursultan Nazarbayev Photo credit Akorda.kz.

Many inside and outside Central Asia view these recent developments as a hopeful sign of progress in regional cooperation and, perhaps, integration after a decades-long stalemate and failed attempts. Few now remember that back in 1994, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan signed an agreement to establish the Central Asian Union (CAU), which Kyrgyzstan joined later the same year. In 1998, the CAU was reformed into the Central Asian Economic Union (CAEU) with the addition of Tajikistan. Four years later, the CAEU became the Organisation of Central Asian Cooperation (OCAC), which was integrated into the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) in 2005. Yet, the five Central Asian countries continued to go their own separate ways.

Each country in the region – collectively sandwiched between such big players as Russia to the north, China to the east and Iran and Turkey to the west – has found itself in a difficult situation. With the disintegration of the USSR, each state was thrown into economic turmoil, only finding footing closer to the 2000s.

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Nursultan Nazarbayev Photo credit Akorda.kz.

Today, Central Asia, rich in natural resources is being intertwined in the global political games. Russia is keeping tabs on the region for security and economic reasons, also relying on the cheap labour coming from the area. China has been interested in constructing gas and oil pipelines and connecting to Europe by building transport routes through the region and seeking an alternative to sea routes. The United States, Europe and Japan are interested in the area’s natural resources. Turkey shares a reminiscent heritage and language with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as does Iran with Tajikistan. The Middle East is connected through religion, for all five states are secular, but with Muslim-majority populations.

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) have used Central Asian air bases in their fight against terrorism. In the past few decades, there have also been ongoing conflicts in the North Caucasus, and, of course, Afghanistan – with threats of religious extremism and ISIS forces increasingly present on the borders with Central Asian countries.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev (L) and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

More than a decade ago, Winfried Schneider-Deters, then-coordinator of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Central Asia and the Caucasus, noted the “need to establish a joint economic space and joint security space” for the Central Asian states. He argued the region has the potential to be a greater force in world politics and economy. To this day, numerous international experts agree the region needs a collective approach in dealing with regional security issues, especially the water scarcity problems.

Regional security is guaranteed by the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). Russia, its largest member with the largest military, has been renewing military supply agreements with the countries of Central Asia and the former Soviet Union, obviously not for free, but by promising to gift some units in the future.

While CSTO vows security, however, the water scarcity challenge remains on top of the agenda. It continues to escalate each year and experts are worried the crisis could spark a new “cold war” in the region. In addition, China is contributing to the situation by reducing water levels each year to rivers flowing into Central Asia.

So, where could the five states begin their long-awaited integration, seemingly the strongly-desired goal but with no clear first steps? The question hits stalwart arguments when it touches base with the very different levels of economic and political development.

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Shavkat Mirziyoyev (L) and Nursultan Nazarbayev. Photo credit: Nur.kz.

Experts at Kazakhstan’s Institute for Strategic Studies believe that although talks of integration are premature, a tight collaboration in key areas could significantly ease some of the tensions.

“Central Asia has a great potential in the transport and logistics area,” said Sanat Kushkumbayev, deputy director of the institution, in an interview with The Astana Times. “Among the top priorities is building an effective transport and logistics system, because one way or another all routes, including the air routes, cross the region.”

Kushkumbayev believes all states are interested in having a transparent, efficient and mutually-beneficial formula of water resources distribution.

“So, the upstream states like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan would have their own certain rights and liabilities, while the downstream states – Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – could use the resource for the irrigational period,” he said.

Speaking of the first possible steps of integration, he used an example of the first steps of integration by the European Union (EU) soon after World War II. Kushkumbayev suggested Central Asia could use EU’s decades-old formula to address the water scarcity issue.

“The EU started from fundamental unions such as coal and steel and Euroatom, when all member-states had an equal and fair access to vital resources,” he said.

Almazbek Atambayev (L) and Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

Today Central Asia has a rare chance to unite in the face of serious challenges, emanating both from within and outside the region. They include but are not limited to the issues of environment, a tense water and energy situation, rising levels of labour migration, corruption, to name but a few. The risk of destabilisation in Afghanistan, the threat of ISIS and its fighters seeking to return to the region, drug trafficking, and a new and unpredictable geopolitical environment in Eurasia – all this puts under serious test the resilience and stability of the entire region.

Kazakhstan’s UN Security Council non-permanent membership in 2017-2018 provides a timely platform not only for bringing the focus to the problems and the geostrategic importance of the region but also an opportunity for the Central Asian states to speak clearly, with urgency, and with one voice.

The winds of change blowing through the region today offer enough reasons for guarded optimism and a basis to believe that Central Asians will be able to harness these winds of change to take them in the direction they aspire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nazarbayev awards NU grads, meets with educational organisation’s Supreme Board of Trustees

Tue, 2017-05-30 01:41

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

ASTANA – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev awarded diplomas May 27 to the graduates of Nazarbayev University (NU). The commencement was followed by a meeting of the NU Supreme Board of Trustees, Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools and Nazarbayev Foundation to discuss the autonomous educational organisations’ development prospects.

Nursultan Nazarbayev. Photo credit: Akorda.kz.

Despite the pouring rain, the first part of the ceremony was held in the open air and attended by students’ parents, representatives of the Board of Trustees and the NU faculty.

Addressing the audience, the President congratulated the graduates on a significant day in their lives and stressed that the day’s success was made possible thanks to the synergy and joint efforts of students, professors, members of the Board of Trustees and the university staff.

Photo credit: Akorda.kz.

“This spring day is marked by a very joyful event – the start of a professional career for the graduates of Nazarbayev University. Today, 737 graduates completed their studies. For the first time in its history, nine doctors of philosophy have graduated,” he said.

Nazarbayev highlighted the NU graduates’ high competitiveness in the labour market.

“Over the past years, more than a thousand students have graduated from the university. Half of them continued their studies at the most prestigious universities in the world. Those graduates who entered the labour market have already proved their high competitiveness. They work in the largest companies of our country, in science, medicine and in public service,” he said.

Photo credit: Akorda.kz.

The President noted those achievements were made possible through an effective educational model based on meritocracy and the competitive selection system. He stressed the basic selection principles in educational institutions are objectivity and openness.

“The doors of the university and the intellectual schools are open for everyone, but only the most talented, hardworking and knowledge-seeking young people enter these institutions,” he said.

Nazarbayev drew attention to the need of increasing NU’s institutional capacity due to the future increase in the number of students.

“Today, the number of students has reached 4,000 and it will double in the future. Scholars from 55 countries of the world work here today; they do not only teach, but also conduct scientific research. English is the language of instruction and research. More than a thousand papers have already been published, with some of them in the most quoted world scholarly publications,” he said.

Photo credit: Akorda.kz.

The head of state drew attention to the importance of allocating appropriate grants which will improve the quality of research and provide youth with the opportunity to expand their scientific contacts. He also spoke about the university’s active international relations and its integration into the global academic environment.

“Partnerships have been established with more than a hundred educational and scientific institutions. Nazarbayev University became a co-founder of the Alliance of Asian Universities, which includes the leading universities of China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries. There is a need to further expand international relations, adopt the best practices of our partners and maintain our uniqueness,” he said.

He noted the relevance of applying NU’s experience throughout the country’s higher education system.

“Managers and instructors at national universities should be trained here and then implement the best practices at their institutions. The university is our strategic response to the challenges of a new global reality. It is time to allocate some of the Bolashak Programme’s funds to education at this university. Young scientists who offer their ideas and technologies to the market should receive systematic support in the form of consultations, start-up capital, premises, marketing and legal services,” said Nazarbayev.

Addressing the graduates, the President highlighted the key factors for achieving success which were outlined in his article “Course towards the future: modernisation of Kazakhstan’s identity.”

“In today’s world, the winner is not the one who clings to once-gained knowledge, but the one who can study throughout his life. The one who is always ready for change and who speaks the same language as researchers and investors. My life experience convinces me that a modern Kazakh in a new era needs to have specific qualities. First, being competitive. This is relevant not only for the economy as a whole, but also for every individual. Being pragmatic and being a patriot. Maintaining the cult of knowledge. The more a person knows, the wider his possibilities are. I am sure that university students understand this better than anyone,” he said.

Nazarbayev also noted the importance of preserving the evolutionary development of society, as well as the presence of an open attitude, knowledge of world languages and an adequate perception of what is happening in the global world for further personal growth.

“I am confident that you will make a worthy contribution to the development and prosperity of an independent Kazakhstan. Your success will contribute to the growth of our alma mater’s prestige. In order to do this, you must work hard and always move forward towards your goals,” he said.

The Board of Trustees meeting included a discussion of the development prospects for NU and intellectual schools, organisational aspects and the selection of new members of the boards of trustees.

“All the graduates of the intellectual schools enter universities, including abroad. More than 90 percent are holders of state and university educational grants. To impart a new impetus to our educational institutions, we need to update the strategies for their further work,” said Nazarbayev.

He noted that in seven years, the university has achieved significant successes and graduated about 2,000 students.

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Kazakhstan declared foot-and-mouth-disease free, designation to boost exports

Tue, 2017-05-30 01:33

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

ASTANA – The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recognised Kazakhstan May 25 as a zone free from foot and mouth disease (FMD). This will enhance Kazakhstan’s agricultural export to the member states of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Prime Minister’s press service reports.

 

First Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Kazakhstan Kairat Aituganov said at a press briefing at the government that OIE delegates from 180 countries unanimously voted to assign this status to Kazakhstan at the session of the organisation’s General Assembly in Paris. He stressed this became possible due to the purposeful work on prevention and strict adherence to the FMD control strategy in accordance with international requirements.

In the post-Soviet space, Belarus and Ukraine are historically safe from foot and mouth disease. Russia, since 2016, has the status of a country that has certain FMD-free regions. The rest of the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) do not have this status.

“This status enables our country to export products of animal and vegetable origin to WTO member states, which will in turn help realise the export potential of the agro-industrial complex and positively affect the development of domestic entrepreneurs’ foreign trade activity,” Aituganov emphasised.

He also recalled that China’s authorised body on veterinary medicine (AQSAQ) lifted FMD restrictions because of the OIE’s decision for nine Kazakh regions in September 2016. The Veterinary Control Committee of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Agriculture will continue to work with the Chinese to remove the restriction from the five remaining regions based on the newly received status.

The countries of the Persian Gulf, Iran and Israel are also ready to import livestock products export from the entire territory of Kazakhstan.

“OIE’s decision was the result of systemic changes in the country’s veterinary service under the new State Programme for the Development of the Agroindustrial Complex of Kazakhstan for 2017-2021 and opens new opportunities for domestic agricultural producers,” Aituganov said.

Agricultural producers and livestock scientists said at the briefing that the new status would also increase the production at meat processing factories, which therefore will increase the number of Kazakh White-Headed breed of cattle.

Beksultan Elubayev, vice president of Merke Yet, LLP from the Zhambyl region, briefed the press on production expansion in connection with the new status. According to him, the plant is ready to produce up to 10,000 cans of canned meat products daily and up to 300-400 kg of sausage products under the Halal brand. More than 70 additional jobs will be created.

Due to the status of an FMD-free zone, the plant can increase the number of cattle on the feedlot to 3,000.

“Obtaining the status of a zone free from foot and mouth disease will allow us, agricultural producers, to make wider use of the export potential of livestock products,” Elubayev said.

Chief Research Officer of the Scientific and Innovative Centre for Livestock and Veterinary Medicine of the Ministry of Agriculture Anuarbek Seitmuratov highlighted that thanks to the measures of state support for the agro-industrial complex, the Kazakh White-Headed breed increased to 230,000 over the past 5 years.

“The Kazakh White-Headed breed population is the largest out of 10 meat breeds bred in Kazakhstan. Now, after obtaining the status of a zone free from foot and mouth disease, livestock producers will have an opportunity to make a worthy contribution to the development of meat export potential and receive the proper return for their painstaking work,” Seitmuratov said.

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Enjoying Astana at night during EXPO 2017

Tue, 2017-05-30 01:26

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

ASTANA – The capital city of Kazakhstan is making it interesting to walk around at night during Expo 2017.

The Yessil River is the best choice to start your walk. This area connects the architecturally innovative left bank and the older part of town on the right bank of the river, which shows how the city looked years ago. Visitors can witness a beautiful sunset and bridge reflected in the river before the most spectacular Sun Fountain laser show begins. The Sun Fountain shows and animated movie about the history of Kazakhstan will run at 9:00 p.m., 9:30 p.m., 10:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. On the way, ice cream, candyfloss, corn on the cob and even boat riding are available. The river trip lasts 50 minutes along to the Akorda presidential residence and costs 1,000 tenge (US$3) per person.

Another attraction at night is the Baiterek monument. The Baiterek, a folklore symbol, was embodied in a beautiful tower of 97 meters, excluding a basement floor, Baiterek Gallery and a small café. The Akorda residence, the Palace of Peace and Harmony and other sites of Astana can be seen from the bird’s-eye view at Baiterek.

The highlighting of the main symbols in Astana are composed of full-colour LEDs and floodlights. The Dancing or Singing Fountain near the Baiterek is full of light and offers the classical music, which can be observed only at night.

The road from the Yessil River leads to the full-time Central Park, where everyone who wants can ride on attractions such as a roller coaster, five element and Flight on a Rocket for kids. The most beautiful attraction there is French carousel, also called Carousel with horses. It is an identical analogue of the carousel near the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The highest in Kazakhstan Ferris Wheel is not far from Central Park, located at 4 Kabanbai Batyr Avenue. The Ferris wheel is specially designed for the climatic conditions of windy Astana. The fascinating view of the whole night city from a height of 65 metres makes the heart soar.

Also, residents and guests of Astana can enjoy 10 minutes or 12 minutes go-cart racing till 12 p.m. for 2,200 tenge (US$7) and 3,300 tenge (US$10), at a court located near the Ferris Wheel.

The shopping centres are located a short distance from each other. Therefore, it’s better to go walking or ride a bike. The Astana Bike Company sells cards for rent at the Keruen City shopping centre for 500 tenge (about US$2). Bicycle stations are located 30 minutes from each other to let users borrow a bicycle for free as every 30 minutes are free of charge.

The most beloved shopping centre in Astana is the biggest tent in the world called Khan Shatyr, designed by famous British architect Lord Norman Foster. The well-known Mega Silk Way shopping centre near EXPO is not only the biggest one in the country, but also represents all world brands like Starbucks, KFC food restaurants and Enrico Marinelli and Massimo Dutti clothing stores.

Places where residents and guests of Astana like to have fun are the Hemingway lounge bar, Coffee Boom coffee house, Gotham Bar pub, Fashion and Icon night clubs with an average bill of 5,000 tenge (US$16).

Night express route goes around the main touristic zones, moving daily from the Astana railway station toward the airport.

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Astana’s new railway station to include food court, shopping boutiques

Tue, 2017-05-30 01:23

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

Astana’s new Nurly Zhol railway station, opening June 1, will feature a food court, shopping boutiques, lounges and a separate CIP-zone, modelled after VIP zones, Deputy Minister for Investment and Development Roman Sklyar announced recently.

Trains will also arrive inside the six-storey station, which will include numerous elevators and escalators.

“The station has an aesthetically pleasing appearance and will include many technological features. When it was being designed, modern standards were taken into account – standards that such a building requires,” Sklyar told the media. “Undoubtedly, we assume that this will be one of the best railway stations not only in the territory of the post-Soviet space but throughout the world,” he said.

The management of the new station expects a passenger flow of approximately 12 million people a year. The station is being built according to the latest advanced technologies, involving more than 1,000 workers. The trains will now arrive inside the station – to ensure passengers are warm during the winter and comfortable in summer’s heat. The new station is being built according to all international and modern standards and will include energy-saving elevators and escalators to follow the suit of the concept of future energy.

Trains will arrive on three levels. The overpass will have two floors of closed parking. Passengers will be free to get to the station both on public buses or their vehicles. Inside the station there will be six tracks and one more in reserve, according to the station management.

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Kazakh TV launches series about EXPO 2017 pavilions, energy innovations

Tue, 2017-05-30 01:18

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

ASTANA – Anticipating Astana EXPO 2017, the Kazakh TV channel has launched a series of TV programmes with the participation of the national EXPO 2017 commissioners from different countries, who discuss the preparation, construction, concept and content of their national pavilions, as well as the latest developments and advances in the use of clean and alternative energy sources.

The first programmes were devoted to the national pavilions of Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Vietnam.

The Swiss exhibition called Flower Power aims to show the beauty and majesty of the Swiss landscape. In addition, the creators of the TV programme note that special attention in the national pavilion of Switzerland will be given to the exhibition of scientific laboratories and companies. It is expected that Glass 2 Energy and CSCM will show the most interesting technologies of synthesised solar cells. ABB company will showcase its own exhibition of electricity production and SICPA will manufacture security ink. It is expected that the Swissnex laboratory will be very popular in the Swiss pavilion. Also, the Swiss pavilion will provide a culinary show with traditional Swiss dishes.

The central theme of the Czech national pavilion will be non-standard solutions for environmental problems. The introduction of green technologies into all spheres of life is a priority for the country, which does not have a large territory or rich resources. The Czech exhibition will be called Ingenious Solution. It is planned that not only exhibits, which will be presented at the exhibition by the Czech side, but also the exhibition pavilion, which will consist of several scientific and technical zones, will be different. To date, it is known that several large Czech companies, known far beyond the borders of the state, will present their achievements in the field of electric power and green technologies. The Czech delegation is going to surprise visitors with its cuisine. The Czech Republic is famous for its amber drink and it will be offered on the day of national culture.

The main idea of the pavilion of Vietnam is attracting the attention of visitors to the natural riches, beauty and traditional culture of the country. The national pavilion of Vietnam will show the latest technologies in wind energy production. Vietnam plans to attract visitors to the pavilion with folklore songs and traditional shows. The water puppet show is a traditional show, created in the 11th century. Today’s Vietnamese puppet theatre is a unique variation of the ancient Asian puppet tradition. The Vietnamese pavilion will offer Vietnamese noodles and spring rolls.

If you want to know more about the upcoming international exhibition and its pavilions from different countries, see the following issues of the expo Commissioners programme at Kazakh TV or at kazakh-tv.kz.

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Astana modernises public transportation for EXPO 2017

Tue, 2017-05-30 01:13

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

ASTANA – The UrbanWay hybrid environmentally friendly buses that consume less fuel have been imported for EXPO 2017. The city is also modernising its transportation system for the exposition, starting with the Astra Plat payment system, ending with upgraded bus stations, including E-libraries.

Iveco Bus World brand delivered 210 UrbanWay Euro VI and UrbanWay Hybrid 12 metre and 18 metre buses for the city’s public transport system. The Urbanway Hybrid buses use up to 30 percent less fuel than conventional buses. The Iveco Bus is considered Astana’s official fleet supplier of public transportation as 570 buses operate in the city. After the exhibition, the EXPO 2017 Urbanway Hybrid buses will be included in public transport system of Astana.

Eleven bus routes that pass through EXPO 2017 will be expanded by adding 103 new buses to them. These measures will significantly reduce the interval from 10-15 to five to seven minutes and increase the daily capacity from 150,000 to 260,000 trips, according to the State Administration of Public Transportation of Astana’s official website.

Moreover, another night express route will be launched for residents and guests of the capital, which will begin its itinerary from the new Nurly Zhol railway station. The first night bus launched in April moves daily in The Astana railway station – Astana International Airport direction from midnight to 06:00 a.m.

Also, seven new Shuttle Buses will be introduced during EXPO 2017. These buses will have a direct route and a minimum number of stops (an average of eight), and they will stop only in the main places of mass congestion.

The Astana city administration recommends using double decker excursion buses to see the sights of the capital. They are equipped with an audio system in Kazakh, Russian, English and Chinese.

Residents and guests of the capital since May 2016 have been using the new Astra Plat payment system and Smart Card Payment System for express and suburban routes. The new system has made the payment procedure easier, offering extra possibilities to choose the right tariff and make the cash flow more transparent. According to the city administration, if passengers don’t have time to buy a transport card, they can buy a single ticket with a QR-code in the cab terminal, which is installed next to bus drivers.

The city administration has also resolved the problem with the notifications concerning public transportation. A mobile application Astra Bus available in the Play Market and the App Store from January 2016 reports the location of city buses in real time. In addition, there are special information boards near bus stations that show the time of the arrival of the buses.

The E-library is an innovation that appeared at the Khan Shatyr bus station to popularise reading among residents of Astana. The E-library has more than 10,000 books written by various authors. There is a special mobile application called Kitap.kz, which allows you to read books without the internet.

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Canada Hockey Day held at Astana’s Barys Arena

Tue, 2017-05-30 01:03

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

ASTANA – Canada Hockey Day at the capital’s Barys Arena May 21 marked the 25th anniversary of Kazakh-Canadian diplomatic relations, 150th anniversary of Canada and 60th anniversary of ice hockey in Kazakhstan.

Some senior Kazakh officials attended the festival, including First Deputy Prime Minister Askar Amin, who also serves as president of the Kazakhstan Ice Hockey Federation, Minister of Education and Science Yerlan Sagadiyev, Barys Hockey Club President Askar Shopobayev and Kazakhstan Ice Hockey Federation Executive Committee member Anuar Sadikulov.

Among those whom local fans are more accustomed to seeing in hockey ammunition were Yerlan Sagymbayev, captain of the Kazakh national team that made it into the quarterfinals of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Galym Mambetaliyev, Vyacheslav Belan, Alexander Vysotsky and Alexander Kolyuzhny, while Alexander Koreshkov and Sergey Starygin joined Team Kazakhstan’s coaching staff for the day.

Canada’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan Shawn Steil and a number of world-renowned ice hockey stars including Ken Dryden, Igor Larionov, Brian Propp, Dennis Maruk, Sami Jo Small and Billy Bridges represented the Land of the Maple Leaf.

The festival opened by unveiling an interesting exhibition divided into displays illustrating the history of ice hockey in Kazakhstan and original items brought from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, including the sweaters of some of Kazakhstan’s most famous players.

Inside the arena lobby, guests could taste traditional Canadian pancakes with maple syrup. The lucky ones were served by Mamin, Larionov, Dryden and other famous guests. Fans could then watch a master class by Larionov and an exhibition game involving a sledge hockey team and women’s hockey team.

The Sheep Dogs, a specially-invited Canadian rock band, delivered a concert at the arena, adding to the day’s atmosphere. They performed a number of their own songs and some cover versions of famous rock pieces.

The day’s central event was an entertaining game between the Kazakh and Canadian teams. The rivalry ended with a series of penalty shootouts, where the hosts claimed victory with a score of 5-4. Mamin made the winning shot.

The players wore specially made “Hockey Unites” sweaters. The match had a friendly status, but the fans in the stands witnessed a remarkable game that brought a lot of positive emotion to everyone involved.

The Heritage Cup was created particularly for this match. Its design is a symbiosis of famous Kazakh and Canadian symbols, with images of 25 wheat spikes signifying the 25 successful years of bilateral cooperation between the countries. The unique trophy will remain in Astana and the names of the match participants will be added to it.

During the intervals between periods of the game, fans could take their chance in a lottery with some valuable prizes, such as two original Canadian fur coats, a rarity in the local market.

All the money raised from the sale of entry and lottery tickets will be used to fund projects popularising ice hockey among Kazakh children.

The event was not the first of its kind, as the inaugural Canada Hockey Day was held at the arena on March 7, 2016.

 

 

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Kazakh PM inks multiple cooperation agreements with CIS, EAEU states

Sat, 2017-05-27 10:13

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

ASTANA – Kazakh Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev signed economic cooperation agreements and protocols May 26 with Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) heads of government in Kazan, Russia.

Photo credit: primeminister.kz.

Sagintayev attended a regular meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of Government meant to enhance cooperation in transport security, geodesy and radio navigation. Meeting participants also signed agreements on innovative cooperation, specific regulations on peaceful use of atomic energy, counteracting the production and distribution of counterfeit goods and the legal protection of intellectual property.

The council’s work in an extended format discussed the plan of priority measures for implementing the Transport Security Strategy in the CIS during international transportation for 2017-2019.

Also signed was the document on the implementation of the decision of the CIS Council of Heads of State adopted in 2016 on the CIS Economic Court.

In its turn, the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council (EIC) discussed the elimination of exemptions and restrictions on the EAEU market, the implementation of the digital agenda and the development of a one-stop-shop mechanism in the EAEU states’ foreign economic activity regulation and other topics of economic cooperation.

Following the meeting, the council signed documents on agro-industrial cooperation and the development of the abovementioned one-stop-shop mechanism.

EIC participants agreed to hold the next meeting in August in Astana.

Sagintayev also met with President of Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov and discussed implementing the agreements reached by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 13th Forum of Interregional Cooperation of Russia and Kazakhstan held last year in Astana.

The Kazakh PM visited innovation facilities, including an IT-park’s business incubator and the Glonass+112 monitoring centre as well as a high-tech city of Innopolis, where he visited the special economic zone and the University of Innopolis.

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Almaty Deputy Mayor seeks to beautify public space through removal of unused fences

Sat, 2017-05-27 10:09

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

Iron fences placed around facilities and establishments in Almaty disturb and spoil the appearance of the city, said Deputy Akim (Mayor) of the southern capital Yerlan Aukenov recently during an inspection of the Almaty and Bostandyk districts.

Photo credit: kazpravda.kz.

Aukenov walked the districts with representatives of city utilities services and the management of architecture and town planning organisations and noticed that fences limit the space. He ordered the rapid removal of unused iron and concrete obstructions.

“All these fences take public space from people; this is unacceptable. We will bring the city in line with architectural norms and make it comfortable for residents. It turned out entrepreneurs had to fence in their facilities during the 1990s,” the akim said.

“The situation is different nowadays – we install thousands of cameras along the entire city and update technology for safety. But, unfortunately, fences were there and remain the same even though they do not offer functional, aesthetic or other kinds of functions,” he continued.

Apart from that, utility providers were instructed to put up pedestrian zones and use green space fencing in place of the demolished fences.

The deputy akim also ordered the demolition of all non-operating, unattended and illegal buildings.

The deputy akim explained that utility providers have to contact business people, listen to their wishes and cooperate with them whenever possible.

Marketing and advertising approaches have also changed since the 1990s, with a greater use of social media and a reduction in bright signage.

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