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EXPO caravan stops in Berlin as part of promotional tour through Europe

Wed, 2017-05-24 05:38

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

ASTANA – A mobile EXPO caravan, which started its tour through Europe Feb. 28 in Madrid, is now headed from Berlin to the Baltic States. The promotional roadshow is hoping to raise awareness about the upcoming specialised international exposition in the Kazakh capital.

EXPO caravan in Berlin

The opening ceremony in the German capital was attended by representatives of the nation’s Foreign Ministry, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, EXPO 2017 General Commissariat’s office, Kazakh-German Association and Kazakh students at German universities, among many others.

“Future Energy, as the theme of the upcoming exposition in Astana, has aroused much interest among German companies,” said German Economy Eastern Committee regional director Edward Kinsbrunner, as quoted by kazinform.kz.

As part of his speech, Kinsbrunner added Germany’s participation will provide “added momentum to the development of bilateral commercial and economic relations.”

Kazakh embassies are assisting the caravan in spreading news about the EXPO to locals.

Kazakh Ambassador to Germany Bolat Nussupov told the audience about the socio-economic and political reforms happening in Kazakhstan. He also stressed the successful cooperation between the countries in the preparation process.

The caravan has a variety of interactive entertainment options available for visitors, such as the alternative energy zone, virtual reality zone, interactive map of Kazakhstan, cinema, 3D printer, children’s creativity zone and electric bikes. Exhibition tickets are also offered for sale.

EXPO caravan in Madrid

“In view of the EXPO 2017 theme importance and timeliness for all mankind, Kazakhstan is making its contribution to one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century,” said German Bundestag committee for tourism head Jürgen Klimke.

EXPO caravan Project Coordinator Florian Berend noted the purpose of the tour is to convince people to visit Kazakhstan.

“We can sell tickets online for EXPO in Astana or book a hotel online. We have a large smartphone, which is connected to the Internet. We tell the visitors about different tourist routes, because besides the exhibition there are many beautiful places to see in Kazakhstan and this is another reason to pay a visit to the country,” he said.

The caravan has been on the road for months, staying three-four days in every city it visits. To date, it has crossed through Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Milan, Zurich, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Vienna, Prague and Berlin. Next up are Warsaw, Vilnius and Helsinki, ending the tour in the Finnish capital June 9 on the eve of the exhibition kickoff.

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Mangystau archaeologist makes geoglyph gallery to stimulate local tourism

Wed, 2017-05-24 04:42

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

ASTANA – Mangystau archaeologist and historian Andrei Astafiyev has made a gallery of geoglyphs reflecting nomadic arts, the first in the region’s Airakty-Shomanai mountain valley and in Kazakhstan.

 

“I always consider natural sights from a perspective of a tourist attraction. The Airakty table (a flat-topped) mountain is a unique phenomenon for Mangystau,” he said in an interview with The Astana Times.

One can climb Airakty Mountain; it has a good panoramic view, but there is not much to see. As a result, Astafiyev devised the idea of creating geoglyphs two years ago when a question arose about ways to attract more visitors the Adai Ata historic and cultural centre and the peak of the Otpan Tau Mountain.

“Why doesn’t our desert have geoglyphs? Why not make them in the Airakty-Shomanai valley? It has a spacy and a free area and a natural observation deck. I decided on the drawings very long ago and was always attracted to the genius simplicity and ease of plot lines of the petroglyphs of local nomads,” he said.

The drawing of a Sacred Argali. Photo credit-lada.kz.

The selection of drawings was not random, as it went “through the prism of my conscious and subconscious vision of the world,” he added. Astafiyev put together several past nomadic symbols of universal semantics in one plot line.

The 150×110-metre drawing of a sacred argali (mountain sheep) is based on another drawing on the wall of the Beltoran necropolis, a 17th century mausoleum.

“Kazakhs and Turkmen consider this animal as sacred. Bringing argali’s horns to a grave of a holy [person] was considered a charitable deed. Specifically, the horns of this animal are an essential element of Asian ornament. Drawings of an argali are one of the favourite subjects of Mangystau’s petroglyph arts,” he said.

Astafiyev also included drawings of the mythical creature centaur of the steppes based on an illustration on the wall of the Kenty Baba necropolis. The 330×280-metre drawing served as the prototype for the Mangystau region logo.

Ancestor’s palm

A 270X350-metre sunshiny camel, the main symbol of Mangystau nomads, is based on a rock carving in Airakty Shomanai valley and on the wall of the Kalipan necropolis. The area also includes a drawing of a shanyrak (a symbol of home).

Based on a sketch of a portal arch at Shakpak Ata rock mosque, the 150X160-metre ancestor’s palm is the fourth geoglyph in the gallery. The cosmogonic (foundational) deity, measuring 415×170 metres, is the last geoglyph on the list. It is based on a drawing in the 19th century Karashashty Aulie necropolis.

“Everyone has his or her own world and universe and has a right to unveil the hidden context of geoglyphs or not do that,” said Astafiyev.

The drawings are symbols of Mangystau, Kazakhstan and the great steppe. There are not many geoglyphs in the world and those that exist have become tourist attractions.

Centaur of the steppes.

“They are memorial signs facing the future. Generations change, signs remain… In Kazakhstan, only the Turgai swastika is known from real historic geoglyphs. Airakty geoglyphs are a product of the modern age, but with the propaganda of historic-cultural heritage of our region and country,” noted Astafiyev.

To create the gallery of geoglyphs, the archaeologist applied a navigation system, special orientation, quad copter for adjustment, car, some appliances for churning vegetation and a plain shovel. The drawing process took nearly five months, while the process of creating a stable line required a minimum of six folds of a brush passing the same spot.

“We tried teamwork when making the first drawings. My son, Artyom, was one of my main assistants. But further experience has shown one person has access to the creative process as well. The total length of the car run on one of the big drawings amounted to 30 kilometres,” said Astafiyev.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Astana Arlans reach WSB semi-finals

Wed, 2017-05-24 04:36

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

ASTANA – The Astana Arlans boxing club of Kazakhstan recently defeated the Russian Patriot Boxing Team after two matches and reached the World Series of Boxing (WSB) semi-finals. A week earlier, the Arlans took a 3-2 win in Kemerovo. The return quarterfinal match took place in Karaganda and again ended with the Kazakh victory.

Photo credit: astanaarlans.kz.

The first three fights were enough for the Arlans to secure a berth in the tournament’s next round. First, Olzhas Sattibayev (up to 52 kg) beat Ivan Abramov. Then Zakir Safiullin (60 kg) defeated Shahrier Ahmedov and Aslanbek Shymbergenov (69 kg) beat Shahabas Mahmudov.

The 81kg bout was particularly difficult between Arman Rysbek and Imam Hataev. Both boxers showed spectacular boxing with many blows. In a close competition, the home team’s boxer clinched the win. In the end, the Russian team only managed to win one bout. Patriot boxer Artem Suslenkov defeated Dmitry Zisko of Kazakhstan, who made his debut. Thus, Arlans reached the tournament semi-finals, where they will fight the British Lionhearts. The semi-finals will take place June 2-3 and 9-10.

“We imagined it wouldn’t be easy. I want to thank our guys for the good job. They had a good fight and deserved the win. Our experienced boxers Olzhas Sattybayev, Zakir Safiullin and Aslanbek Shymbergenov met the expectations. So did Arman Rysbek, who showed a great desire to win. As for Dmitry Zisko, it was his debut in WSB and his opponent was very strong, so it was very hard to win. Soon we will compete against the British team, which didn’t let us into the finals last year, and we wish to take our revenge for the last season’s defeat,” said Astana Arlans’ head coach Nurlan Akurpekov.

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

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

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

The Astana Arlans club was founded in 2010. In the first season, the club’s boxers proved themselves as one of the strongest teams in the world. The team is a two-time WSB champion. It won the third season in 2012-2013 and the fifth season in 2014-2015. With two titles apiece, Arlans and Cuba’s Domadores lead the league in titles won.

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EXPO caravan stops in Berlin as part of promotional tour through Europe

Wed, 2017-05-24 04:31

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

ASTANA – A mobile EXPO caravan, which started its tour through Europe Feb. 28 in Madrid, is now headed from Berlin to the Baltic States. The promotional roadshow is hoping to raise awareness about the upcoming specialised international exposition in the Kazakh capital.

EXPO caravan in Berlin.

The opening ceremony in the German capital was attended by representatives of the nation’s Foreign Ministry, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, EXPO 2017 General Commissariat’s office, Kazakh-German Association and Kazakh students at German universities, among many others.

“Future Energy, as the theme of the upcoming exposition in Astana, has aroused much interest among German companies,” said German Economy Eastern Committee regional director Edward Kinsbrunner, as quoted by kazinform.kz.

As part of his speech, Kinsbrunner added Germany’s participation will provide “added momentum to the development of bilateral commercial and economic relations.”

Kazakh embassies are assisting the caravan in spreading news about the EXPO to locals.

Kazakh Ambassador to Germany Bolat Nussupov told the audience about the socio-economic and political reforms happening in Kazakhstan. He also stressed the successful cooperation between the countries in the preparation process.

EXPO caravan in Madrid

The caravan has a variety of interactive entertainment options available for visitors, such as the alternative energy zone, virtual reality zone, interactive map of Kazakhstan, cinema, 3D printer, children’s creativity zone and electric bikes. Exhibition tickets are also offered for sale.

“In view of the EXPO 2017 theme importance and timeliness for all mankind, Kazakhstan is making its contribution to one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century,” said German Bundestag committee for tourism head Jürgen Klimke.

EXPO caravan Project Coordinator Florian Berend noted the purpose of the tour is to convince people to visit Kazakhstan.

“We can sell tickets online for EXPO in Astana or book a hotel online. We have a large smartphone, which is connected to the Internet. We tell the visitors about different tourist routes, because besides the exhibition there are many beautiful places to see in Kazakhstan and this is another reason to pay a visit to the country,” he said.

The caravan has been on the road for months, staying three-four days in every city it visits. To date, it has crossed through Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Milan, Zurich, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Vienna, Prague and Berlin. Next up are Warsaw, Vilnius and Helsinki, ending the tour in the Finnish capital June 9 on the eve of the exhibition kickoff.

 

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Social entrepreneurship develops in Karaganda

Wed, 2017-05-24 04:26

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

ASTANA – Radost, (“Joy”), a charity shop in Karaganda, is one of the brightest examples of social entrepreneurship in the country. Its founder, Meruyert Argimbayeva, started her business more than three years ago. She still puts all her efforts towards developing direction in her region and is referred to as the heart, soul and brain of the project on the shop’s Facebook page.

“Radost is a traditional charity shop. We receive items from the people, almost everything except books and audio and video production. Then, we sort them. Mostly, second-hand items are in good condition, including bed linens, towels, medicaments and dishes distributed for free. Radost covers a few thousand families in the Karaganda region. Even though a big part of the items is given free-of-charge, there are products that are absolutely new. They were received from boutiques that are closing or things that do not fit their owners or, for example, rare, interesting things or items in perfect condition – they are sold in the shop,” said Argimbayeva in an interview with The Astana Times.

Prices in the shop are three-four times lower than market. For example, new jeans cost 4,000 tenge (US$12.80), second-hand jeans 2,000 tenge (US$6.40) while a beautiful evening dress is up for 8,000 tenge (US$25.60). The shop sells only clothing, souvenirs, handmade items, jewellery, shoes, toys and bed linens.

Radost transfers its net profit to seriously ill children.

“We have worked with We Help charity fund for a long time now. Their base has around 100 children with diseases of the brain and central nervous system. Our principal position is to help children only from Karaganda and the Karaganda region and from that list,” said Argimbayeva.

Although the first charity shops appeared around 50 years ago, Argimbayeva was one of the few who brought the idea to Kazakhstan. She decided to take the risk three and a-half years ago.

“I had an opportunity to go through a special course on social entrepreneurship at the St. Petersburg School of Economics and Management. Also, I have read a lot of related sources,” she said.

After the decision comes action, and the young entrepreneur faced several issues on the way.

“Karaganda is almost a third city in Kazakhstan, but in fact it is a provincial and miners’ city. Salaries are not high, with a harsh climate and poorly developed logistics. People had no idea at all what a charity shop and social entrepreneurship were. People think charity is when everything is given out for free by rich people to poor. I decided to promote a format of social entrepreneurship and I was the first in the region. No one knew what it was except me. I had difficulties, mainly due to the mindset of people. Today, some people still do not understand how a charity organisation can earn money by trade and can be financially independent,” she said.

Another difficulty was positioning.

“Before that I was a classic volunteer, helping deaf and dumb children to find sponsors and resolving their issues. Also, we were organising charity events almost every month to collect money for seriously ill children. In addition, we were helping the poor families of disabled people. So, I had to determine what I wanted and what I had a right for. It is hard to accept the fact that I am a social entrepreneur now, that I receive a salary and charity is my profession now,” added Argimbayeva.

Each month Radost posts a mini financial report on its social network pages. In the last months the shop failed to generate a net profit, since it had to move to a bigger premise and the rent and utilities are more expensive. When the heating season is over, Radost is likely to become profitable again, she said.

The project inspired many social entrepreneurs not only in Kazakhstan, but also in Russia. Argimbayeva has assisted several of them by sharing her experience in the business.

“The social shop allows me and my team to be engaged in charity every day without being distracted by earning money for a living. Profit is not its main goal. Most importantly, it is about saving the ecology by providing secondary consumption and about help to poor families. The charity shop provides constant opportunity for different companies and sponsors to provide help. We can advise them where to give funds. We work as intermediaries,” she said.

Argimbayeva plans to open one or two branches in the remote area of Karaganda.

“I think it is a good idea to put the net profits of those branches to the needs of those areas. Maybe development of the local sport. As for big plans, I intend to make Radost a network of successful charity shops with profits so we can withstand any period. My ambitious plan is to make Radost financially successful and make it an example of the fact that a charity shop can effectively work in a province and be successful both socially and financially,” she added.

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UAE to establish 30-day visa-free regime for Kazakh citizens

Wed, 2017-05-24 04:20

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

ASTANA –Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov and United Arab Emirates Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan signed an agreement here May 23 establishing a one-month visa free regime for Kazakh citizens travelling to the Emirates.

Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (L) and Kairat Abdrakhmanov. Photo credit: mfa.kz.

The foreign ministries agreed to establish a mechanism to exchange information on emergencies with citizens requiring consular and legal protection.

The two ministers also discussed implementing agreements reached during the January visit of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to Abu Dhabi as well as trade, economic and investment cooperation and international issues, including the Syrian crisis, the situation in Yemen, Libya and Iraq.

They also expressed a desire to cooperate within regional and international organisations, including the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

Photo credit: mfa.kz.

“We have made a significant breakthrough in our bilateral negotiations on consular issues. The geography of our tourist destinations is being significantly expanded. The UAE is one of the most popular destinations among our tourists,” Abdrakhmanov said. According to statistics provided by the UAE minister, around 100,000 Kazakh citizens visit the Emirates annually. In its turn, Kazakhstan has been offering visa free travel to the UAE citizens since 2014 for 15 days, and beginning this year – for 30 days on each visit.

Sheikh Abdullah also met with Nazarbayev and Kazakh Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev earlier in the day.

“At a meeting with President Nazarbayev, I was able to convey to him greetings from the UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.  The current state of relations is achieved thanks to our great efforts. It is expected that the concluded agreement will give an impetus to the development of tourism, trade and investment spheres,” Sheikh Abdullah said.

“I am glad that the UAE pavilion will be presented at the international specialised exhibition EXPO 2017 in Astana. Our country will host EXPO 2020 in Dubai. We will learn Kazakhstan’s experience in preparation for this event,” he added.

Sheikh Abdullah also thanked Abdrakhmanov for supporting the Syrian people and hosting the Astana Process talks on ending the violence in the six-year old conflict in that country. He expressed hope for an early settlement of the Syria crisis.

Photo credit: mfa.kz.

Abdrakhmanov invited his colleague to attend the Sept. 10-11 OIC Summit on Science and Technology in Astana and noted the importance of opening the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) on the premises of EXPO 2017.

Earlier on May 22, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry hosted the first meeting of the Joint Commission on Consular Issues between Kazakhstan and the UAE.

The meeting discussed consular and legal relations between the two countries, cooperation in protecting the rights and interests of citizens, legal assistance to individuals and legal entities, as well a sEXPO 2017 in Astana.

First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Mukhtar Tleuberdi said the two states are able to have an open dialogue on bilateral cooperation and international issues.

 

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Shanyrak social enterprise attracts orphanage graduates to entrepreneurial activities, solves employment issues

Tue, 2017-05-23 23:54

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

Gennady Frank

ASTANA – The Uralsk-based Shanyrak social enterprise supports orphanage graduates in career guidance, education and employment.

The profitable organisation has trained 92 graduates and provided jobs for 39 of them though its recruitment company, 38 attended the vocational training school, seven became individual entrepreneurs and 13 are involved in careers at the enterprise.

Shanyrak founder Gennady Frank feels there are numerous opportunities for a social entrepreneur. He noted the most important way to be profitable and competitive when running an organisation that helps solve the problems faced by socially-vulnerable groups is to do business the same way as any other company does when striving for true success.

“When becoming a social entrepreneur, you should bear in mind that just as in any other business, you will face problems and challenges and no excuses will be accepted by state regulators, competitors or clients. But you will definitely feel good about yourself, because you are doing good deeds for others,” he said in an interview for this story.

Shanyrak’s mission is to create a platform for orphanage and boarding school graduates to help them realise their potential. Today, the enterprise is engaged in manufacturing, training, recruiting and other services.

Game modules for children created by Shanyrak graduates.

“We analysed why orphanage graduates have problems with workplace adaptation and the problem was that they are not aware of labour discipline. They do not follow the dress code and they do not observe subordination,” he said.

A lawyer, Frank registered as an individual entrepreneur and started his first business on the grounds of a foster house in 2010. Formerly known as the Nur Public Association, the West Kazakhstan Union of Orphanage and Boarding School Graduates was established in 2013 and Shanyrak was founded the next year.

“Initially, the head of the house of youth asked me to help young people who wanted to start businesses. We opened a workshop and all conditions for work were created in 2000. Orphanage students had a chance to earn money there. This was like an initiative project. When more people began to come, we asked the local authorities to provide premises that were empty for our activities. There was a need to open a public association with the purpose of employment,” he said.

Shanyrak’s non-profit activities have been transferred to the Nur association, which is in line with the latter’s mission. By doing so, the enterprise reduced its workload and focused on its profitable businesses, making the Shanyrak structure and operations and the association more effective. This proved to be a successful model of collaboration, with the association responsible for fundraising and addressing social needs and the enterprise generating a profit to finance the association’s operations and social programmes.

“We are now working to increase sales. Job creation depends on the sale of products. Our products include equipment for kindergartens and soft sports, furniture and game modules for children,” he said.

The practical training school aims to provide graduates with vocational guidance and includes the entrepreneurial school and specialised production-practical training. Those involved with the former receive assistance in developing a business plan and grants as a starting package; the latter is conducted at the Shanyrak production workshops.

“We provide non-repayable services. We organise trainings for young people and send them to work at the plants or enterprises. Most importantly, they acquire knowledge that allows them to adapt at work. They study labour discipline and legislation. At first, the aim of the public association was to promote entrepreneurial initiatives to graduates of orphanages. Then, we decided to develop employment and work initiatives,” he said.

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Foreign and Kazakh professors discuss challenges of academic integrity

Tue, 2017-05-23 23:50

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

ASTANA – KAZGUU University’s (Kazakh Humanities and Law Institute) Higher School of Economics hosted the second international scientific conference May 19-20 titled “Academic Integrity and University Governance.”

Representatives of the Kazakh Ministry of Education and Science, professors and researchers from universities and major academic centres in the United States, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, Russia and Kazakhstan took part in the event.

The conference was aimed at a comprehensive discussion of academic integrity challenges in Kazakhstan to develop and adopt rules for student, teacher and administrative personnel conduct in the academic environment.

Opening the session, KAZGUU University Rector Talgat Narikbayev urged participants to openly share opinions and offer ideas.

“Our schools and universities are not only educational institutions. Young people that are studying there are the country’s future. The latter depends on how children are perceiving this world now. The future of Kazakhstan is described by things and values that universities and schools show children. Particularly, we are talking about integrity and deceit. Our educational institutions are a time machine that show us the future. Unfortunately, we do not conduct enough work in this area, so the current conference is aimed at paying attention to this existing problem, because this problem is extremely important for our country,” he said.

The basic assumption of social constructivism in education is that knowledge is socially constructed and for being effective, the process of learning needs to be meaningful and active, said Alisher Faizullaev, a professor in the Department of Practical Diplomacy and Director of the Negotiation Laboratory at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

“The construction of knowledge takes place in social interaction among learners and the teacher mostly acts as a facilitator and mediator rather than an authoritative instructor and giver of knowledge. Through interaction – debates, simulations, role playing, games and other social activities, – learners create a so-called knowledge community which provides a stimulating environment for the meaningful and active learning process,” he said.

“A constructivist approach to education helps to integrate teaching, learning and research. The integration of teaching, learning and research promotes academic integrity. There is no place for plagiarism in an effective knowledge community, because the genuine motivation for knowledge is stronger than the motivation of cheating. Joint construction of knowledge embodies an innovative activity,” he added.

Appreciating individual differences and respecting the personalities of students and teachers are essential for ensuring a constructivist atmosphere in the school or university as a larger knowledge community, noted Faizullaev.

Luk Van Langenhove, research professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the University of Warwick (U.K.), spoke about the challenges of achieving academic excellence in a turbulent world. Geopolitical changes that are altering the world order, technological revolutions that strengthen globalisation and global problems that need deep understanding of the current atmosphere and what can be done force universities around the world to reinvent themselves, he noted.

“Universities should think strategically about their brand. Not just a few Latin words and a fancy logo, but a real culture that shapes the way you behave and communicate, inspiring a desire to participate. The university brand should also be able to explain itself in terms of what it is not, by making clear choices about what it will or will not do or say. For instance, in the steps towards research excellence, it is important to set priorities and invest in certain areas, as it is impossible to be the absolute top in everything,” said Van Langenhove.

Conference participants also discussed a wide range of topical issues related to the internal and external functions of university top management, administering the academic process and forming a culture of professional scientific research.

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Vocational training centre for people with special needs to opens in Almaty

Tue, 2017-05-23 23:44

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

ASTANA – The Resource Centre for Inclusive Vocational Training and Social Adaptation of persons with limited abilities will soon open in Almaty.

The goal of the project is to provide vocational training, retraining, advanced training and certification of personnel for persons with special needs to solve their socialisation and adaptation problems.

The training centre will function based on the Almaty College of Technologies and Floristics, where they will train personnel for light and service industries. Training is planned to be conducted on a dual system using the latest techniques in accordance with the requirements of the labour market.

The project is being implemented under the multilateral agreement signed between the Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Almaty, the Education Department of Almaty, the Employment and Social Programmes Department, the Almaty College of Technologies and Floristics, the Association of Colleges and Shyrak Association of Women with Limited Abilities. In accordance with the agreement, the Chamber of Entrepreneurs provides students with an internship at city enterprises, conducts an analysis of the personnel requirements and the labour market and facilitates the employment of the Resource Centre graduates.

During the government video conference, Shyrak Director Lyazzat Kaltayeva asked the Prime Minister to assist in providing vocational education for people with special needs and other questions.

“It is not enough just to educate people. We need to make them competitive in the labour market in the future. They will leave schools and they need to be able to find a job, not become a dependent. We have inclusive education, necessary programme and standards, but we need to make it work,” Kaltayeva said.

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Volunteerism creating a stronger people power in Kazakhstan

Tue, 2017-05-23 08:22

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

What is the richness of a nation? – Its people.

It couldn’t be truer for Kazakhstan where this saying resonates loud and clear.

People the world over volunteer to give back to society. The one billion and counting volunteers work to commit their time and skills to making people’s lives better.

Kazakhstan has evolved into a vibrant society since its independence almost three decades ago. Volunteerism is increasingly taking front stage – with people more aware and interested in pitching in for social and community work. And there is huge potential of coordinating volunteerism for development in Kazakhstan.

Volunteerism is not new to Kazakh society. United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and Kazakhstan have partnered since 1993 to make sustainable development a reality.

UNV has almost 7,000 volunteers around the world on the ground and almost 13,000 online volunteers serving with UN agencies, governments, private sector and civil society. UN Volunteers often work directly with vulnerable groups at the grassroots level.

There are 22 UN Volunteers serving in Kazakhstan and around the world in peace and development initiatives. From capacity building to gender equality, from advocacy of sustainable cities to climate action, UN Volunteers work along with local communities.

Kazakh UN Volunteers are working in Kyzylorda region to implement sustainable waste management and reduce inequalities for persons with disabilities. And they also create awareness of low carbon consumption and reduction of emissions especially among the youth in the southern town of Taraz.

Acutely aware of the local surge in volunteering, UNV commends the Government’s initiative to mainstream volunteerism through a regulated Law on Volunteering Activity. The new law signed this year allows further opportunities for academia to involve youth in high profile events.

Likewise, embedding more Kazakh UN Volunteers to serve in developing countries and enhance development impact will further strengthen the country’s footprint in international development cooperation. Presently 22 Kazakh UN Volunteers serve in Malawi, Mozambique, Ukraine and their home country.

At the Expo 2017 – Future Energy in June there will be a large-scale mobilization of some three thousand volunteers. UN Volunteers will provide expertise in coordinating the university volunteers.

United Nations Volunteers applauds the many women and men of Kazakhstan.

The people are the real wealth of Kazakhstan creating a culture of selfless giving, of volunteerism.

The author is Deputy Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.

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Kazakh archers beat South Korean Olympic champions in first stage of 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup

Tue, 2017-05-23 08:18

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

ASTANA – Kazakh archers, heavy underdogs who have never been on the podium at the World Cup or World Archery Championships, beat an Olympic trio from South Korea May 21 to win its first-ever 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup stage in Shanghai, reported worldarchery.org.

Kazakh Denis Gankin (ranked 43rd before the stage final and climbed to 42nd), Oibek Saidiyev (129th, 113th) and Sanzhar Mussayev (175th, 138th) beat champions Oh Jin Hyek, Kim Woojin and Im Dong Hyun in the final shoot-off.

“We still don’t believe we won the archery world cup stage,” said Saidiyev after the final. “It feels great to win gold. We prepared for it. We did it.”

South Korea, which has reigned since modern archery was introduced into the Olympics in 1972, has won 23 gold medals in the event, more than any other country or any other Olympic sport in the nation’s history. South Korea also leads in all-time tallies in tae kwon do and short track speed skating in the winter Olympics.

Saidiyev noted the main aim of the match was not just “beating Korea, but to shoot well for Kazakhstan, to show that we have good archers and let the rest of the world see us, too. Working on executing our techniques and making clean shots was our goal throughout the competition.”

South Korea shot 57 points to Kazakhstan’s 50 to easily win the first set, according to worldarchery.org. The Kazakh archers rallied in the next sets to turn some heads.

“Kazakhstan swiped the second series, 55-54, after London 2012 winner Oh Jin Hyek send down a pair of eights. But South Korea looked safe when the third went the favourite’s way, 56-50, and needed just a draw in the fourth set to win gold. Both teams shot 28 out of a possible 30 for their first three arrows. Korea finished badly. Nines each from of Im and Kim left Oh needing something strong, but he sent down an eight,” wrote the website.

Gankin shot 10, Mussayev shot eight and Saidiyev’s final 10 sent the set into a tie breaker, where Kazakhstan shot three nines to beat the Olympic champions.

“They shot well and put on a great performance. I would like to congratulate them on winning,” said Oh.

“They showed their ability to compete against any nation. It’s good for Kazakhstan, but it’s also a good opportunity for the Korean team, as we have to learn to be wary of all our opponents,” he added.

Earlier, Kazakhstan beat the U.S. 5-3, Russia 5-4 and Japan 5-4 to reach the finals.

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Nazarbayev Attends Arab Islamic American Summit, Meets with Trump, Arab Leaders

Tue, 2017-05-23 06:07

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

ASTANA – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev attended the May 21 Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh with more than with 50 leaders from the Muslim world participating.

At the summit, King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke about cooperation between the Muslim world and the U.S. to halt terrorism and extremism.

According to the official website of the White House, Trump spoke of the historic nature of the summit, noting that this specific gathering of leaders was unprecedented and is a symbol to the world of a shared resolve and mutual respect between these nations. He went on to mention the historic agreements made with Saudi Arabia saying they “will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.”

“I bring the message of love from the U.S. That is why I chose Saudi Arabia for the first foreign trip. The U.S. vision is one of peace, security and prosperity in the Middle East region and throughout the world,” Trump noted.

“We will cooperate in ending terrorism and extremism in all its shapes and forms. Islam was and will continue to be a religion of tolerance and peace,” King Salman stressed.

According to alarabiya.net, the Saudi King announced a landmark agreement with the U.S. to track and target sources of terrorist financing.

On the sidelines of the forum, Nazarbayev and Trump discussed the main directions of bilateral cooperation and revised prospects for deepening relations in trade, economic, political, cultural and humanitarian spheres. In addition, the parties exchanged views on international issues, the Akorda press service reported.

In addition, Nazarbayev met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The two discussed the state and prospects for development of bilateral cooperation, as well as exchanged views on the most pressing international issues. Nazarbayev said he hopes Kazakh – U.S. relations reach a new level.

While in Riyadh, Nazarbayev also met with foreign leaders and heads of delegations, including Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of Yemen Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, President of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif. The Kazakh President also interacted with his Central Asian counterparts.

Bilateral cooperation between Kazakhstan and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was discussed at the meeting between Nazarbayev and Secretary General of the Organisation Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen. Kazakhstan is planning to host the first ever OIC Summit on Science and Technology in Astana in September 2017.

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Foreign ministry sets June 25 deadline for foreign media contest submissions

Mon, 2017-05-22 01:19

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

ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry announced May 19 the call for applications to the fourth annual International “Kazakhstan through the Eyes of Foreign Media” contest.

The contest seeks to recognise authors of the best journalistic reports, stories and analytical pieces about Kazakhstan, which have been published in foreign media between Jan. 1 and June 25. The submission deadline is June 25.

The winners will be announced July 5, on the eve of Astana Day.

According to the Foreign Ministry, one winner will be selected from each of the five geographic regions – the Americas; Europe; the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltics; Middle East and Africa; Asia, Australia and Oceania.

The award is a week-long trip to Kazakhstan in August 2017 with stops in Astana, Almaty and the Borovoye Resort as well as extensive cultural programme and a visit to the EXPO 2017 International Specialised Exhibition.

In addition, the winners will be awarded the Kazakh Foreign Minister’s Certificate of Appreciation.

The contest winners will also have the opportunity to meet Kazakh government officials, scientists, experts, journalists, academics and artists. The meetings seek to provide journalists with the contacts and cooperative efforts to facilitate high-standard coverage of Kazakhstan.

The contest is organised by the foreign ministry in cooperation with Kazakhstan’s Chief Editors Club. The Astana EXPO 2017 national company, the Kazakhstan Temir Zholy national railway company, Kazakhstan’s National Olympic Committee, LOT Polish Airlines, the Ramada Plaza Astana hotel, the Rixos Borovoe hotel and the Argymak transportation company are partners of the contest.

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Religious congress secretariat sets date for 2018 congress, discusses Kazakh UNSC priorities

Mon, 2017-05-22 01:13

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ASTANA – The 16th Session of the Secretariat of the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions held May 18 set Oct. 10-11, 2018 as the date of the 6th Congress of Leaders World and Traditional Religions and discussed Kazakhstan’s UN Security Council priorities.

“Our meeting today reflects our commitment to build mutual understanding and respect, to work together for the sake of peace, security and prosperity. The Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions offers an inclusive platform for dialogue embracing religious leaders and other stakeholders including heads of states and international organisations, prominent politicians and scientists as well as non-governmental organisations,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan and head of the Secretariat of the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, told the gathering at the Palace of Peace and Harmony.

Tokayev mentioned that last May the conference, Religions against Terrorism, brought together members of parliaments of different countries, experts and participants of the secretariat and stressed that these meetings should be continued.

“Recent developments in Syria and Ukraine have demonstrated that geopolitical tensions between great powers are still high. The lack of unity impedes the fight against terrorism that has been flaring up in different parts of our planet. North Korea’s actions in violation of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty pose a risk of nuclear catastrophe. … A decline in moral values is extremely dangerous as it imperils the souls and spirits of the people,” he emphasised.

Tokayev added the global community may counter all these challenges and threats only through joint actions, constructive dialogue and seeking compromises.

Every three years, leaders of world and traditional religions gather in Astana’s Palace of Peace and Harmony.

Yerzhan Ashikbayev, Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister, explained in an briefing with journalists that the focus was on various confessional and religious holidays when the date of the congress was being selected so all participants could fully dedicate their time to the work of the congress.

Preparations for the congress, discussion of candidates nominated for the Astana International Award for Interfaith Dialogue and the Medal of Honour of the Congress were also on the agenda of the May 18 session. Adoption of the minutes of the 16th session of the Secretariat of the Congress and presentation of Kazakhstan’s priorities on the UN Security Council were other topics.

“The first priority is ensuring the survival of humanity through a world free of nuclear weapons. Given the enormous contribution of Kazakhstan to global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation processes and as a country that had suffered dire consequences of nuclear testing, we believe Kazakhstan has a moral right to demand a world free of nuclear weapons. In this regard, we seek to use the UN Security Council as a platform to advance our vision of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation,” Ashikbayev said.

The deputy minister also expressed deep concern about current challenges to global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Kazakhstan condemns all actions of North Korea whose nuclear ballistic missile programme “presents a considerable challenge to global peace and security,” he said.

“We are equally concerned with any other attempt to stop nuclear disarmament. Kazakhstan calls for all UN member nations, especially permanent members of the Security Council, to rid the world of nuclear weapons by 2045, which will mark the United Nations’ 100th anniversary from its foundation,” he noted.

The second priority is preventing and ending military confrontation at regional and global levels. Peace and renunciation of war as a means of settling interstate problems is essential to the survival of humanity, according to Ashikbayev, who added that the third priority is to generate a model for a regional zone of peace and security cooperation and development in Central Asia.

He also said the combined efforts of all states, international and regional organisations and other key stakeholders to combat international terrorism and violent extremism is the fourth and key priority of Kazakhstan’s membership on the UN Security Council.

Peace and security in Africa is the fifth priority, according to the deputy minister. Global action to prevent wars and conflicts, protect human rights, deliver sustainable development goals and combat climate change is the sixth priority while improving the Security Council and the entire UN system to the needs of the 21st century is Kazakhstan’s seventh priority on the Security Council.

As part of the session’s cultural programme, international representatives visited pavilions of EXPO 2017 and the National Museum, according to the press service of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan.

“The congress started as a platform for dialogue among religious leaders. The fifth congress in 2015 was dedicated to continuing a dialogue with political leaders because today’s problems that clergy and religious leaders are concerned about are equal to what the entire global community is concerned about. These are the problems of terrorism, radicalisation of societies, extremist ideologies, climate change; all of that suggests teamwork of religious an spiritual leaders along with political leaders that’s why this dialogue will go on. The congress will build its work to consolidate the voices of religious leaders in advancing the solutions on the most pressing issues of present-day agenda,” Ashikbayev commented.

Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto, Hinduism representatives participated in the meeting as well as leaders of international organisations and guests, including Matthew Hodes, director of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, Rashid Ahmed Al Teneiji, advisor to the Minister of State for Tolerance of the United Arab Emirates, Phichai Tovivich, secretary general of the Office of the World Peace Envoy and others.

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Astana Opera and Bolshoi Theatre sign memorandum of cooperation

Mon, 2017-05-22 01:03

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ASTANA – Astana Opera and Russia’s famous national Bolshoi Theatre signed a memorandum of cooperation May 15 in Moscow, according to the opera’s press service.

“One of the tasks of spiritual modernisation, which was set by the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, is the promotion of modern Kazakh culture in the world. As the head of state correctly noted, this is very serious and time-consuming work, including not only the selection of the best works of national culture, but also their presentation abroad. The signing of the memorandum is part of the implementation of the plans of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Kazakhstan to implement the strategy of our President,” said Astana Opera Director Galym Akhmedyarov.

The document was signed by Akhmedyarov and Bolshoi Theatre General Director Vladimir Urin. A number of projects were also discussed during the talks and the parties will develop partnerships in several directions. In addition to the exchange of specialists, artists and performers, further plans include organising tours, joint productions, master classes by leading specialists of both theatres and participating in music competitions and festivals.

Kazakh artists have appeared repeatedly on the famous Moscow stage. Astana Opera leading soloist and Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Talgat Mussabayev performed the main role in “Eugene Onegin” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Bolshoi Theatre soloists have also had the opportunity to perform in front of the Astana audience. Prima ballerina and People’s Artist of Russia Svetlana Zakharova took part in a gala concert dedicated to the world premiere of the Astana Opera, according to the statement.

Astana Opera also currently partners with the La Scala, San Carlo, Carlo Felice, Shanghai Grand and Mariinsky theatres, the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre and others.

The Bolshoi Theatre was established in 1776. Today, its repertoire consists mostly of masterpieces of 19th–20th century Russian musical theatre. In addition to those classics, Bolshoi offers its audience the masterpieces of Western European composers, including authors of the 20th century, as well as specially-ordered compositions.

“It is Russia’s main national theatre, a bearer of the traditions of the Russian music culture and the centre of the world music culture, the spearhead of the development of the country’s performing arts,” notes its website.

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World Bank predicts slow growth for Kazakhstan in medium term

Sun, 2017-05-21 22:49

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

ASTANA – The World Bank released a report which predicts Kazakhstan’s economic growth will pick up slowly in the medium term, but highlights it will remain much lower than before 2014. The report adds real GDP rates will be around 3 percent in 2017-2019.

In the last year, the nation’s economy suffered from a slowdown in global oil prices, as the nation has low domestic demand. Real GDP growth declined from 1.2 percent in 2015 to 1 percent in 2016, according to the World Bank.

Lower oil prices and oil output widened the current account deficit, however investments in oil and gas production pushed up inflows of net foreign direct investment. As a result, the National Bank was able to partially replenish its international reserves, which it had drawn down earlier to finance foreign exchange interventions, according to the report.

Domestic consumption continued to slow down due to devaluation of the national currency. The inflation rate reached 14.6 percent, which in turn weakened household purchasing power.

The Kazakh government sought to stimulate domestic demand and diversify the economy in 2016. Authorities postponed fiscal consolidation and used economic support measures financed by the oil fund and additional borrowing. The government used special national programmes focused on increasing domestic demand through higher public wages and social transfers and continued subsidy provisions to national enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses. It also decided to support banking sector.

Authorities plan to recapitalise the country’s major banks. The National Bank started gradually easing its contractionary monetary policy as inflationary pressures subsided in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Experts predict oil prices will gradually recover and oil from the giant offshore Kashagan field will offset the observed declines in traditional oil output. As a result, export revenue will increase and positively impact Kazakhstan’s current account and fiscal balances. Yet, they emphasised even with the projected oil price level both balances will remain in deficit.

The report notes the agricultural sector is an important part of the country’s economy, which can help in its diversification and create more jobs. In his 2017 address to the nation, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev called agriculture “a new driver of the economy.”

Kazakhstan has great potential to increase rural incomes and create jobs, contributing to economic diversification and adding additional value to output through processing. Agricultural labour productivity is currently lower than in Russia and Belarus. At that, 15 percent of the state’s total arable land is unutilised, according to the report.

World Bank experts note Kazakhstan’s good location and consider it can help the nation enter the growing markets of China, India and the Middle East. This, along with the scale of agricultural resources, makes the country a potentially attractive investment for domestic and foreign investors.

Experts also highlight the risk-prone nature of agricultural business and advise using research, innovations and dissemination and adoption of new technologies. They note agricultural productivity significantly depends on infrastructure, as it declines significantly due to travel time. Public-private partnerships should encourage private investment in storage, distributional infrastructure and processing facilities.

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Kazakh FM says economic diplomacy top priority

Sun, 2017-05-21 22:40

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

ASTANA – Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov briefed local media May 18 on the ministry’s activities in the realm of economic diplomacy and fielded questions on issues ranging from the Astana Process to the One Belt, One Road initiative and the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC).

Kairat Abdrakhmanov

The primary initiatives by President Nursultan Nazarbayev that the government has been implementing include the development and adoption of the national investment and export strategies, creation of the national companies Kazakh Invest and Kazakh Export, as well as redistribution of powers dealing with foreign trade in the government structure.

Calling economic diplomacy a top priority for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abdrakhmanov said Kazakhstan has created institutions for interaction with investors at all levels.

“The meetings of the Foreign Investors Council under the President are held on the regular basis. The next meeting is scheduled to take place within the framework of EXPO 2017 in Astana. Also, the council for improving the investment climate headed by the prime minister, as well as the governmental council on attracting investors are continuing their activities,” he said.

Abdrakhmanov also noted that joint efforts of state bodies helped attract $242 billion in foreign direct investment in 2005-2016.

“President Nazarbayev pays special attention to the development of economic diplomacy. Almost all of his official visits to foreign states include separate meetings with the local business community, where the majority of commercial agreements are being concluded. For instance, in 2016 during the presidential visits, 48 agreements were signed for a total amount of $1.4 billion in Iran, 20 documents totalling $520 million in Turkey, 10 agreements for $200 million in Saudi Arabia, 13 documents for $1.2 billion in Japan and 24 contracts for $640 million in South Korea. This year, the agreements on the implementation of joint investment projects worth $6.3 billion were reached during the President’s visit to the United Arab Emirates,” Abdrakhmanov said.

In 2016, the foreign ministry held more than 300 events oriented on trade, economic and investment, as well as organised more than 600 visits of foreign delegations to Kazakhstan and visits of Kazakh business delegations to foreign states, Abdrakhmanov informed the gathering.

The Diplomatic Business Club, created on the initiative of the foreign ministry, plans the organisation of the foreign ambassadors’ trip to the South Kazakhstan region to study investment opportunities of the region, which is a continuation of its practices from last year.

Speaking of cooperation with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Abdrakhmanov noted that this year for the first time the OECD Eurasian Week will take place outside of the organisation’s headquarters in Paris, namely in Almaty on Oct. 23-25. The goal of this event is to strengthen relations between the Eurasian states and the organisation member countries.

As he answered questions from the assembled media, Abdrakhmanov said the next round of talks on ending violence in Syria as part of the Astana Process will take place, as scheduled, in mid-July and will be preceded by a technical meeting of experts in Ankara.

He also told the press Kazakh delegation’s participation in the May 14-15 One Belt, One Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing produced an agreement between Kazakhstan Temir Zholy and Cosco, the leading global transportation company, as well as a communiqué linking the One Road, One Belt initiative with other regional initiatives, including Kazakhstan’s Nurly Zhol programme.

Abdrakhmanov also said the ministry is helping develop the AIFC, including creating a single space at the centre to register foreign AIFC staff  and mechanisms to send AIFC staff to Kazakhstan’s foreign missions.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs assists the AIFC in attracting the major world financial institutions, organisations and companies to this project,” he noted. “President Nazarbayev visited international financial institutions in Abu-Dhabi and Dubai, where he held talks with their leadership and potential investors.”

The minister also noted China is a major trade and investment partner and that Kazakhstan is simplifying its visa regime for Chinese citizens coming to EXPO 2017.

Abdrakhmanov also mentioned that the fifth Caspian Summit that is expected to adopt the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea will take place in Astana. Specific dates will be announced later depending on the progress in the talks over the convention.

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UN Central Asia regional centre’s goal is to help build trust, its head says

Fri, 2017-05-19 07:09

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

This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the UN Regional centre for preventive diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) in Ashgabat. In an interview with this newspaper, Petko Draganov, Head of UNRCCA and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, discusses the achievements so far and the goals for the future.

Please tell us about the history and objectives of the Centre.

The UNRCCA in Ashgabat was established by exchange of letters between the UN Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council in May 2007. UNRCCA was the first political mission of the UN with a mandate focused solely on preventive diplomacy.

The main objective of the Centre is to assist Central Asian states in finding solutions to potentially contentious regional issues. The activities of the Centre are implemented based on the mandate and three-year programmes developed in close consultation with the countries of Central Asia. For the period of 2015-2017 our priorities have been identified as 1) transnational threats and challenges; 2) management of shared natural resources; 3) internal factors affecting regional stability; and 4) the establishment of national/regional capacity for conflict prevention.

Compared to other UN missions, our centre is smaller in scale, with a minimal budget and limited staff. The main part of our mission’s activities is funded by extra budgetary sources. At the same time, the geographical area of responsibility covered by UNRCCA is broad; it includes five states. Therefore, compared to most missions, which as a rule cover a single country, all our efforts must be multiplied at least by five. In light of this, the Centre is one of the most effective agencies of the UN in terms of resources/results ratio.

In 2017, it will be 10 years since the establishment of UNRCCA. Could you point out the main achievements of the UNRCCA over this period?

If we were to speak of definite results of our work over the past 10 years, we probably need to start with the fact that throughout this time there were no major inter-state conflicts in Central Asia. This, of course, is the merit of the states themselves, but partially, there is our credit as well.

Primarily, the Centre has provided governments a platform for dialogue on the most difficult regional issues: trans-boundary water management, countering security threats, strengthening of stability, development of regional cooperation. The Centre provided good office for preventing and responding to emerging problems that are threatening internal stability of individual countries and the entire region.

In the process of monitoring the situation, we have accumulated considerable analytical potential. We provide information support to the governing structures of the UN with the aim of making and implementing effective and timely solutions. Twice a year I speak at the Security Council with progress reports and analysis of the regional situation. The proposals that we coordinate with the countries are communicated to the members of the Security Council and receive international attention. To further raise the global awareness of the concerns in Central Asia, the Centre has initiated several visits of the UN Secretary-General to all five Central Asian states. In the near future, the newly elected Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also visit Central Asia. This is evidence of the great attention paid by the leadership of the United Nations to the region and of willingness to assist in solving the existing issues.

Over the years, we have organised dozens of international workshops and round tables on topical issues of regional security and have trained more than 1,000 specialists in various fields of preventive diplomacy. There were hundreds of rounds of talks in the capitals of Central Asian states and in other countries, aimed at contributing to overcome differences and establishing rapprochement.

At times, we are told: “Your work is all talk, give us concrete results: roads, equipment, infrastructure, financial support, etc.” Diplomats hear such reproaches often. I can remind the known phrase: while diplomats speak, guns are silent. Questions of social and economic development are, after all, the area of responsibility of the states themselves. The main purpose of the Centre is to build trust between countries, which will create favourable conditions for comprehensive cooperation, including in the trade-economic sphere. Certainly, results of such work will not be visible at once; however, we note positive tendencies. We particularly welcome and support the efforts of countries aimed at facilitating customs and other administrative barriers to trade.

The signing of a number of documents regulating collaboration with our partners in the region and outlining strategies for future action can be considered concrete results of our work. I would like to especially note the Joint Plan for the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, approved by high representatives of Central Asian countries in November 2011 in Ashgabat. The plan pays considerable attention to the humanitarian aspects of preventive diplomacy, noting the need for an integrated approach addressing the problems of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation of the population in order to eliminate the root causes of these threats, while respecting basic human rights and freedoms of the individual. This was the first practice in the world of adapting the global counter-terrorism strategy to a specific region. It served as an example for countries in other parts of the world. In the course of the implementation of the plan, considerable experience has been accumulated, which we plan to discuss at a ministerial conference on June 13 this year in Ashgabat.

Another specific example of UN preventive diplomacy were the events in Kyrgyzstan that occurred in 2010. Since the change of government in Bishkek in April 2010, UNRCCA has been monitoring the political situation in the country with a view to early warning of the interim government and the international community about the existing risks. Unfortunately, law enforcement has been unable to prevent the outbreak of ethnic violence in the South of the country. In this situation, the efforts of the Centre were focused on the support of the authorities in post-conflict recovery and national reconciliation. The transition period has been completed peacefully by the formation of a legitimate government, as a result of free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections. At the same time, according to our analysis, not all the causes of ethnic tensions are eliminated. Further work is needed to improve inter-ethnic relations.

 The Centre has proposed a number of initiatives in the field of trans-boundary water management. What has been accomplished on this issue?

In 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) was signed at the UNRCCA headquarters in Ashgabat on the development of a mechanism for monitoring and preventing threats to the environment in the Aral Sea Basin. Based on this document, the Centre cooperates with the EC IFAS in terms of information exchange, enhancing the potential of its employees, assistance in mobilizing international support in the implementation of Programmes in the Aral Sea Basin (ASBP) and a number of other issues. Currently UNRCCA is in contact with the Turkmen presidency of the EC IFAS on the development of a regional water strategy. The Centre also collaborates with UNESCO in the study of the problems of melting high-altitude glaciers and its impact on national and trans-boundary water systems, as well as the creation of an appropriate system for the exchange of information and knowledge.

In cooperation with the Scientific-information centre of Interstate coordination water Commission (SIC ICWC), the Centre develops an early warning mechanism for potentially problematic situations on Trans-boundary Rivers. We are currently preparing and distributing early warning quarterly Bulletins based on an agreed set of pointers.

For several years now, we have been working with the Central Asian states to create a legal mechanism for an integrated solution of the region’s water and energy problems. As a result of several years of negotiations, in March 2017, the Centre sent to governments a renewed proposal to develop agreements on the use of water resources in the Amudarya and Syrdarya river basins. The proposed projects are aimed to help countries create a clear legal mechanism for managing trans-boundary water resources while taking into account the interests of all parties, equal significance of various types of water use, rationality and justice. Projects also propose the creation of a multi-stage dispute resolution mechanism. I have already held the first round of talks in the capitals of the Central Asian States and confirmed the readiness of most of them to negotiate on this issue.

As you know, security in Central Asia is affected by external factors, in particular, originating from Afghanistan. What does the Centre do to counter external threats?

Many threats of safety of countries of Central Asia have an external origin. In this connection, we monitor development of events in adjacent Afghanistan, in Syria and Iraq, from the outlook of their influence on the region.

Concerning Afghanistan, my staff and I regularly visit the country for meetings with government representatives and other partners to learn the information first-hand and to assess the situation on the spot. The Centre maintains close contacts with the UN Mission for assistance to Afghanistan (UNAMA) to ensure a comprehensive analysis of the situation in the region.

We involve representatives of Afghanistan in our events. A few dozen Afghan civil servants attended our courses on capacity building in various fields of preventive diplomacy. This is our contribution to strengthening trust between Central Asian states and Afghanistan and in changing the perception of this country in the eyes of the peoples of Central Asia. Our goal is not only to help in early warning of potential cross-border risks, but also to pay attention to the opportunities for cooperation that are emerging. In this regard, I am pleased to note the development of relations between Central Asian countries and Afghanistan, in various formats, for the further involvement of the latter in regional cooperation mechanisms. The construction of the gas pipeline Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI), the transmission line Central Asia – South Asia (CASA-1000), planned railways and roads will contribute not only to stabilizing Afghanistan, but also to the development of Central Asian countries themselves.

In conclusion, what are your forecasts regarding the development of regional relations and what is necessary for a more successful UN preventive diplomacy in Central Asia?

Perhaps, I will start with the second part of the question. As you are aware, the main purpose of the mandate of UNRCCA is to assist countries in maintaining regional peace and stability, which are of special importance to national security, and is within the sovereign authority of States. Therefore, the effectiveness of the work of UNRCCA is determined by the political will of governments to cooperate with each other and seek solutions to common problems. The Centre is making efforts to mobilise such political will to respond to the challenges and threats to regional security and stability. At the same time, the character of a famous movie tells us: “The East is a delicate matter.” The countries of the region follow their own development paths, and each has its own distinctive features and national interests. The Centre must take into account these dynamics.

Concerning forecasts, in my opinion, one can rightfully state that within 10 years, conditions for the successful implementation of preventive diplomacy in the region have been created. For numerous existing problems, solutions are outlined. Recently, we note the positive trends in regional relations, and this gives us reason to look to the future with a certain degree of optimism. For its part, the Regional Centre will continue to operate in accordance with the motto under which we celebrate our tenth anniversary: “​To promote dialogue – to prevent conflicts.”

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18-year-old Kazakh genius defends master’s thesis

Thu, 2017-05-18 23:24

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

ASTANA – Eighteen-year-old Rakhat-Bi Abdysagin recently defended his master’s thesis at Kazakh National University of Arts (KazNUA), reported tengrinews.kz.

Abdysagin became a student at the Kurmangazy Kazakh National Conservatory at 13, while simultaneously studying piano under maestro Konstantin Bogino at Accademia Musicale S. Cecilia di Bergamo in Italy. After graduating from both schools four years later, he entered KazNUA. He then brilliantly defended his master’s thesis, receiving the maximum score of 100. Abdysagin, who began writing music at age 10, is the author of more than 100 pieces, including large-scale symphonic and chamber works.

“I have been doing things I love. I did not hurry to defend my master’s thesis; it all happened naturally. I focused on research in the field of modern art and contemporary classical music in my work. My master’s thesis offers many new approaches and new methods of analysis of the latest music, introducing new concepts in music and analysing a huge number of contemporary composition techniques. The commission recommended publishing it in the form of a monograph as a completed stage of scientific research,” he said.

While a student at KazNUA, the young talent held several concerts at home and abroad. In addition, he was awarded with an honorary badge “For merits in development of culture and art” by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Interparliamentary Assembly.

“As it is known, time is relative; everything depends on the natural pace of each individual person. For example, Mozart wrote his first work at the age of five, Czerny started performing concerts from 10 years and Mendelssohn acted as a pianist when he was nine. … There are similar examples in modern times; for example, Alma Deutscher wrote her first work at the age of six, now she is 11 years old. Alan Walker created his first electronic composition at 15 years old,” said Abdysagin.

“The fact that I started composing symphonic music from the age of 10 and at the age of 18 I defended my master’s thesis is my current of time. I am not ahead of anyone; I have my own time in my own coordinate system. How it relates to others is a rhetorical question,” he added.

Abdysagin’s works are distinguished by a special organisation of time and space, a sensitive sense of timbre and fine, listened and filigree work with sound matter, noted Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory Professor Yuri Kasparov.

“Modern methods of playing the instruments become bearers of the artistic image. Compositional techniques and form create a single whole with content in the general breathing of time. Reliance on the eternal and unshakable values of art is the point of attraction. … The spectrum of his work is wide, encompassing many genres, styles and directions,” he said.

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Kazakhstan, Russia to cooperate in aviation searches and rescues

Thu, 2017-05-18 00:30

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

ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s lower house of Parliament (Mazhilis) recently ratified an intergovernmental agreement with Russia to cooperate in aviation searches and rescues, according to Sputnik Kazakhstan.

 

“Today, through the Mazhilis we passed a bill that provides a joint rescue work. It explains how the rescuers of Kazakhstan will work together with the rescuers of Russia, with which state bodies are working. It also specifies what technical means there are on the border, from our side and theirs, how we transfer information to each other, how we conduct the exercises. All of this is regulated by this agreement,” said Minister for Investments and Development of Kazakhstan Zhenis Kassymbek on May 12, according to MIR24 TV channel.

According to the Mazhilis’ Committee on International Affairs, Defence and Security, the initial agreement was signed in October 2015 in Astana.

The agreement regulates the organisation and execution of search and rescue operations. In their area, both countries provide aviation search and rescue services, which they carry out round-the-clock.

If the search and rescue service of one of the states receives a report of an accident or incident in its search area, this service shall respond.

In cases when the search and rescue service of one of the states receives a report on an aviation accident in the search and rescue area of ​​the other state, the service immediately informs the search and rescue service of the partner state about such an incident or incident. In cases when the search and rescue service of one country needs assistance from a similar service of the state of the other party, it may request such assistance and take all measures to allow the search and rescue forces to enter its territory as soon as possible.

When providing assistance to aircraft that are going through a dangerous situation, the parties shall use international signals of distress, urgency, warnings and signals used in search and rescue operations.

Each party alone incurs costs arising from the implementation of search and rescue operations in its area of responsibility under the agreement, according to the statement.

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