News Bulletin
Released weekly by the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
April 16, 2004                                      Vol. 1, No. 17

In this issue:

President Signs Election Law, Major Reforms Introduced
White House Thanks Kazakhstan for “Unwavering Support” in Iraq
Kazakh, Afghan Presidents Sign Cooperation Agreement During “Historic” Visit, Seek Closer Cooperation in Fighting Drugs
Kazakhstan to Increase GDP by 250 to 280% by 2015

Say it in Kazakh:
Freedom  --- Bostandyk
Self-respect --- Ozyn-ozy syi-lau [Oh-ZZYN oh-ZZY See-LAU]
War --- Sogys
Peace --- Beibitshilik

President Signs Election Law, Major Reforms Introduced

President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the election bill into law on April 15, introducing major reforms in the way elections are held in Kazakhstan.

The Presidential Press Office, in a statement on the same day, said: “The law is directed at further improvement of the election system, strengthening the guarantees ensuring electoral rights, ensuring transparency of the election process and the independence of election commissions.”

The press office also noted: “Changes and amendments envisioned by the law take into account international standards of holding elections.”

The law that came into force has gone through a lengthy process of public and parliamentary debates. President Nazarbayev sent the bill to the Constitutional Council on March 31 for review because of its significance. The Council voted the bill was constitutional on April 9, opening the way for its signature by the President.

The first parliamentary elections under the new law will take place in the fall of 2004 followed by presidential elections in 2006.

President Bush Thanks Kazakhstan for "Unwavering Support" in Iraq

President George W. Bush sent a letter on April 15 to President Nursultan Nazarbayev thanking Kazakhstan for its “unwavering support” in Iraq, the Presidential Press Office in Astana announced.

In his letter, President Bush said: "On behalf of the American people, I want to thank you for Kazakhstan’s unwavering support and determination in bringing peace and democracy to Iraq… Our common efforts to strengthen security are ongoing and succeeding. Kazakhstan’s forces have conducted themselves with skill and bravery, and we are thankful for their efforts.”

The U.S. President also wrote: “Together, we have come far in restoring freedom and dignity to the people of Iraq, but there is more to do. In a democracy, there is no place for those who seek to assert authority through militias and uprisings. We must arrest those responsible for this recent violence.”

President Bush also noted: “We appreciate the UN’s role in the political process and expect to engage the UN Security Council during the course of the transition to Iraqi self-rule.”

Kazakhstan has a contingent of 27 military engineers in Iraq who have destroyed more than half a million explosives since August 2003. Their contribution has been noted on numerous occasions by President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and members of the U.S. Congress.

Earlier in April, Astana issued a statement saying Kazakhstan “does not for the time being intend to withdraw its military contingent from Iraq. Kazakhstan’s troops will continue assisting the Iraqi people in freeing themselves from the heavy consequences of war, saving the lives of many inhabitants of that country.”

Kazakh, Afghan Presidents Sign Cooperation Agreement During "Historic" Visit, Seek Closer Cooperation in Fighting Drugs

President Nursultan Nazarbayev and President Khamid Karzai of Afghanistan signed an agreement on April 15 in Astana aimed at promoting closer relations between the regional neighbors, as the Afghan leader paid his first official visit to Kazakhstan.

The two presidents signed the Treaty on Foundations of Relations and Cooperation, and later the same day Industry and Trade Minister Adilbek Dzhaksybekov Afghan’s Trade Minister Sayeed Moustafa Khazi signed the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation.

At an Astana news conference following the meetings, President Nazarbayev said: “Kazakhstan is absolutely interested in developing trade, economic and political relations with Afghanistan, as well as in our joint fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.”

Today the entire world is eager to see peace and economic restoration in Afghanistan, and “we are in this coalition”, the President said.

President Nazarbayev also noted: “We are grateful to President Karzai for inviting Kazakh bankers and businesspeople to come and work in Afghanistan. Today’s visit of the Afghan President is historic, because we meet here for the first time since the statehood of Afghanistan has been restored and the documents we signed are a good foundation for further cooperation.”

Neighboring Afghanistan’s developing economy offers significant opportunities for Kazakhstan’s entrepreneurs as Afghan life stabilizes. The Presidential Press Office said President Nazarbayev offered President Karzai the help of Kazakhstan’s experts in restoring key sectors of Afghanistan’s war-ravaged infrastructure, including transport and communications, energy, and irrigation complexes.

“We are ready to work in Afghanistan in geology, building roads and installations, helping with medical professional, and continue to assist in any way we can, because we are interested in stability in Afghanistan,” the President added. “We want to trade and to use Afghan territory to build links to the south.”

The Afghan leader was equally grateful in his remarks, saying he would like Afghanistan to emulate Kazakhstan’s experience as it reforms its society and economy.

President Karzai said: “I believe Kazakhstan is an example of a country that was given an opportunity and used it. We intend to continue working with Kazakhstan to develop transit potential and bilateral trade.”

He declared Afghanistan will “continue fighting terrorism and drug trafficking.”

Kazakhstan to Increase GDP by 250 to 280% by 2015

Kazakhstan plans to ensure an increase in GDP by 250 to 280 percent by 2015 compared to 2000. This target was announced as Kazakhstan rolled out its Industrial and Innovation Strategy. Astana aims to ensure 8 to 8.4 percent yearly growth in its manufacturing sector, and increase its labor capacity threefold over the benchmark year of 2000.

Kazakhstan’s  Industrial and Innovation Strategy should increase the share of goods manufacturing in the GDP to 50-52 percent from 46.5 percent. In 2003, Kazakhstan’s  manufacturing sector grew at a higher pace compared to extractive industries, such as mining and petroleum, for the first time since the 1991 collapse of Soviet Union.

The strategy will be presented in Washington, DC, for the first time to U.S. audience  on April 27, when a delegation led by Grigori Marchenko, Assistant to the President of Kazakhstan, takes part in “KAZAKHSTRAN Industrial and Innovation Strategy: New Business Opportunities”. The conference is designed to attract U.S. private sector investment in areas beyond energy, such as IT, transportation and communications, biotechnologies, software and peaceful nuclear technologies.

Things to Watch:


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News Bulletin of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the USA and Canada
(Compiled from own sources and agency reports)
Contact person: Roman Vassilenko
1401 16th Street NW, Washington DC 20036
Tel.: (202) 232- 5488 ext. 104, Fax: (202) 232- 5845