Weekly News Review

March 18, 2017

Embassy of Kazakhstan to Canada Weekly News Review

March 14-18, 2017

Issue No. 212



  • Kazakh FM informs Parliament on Astana’s work on UNSC, priorities in Central Asia
  • Kazakhstan welcomes results of Syria meeting in Astana
  • Exhibition opens marking 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s accession to UN



  • International brands succeeding, expanding on Kazakh market
  • Baiterek Rocket and Space Complex set to launch in 2025



  • Kazakhstan celebrates Nauryz Holiday
  • Astana Ballet Theatre premiers “Walpurgis Night”
  • Almaty region national parks undergo general improvements, new routes to be added



Kazakh FM informs Parliament on Astana’s work on UNSC, priorities in Central Asia

Astana Times, 14 March 2017

Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov informed the members of the Mazhilis (lower house) of Parliament about the nation’s priorities as a member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2017-2018, as well as answered their questions on a wide range of issues, during the March 13 so called “government hour”.

Kazakhstan is the first Central Asian country elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, the minister said. It is a great responsibility and during the next two years, the nation will be required to respond adequately to global challenges on a daily basis.

The country’s priorities, as outlined in a January 2017 political address from President Nursultan Nazarbayev, include moving towards a world free of nuclear weapons, preventing the threat of global war, promoting peace in Afghanistan and creating a regional peace zone in Central Asia, shaping a global antiterrorist coalition (network) under UN auspices, promoting Africa’s peaceful development, adapting UNSC’s activities to the demands of the 21st century and elaborating a set-up for regular meetings of UNSC member states at the head of state and government level to strengthen a collective political will to address global challenges.

 “Our country started its responsible mission from Jan. 1. Today, Kazakhstan’s delegation is actively involved in the discussion of the Security Council’s agenda,” said Abdrakhmanov. “Kazakhstan will chair the UNSC in Jan. 2018 with the main focus on Central Asia and Afghanistan.”

Based on its authority, he added, Kazakhstan has been entrusted with chairing the Security Council committees on Afghanistan/Taliban (Committee 1988), ISIL/DAESH/Al Qaeda (Committee 1267/1989/2253) and Somalia/Eritrea (Committee 751/1907).

Abdrakhmanov noted Kazakhstan will continue with its drive for a nuclear weapons-free world and, building on top of past years’ events, this year will host the 60th Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs in the Kazakh capital on August 29, the UN-designated International Day Against Nuclear Tests. Also on that day,  the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) low-enriched uranium (LEU) bank is expected to be formally launched, the minister said.

Kazakhstan has called for further improvements in the UN peacekeeping system and intends to make its own contribution by increasing its number of military observers and peacekeepers to UN missions. Kazbat, Kazakhstan’s peacekeeping battalion, established in 2000, is fully equipped and staffed with highly qualified and professional officers and soldiers, according to Deputy Defence Minister Major-General Talgat Mukhtarov, who also participated in the event.

The proposed Astana Code of Conduct is a common mechanism of fighting terrorism which will help in the formation of the UN Global Anti-Terrorist Coalition (Network) to defeat terrorism and reduce the global terror threat, said Abdrakhmanov.

The minister spent a great deal of time talking about Kazakhstan’s relations with other nations in Central Asia as one of its top priorities. He noted the country’s security is closely linked that of Central Asia and stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation among regional security organisations.

“Kazakhstan is a bridge between East and West. As the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) chair and a UNSC member, we have always promoted greater dialogue… and we want the UN tribune to be used by the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation), SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation), NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and European Union (EU) to deliver joint approaches to tackling common problems,” he said, listing a “whole gamut” of problems facing Central Asia such as drug trafficking, terrorism and religious extremism.

“Together with international organisations, we can focus on, for example, issues of trans-boundary rivers in Central Asia,” Abdrakhmanov said.

He added Central Asia holds regular dialog platforms with Japan, South Korea, the United States, the EU and India and a similar discussion is planned with France where the minister is invited at the end of the month.

“I also sent a letter to my colleagues in Central Asia proposing to establish a common forum of the five countries at our level. There are no unresolvable issues between our countries. Kazakhstan’s membership on the UNSC is a unique opportunity to attract the world’s attention to the Central Asian region,” the Kazakh diplomat said.

“We intend to take practical steps with Kyrgyzstan to help them adapt to Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) membership. We are also talking about adopting comprehensive programmes to implement our strategic partnerships with the countries of Central Asia,” he added.

“On March 22-23, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is planning to visit our country. It is another example of mutual intentions to strengthen ties,” said Abdrakhmanov.

In 2016, Kazakhstan provided 300 million tenge ($943,485) in humanitarian assistance (ODA) to Tajikistan, 100 million tenge ($314,495) to Kyrgyzstan and 586 million tenge ($1.8 million) to Syria, said Abdrakhmanov.

“Our humanitarian assistance is always welcome, but we need to expand official development assistance (ODA) and that sphere needs to expand, too,” he noted.

Abdrakhmanov further highlighted the importance of economic diplomacy for the country’s foreign ministry.

“Economic diplomacy is not only a top priority, but also the main criteria of assessing the effectiveness of our embassies,” he said. “In partnerships with other agencies, we are building up mechanisms for attracting investments and promoting exports.”

Elsewhere, he noted the issues of resolving the legal status of the Caspian Sea is moving forward, adding the ministerial meeting will need to be held before the Caspian summit takes place in the Kazakh capital where the relevant convention is expected to be signed.

During the Q&A session, he responded to a query concerning Kazakhstan’s initiative to strengthen global development efforts by proposing that UN member nations voluntarily contribute one percent of their annual military budgets to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to the minister, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and International Peace Bureau (IPB) were asked to study this proposal in detail. The research by SIPRI was presented to the UN last year.

“We have to recognise that some countries instead seek to expand their military budgets. We will continue to pursue our goal, however,” he said.

Abdrakhmanov added holding EXPO 2017 in the capital and creating the international centre for transfer of green technologies under UN auspices will be Kazakhstan’s practical contribution to implementing regional and global goals.


Kazakhstan welcomes results of Syria meeting in Astana, as Russia, Iran and Turkey issue joint statement

Astana Times, 17 March 2017

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan issued a statement March 16 welcoming the outcomes of another international meeting on Syria held March 14-15 as part of the Astana Process.

“Kazakhstan welcomes the results of the third international meeting on Syria held on March 14-15, 2017 in Astana, where the guarantor states discussed the implementation of the agreements reached in the previous rounds of negotiations in Astana, as well as the ways to resolve military issues, improving the humanitarian situation, and studied new opportunities for expanding trilateral cooperation on Syria,” the statement said.

According to the ministry, following the results of the two-day talks, the guarantor states­ –– Russia, Iran and Turkey – adopted a joint statement where they highlighted several important issues.

Thus, the delegations of the three countries took stock of their cooperation aimed at ending the Syrian conflict and the implementation of the ceasefire regime since the previous high-level meeting in Astana on Feb. 16. They welcomed Iran’s statement to officially become the third guarantor state of the ceasefire regime, as well as reaffirmed their commitment to the consolidation and strengthening of the ceasefire regime.

The delegations exchanged information on reports of ceasefire violations and stressed the need to reduce violations through increasing efficiency of the trilateral monitoring mechanism.

They emphasised the urgent need to improve the conditions on the ground through stronger enforcement of the ceasefire regime, as well as continued their deliberations towards the eventual adoption of additional documents.

In this context, discussions were initiated on international assistance for demining the UNESCO cultural heritage sites in Syria, on confidence-building measures and other topics, which are interrelated with the comprehensive political solution in Syria.

The parties underlined the essential role for the Astana meetings in terms of complementing and facilitating the Geneva process. In addition, they welcomed the resumption of the Geneva talks, which were facilitated by the progress in the cessation of hostilities in Syria thanks to the ceasefire regime in force since Dec.30, 2016, and the results of the previous Astana meetings, in particular the creation of a trilateral ceasefire mechanism. Based on the interlinkage between the Geneva and Astana processes they expressed their support for the continuation of the talks in Geneva on March 23.

The guarantor states further emphasised that their trilateral meetings will continue at technical and high levels noting that the Syrian government and Syrian opposition representatives, as well as other parties could be invited to these meetings as observers.

According to the joint statement, the parties decided to hold the next high-level meeting on May 3-4 in Astana and agreed to hold preliminary expert consultations on April 18-19 in Tehran.

The three countries also expressed gratitude to the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and the Kazakh authorities for hosting their meetings.

In its own statement, the Kazakh foreign ministry reiterated that the Astana meetings are an integral part of the Geneva process under the UN aegis and that it considers the results of the third international meeting on Syria as a meaningful contribution to the process of political settlement of the Syrian crisis on the Geneva platform.

“Kazakhstan, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018, will continue to put its every effort to address the issues related to regional and global security, as well as the fighting against terrorism,” it said.


Exhibition opens marking 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s accession to UN

Astana Times, 18 March 2017

The “Kazakhstan and the United Nations: Interaction for Peace” exhibition has opened in the Museum of the Library of the First President of Kazakhstan to mark the 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s accession to the UN and the beginning of the country’s activity as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

The exhibition will continue until Sept. 1 and features archival documents, photographs and diplomatic gifts illustrating the 25-year history of Kazakhstan’s work within the UN.

“March 2, 1992 became an historic day for Kazakhstan. It was the day when Kazakhstan joined the United Nations. At the plenary meeting of the 46th session of the UN General Assembly, resolution 46/224 on the admission of the Republic of Kazakhstan as the 168th member of the UN was unanimously approved. After the meeting, a solemn ceremony was held to raise the flag of Kazakhstan in front of the organisation’s headquarters. The recognition of Kazakhstan’s merits in strengthening regional and global security was the election of our country as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2017-2018,” said Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Yerzhan Ashikbayev at the opening ceremony.

To date, 15 representative offices of the organisation operate in Kazakhstan, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), among others.

Important milestones in the development of cooperation between Kazakhstan and the UN include official visits to Kazakhstan by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Oct. 17-18, 2002 and Ban Ki-moon on April 6-7, 2010. In addition, Ban Ki-moon attended the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) summit Dec. 1-2, 2010 in Astana.

During his visit to Kazakhstan in 2010, the UN secretary-general visited the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. Ban Ki-moon also visited Astana in June 2015 to participate in the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions as a guest of honor.

On the initiative of Kazakhstan, the UN proclaimed Aug. 29 as the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Since 2009, this date is celebrated annually throughout the world. Kazakhstan also initiated the Universal Declaration for the Achievement of a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World, adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2015.

“I would like to note that Kazakhstan has clearly defined working priorities in the UN Security Council, which were detailed in the political address of the head of state. First of all, we are talking about achieving peace and freedom from nuclear weapons, renunciation of wars and forceful methods of solving any conflicts as well as the international evil called terrorism. It is also worth recalling that Kazakhstan is the first country from our region that represents the interests of the region in the UN Security Council,” Ashikbayev pointed out.



International brands succeeding, expanding on Kazakh market

Astana Times, 18 March 2017

Global brands, such as Starbucks and H&M, have entered the Central Asian market and are outperforming some local companies.

“H&M will launch an aggressive takeover of Kazakhstan market. It means the rapid opening of brand sales outlets in large areas of stores,” said head of the Business Programme of Central Asia Fashion Milena Yershova, Forbes.kz reports.

She is confident in H&M’s success in the market, saying, “H&M always opens large or giant stores, which offers customers the widest choice of products. Thus, for example, in the crisis year for Russia in 2015, H&M’s flagship with an area of about 5,800 square metres was opened in Moscow. Another three large stores were opened in Novosibirsk, Murmansk and Barnaul. According to this analogy, the company will act in the Kazakhstan market too.”

The Starbucks network has been operating in Kazakhstan for two years. It looks with great enthusiasm at Kazakhstan as a country with a developing coffee industry, according to the official website of the company. At the opening of the first Starbucks coffee house in Almaty in 2015, people lined up at 7 a.m. to try the first cup of the famous coffee.

Kazakhstan residents are also interested in the opening of H&M stores, one of which will be opened at the Mega Silk Way Astana shopping centre in the EXPO 2017 area.

H&M’s marketing strategy specifies that the company manufactures products for those who want to follow fashion trends, but not spend a lot of money. According to company statistics, the audience of H&M is predominantly female. The company focuses on millennials: students, graduates of high schools, single young people or childless couples. The company’s experts consider shopping a leisure and target people who buy new things every season to stay fashionable. The brand’s values are fashion, money savings, sociality and attention to the environment.

“Against the backdrop of cost reduction and optimisation in other mass brands, such a policy brings a double result and can become an excellent bid for leadership,” Yershova said.

“I would not be surprised if a line of Muslim clothes will be presented in H&M stores in Kazakhstan. For Kazakhstan and the Central Asian region in general this is a very good direction,” she said.


Baiterek Rocket and Space Complex set to launch in 2025

Astana Times, 16 March 2017

The future of the Baiterek Rocket and Space Complex project at the Baikonur Cosmodrome depends on Russia developing a new Phoenix carrier rocket which will begin in 2018. The first launch of the joint project is scheduled for 2025, said Kazakhstan’s Vice Minister of Defence and Aerospace Industry Marat Nurguzhin, reported Sputnik Kazakhstan in early March.

“In 2016, we managed to achieve significant progress in the implementation of the Baiterek project. The issue of Kazakhstan’s entry into the Baikonur Cosmodrome was resolved. For the first time within the framework of Kazakh-Russian cooperation, the space rocket complex Proton M is being jointly operated, with 92 specialists from Baiterek Joint Venture taking part directly. The Ministry of Defence and Aerospace Industry of Kazakhstan and Russian Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities have agreed and approved new conditions for the Baiterek project and road map for the implementation of this project for 2016-2025,” he said, according to Sputnik.

The project is based on the existing infrastructure of the Zenit space and rocket complex at the Baikonur Cosmodrome and the Phoenix, the promising medium-range carrier rocket which will be created by Russia within the Federal Space Programme starting in 2018. The Russian side will be responsible for creating a new carrier rocket and the Kazakh side is responsible for modernising the Zenit’s existing launch and technical complexes, he added.

The Baiterek project, a joint project between the counties, started in 2004 with the aim of creating more eco-friendly carrier rocket launches at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The project has been delayed for several reasons, but the process now seems to be reviving. According to Sputnik, the Proton carrier rockets within Baiterek were originally expected to be replaced by the more environmentally-friendly Angara carrier rocket. Russia then indicated its intention to use the Angara at its Vostochny Cosmodrome.

In 2013, Russia proposed using the Zenit carrier rocket in the Baiterek project. Two years later, it became known Roscosmos intended to start developing the Phoenix carrier rocket that could be launched into low Earth orbit with no less than nine tonnes of payload, using liquefied natural gas or kerosene and hydrogen as fuel. “At present, together with our Russian colleagues, we have started the execution of the roadmap for the implementation of Baiterek, approved at the end of 2016 at the level of the heads of state of Kazakhstan and Russia,” said Nurguzhin.

The document provides for the Russian Federation to withdraw the Zenit facilities from the lease and transfer them to the Kazakh side in 2018. Funding for the Baiterek project will start in 2019-2020, when draft design and working design documentation will also be developed, said Nurguzhin. Development and manufacture of equipment, construction and installation will launch in 2021-2023.

Autonomous, integrated flight tests are slated for 2024-2025, with the first launch within the Baiterek project slated for 2025, he added.



Kazakhstan celebrates Nauryz Holiday

Next Week, Kazakhstanis are celebrating the day of spring renovation - Nauryz Holiday. The word Nauryz (Nawruz or Nowruz) consists of two Persian words: now (new) and ruz (day), which means the first day of the Aryans’ most important holiday.

Nauryz has been celebrated for several millenniums. The tradition of celebrating Nauryz came back to Kazakhstan and Central Asian countries in 1992 due to the efforts and contribution of prominent state figure, historian and ethnographer Uzbekali Zhanibekov.

Kazakhs call Nauryz as the Great Day of the Nation, thus symbolizing the meaning of the word Nauryz and unity of the people. On this day, people used to cook traditional meal Nauryz Kozhe consisting of seven ingredients : water, meat,  salt, fats, flour, crops and milk. These stuffs symbolize happiness, luck, wisdom, health, well-being, speed, growth and spiritual protection.

Nauryz is a national holiday in Kazakhstan and will be celebrated for 4 days (March 20-23) this year.

Embassy of Kazakhstan to Canada team is planning to celebrate the upcoming Holiday on Tuesday, March 21st from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The event will be held at Minto Place, 185 Lyon Street, Ottawa. Please, make note that this is not a large-scale celebration, rather it is a get-together to pay a tribute to Kazakh traditions.

You are welcome to bring your own food, but Kazakh National foods will be served as well. 
The places are limited, therefore we ask you to RSVP asap, if you wish to join us. Email: astana2882@gmail.com.

Kazakh fashion designer to present collection at Vancouver Fashion Week

Kazakh fashion designer Aya Bapani to present her collection at Vancouver Fashion Week on March 20-26.

Designer Aya Bapani was born in a family of famous artists of Kazakhstan, and grew surrounded by creative people who cultivated the love of arts in her. From childhood Aya knew that she would be a designer and would contribute to the development of fashion.



Astana Ballet Theatre premiers “Walpurgis Night”

Astana Times, 18 March 2017

 “Walpurgis Night” ballet premiered March 17-18 at the Astana Ballet Theatre in the capital.

The ballet was staged by Honoured Artist of Russia, People’s Artist of Tatarstan Georgy Kovtun who has produced approximately 300 ballets and choreographic performances for many theatres in Russia and Ukraine, including the Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky Theatres and the Vaganova Russian Ballet Academy.

About 40 people from the Astana Ballet troupe and young performers aged 10-12 from the Kazakh National Academy of Choreography performed in the production. Children performed for the first time on the stage in this premiere. The unusually bright choreographic performance with expressive musical language, colourful scenography and spectacular plasticity was warmly greeted by audience.

The famous ballet acquired the traditions of classical Russian ballet, in which the myths and legends of ancient Greece are revived. Three-D light and other technical elements were used in this production.

“Walpurgis Night” was written for the “Faust” opera but recently it became an independent play performed around the world. I worked with the team that has been with me in many theatres of the world and the country works with me. Our artists are Irina Safronova and Irina Dolgova from St. Petersburg, Dmitry Shamov from Kazan, Kostyleva from the Mikhailovsky Theatre. And all the local choreographers. In addition, the children from the local ballet school perform in the play,” said Kovtun.

“This theatre has incredible opportunities. We used various technical aspects in the show brought by the team who made the performance. I think we are close in some parts to the level of the Cirque du Soleil performances. We want the viewer who sits in the hall to not be able to take his or her eyes off the stage. When an action holds a person, then probably there is an art,” he said.

Initially, “Walpurgis Night” was a ballet scene, which Charles Gounod completed for the second edition of the “Faust” opera, based on the tragedy of Johann Wolfgang Goethe. The scene was first staged at the Paris Opera in 1869 and became known as a one-act ballet.

The “Diversity” ballet produced by choreographer Ricardo Amarante premiered in the second part of the programme. The show is a retrospective journey into the world of ballet, showcasing how the ballet was born and what it became today. The music and costumes and movements have changed but the inspiration and beauty remained unchanged.

The new theatre that opened last December has some of the most modern and advanced equipment. The Astana Ballet repertoire currently includes 10 ballets and two concert programmes.